A letter sent by the Interior ministers of France and Germany to European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, claiming the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to Schengen in March 2011 would be premature, prompted a strong reaction from Romanian authorities. Romania President Traian Basescu said in a press statement on Tuesday that the letter was an act of discrimination against Romania.
President Basescu in his statement
- I believe the letter of the two ministers is an act of discrimination against Romania
- At the latest European Council I showed Romania is technically prepared [for Schengen accession]
- The introduction of new conditions comes against the rights obtained by Romania on its EU accession and creates an unacceptable precedent
- Romania set as a target the Schengen accession in April 2011, a date when we believe it can meet all conditions
- A country's accession to Schengen is based only on technical conditions
- All reports - including the latest, in December - that showed Romania's technical preparation showed we meet the technical terms.
- The letter contains real facts of ours, which cannot be challenged because I myself and many others signaled them frequently
- It is about the functioning of justice and state institutions
- We still have major issues with the functioning of the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) and the way CSM elections took place, which rose many question marks about some of CSM members who serve for the second term
- Not least, considering the recent weeks, I saw that the Parliament did not understand that decisions to protect some of its members from a judicial perspective. It is a risk that the Parliament assumed, but by which it provided an additional issue of analysis, that in Romania politics protects people who are allegedly involved in acts of corruption
- I stand by my statement that accession to Schengen is an issue linked to complying with a strictly technical acquis, that the two ministers have a discriminatory attitude towards Romania and Romanians
- But I also note that incorrect links are being made to real facts such as how our institutions - CSM, the Romanian Parliament which blocked investigations, prosecutors with their lack of reactions, judges when it comes to quickly solving corruption cases - are working
- What is exaggerated is that the two ministers link the Schengen access with the administration of borders at EU level, as if the bad management of borders can be considered Romania's responsibility
- The two ministers refer to the asylum policy as if this has anything to do with Romania's accession
- It is a forced argument, made exactly because of lack of arguments, that Romania should not join Schengen
- I hope that in the upcoming period we would be able to clear this things at bilateral and EU level
For its part, Romania's Foreign Ministry reacted to the letter - fragments of which were made public by Radio RFI - by saying that the association between Schengen accession and the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism is baseless judicially and creates an unacceptable precedent not only for Romania and Bulgaria but for the whole Union.
The Ministry said that such an approach was "a discrimination of Romania and Bulgaria" related to how states who joined Schengen in the latest wave of enlargement were treated.