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PM Ciuca says he expects Romania to join Schengen this year

Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca said in an interview with Bloomberg that he expects Romania to join Schengen this year and that Brussels will give up the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) for our country.

In reference to the war in Ukraine, Ciuca said that it opens a fault line between free and autocratic states and considered that NATO must prepare for at least the medium term deployment on the eastern flank.

It is "wishful thinking" to expect relations between Russia and the West to return to the pre-war state immediately after the end of the fighting ceases in Ukraine, given that the Kremlin seems determined to create a buffer between itself and NATO, Romanian Prime minister said in the interview.

Although he has said he does not believe Russia will attack a NATO country - triggering an open conflict - the current war has confirmed warnings issued for more than a decade by eastern members of the Alliance that President Vladimir Putin is determined to reclaim territories once controlled by the Soviet Union.

"Russia is not thinking like us. Russia is not behaving like us," Nicolae Ciuca said in the interview he has granted on Tuesday in his Bucharest office.
"The situation now, it seems, is recreating that hole between western civilization and eastern civilization, between free, democratic countries and autocratic regimes."

If the Russians "don't want to stop as quick as possible and to negotiate, to find a solution, to recognize Ukraine's territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty, they will do the same with other countries," PM Ciuca said.

"It's not only about defense, it's about food security' globally, Ciuca went on.
"It's about a region that's very close to the Balkans region as well, so all these decisions made to increase deterrence and defense along the whole eastern flank are very welcome."

Ciuca also said that it is expected that Romania - after more than a decade of standby - will obtain entry into the Schengen area before the end of the year, a step that would eliminate the long waits at Romania's borders with other EU states and increase Romania's attractiveness to foreign investors. Brussels will also give up a regime that monitors Romania's progress in reforming the judiciary and eradicating corruption, the Romanian Premier said, after years of criticism from the EU executive.

"Everything we did since the conflict started shows that we are prepared to become a member of Schengen," Ciuca said.
"We really do expect all the other EU leaders to recognize everything we did."