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President Says Romania Isn’t Prepared To Accept Schengen Accession Delays

Romania is not prepared to accept postponement of the date of accession in the Schengen area, President Traian Basescu told the Financial Times in an interview, which also touched on Romania's role in the EU, its relations with Russia and the Republic of Moldova and the anti-missile shield.

Questioned about Romania's prospects for Schengen membership next year, Basescu said he is convinced that the last inspection which takes place these days will have a positive result. He added Romania would "like the treaty to be applied - which means we are not prepared to accept postponement of the date of accession in the Schengen area".

"If some countries have doubts we kindly invite them - because Romania will provide 2,070 kilometers of EU border - to participate, with border police from other EU countries, to be together with us on the border, supervising the process. But not to block access of Romania into the Schengen area," Basescu said according to the transcript of the interview FT posted online. He explained, however, this does not mean other countries should provide resources for Romania.

Asked how he sees Romania's role within the European Union considering that some countries see it as closer to the United States, Basescu said Romania has "excellent relations with the United States. "Maybe WikiLeaks will prove that - I don't know what will be in the telegrams, we'll see! But first of all, we consider that we are Europeans. Since we joined the EU on January 1, 2007, we have not done anything that would suggest we are not excellent Europeans," said Basescu.

The Romanian head of state also explained Romania changed its foreign policy after becoming part of the EU and instead of powerful diplomacy within the EU, the country shifted its resources a bit and focused on the Caspian area and Central Asia, trying to open this door for the European Union. "We assumed large responsibilities. The fact that we succeeded in reaching agreements with Azerbaijan and Georgia for the AGRI project, the Azerbaijan Georgia Romania Interconnection - the possibility to move gas from Azerbaijan to Europe - is proof that we have some efficiency in this region," Basescu added.

Speaking about a union with the neighboring Republic of Moldova, Basescu said politicians cannot do that and Romania's political objective is to support Moldova becoming a EU country. "If something more is destined to happen this cannot be decided by the politicians, it will be decided by the people themselves," he added.

Speaking about Romania's relations with Russia, Basescu said "there's a lack of trust between Bucharest and Moscow, and the lack of trust is on both sides. Probably it will need a long period of time to start trusting each other."

About the missile shield Romania of which Romania is to be a part, the president said he has a very simple approach: "you cannot look at the future without having security guaranteed."

"Maybe it's a lesson of our history. We survived here between three empires: the Ottoman Empire in the south, the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the west; and the Russian Empire in the east. For us, security is [one of the] essential things. I have understood for some time the approach of European politicians. I've always said that maybe you look at security in one way when you have your borders on the Atlantic, and you are looking at your security in another way when your borders are on the Black Sea," Basescu told the Financial Times.

He insisted Romania doesn't have to ask anybody and can make its own decisions when it comes to security. "The events in Georgia prove that something can happen at any moment. We have Transnistria a few kilometers from our border. We cannot assume any risks regarding our security," Basescu explained.

Asked about his attitude on the issue of the Roma and the action that France took earlier this year, Basescu said Romania fully assumes responsibility for all its citizens. "At the same time we consider that Romania came into the EU not only with [its] doctors, who are very highly appreciated in France, Italy, Germany, and the UK. Not only with [its] IT people, who are drained from Romania, together with the doctors. We came in with a Roma minority. And we would be happy if each time President Sarkozy sent back a Roma person he would also send a doctor or an IT specialist. But if this doesn't happen, what we'd like to do is to cooperate with France in finding a solution," Basescu said. (



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