President Iohannis: Russia’s military involvement in Syria complicates things. Romania can mediate the conflict

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President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday stated that Russia’s military involvement in the Syrian war does not help solving the crisis, but on the contrary, it complicates the situation, while the solution is that the involved parties should be brought to the negotiating table. Before heading to Brussels to attend the European Council, Klaus Iohannis reminded that Romania is one of the fewest countries that still has diplomatic staff in Damascus and can be “a facilitator” in the debates.

Migration tops the European Council’s agenda. The Romanian president pointed out that migration has led to complicated, stressed situation inside European Union and the European Council will tackle topics regarding EU’s external borders, migrants’ countries of origin and the transit states. In his view, the most important source of this migrant wave is Syria.

“The solution is obvious: peace in Syria. All involved parties must cooperate in this respect. The fact that Russia military engaged in Syria doesn’t help solving the crisis, but complicates it. The only way out is the negotiation path. All parties involved must be brought to the negotiating table and then solutions will come out. This is Romania’s official stance and we make it public everywhere. It’s not just a mere theoretic stance. Romania is one of the fewest countries that still has diplomatic staff at the embassy in Damascus. We are not among the biggest actors, but the fact that we are present there enables us to be facilitators in the debates that might bring peace in the region,” Iohannis said before leaving.

On Tuesday, the Romanian head of state  had said that “Romania is behaving like a de facto Schengen member”, even if it hasn’t joined the free visa area, as it is taking very seriously its mission to defend the EU’s external borders.

Regarding recent statements made by the European Commission chief, Jean-Claude Juncker, that EU must restore a “practical relationship” with Russia and not let the US “dictate” that policy, President Iohannis said on Wednesday that they “are surprising”. “I will have more details on the occassion of the meetings within the European Council (…) I prefer to find out what he meant and after that to comment,” Iohannis stated.

Commenting on Iohannis’ reaction to Juncker’s criticism, former president Traian Basescu said the Romanian head of state would not have enough time to talk to the EC head in Brussels, opining Juncker should have been  immediately informed that his statements created discontent in Romania.”Romania’s reaction should be extremely tough, it should be public and announced by the president so that Jean Claude Juncker should understand he stirred discontent in Romania. All EU member states would have found out in a few minutes that Romania disagrees the EC president’s point of view. If I were president, I can assure you I would have called Jean Claude Juncker after his statement (…)”, Basescu argued.

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