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Romania continues to make efforts for the country's Schengen accession, following Austria's negative vote last week.
In spite of the fact that Romania meets the technical criteria to join the Schengen area, the country was blocked by Austria at the Justice and Home Affairs Council held in Brussels last week. The German chancellor Karl Nehammer said his decision has been motivated by the illegal migrants who reach Austria through Romania and Bulgaria. In his first public appearance since his country was denied Schengen accession, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said the negative vote is undeserved and difficult to understand. He reminded that on November 16, all European home affairs ministers said Romania and Bulgaria were welcome to join Schengen, only to have Austria oppose it two days later. Iohannis said diplomatic efforts must further be deployed to secure Romania's accession to the passport-free area, adding he will personally get involved to see this happen: ˮThis vote, which has upset and disappointed me, does not make me give up. I will personally stay connected to this goal and I am determined to take things further until Romania joins Schengen. Wednesday, Thursday and possibly Friday we will have a European Council meeting and I will bring up the topic in the European Council. A new vote however, can be held only at another meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council.ˮ
Interior Minister, Lucian Bode, has sent an open letter to his Austrian counterpart, Gerhard Karner, voicing his deep disappointment at last week's vote. Bode says the Austrian official played an undignified game, after having previously assured him, in Vienna, that he was a friend of Romania. Lucian Bode says Romania cannot be blamed for the migration problem, as Austria does, something that all other member states understand.
The Social Democrat leader, Marcel Ciolacu, has again criticized Austria's veto but says a distinction should be made between the citizens of Austria and its political leaders. ˮWe will further negotiate with Austria (…). Eventually, the steps will have to be at diplomatic level ˮ, Ciolacu said.
The Romanian National Union of Road Haulers have called on the Romanian government to eliminate checks at the border with Bulgaria. They have also said Romania and Bulgaria became EU members together and made joint efforts to join the Schengen area. Therefore, they now call on the Romanian and Bulgarian governments to work together, in an urgent and practical manner, to simplify or even eliminate border checks between the two countries. Every day, truck drivers have to wait for hours for border check formalities at hours at the Romanian-Bulgarian checkpoints. (EE)
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