Romanian ambassador to Berlin: “Romania ‘under stress’ but will abide by agreements”

The economic crisis has put Romanian political leadership under pressure, but this should not distract the government from complying with its international obligations, Romanian ambassador to Berlin Lazăr Comănescu said.

Commenting on the loss of a confidence vote which sanctioned the end of the grand coalition government of Emil Boc, Comănescu, a career diplomat and a former foreign minister, said that such setbacks are normal for a democratic country like Romania. 

In spite of difficulties, the Romanian official stressed that his country will abide by the agreements that recently helped it to secure a 18 billion euro aid package from the IMF, which Bucharest hopes to receive in February. The government crisis should not be seen as an excuse to flout international agreements and avoid tackling the country’s problems, he said.

On 23 December, the Romanian centrist coalition of Prime Minister Emil Boc won a parliamentary vote of confidence, bringing to an end a protracted period of political uncertainty.

“The agreement with the IMF and the European Commission has to be implemented irrespective of who is in government. Romania has to do that. There is no alternative if we want to increase the efficiency of our economy and in general to come back to economic growth,” Comănescu said.

The diplomat rejected the view that Romania is a country to which firms relocate only due to its attractive low wages. The competitiveness of Romanian labour also lies in the high levels of productivity and education of its workers, he insisted, illustrating his words with the example of telecoms giant Nokia, which has shifted some operations to Romania.

When asked about persistent problems with the Roma minority, he claimed that although more work is necessary in this regard, Romania should be seen as a country which successfully integrates its diverse German, Hungarian and Roma minorities.

Referring to the latter, the ambassador invoked a more coordinated European approach with efforts “aimed at social integration, including facilitation of exchange of experience and […] funding of projects to improve the social integration and access to appropriate education”.

Asked about the future of enlargement and specifically quizzed about Turkey, Comănescu claimed that it is necessary for Europe to remain coherent in its promises made to Turkey, insisting that backtracking on Turkey’s membership perspective would be a serious blow to the EU’s credibility.

He also criticised those who claim that the negative experience of enlargement to Romania and Bulgaria plays against Turkey’s case to join the Union. “These are populist and superficial arguments. All previous enlargements have been a success for Europe,” Comănescu insisted.

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