Reporter: James Bays

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Reporter: Let’s discuss all of this further with Bogdan Aurescu, the Foreign Minister of Romania, one of those neighboring countries, neighboring to Hungary, neighboring to Ukraine. I want to come back, maybe to mention Hungry in a minute, but let’s first talk about what a lot of the discussion here in Davos has been about, which is the world food crisis, and particularly that grain that is stuck in Ukraine at a time when more grain is about to be harvested. I think it’s 20 billion tons of grain. How do you get that grain out?

Bogdan Aurescu: I think this is one of the multidimensional effects of the Russian war on Ukraine. The food crisis is „stimulated” by this war, because of the blockade in front of the Odessa Port mainly, but also because of the fact that a lot of population was displaced in Ukraine, so the agricultural season was disturbed. This is creating a lot of trouble, not only for the neighboring countries, but also for many other countries which are in need of this grain. And Romania, as a neighboring country, is trying to help Ukraine to send its grain through Romania, and this is, on one hand, because the Ukrainian economy needs cash and, on the other hand, because it is very important to help the countries which are expecting to receive this grain.

Reporter: But are you getting it out by truck and mainly by railway? And I know that’s logistically difficult and you can’t get anything like the amount that you would have got out in big cargo ships by sea. Are there any discussions of trying to unblock the Black Sea? You’re a member of NATO. Could you use NATO to escort vessels, for example?

Bogdan Aurescu : No, I think what we are doing right now is more pragmatic than that. I mean, we are receiving the grain through our rail system, for instance, through the Galați Port on the Danube, which is one of the largest Romanian ports on this river, and then, from that destination on to Danube, to the Constanța Port, which is the largest port in the Black Sea. And I can inform you that, already in the past weeks, more than 240,000 tons of Ukrainian grain have left the Constanța Port towards other destinations through the Black Sea Straits. And it is very important that we work together in order to create a „coalition of the willing”, more states to be involved in creating such a corridor, a maritime corridor to transport the grain from the Constanța Harbor to other destinations through the Black Sea straits where they are, of course, very much welcome. And from that perspective, last week, during the debates in New York, at the ministerial which was hosted by Secretary Blinken, and during the debate in the Security Council on the relationship between conflict and food security, I have made these proposals. I think it’s also  very important to take care of the floating mines in the Black Sea and to ensure the protection of the vessels which are transporting the grain. And we are doing our best also in terms of liberalizing our transport conditions for Ukrainian transporters. We have already taken this measure on the 5th of April. It is valid until the 5th of July and we will extend it if necessary. So Romania is doing its best to help Ukraine in order to transport its grain, and we are, I think, perhaps best positioned, geographically speaking, in terms of being a hub for transit and export of Ukrainian grain to third destinations.

Reporter: Let me ask you about the unity of the Allies. And two things – NATO and the EU. First, the EU, because you heard me mentioning Hungary a moment ago, that the 6th sanctions package is blocked at the moment. There’s a meeting of European leaders at the beginning of next week, a summit meeting. Do you have high hopes that this can be unblocked?

Bogdan Aurescu: What I can tell you is that Romania supports the package and we want to see the package adopted as soon as possible, including with the ban on oil.

Reporter: And can I quickly then ask you about NATO to Sweden, Finland? There’s a crack merging in the Allies. Is Turkey being difficult here? Or does it have legitimate concerns?

Bogdan Aurescu: Well, let’s wait for the result of the negotiations, which are going to take place these days, because delegations from both Sweden and Finland are meeting in Turkey with the Turkish side, and my hope is that this matter would be solved, because we need both countries in the Alliance, they would be a great acquisition in terms of enhancing the security of the Alliance as a whole. I think their place belongs in the Alliance.

Reporter: Bogdan Aurescu, the Foreign Minister of Romania, thank you so much for talking us to us this evening here on Al Jazeera.

Bogdan Aurescu: Thank you.


Sursa: Interviul acordat de ministrul afacerilor externe Bogdan Aurescu pentru Al-Jazeera English