President Klaus discusses EU accession, meets Czech community in Romania

President Vaclav Klaus and his Romanian counterpart Traian Basescu, photo: CTK

Czech President Vaclav Klaus is visiting Romania this week to meet the country's top officials as it gears up to join the European Union, together with its neighbour Bulgaria. EU membership has been high on the agenda of talks with Romania's top officials, as well as the United States visa requirements, a concern shared by both countries.

President Vaclav Klaus and his Romanian counterpart Traian Basescu, photo: CTK
After Monday's meeting with his Romanian counterpart Traian Basescu, President Vaclav Klaus said he had "no advice to give" him on joining the EU, but added that accession would not be earth-shattering for his country. The European Commission is to decide in September whether Romania and Bulgaria will join the EU on January 1, 2007 - as planned - or must wait another year, depending on their progress in fighting corruption. Radio Prague's Alexis Rosenzweig is in Romania and I asked him earlier what else was on the agenda of the talks in Bucharest.

"Actually, bilateral relations and the European Union have been the main focuses of Vaclav Klaus's visit to Romania so far. It is his first visit to Romania since he was elected president and despite the governmental crisis in Prague, he insisted on coming to Romania before its accession to confirm a long tradition of friendship and cooperation between the two countries that might even get bigger after the accession of Romania to the European Union."

There is a large Czech community living in Romania. Is President Klaus meeting its representatives?

Traian Basescu and Vaclav Klaus, photo: CTK
"Yes, actually a dozen of the descendants of Czech émigrés, who came here in the 19th century and now live in a few villages in the southwest of Romania, next to the Serbian border, were very proud to have the opportunity to meet the head of the Czech state at the Czech embassy in Bucharest. There are maybe 3,500 of inhabitants of Czech origin in this region called Banat. They brought typical dishes and played music and they were dressed in their traditional colourful costumes."

Has President Klaus also commented on the latest political developments back home?

"Yes, of course, and that was the main concern of the Czech journalists in the Czech delegation. They asked him about the situation in Prague and when they asked, Vaclav Klaus confirmed his intention to be an active player in the next few days. He said here that as soon as he comes back from Romania he will meet the leaders of the five political parties represented in parliament in order to find a way out of the post-election deadlock. We can say it is quite an important move announced by the president in Romania because so far he has refused to meet the Communists but now the Communist Party will play an official role in the future negotiations that Vaclav Klaus intends to lead."