INTERVIEW Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu: More intense Russian rhetoric expected on missile defence

INTERVIEW Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu: More intense Russian rhetoric expected on missile defence

Foreign Affairs Minister Bogdan Aurescu expects more intense declarations of Russia against the missile defence facility in Deveselu, but says Romania – a NATO member with a “consistent presence” of US and allied troops on its soil – should not be worried about it.

“We can expect a series of such declarations in the days to come, maybe even an intensification of such rhetoric as we draw closer to the end of the year, the operationalization of the system or the summit in Poland of next year. This should not concern us, because Romania is a member-state of the North Atlantic Alliance, it is protected by the Treaty of Washington, by article 5, there is a consistent presence of the United States on Romanian soil and of other allies who participate in the reassurance measures that NATO decided upon ever since the summit in the United Kingdom of last year,” said the head of Romanian diplomacy.

In the interview Aurescu also speaks of the situation in the Republic of Moldova and the perspectives of this state to accede to the European Union, of Romanian-Hungarian relation, Romania’s intent of joining the Schengen Area in the context of the situation created by the wave of refugees from Syria and northern Africa pushing on the borders of the EU.

AGERPRES: There are voices claiming that Romania gave up too easily its stance of the number of refugees it can accept. There are countries — such as the Czech Republic — that have even announced they will challenge the refugee quotas imposed by the European Union at the EU Court of Justice. How do you see this theory?

Bogdan Aurescu: Firstly, I must say our position was a principle one, namely we did not agree this formula of imposing refugee quotas, especially that it’s a known fact that our national accommodation limits were somehow below the figure the European Commission tried to impose. When the decision was taken, Romania — as an EU member state — acted in full responsibility and in a spirit of solidarity to implement this decision; so it is out of question to not abide by a decision taken by the Justice and Home Affairs Council on September 22. From this point of view, we did not intend and are not intending to question this decision, including through a procedure at the European Court of Justice.

It is important to keep acting together to find background solutions to the current problem of the EU; for I must say that the discussion so far on these quotas to be shared by the member states was actually only a discussion on addressing the symptoms of this issue. In the end, the fundamental elements concerning migration refer to finding solutions to the background causes found in the southern neighbourhood of the the EU, which have many sides — either referring to social instability, to the multiple crises there — in Libya, in Syria — or to the capacity of the states neighbouring the conflict areas to manage the situation of the refugees they already have on their territories — we are referring here to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey. There are many elements that must be further discussed, and that are discussed. Actually, the recently closed European Council addressed mainly the problem of migration and finding solutions at the source; just like the Foreign Affairs Council I attended on Monday [October 12] dealt especially with the foreign policy dimension of this case.

From this point of view, I hail, for instance, the fact that this joint action plan was concluded by the European Union and Turkey. The European Council noted and saluted this positive evolution. We continue to work together on the EU level to adequately endow the fiduciary fund for Syria in financial terms; it will expand and become applicable to the Western Balkan states. We are also preparing on the European Union level the November summit in Malta, in La Valletta, where we expect the launching of a similar fiduciary for Africa, worth 1.8 billion euros; and I must mention here Romania’s effort on a bilateral plane in the relation with these states. I’ll mention here the support worth 250,000 dollars we already granted to Jordan, the support of a similar amount we granted to Serbia, in kind; also worth mentioning here are our contributions to the FRONTEX missions, where we are the second contributor in terms of experts and equipment we offer under the effort of protecting the EU’s outer borders. We’re talking here also about Romania’s announced contributions to the UNHCR [the UN Refugee Agency] budget over 2015-2017 for the World Food Programme, to which we also announced a contribution of 300,000 euros in the coming period. Here are, thus, multiple complicated aspects of settling this problem, which still needs an effort — a medium and long-term one, I’d say.

AGERPRES: You’ve spoken of the Middle East states’ capability to manage the refugee problem. You’ve mentioned the assistance the European Union will grant Turkey in this respect, but what do you think of the manner in which the European states, some of them EU members, managed the refugee wave they had been faced with? There were situations in which the authorities showed their limits.

Bogdan Aurescu: I think that the manner in which each member state managed this situation has an explanation, namely that the European Union lacked the necessary instruments to address the significant size that his phenomenon has recorded over the last period. The fact that the European Union begins to find solutions to the various aspects of the crisis is a good sign. And I once again underscore the fact that the unilateral, national-type approaches have reached their limits. Exactly what you have underlined earlier.

There is, therefore, need of a coordinated common effort of the European Union, of the member states in order to find long-lasting solutions to this phenomenon. It will not be easy, it will take financial effort as well, it will take long-term assistance as well as a substantial political effort to find the political solutions to the crises I was speaking about, the Syrian crisis in particular. More…