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UPDATED 22:09

Bucharest, Jan 10 /Agerpres/ - "In Romania I feel like at home," said, on Thursday evening, in Bucharest, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, at the inauguration ceremony of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union at the Romanian Athenaeum.

"2019 will be a determining year for Romania and for Europe. The Romanian Presidency must guide the Councils of the EU in the months that precede the European elections, in a moment in which Europeans are requesting a more efficient Europe," said Tajani, who spoke in French, but started his speech with the words "Good evening Romania, many happy returns" in Romanian.

"Romania has always had a European vocation. Over 2000 years ago, our Roman ancestors crossed the Danube and ended up on these lands, identifying a people who was then unique in the worlds. This journey changed the course of history. Your beautiful country derives its name from the powerful Roman presence (...) I feel like home here," said Tajani, to the applause of the spectators.

 "Faced with a Union incapable of providing rapid response, the populist sirens are gaining ground. And still, in a world more uncertain than ever, we must have, more than ever, a powerful Europe to protect our citizens. It is essential to work together for a more efficient Europe. The motto of the Romanian Presidency echoes this demand. Cohesion is a common European value, because it reflects exactly the will to not leave anyone behind," said the President of the European Legislature.

Tajani stated that he shares the vision of the great Romanian diplomat Grigore Gafencu, who said "There is but a single Europe! Even if its body is mutilated and divided, the European idea is indivisible."

"Nowhere has the word Europe proven more powerful than in the states in the east. The idea of a European unity brings all over the continent to mind the promise of peace and, as a consequence, the promise of freedom," Tajani added.

The President concluded that "we are counting on the Romanian Presidency to promote this ambition and to support the idea of cohesion and solidarity. More solidarity in the future budget means that solidarity does not have to go one-way. I want to thank Romania for proposing to accommodate migrants disembarking in their countries of first arrival. It is an example to be followed," said Tajani. AGERPRES (RO - author: Florin Stefan, editor: Gabriela Ionescu; EN - author: Razvan-Adrian Pandea; editor: Adina Panaitescu)

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