Romania’s president on Monday warned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could lead to years of security challenges for Europe, calling for the EU to become stronger to respond to threats to its core values.
Like elsewhere across the continent, Europe Day was celebrated on Monday against a backdrop of Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine and uncertainties about the future.
“Europe Day finds us this year in a completely redefined context…. We are living … with a war on the borders of the European Union, which has generated the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II,” President Klaus Iohannis said.
The UN Refugee Agency says 5.7 million people have fled Ukraine and there are another 7.7 million internally displaced people in Ukraine according to the International Organization for Migration.
The Romanian president warned that Russia’s threat to Euro-Atlantic security may last for years.
“In these difficult times, Europe must become stronger, more vocal, and better prepared, through enhanced transatlantic cooperation and working in full…with NATO.”
He said the bloc must provide sustained support for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia which are facing major security challenges as a result of Russia’s invasion.
Europe Day which is celebrated on May 9 every year commemorates the day on which the building of the European Union is said to have begun.
„One of the reasons why the European Union was founded was … to put an end to the wars that plagued it all last century,” said Marcel Ciolacu, head of the Social Democratic Party, one of the two main parties in the ruling coalition.
He said the war in neighboring was another reminder how important it was for Romania to be a member of the EU and NATO.
“On Europe Day, we must first of all send out a clear message against those who challenge the benefits of this membership. Without the EU, we would be totally irrelevant. It is an illusion to think that you can stand by yourself. It is very important to have a stable Europe… and combat extremist and populist currents,” he wrote on Facebook.
Romania is celebrating 15 years since it joined the EU this year. It became a NATO member in 2004.
Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu on Monday called for peace.
“We are more aware than ever of the huge responsibility to bring back peace to Europe as a whole, to safeguard democratic values, stability and prosperity.”