Political and diplomatic relationships between Bucharest and Vienna are under strain again as the Romanian delegation at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been apparently blocking the participation of Austrian officers in NATO meetings.
Two Austrian army officers in Brussels have been waiting for weeks for their accreditation with the alliance as Romania opposes their presence without explanation, according to the Austrian newspaper Oberösterreichische Nachrichten.
The report claims that Romania’s stance is in fact a retaliation for the Austrian federal government's Schengen veto for Romanian membership application last year.
The Romanian representative at NATO declined to comment on the matter but asked time to think until mid-October. A NATO spokesman expressed optimism that the two countries – both members of the European Union – would settle the issue as soon as possible, said Kurier, another Austrian publication.
Austria is not a member of NATO but participates in its “Partnership for Peace” program since 1995 and in peacekeeping operations under UN mandates.
In December 2022, the Vienna government blocked the applications from Romania and Bulgaria to join the Schengen area, citing “poor control of their borders” and “an influx of asylum-seekers” the two countries.
This decision raised eye-brows in Brussels, where the European Commission said the two nations were ready to become part of the passport-free zone since 2011. Even the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning Austria.
Some accused Austria of playing a game to please Russia, given the “neutrality” of Vienna in the Russian-Ukrainian war and the refusal to publicly distance itself from President Vladimir Putin.
If Austria votes against Romania's accession to Schengen at one of the next two meetings of EU interior and justice ministers, Bucharest has threatened to challenge the decision before the Court of Justice of the European Union.
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