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MEP Vasile Blaga: The place of Romania is in Europe, so in Schengen

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MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) welcomes the European Parliament’s resolution on the Schengen area in the context of the crisis triggered by COVID-19 and stresses that “the rapid and complete restoration of free cross-border movement is necessary.”

In the statement offered exclusively for Caleaeuropeană.ro, the Romanian MEP mentioned that it is essential that the Council’s effort regarding the integration of Romania and Bulgaria in the Schengen area to be intensified.

According to the Liberal MEP, every day that passes with Romania and Bulgaria outside the Schengen area contradicts the fundamental values ​​of the EU: “The place of Romania and Bulgaria is in Europe, so in Schengen. We are Europeans, equal in rights, in solidarity, and every day that passes with Romania and Bulgaria outside the Schengen area contradicts these fundamental values ​​on the basis of which the European Union was built. ”

At the same time, Vasile Blaga reminds us that the pressures from the European Parliament, for Romania’s full integration into the European Union to become a reality, will not stop.

Last week, the European Parliament voted on a resolution calling on the Member States and the Council of the European Union to take the necessary measures to admit Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia into the Schengen area.

Diana Zaim este foto jurnalist, premiată în cadrul #România@10EU, concurs de fotografie organizat cu ocazia a 10 ani de la aderarea la Uniunea Europeană. Studentă la secția germano-portugheză în cadrul Universității din București și pasionată de promovarea valorilor europene, Diana este parte a comunității Model European Union, cea mai amplă simulare la nivel european a procesului decizional din cadrul Uniunii Europene.

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Belarus opposition leader expresses “gratitude” to Romania and Klaus Iohannis for their solidarity: “We feel the support from Romania, Lithuania and Poland”

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© Photo Collage (Images sources: European Union)

Sviatlana Tikhanovskaya, the leader of the democratic opposition in Belarus, expressed her gratitude to Romania and President Klaus Iohannis for the support that Bucharest, together with Warsaw and Vilnius, has given to the democratic movement and the peaceful demonstrators that took the streets of Minsk and other Belarusian cities against the oppressive regime of Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Sviatlana Tikhanovskaya, who took refuge in Lithuania, made this comments in an online intervention during a debate organized in Bucharest by the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania and the Centre for Conflict Prevention and Early Warning (CPC-EW) at the Romanian Diplomatic Institute.

Given the opportunity, I would like to take the time to express my gratitude to our Romanian friends, who’s President (e.n. – Klaus Iohannis) on September 21st together with his Polish and Lithuanian colleagues signed a letter to the international community to help ensure that Belarusians receive the support we drastically need in our economical, political, and social transition. (…) The old saying, and friend in need is a friend indeed, has never seemed more resonant for Belarusians as our country is ruled by an autocrat giving order to use violence on peaceful demonstrators. We welcome, every bit of solidarity, as support, and we feel the support from Romania, Lithuania and Poland“, Tikhanovskaya said.

Not so long ago, in 1989, Romania, Poland and Lithuania walked in the same shoes. Today, the time for Belarusians has come to unshackle ourselves, to acknowledge and let go the ghosts of our past and to look into the future“, she added.

 

Romania played has an active role in the European Union’s position on the situation in Belarus, the debate also taking place in the context of the Joint Declaration signed by the Presidents of Lithuania, Poland and Romania in support of a democratic Belarus, in which the three heads of state called on the European Union to identify economic support measures for a democratic Belarus.

The call of the three presidents has been included in the conclusions of the special European Council of 1-2 October, when the leaders of the 27 member states of the European Union invited the European Commission to come up with proposals to support this country.

Previously, Romania provided 100,000 euros in support to Belarusian civil society and independent journalism. The Romanian ambassador to Minsk also joined his EU colleagues and visited Svetlana Aleksievich, a Nobel Prize winner and a member of the Democratic Opposition Coordinating Council, an entity that will receive the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought from the European Parliament.

At the same time, in another gesture of solidarity with Poland and Lithuania, Romania decided to recall its ambassador from Minsk for consultations. Lithuania and Poland have decided to resort to this measure after Belarus recalled its ambassadors to Vilnius and Warsaw for consultations following EU sanctions on Belarusian officials accused of electoral fraud and human rights violations.

Also, both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies have adopted two declarations on the violation of fundamental human rights in Belarus, documents by which the Romanian Parliament expresses its solidarity with the Belarusian people, calls for an end to violence against peaceful protests in Belarus and considers necessary more articulated reaction ”from the international community in the event that the situation does not improve urgently.

Last but not least, Romania is among the countries requesting the inclusion of Alexandr Lukashenko on the list of sanctions of the European Union.

The situation in Belarus deteriorated following the presidential election on August 9, when the democratic opposition led by candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and civil society accused the regime of President Aleksandr Lukashenko of defrauding the election results.

Violent repression by the authoritarian regime in Minsk of the protests and demonstrations that followed, as well as suspicion of fraud in these elections, led the European Union to take a position in support of the democratic opposition and to take restrictive measures against Lukashenko regime officials.

There are major concerns at EU level and about Belarus’ interest in the size of nuclear energy and nuclear safety, given that the unsafe operation of the Astravets plant poses a major threat to the region and implicitly to the European Union.

The European Union has also warned that an additional list of sanctions could include Alexander Lukashenko, whose new presidential term is considered illegitimate by the Western community, which was adopted on October 12.

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EXCLUSIVE Ian Brzezinski, Senior Fellow Atlantic Council: With a Trump or Biden administration, US military presence in Romania will increase

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© Atlantic Council

Conducted by Dan Cărbunaru and Robert Lupițu

The trajectory of the US – Romania relations it’s becoming very “operational” and, as an ally that has lived up to the expectations and its robust commitments, Romania will have important opportunities with both a Trump or a Biden administration in the White House and we will see a continuity in troops deployment in the region, US national security and foreign policy expert Ian Brzezinski with the Atlantic Council told CaleaEuropeană.ro in an exclusive interview.

Speaking from Washington ahead of the second and last presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden before the elections, Ian Brzezinski described how US’s foreign policy and commitment to the transatlantic link will develop under a second Trump administration or a Biden administration.

This is an important election. And there are two very very different worldviews that are colliding together, that are reflected by President Trump and Vice President Biden. (…) The good news is that Romania has been caring and share 2% of GDP (on defence) and its robust commitments to international operations, including those led by NATO, gives the current president or the next president real license to pursue an internationalist agenda“, Brzezinski said.

A former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy in 2001–2005 when Romania joined the North Atlantic Alliance, Brzezinski praised Romania’s commitment and laid out some advices on how to seize opportunities with a Trump or Biden administration, especially in the context that Romania and the United States will celebrate in 2021 the 10th anniversary of the Joint Declaration for the Strategic Partnership signed in the White House by former Presidents Obama and Băsescu.

If Biden wins, I think when it comes down to the security relationship we will see continuity in terms of force deployments. So, we’re all very aware about the increases that President Trump made to our force posture in North Central Europe. I think those will be sustained and possibly, under Biden administration, augmented. There has been a growing momentum towards increasing our force presence in Romania, perhaps not as dramatically as we’ve seen in Poland, but I think in ways that are operationally and geopolitically significant. I think that momentum would carry into a Biden administration. I certainly hope it will. It will be significantly shaped by how, you know, Romania encouraged and facilitates that kind of cooperation and the role that it plays in NATO”, Brzezinski explained.

He also added that a Biden administration will bring to Europe an agenda that “will actually ask Europe to be doing more within Europe”.

“That will be a burden that will fall heavily on our west European allies and it’ll be a burden that will fall heavily on our central European allies, including Romania”, Brzezinski mentioned.

As for a second Trump administration, Brzezinski explained the opportunities coming out of the transition in power.

A transition from a first Trump administration to the second Trump administration creates opportunity because new faces will come in, plans will be reevaluated and recalibrated, and it creates opportunity to kind of enhance one’s relationship“, he said.

The US national security expert extended his argument, mentioning that “when there’s a transition between two different administrations, a Trump to a Biden administration”, then “the opportunities are even greater”. In this context, he suggested that Romania should take the initiative and leverage its demonstrated commitments.

The way to this kind of leverage and opportunity is through initiative. And here’s where I would go in the security realm, you leverage your new capabilities. For example, the Patriot air defense systems, the HIMARS missiles, not just to enhance Romania security, but the region security”, Brzezinski added.

While pointing out a special interest that a Biden administration will have for Ukraine, the US expert said: “What can Romania do to upgrade its security relationship with Ukraine, that is something that would be noticed by the new team, and something that would probably bring good benefits to the US Romania relationship“.

Furthermore, Ian Brzezinski spoke about US-Romania special partnership based on his experience as an US official in the area of NATO’s enlargement and operations when Romania became a full member of the Alliance.

“Romania has lived up to the expectations and in United States we know that we have a member state spending two point or 2% of its GDP on defense. It’s thinking constructively and actively acting proactively in the Black Sea region on its forces have deployed on allied multilateral including US led missions around the world.  The experience I had with Romanian forces in Afghanistan was really really a profound one for me, because they were in areas of real risk, and the courage of those soldiers is something I will not forget, I would say”, stated Brzezinski.

He emphasized the recent visits in Washington by Romania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense and Minister of Economy, underlining that “those meetings underscored the growth of the US – Romanian economic relationship, the deepening of the US – Romanian military relationship and increased role that US-Romanian relationship is playing in regional cooperations, for example, through the Three Seas Initiative in Central and Eastern Europe”.

The track the trajectory of US Romanian relations has been very very positive. It’s becoming, it’s not just rhetorical and symbolic, it’s actually very operational“, he also said.

Given that Romania and the new US administration, led either by Donald Trump or Joe Biden, will celebrate next year the tenth anniversary of the Joint Statement of the Strategic Partnership, Ian Brzezinski named a few opportunities for 2021: the gas and energy opportunities in the Black Sea, the increase of US military presence in Romania and in the region to deter Russia’s provocative actions, US investments in the Three Seas Initiative Fund co-sponsored by Romania and Poland and technological cooperation under the 5G Memorandum of Understanding.

“The 10 year anniversary provides an opportunity to kind of add additional energy and vigour into the strategic partnership that we have”, he also said.

Ian Brzezinski (born December 23, 1963) is an American foreign policy and military affairs expert. He is a Resident Senior Fellow, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, The Atlantic Council, United States of America. He is also Senior Fellow in the International Security Program and is on the Council’s Strategic Advisors Group (SAG). He brings to the Council and its International Security Program over two decades of experience in U.S. national security matters having served in senior policy positions in the Department of Defense and the U.S. Congress.

Mr. Brzezinski served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy in 2001–2005, under President George W. Bush. His responsibilities included NATO expansion, Alliance force planning and transformation and NATO operations in the Balkans, the Mediterranean, Afghanistan and Iraq. Key highlights of his tenure include the expansion of NATO membership in 2004, the consolidation and reconfiguration of the Alliance’s command structure, the standing up of the NATO Response Force and the coordination of European military contributions to U.S. and NATO-led operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.

Among several honors awarded for his public service, Mr. Brzezinski has received the Romanian Medal for National Service, Order of Commander.

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Europe Talks 2020: Zeit Online and other 17 European media organisations, including Calea Europeană, kick off a new edition of debates between Europeans

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© Europe Talks

Starting today, ZEIT ONLINE and media partners from 15 countries have once again opened registration for Europe Talks. The dialogue program brings together people from across Europe for one-on-one, cross-border debates on political topics. Each participant will be matched with a conversation partner from another European country with the most different possible political opinion. The conversation will take place in English over video call. Last year, over 17,000 Europeans from 33 countries participated in Europe Talks.

On December 13, 2020, thousands of Europeans, who are complete strangers to each other, will meet online for a conversation. They will discuss questions such as whether protecting people from the coronavirus should be the first priority, even if the economy suffers, whether masks should be mandatory in all public spaces, and whether schools should remain open throughout lockdowns. Seven Yes/No questions that all participants answer during registration will be used to match conversation partners with different views.

These conversations are made possible by a collaboration between ZEIT ONLINE and a large network of European media organisations: bTV Media Group in Bulgaria, Calea Europeana in Romania, Delfi in Latvia, De Volkskrant in the Netherlands, Der Standard in Austria, Efimerida Ton Syntakton in Greece, Expresso in Portugal, France24 in France, Gazeta Wyborcza in Poland, HotNews in Romania, Kapital in Slovakia, La Repubblica in Italy, LRT.lt in Lithuania, Mirror in Great Britain, Phoenix in Germany, Politiken in Denmark, Republik in Switzerland.

Europe Talks is supported by the Federal Foreign Office on occasion of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2020 as well as by the European Cultural Foundation, the Allianz Cultural Foundation and the Evens Foundation. Europe Talks is organised in partnership with the Goethe-Institut.

The idea for Europe Talks is based on a ZEIT ONLINE project that started three years ago with Germany Talks, a dialogue project that created conversations between participants with politically opposed opinions. In cooperation with international media partners, the project was developed into the platform My Country Talks, which has since been used in more and more countries around the world: From Denmark to Austria, the Netherlands, Italy, and Great Britain. More than 100,000 people worldwide have taken part in a political discussion through My Country Talks events.

The My Country Talks software was developed by the Berlin agency diesdas.digital on behalf of ZEIT ONLINE. The construction of the platform was funded by the Federal Foreign Ministry of Germany and Google. Germany Talks and My Country Talks was awarded with a Grimm Online Award , the Jean Monnet Prize for European Integration, and the President’s award for Public Relations (IPRA).

Registration for Europe Talks 2020 is now open. For more information, visit www.europetalks.org.

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