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France's Ambassador: Romania - France Strategic Partnership, truly crucial

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The Romania - France Strategic Partnership "has been truly crucial" during the French Presidency of the EU Council, France's Ambassador in Bucharest Laurence Auer said on Wednesday.

The diplomat held a press conference at the end of the mandate of the French Presidency of the EU Council.

"France and Romania have constantly found a manner of progressing on the topics on the agenda. Our Strategic Partnership, Romania - France, has been truly crucial, this was obvious as President Macron came [to Romania] and took President Iohannis with him to Ukraine, together with Chancellor Olaf Scholtz and Prime Minister Draghi," the Ambassador said.

At the same time, she appreciated that "the progress made on the Schengen reform" will open the path for the next steps Romania and Bulgaria have to cover to be integrated in the Schengen Area.

Auer detailed that, in the six months of the French Presidency of the EU Council, a number of 130 decisions were made, out of which 50 were related to the war in Ukraine, the sanctions imposed on Russia.

"The 50 sanction packages were something no one could have imagined and no one knew was possible. Usually, when we talk sanctions, the discussions could last even two months and a half. So it was complicated. The thing that was not complicated was the unity. France gathered an unbelievable support. We had this from the COVID-19 period (...), we already knew that at a moment of crisis the European Union must be efficient, otherwise we would be despised by, for instance, Russia today. There would be comments that we are not efficient. The French Presidency had this characteristic - of listening to everyone, we hadn't a top to bottom agenda," the diplomat pointed out.

At the same time, she added that France's objective was not to stop the already set agenda, in the context of the war in Ukraine. "We wanted to have the structural approaches in Europe, in parallel with the crisis management," she said. The diplomat appreciated that "the European institutions can deal with such a crisis." "We have managed to keep unity," Laurence Auer said.

On the other hand, an unconcluded issue remains the EU enlargement in the Western Balkans, she showed. "If Moldova and Ukraine are candidate countries to join the EU and, at the same time, we have countries that have been candidates for 17 years, the latters develop resentments against the EU and voice their dissatisfaction with our lack of efficiency. Maybe this is an aspect we regret," Auer said. 

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