BRUSSELS—Since January 1, Romania took over the EU presidency from Austria. During the next six months, the country will have the important role of chairing the EU Council of Ministers.
At the European Parliament’s first session of 2019 in Strasbourg, Romanian Prime Minnister Viorica Dancila reviewed the plans of her country’s presidency of the Council with the MEPs.
What means a Romanian EU presidency for Israel ?
Israel and Romania have very strong friendly relations, based on a long tradition of cooperation and historic bonds, but also on common values and vision shared by the two peoples.
The diplomatic relations between the two countries were established when Romania recognized the State of Israel, immediately after its creation, on 11 June 1948.
Between 1967 and 1989, Romania was the only country from the Soviet space which had continuous relations with Israel, which in turn offered it a special position in Israel’s foreign policy.
Over the years, Romania has become an important partner of Israel in Central and Eastern Europe, as the two countries share similar values and principles. Thus, the cooperation between Israel and Romania has grown stronger in many areas, such as political, commercial, economic, defense, and cultural relations. T
Israel-Romania long-standing strategic and political cooperation is emphasized by the extensive exchanges of high-level visits, culminating with the state visit of president Klaus Iohannis to Jerusalem in March 2016.
The two governments held a joint meeting last November.
Last year, Romania’s government under Prime Minister Dancila backed a proposal to move the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
During a Dancila’s visit to Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the “Romanian government’s approval of a draft decision on initiating the transfer of the Romanian Embassy to Jerusalem.”
But the government’s plan on Jerusalem triggered a spat with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis who opposed the move and urged government to show “responsibility and discernment on major foreign policy decisions that have strategic effects including on national security.”
“The president would like to remind that there are a series of UN security council resolutions … requesting, among other things, that UN member states abstain from setting up diplomatic missions in Jerusalem,” he said.
“As a result, relocating Romania’s embassy would constitute breaking the relevant international law,” he added.
Iohannis even called on Dancila to resign but the Prime Minuister “categorically” rejected the call.
The EU has criticized the Romanian government’s plans.
Romania last year abstained on a United Nations General Assembly Resolution that condemned the US administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there.