Romania’s acting defense minister said if Romania was confronted by an influx of migrants, the Army would coordinate with the interior ministry to contain the crisis.
Nicolae Ciuca, who is also the candidate for defense minister in a Cabinet led by Florin Citu, made the comments Tuesday at a parliamentary hearing after he was asked whether Romania was prepared for migrants following recent developments in the Middle East.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week his country would step back from a 2016 deal that halted the flow of migrants into Europe which has sparked fears of a new crisis.
The move prompted neighboring Bulgaria and Turkey to beef up their borders as their governments insisted they would not allow anyone to enter. Greek police used smoke grenades at one border crossing, while Bulgaria sent an extra 1,000 troops to its frontier with Turkey.
Romania, which is immediately north of Bulgaria, is not a member of the Schengen passport-free travel space. It is far enough east to have been mainly avoided by refugees traveling from Turkey to Germany along the path that became known as the “Balkan route.”
Ciuca said there had been a analysis of the current situation at a NATO meeting. He said there was a threat and concerns, but did not elaborate.
“Our duty is to be prepared and to take all necessary measures, depending on the developments. …. regarding migrants, the interior ministry is responsible,” he told the committee.
“I can tell you that we have an agreed plan to coordinate activity. The defense ministry will have a complementary role and we are prepared to support all the decisions and actions of troops and police officers from the interior ministry.”
The committee approved Ciuca as minister in a 14-6 vote. The Cabinet will face a vote in parliament next week.
This comes after Turkish claims that a Russian-backed Syrian regime offensive, including an airstrike in the Syrian province of Idlib killed 51 Turkish military personnel.
Idlib is one of the last rebel holdouts in Syria and fears of a return to full-scale conflict has raised concerns of more Syrian migrants heading to the Turkish border.
According to the UNHCR, Turkey hosts 4.1 million refugees, including 3.7 million Syrians. Turkey backs some rebel groups in Syria, which is why it has troops inside Idlib.