Dacian Cioloş: Good afternoon, I have been on a flying visit, so to speak, to Ottawa. The visit was long planned ahead, but given the developing talks regarding ratification of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), I wanted to have this tête-à-tête with Prime Minister Trudeau, mainly concerning visa elimination for Romania. I would like to remind you that Romania and Bulgaria are the only remaining EU-member states still required to apply for visa, despite a political commitment undertaken by Canada back in 2007 and reaffirmed in 2014 to eliminate the visa system, thus allowing Romanian citizens to obtain the same rights as all other EU citizens and to implement this commitment by the time CETA is ratified.
On the other hand, as you may well know, Canada has a very careful and restrictive policy regarding migration and asylum, therefore such decisions for visa exemption are very difficult to be reached on the political level. For this reason, I insisted to have these talks with PM Trudeau in order to state Romania’s willingness to endorse the CETA agreement – as it can benefit both Canada and the European Union, also Romania – but at the same time to argue that Romania needs to see clear progress and decisions regarding visas, so that it can fully endorse this treaty and see its citizens enjoying provisions to the full, similar to all other EU citizens.
We have also tackled some technical aspects and I presented our point of view regarding technicalities that should no longer represent an obstacle to the ultimately political decision that needs to be reached by Canada.
We believe that the recently concluded expert mission in Bucharest will confirm this and I can assure you, following talks today, I am confident a commonly agreed solution might be reached by the end of the year.
Minister Tudorache, Head of Prime Minister’s Chancellery, has also had a bilateral meeting with his counterpart Minister McCallum who is responsible for migration matters. Over the next days, by the end of the month, minister McCallum is to have a meeting in Brussels with Commissioner Avramopoulos and with representatives of both Romania and Bulgaria, to carry on with these talks. We will continue our bilateral talks as well to find the best solutions by the end of this year, as I said, in order to obtain a political commitment as to ensure a full endorsement by Romania of CETA ratification.
The Canadian Prime Minister and I have also evoked the positive and constructive contribution brought by the Romanian community – the 200.000 Canadians of Romanian origin – to Canada’s economic and social growth whom we see as a bridge that consolidates our bilateral relation, which is a very good relation.
We appreciated Canada’s support for Romania’s NATO accession at the time and afterwards its constant support to strengthen and stimulate our presence within the Alliance, we cooperated many times in theatres of operations like Afghanistan and we are now waiting for Canada to support our proposals drafted for the NATO Summit in Warsaw regarding a consolidated presence of the Alliance on the Eastern flank, not only in the North-East, but also in the South-East. Prime Minister Trudeau expressed Canada’s commitment to endorse Romania’s proposals.