Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said Monday that his country had not yet been overwhelmed by refugees, so he was prepared to accept more. Ponta, while addressing Parliament, said Romania had received 944 applications for asylum, compared to 900 the year before, Pagina Europeana reported. He called the rise "insignificant."
Romania's neighbors have been slammed in recent weeks as thousands of refugees have attempted to flee violence in Africa and the Middle East. The nation joined Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in opposing a mandatory quota proposed by the European Union. At the time, President Klaus Iohannis said Romania could take only 1,785 migrants instead of its allocated 6,351 -- a number that would ease the pressure on countries like Greece and Italy, Reuters reported.
Iohannis later said he took issue with the quota system, not accepting the refugees, the Associated Press reported. Ponta echoed that message Monday, adding that he supported giving refugees rights to jobs and education. He said he was in favor of boosting the aid allowance for migrants, which is currently the equivalent of less than $1 per day for food.
But he alleged that Russia's airstrikes on Syria, which started Wednesday and have been accused of wounding civilians, were making relations more hostile. "The solution to the refugee crisis is a good relationship between the EU with Turkey and Jordan, fighting terrorism in Syria and support for reconstruction," Ponta tweeted Monday in Romanian.
As of December 2014, Romania had about 2,200 refugees, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. Former President Traian Basescu said last month on TV that Romania should reject any additional applicants. "It’s not our game, it’s not our problem," he said, according to previous International Business Times reporting. "There are others responsible in Europe who need to assume this problem, as they are among those who contributed to the chaos in states such as Syria and Libya."
Ponta's comments came about a week after a no-confidence vote on him failed to pass in Parliament. He was indicted last month for several corruption charges, including forgery and money laundering, Politico reported.