The Hon. Dr. Vasile Puşcaş (Former Minister of European Affairs of Romania)

13.05.2011 - Interview Conducted by Claire Bourdon & Simon Rajbar

Q1. Together with Bulgaria, Romania is expected to join the Schengen area soon, as suggested by the European Parliament’s Commission. If that happens, do you have an idea about what immigration and emigration movements might look like?

I can speak only on behalf of Romania, or more precisely from the point of view of Romania. Romania does not see a threat from the flow of immigration. This is very fortunate, and for this reason I think that Romania could be a very important partner for the Schengen program, as part of its bid to strengthen the external borders of the European Union. However, I think there is a difference when talking about the issue of managing immigration processes and talking about Schengen program. If we want to involve Schengen programs in managing immigration flow, we have to develop new tools. I expect in the near future that both European agencies and member states will develop these tools. I know that recently, European ministers of the interior spoke about this issue, but unfortunately I have no details about this meeting.

Q2. The Dutch Minister for European Affairs claimed that The Netherlands does not approve of the integration of Romania into the Schengen zone unless it sees progress with justice reforms in the country. Do you think that this statement is justified and if yes, why?

It is only up to the Netherlands, precisely the Dutch government, to assess the issues of domestic policy of the Netherlands. In my opinion, these kinds of statements imply that domestic internal policy is at the same time European policy. I would be very happy if this could happen soon but I am afraid it is only a tool of foreign policy, not of internal policy. But it is in Romania’s interests to deal with the issues of justice reform, rule of law and European citizenship. I hope that very soon the Dutch government, as well as other member states, will proclaim a success for Romania in this regard.

Q3. Do you think the internet in your country is a way of improving the liberty of press, and of facilitating the freedom of personal expression?

I can only express my personal view. I am a fan of total freedom, full freedom of expression and using communication tools such as the internet and all types of social media. In my own opinion, it is unfortunate that politicians do not understand what social media means. Personally, I fully agree with having a media dialogue, not just a media monologue.

Q4. Your country was the first in the world to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Are you satisfied with the emphasis that the Romanian government places on the environment?

My expectations are higher regarding the issue of environment. I am not part of the environmental movement, but I think philosophically that there is a common, organic relationship between nature, human beings and technology. I fully agree with new technologies and with new investments, but at the same time we have to take care of the environment. For this reason, I think Romania and other poor countries must be very careful with new types of investments. I disagree with a lot of investments that violate the Kyoto Protocol, and European legislation on the environment. I am very serious about this issue.

Q5. As the former director of the Romanian Cultural Center in New York, could you tell us what this position taught you about cultural diplomacy and power?

First of all, permanent everyday communication is important. It cannot be just a campaign, and cannot be about propaganda. I think that globalization, as I just defined it, means global interconnectedness.  Interconnectedness means at the same time information and communication, not just information only, or communication only - it is a two way street. My experience at the Romanian Cultural Center in 1991/1992 was perhaps the best professional opportunity in using this intellectual and cultural diplomacy for solving crises and problems.

Q6. Do you consider cultural diplomacy necessary in order to ensure a global cultural standardization rather than some kind of global identity?

Personally, I am not afraid of the standardization of global culture. I still believe in diversity of cultures, and I still believe in the necessities of managing a diversity of cultures. The European Union is perhaps the most experienced in managing this.  It is not only experienced in this but also very successful.

Thank you for your time.