Klaus Iohannis: Romania has shown that it fully meets the Schengen area accession criteria

Romania has shown, once again, that it fully meets the criteria for accession to the Schengen area, managing the external borders in a responsible and efficient manner, President Klaus Iohannis said on Saturday upon receiving the German Civic Award presented by the Bad Harzburg Civic Foundation at a ceremony in Dusseldorf, Agerpres reports.

“Romania has shown, once again, that it fully meets the criteria for accession to the Schengen area, managing the external borders in a responsible and efficient manner. A decision in favour of Romania’s accession to Schengen this year will represent a very important signal to our citizens of belonging to and trust in the common European design,” said Iohannis.

He added that the award has a special meaning for him, and especially for the citizens of Romania, who are staunch pro-European citizens, deeply attached to European democratic values for which they made enormous sacrifices in the past.

“Democracy is a fundamental European value and, together with the rule of law and human rights, is the foundation of the European Union and our way of life. These values are interdependent. Human rights can only be respected in a society where independent courts guarantee their protection and where there can be a democratic and informed debate, with independent media and an active civil society,” said Iohannis.

He added that the importance of these values – as well as the importance of European unity and solidarity – are all the more relevant given the war of aggression started by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and its consequences.

“It has thus become, more obvious than ever, how necessary it is to strengthen the joint commitment to the European design and to the common space of democracy, security and prosperity. The EU has demonstrated that it has the ability to create mechanisms and institutions capable of guaranteeing the security of the state of law and respect for the fundamental rights of its citizens. We all share these values, and the challenges facing Europe now remind us that we must fight for them at every moment,” said Iohannis.

He added that Romania is deeply committed to respecting human rights and human dignity and to acting for peace and freedom, and today’s challenges confirm the need for a stronger and more resilient union.

“Solidarity and our common vision must be built programmatically. We can only face major challenges such as climate change or migration together, through close co-operation at the European level. And the same is true when it comes to our common ability and determination to adequately respond to the imperative to support Ukraine in its war against Russian aggression. This support must also be directed to the countries indirectly affected by the war waged by Russia.”

Iohannis added that Romania showed solidarity through its prompt and multi-dimensional support to Ukraine, through its assistance to over 4.3 million Ukrainian refugees, including 100,000 who stayed in Romania.

Also, Romania has secured the transit of over 15.5 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain and other Ukrainian agricultural produce, which is more than half of Ukraine’s exports.

Iohannis on Saturday received the German Civic Award bestowed by the Bad Harzburg Civic Foundation at a ceremony hosted by Benrath Castle in Dusseldorf, Germany.

According to the Romanian Presidential Administration, the Bad Harzburg Civic Foundation decided to award the German Civic Award to President Klaus Iohannis for his entire political career, particularly for his support for the peaceful coexistence of various ethnicities, commitment to freedom, democracy and pluralism, the restoration and modernisation of his hometown of Sibiu, supporting the anti-corruption fight and attachment to the idea of a united Europe. Delivering the laudatio speech will be Norbert Lammert, the 2015 German Civic Award laureate, a former chairman of the German Federal Parliament.

On Sunday, Iohannis will be presented with the Franz Werfel Human Rights Prize awarded by Germany’s Centre Against Expulsions. The ceremony will take place at St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt am Main.

The Franz Werfel Prize is said to be awarded to the Romanian president in recognition of his activity in the field of promoting human rights and peaceful coexistence among ethnic groups throughout his political career. Delivering the laudatio speech will be Jean-Claude Juncker, a former chairman of the European Commission and prime minister of Luxembourg.