Reflection of Romania’s Contribution to European Security on the Schengen Process

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Due to its geopolitical location, Romania is an important country for both the European Union (EU) and the United States (USA). In particular, it is perceived as a buffer zone against Russian expansionism, which has been discussed recently. Therefore, both the EU and the USA tend to expand and deepen their relations with Romania. The Bucharest administration, on the other hand, perceives the “Russian threat” as a matter of national security.

As it can be understood, the common threat perception plays a decisive role in the policies of these actors. Accordingly, it is still discussed that Romania is not a Schengen member. As a matter of fact, in its report on the Schengen Area, the European Commission called for the approval of Romania’s accession from the EU countries.[1]

As it is known, the Russia-Ukraine War was perceived by the regional states as a violation of their sovereignty and European states-imposed sanctions on Russia. It is seen that Bucharest has pioneered the said sanctions. In addition to these sanctions, Romania makes statements that will open the legitimacy of Russia to discussion before the international community. In this regard, it is noteworthy that Romanian President Klaus Lohannis declared that Russia violated international law by attacking Ukraine.[2]

On the other hand, the Russia-Ukraine War caused the actors in the region to feel various security concerns; has also accelerated the cooperation between these actors. Moreover, Lohannis stated that the protection of Romania and Moldova would ensure the security of Europe. [3]

While Romania’s anti-Russian policies continue, it is seen that its strategic importance in the region has increased. In this framework, the Bucharest administration has not only strengthened relations with the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); At the same time, it has strengthened its bilateral relations with the states of the region. In particular, there is a significant progress in Romania’s relations with Hungary. The good relations between the two countries were clearly demonstrated by the support of the Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto to Romania on the Schengen issue. Szijjarto stated that Romania should be a part of the Schengen Area and that the relations between the parties will improve.[4]

It should be noted that; With the steps it took against Russia, Romania gained the support of both Europe and the states of the region and gained significant support for Schengen membership. Although the desired result has not been reached yet, Romanian Minister of Interior Lucian Bode stated that his country has been ready to join the Schengen Area since 2011.[5]

The political importance of Romania in the region is increasing and the parties are producing various policies with this awareness. It would be appropriate to say that Romania is becoming more important day by day, especially in terms of integration processes in Europe. Thierry Breton, Member of the European Commission for Internal Market, stated that Romania can play an important role in the defense industry.[6]

Although it is true that Romania contributed to European integration, there are many developments that feed this process. Especially the steps of Russia are very important for the parties. For example, a Polish aircraft patrolling for the Agency for Operational Cooperation for the Management of External Borders of EU Member States (FRONTEX) in cooperation with the Romanian Border Police was harassed by a Russian warplane.[7] It is obvious that such events lead the parties to common security policies and integration.

In addition to all these developments, the fact that Europe took a position against Russia and turned to various initiatives to ensure the security of the region increased the importance of Romania. In this context, various exercises were held in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Black Sea. In particular, “Junction Strike 23”, which is described as the Biggest Exercise of Special Operations Forces, started in Romania.[8]

It would be correct to say that the exercise in question took place as an intimidation against Russia. It is also clear that the rapprochement between Bucharest and Bar will contribute to the reduction of security concerns of the actors in the region. One of the most striking of these efforts belongs to Romania. Because in the Russo-Ukrainian War, the Bucharest administration consistently supported Ukraine and continued to strengthen its own defense and army. In this context, Romania has made various initiatives, especially regarding the modernization of the army. For example, Romania will buy submarines from France, minelayers from the UK and tanks from the USA.[9]

As a result, it can be stated that security concerns, which can be considered as the reflection of the Russia-Ukraine War in Europe, bring the actors in the region closer to each other. At this point, Romania comes to the fore as an important buffer zone and strengthens its army day by day, reducing the security concerns of European states.

[1] “EC Makes Another Recommendation for Romania’s and Bulgaria’s Schengen Membership”, Romania-Insider,, (Date of Accession: 17.05.2023).

[2] “Romanian President: By Its Illegal Aggression Against Ukraine, Russia Has Blatantly Violated International Law”, Romania Insider,, (Date of Accession: 17.05.2023).

[3] “Romanian President on Europe Day: By Protecting Europe, We Protect Ourselves”, Romania Insider,, (Date of Accession:09.05.2023).

[4] “Romania Should Join Schengen Hungarian Foreign Minister 2023”, Romania Insider,, (Date of Accession: 10.05.2023).

[5] “Austria’s Refusal to Allow Romania into Schengen is a Matter of Domestic Politics, Minister Says”, Romania Insider,, (Date of Accession: 04.05.2023).

[6] ““Romania Will Play a More Significant Role in the Defense Industry,” European Commissioner Says”, Romania Insider,, (Date of Accession: 12.04.2023).

[7] “Polish Aircraft in Frontex Mission Harassed by Russian Fighter Jet Close to Romania’s Airspace”, Romania Insider,, (Date of Accession: 08.05.2023).

[8] “Junction Strike 23: Military Exercise of the Special Operations Forces Starts in Romania”, Romania Insider,, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).

[9] “Romania to Purchase Submarines, Tanks, Minehunters as Part of Army Modernization Program”, Romania Insider, , (Date of Accession: 19.05.2023).