Romanian diplomat for IBNA: “Recent developments demand an increased EU involvement in the Balkans”

Romanian diplomat for IBNA: “Recent developments demand an increased EU involvement in the Balkans”

Bucharest, November 26, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Irina Stoica

Romanian Secretary of State for European Affairs George Ciamba assesses the impact that the current migration crisis has on the dynamics of the Balkan countries, in an exclusive intervieW for IBNA.

Mr. George Ciamba is a career diplomat and has joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania in December 1990. He was appointed Secretary of State for European Affairs in November 2012. In this capacity, he promotes an active participation of Romania at all EU levels and the national contribution to the elaboration of EU policies.

Prior to the current appointment, George Ciamba was the ambassador of Romania to the Hellenic Republic.

IBNA: The migrant crisis has put the Balkan region up to a tough test. We’ve seen tensions among neighbors, tough statements, restrictive measures. In your assessment, what has been the overall effect of this crisis on the relationship between countries in the Balkans?

George Ciamba: The migration put a heavy pressure on the resources and administrative capacity of the states of the region. However, they managed overall to handle efficiently these extremely difficult times, despite some tensions inherent to the extraordinary circumstances witnessed during the latest months. Romania strongly supports the effective application of the principle of solidarity, both within the EU and in relation with the states in the region which are firmly engaged on their European path. The states of the region should not be alone in this tough endeavor, which strains their resources to the maximum. We have to fully understand both the risks and the need to avoid that the climate in the region deteriorates, with a negative effect on the path of reforms. We support a coordinated European approach, based on the solidarity and shared responsibility principles, while giving full attention to both the internal and external dimensions of migration. It is also of a paramount importance that the interested external actors should be prevented from exploiting EU internal divisions and tensions in the region.

Romania supports a supplementary allocation of EU resources to the region and stands ready to help the affected states in the region, in line with its active engagement in the Western Balkans. We already provided concrete assistance to Serbia, from our state reserve, in order to help them overcome this difficult situation.

Given the constant support Romania has shown to the EU integration of the Balkan countries, how does Bucharest evaluate the current state of their EU-oriented efforts?

Romania remains a staunch supporter of EU Enlargement in favor of all Western Balkan countries that are committed to a thorough preparation in order to meet the accession criteria. We have to fully acknowledge the dynamics, both the efforts ahead of the candidates and aspirants, but also the progress made so far. The criteria remain essential in determining the pace of each candidate and potential candidate country in the accession process. In order to have success stories, all candidate countries and potential candidates in the Western Balkans must constantly demonstrate, in a real and quantifiable manner, that they are willing to implement the necessary reforms. However, we believe that progress in the reform process should be encouraged through credible incentives and a positive message regarding the European perspective of the region. Keeping in mind the new regional and international context, all these developments demand an increased and committed EU involvement in the region.

How do you think that this crisis might tamper with the European agenda of the states in the region?

We hope that the current immigration crisis will not have at least on a medium term a major impact on the European calendar of the states in the region. The European Commission has set its expectations concerning the calendar of Enlargement during its mandate and, as firm supporters of enlargement, we will continue to plead for keeping a positive dynamics in the process. Our evaluation is that the fulfillment of the Copenhagen criteria require efforts from the states involved, and it will take a while until all of them will be thoroughly respected. This is why we deem important that the EU reacts in solidarity trough proper consistent incentives addressing Western Balkans’ efforts to reform. Progressing in the Enlargement process is the only mean to anchor the states of the region in a climate of stability, security and predictability.