Romania – alongside the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia – predictably went rogue yesterday and voted against the EU’s proposal to allocate quotas of refugees to each of the Union’s countries.
Poland, much to the chagrin of its Eastern European neighbours (and a fair percentage of its population no doubt), sensibly broke ranks and voted in favour. Romania’s disgraceful stance made not a jot of difference, however, given the EU’s qualified majority voting system.
As such, Romania can now expect to receive a modest 6,500 refugees in the very near future. Unlike Slovakia, which has already said it will not take a single refugee (and may be penalised by the EU accordingly), Romania has hinted that while it will continue to oppose the quota system, it will not refuse to take its share of refugees. If this is the case, it will go at least some way towards repairing the country’s reputation as a hospitable place, which has been hurt by its rather knee-jerk reaction to the refugee crisis.
That the Romanian government voted no yesterday did not come as a surprise. As easy at it is to condemn Romania, it should be remembered that the vast majority of the population is right behind the government’s stance. Indeed, only yesterday – shortly before the vote in Brussels – an opinion poll appeared which made for shocking reading (particularly if, like us, you are an immigrant in Romania).
Asked if they would welcome refugees, just 35 per cent replied positively. More than 56 per cent want not a single refugee on Romanian soil. And here’s where the figures stop adding up.
Earlier this year, another opinion poll found that more than 90 per cent of Romanians consider themselves to be Christians. And yet only 35 per cent are willing to help those in need (at no actual cost to themselves, we might add)?
Something’s not quite right there…
Oh, and another thing: we keep reading about how Romania has ‘nowhere to put the refugees.’
Bullshit. There are currently more than two million refugees in Lebanon (from Syria, Palestine and Iraq, as well as some Kurds from Turkey). Lebanon is only slightly bigger than Timis county. Think about that the next time you hear the ‘we’ve no room’ argument.
Update: Iohannis confirmed on Wednesday that Romania would accept the refugees it had been assigned. What’s more, he said that the number of refugees Romania was expected to take ‘is not big’ and that Romania would cope easily enough.