Captură video: AICI.

Realizator: Becky Anderson


Becky Anderson: Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu now joins me from Bucharest. And there’s Zelensky repeating his call, sir, for a no fly zone and for NATO membership. You are, of course, a member of the Alliance. You have been so for nearly twenty years. Do you sympathize with his pleas at this point?

Bogdan Aurescu: Good afternoon and thank you for having me again! Yes, Romania was and still is one of the very strong supporters of the Ukrainian aspirations for EU accession and also for NATO accession. Let me just remind the fact that during the NATO Summit in Bucharest, in 2008, the decision of the Alliance was taken to accept both Ukraine and Georgia as members of the Alliance, when the conditions will be met. We have supported strongly both the European and the Euro-Atlantic perspective of Ukraine.

As far as the no fly zone is concerned, I think the decision of the Alliance was made clear by the Secretary General of NATO a couple of weeks ago, when this issue first came up. The problem is that involving NATO in this operation would put NATO in direct conflict with Russia, and since Ukraine is not a NATO member, this cannot be done.

Basically, NATO has helped and continues to help Ukraine in all ways possible. The Member States are helping Ukraine with a lot of effort, but with the exception of getting NATO directly involved in this conflict.

The EU is also supporting Ukraine a lot. For instance, today, within the European Union, we have adopted a fourth package of sanctions, including an import ban on steel products from Russia, an export ban from EU to Russia of luxury goods, also, a full prohibition of any transactions with certain Russian state-owned enterprises across different sectors and also a ban on the rating of Russia and Russian companies by EU credit rating agencies. We have also extended the list of sanctioned persons and entities.

So the package of sanctions adopted by the European Union is now very strong and together with our partners from the United States, from Canada, from the UK, from other countries like Japan, Australia, South Korea – this creates a lot of pressure on the Russian economy.

Becky Anderson: Foreign Minister, a couple of things. What it doesn’t do is answer the plea, the continued plea by the Ukrainian President for a no fly zone, closing the skies, as he said. I know you’ve deferred to NATO as an alliance in suggesting that it’s a decision that’s been taken by NATO not to effect a no fly zone. But I’m asking you specifically, do you sympathize and do you or would you support the effecting of a no fly zone? The President continues to ask for that, you’ve said that the EU is doing everything that it can, but as far as the Ukrainian President is concerned, that’s not enough at this point. The other point is, of course, that the energy’s still not banned by the European Union and I know that there are plans afoot longer term to divest, you know, from using Russian energy, but that hasn’t happened either, sir, has it?

Bogdan Aurescu: Well, as far as the NATO decision is concerned, it’s not just about the International Secretariat of the Alliance, it is a decision which is taken by the members of NATO, and this includes Romania.

As far as energy is concerned, indeed, this creates a lot of vulnerabilities to the EU as a whole, to the EU Member States. That’s why we have this plan to reduce, as fast as possible, the dependence on Russian gas and other products related to energy from Russia.

The fact is that, while Romania is one of the less dependent countries on gas imports from Russia, the EU as a whole is more than 40% dependent on gas imports from Russia, it is around 27% dependent on crude oil imports from Russia and 47% dependent on coal and fuel imports from Russia. These are figures from 2019, and they are relevant because they are before the pandemic – the economy was affected a lot by the pandemic.

So it is important to find alternative ways to reduce this dependence by investing in, for instance, nuclear – Romania is doing that –, by investing in renewables, by diversifying the sources and by interconnecting our countries.

For instance, even today, during the visit of the President of Bulgaria to the President of Romania, Mr. Iohannis, we have discussed about speeding up the finalization of the Bulgaria-Greece Interconnector, in order to allow us to import more gas for the countries in the region from alternative sources, other than Russian sources.

Becky Anderson: Right. So there are clearly plans to reduce that reliance, but it isn’t in the short term, whereas the Americans of course have decided that they will ban those hydrocarbons immediately. Alright, look, more than 450,000 refugees have made their way into Romania since the start of this war and that must be applauded. The fact that Romania has opened its doors and those sort of numbers have traveled through the country is remarkable. The number, though, has declined significantly and as I understand it, daily arrivals are now down by more than 50%, compared to last week. Any idea why that is?

Bogdan Aurescu: Well, the decline is not that much. Actually, as of yesterday, the figures are more than 460,000 refugees who entered Romania and we are speaking only about Ukrainian citizens, because also a figure of around 30,000 third-country citizens entered Romania.

The prospects are that these numbers will grow – this is at least what the International Organization for Migration tells us. I think that even if the fights will stop in Ukraine, the refugees will still come, because the conditions of life are very much deteriorated by the Russian aggression. So I wouldn’t say that the numbers are declining. To the contrary, I think that the numbers will grow or they are likely to grow.

As far as the refugees coming to Romania are concerned, we have received all of them, irrespective of their nationality. Of course, there are mainly Ukrainian refugees and mainly mothers and children. A lot of them are staying in Romania, as well. As we speak around 80,000 are staying in Romania, and more than a third are children. We are providing conditions for enrollment in schools and universities for students. We have provided free medical care, assistance, shelter, whatever was needed in order for them to feel comfortable, or at least, under the current conditions, to feel comfortable.

A lot of NGOs and Romanian citizens, regular Romanian citizens, mobilized in a very empathic way to help the authorities cope with this situation. I think we will be able to cope with the situation and receive everybody who is coming and asking for help for entering Romania and then staying here or leaving for other countries. There were more than 90 countries which asked for our support in order to evacuate their citizens. More than 20 diplomatic missions which were in Kyiv were also evacuated through Romania.

Becky Anderson: Remarkable!

Bogdan Aurescu: This humanitarian effort continues, also through a hub which we have organized in the northern part of Romania, in Suceava, a humanitarian hub allowing for the collection and transfer to Ukraine of international aid. This hub is already operational since the 9th of March, and it has been used by, of course, Romania – we have transferred our humanitarian aid, which was quite consistent, to Ukraine –, but also by countries like Italy, Bulgaria and others.

Becky Anderson: And with that, I have to leave it there because I must take a break. But it is very good to catch up with you, we’ll have you back soon, as there’s an awful more I would like to speak to you about.


Sursa: Intervența ministrului Bogdan Aurescu la CNN, emisiunea ,,Connecting the world with Becky Anderson