“I called Ponta to ask him if he’s behind this filth,” former PNL leader says.
Former PNL President Crin Antonescu denied the allegations that he was blackmailed by President Traian Basescu in order to drop out of the presidential race and stated that he called Premier Victor Ponta in order to ask him whether he is “behind this filth,” ziare.com informs.
“I have nothing to do with what happened to Mr. Uioreanu, I had no contact with Mr. Basescu. I called Mr. Ponta, with whom I hadn’t spoken since the start of the year, and I asked him. (…) He told me he has nothing to do with it. I wonder how it was possible for a young politician, Mr. Liviu Pop, to state such filth. That is why I called the Premier, in an exceptional way,” Antonescu stated, being quoted by realitatea.net. The former leader of PNL stated sarcastically that “he will have to” run for president in order to prove he is not prone to being blackmailed. “There is no reason, apart from my own will, that would prevent this candidacy. I have no obligation to issue a report about my meetings with another political character, even if I had met Traian Basescu one million times,” the Liberal added.
Antonescu’s reaction came as a reply to the statements made by PSD Lower Chamber MP Liviu Pop on Monday, who claimed that the Head of State allegedly asked the former PNL President during a meeting in February to drop out of the presidential race. According to Pop, Basescu allegedly showed Antonescu data from a National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) investigation, data which concerned Cluj County Council Chairman Horea Uioreanu (PNL) and which involved Antonescu in the route taken by the money that Uioreanu received as bribes. “Each lie has an expiration date, and each truth always comes to the surface. We have clear information that President Basescu had a very important meeting with Mr. Antonescu on February 10 this year, a meeting in which the Liberals’ leader was informed that there are pieces of evidence and incriminating recordings concerning the bribe from Cluj County Council Chairman Horea Uioreanu. There was only one goal, it seems Basescu asked Antonescu to drop out of the presidential race, mentioning the option Ponta – president, Antonescu – premier, a scenario that is reflected in Basescu’s statements the day after,” Pop stated in an open letter addressed to the “Basescu-Antonescu couple” and remitted to Agerpres on Monday. It was allegedly after that meeting that Antonescu decided to take PNL out of the government and break the USL Alliance, then to drop out of the presidential race.
Pop demanded answers to several questions. “Mr. Basescu, is it true that you met Mr. Antonescu on February 10 in order to present him with incriminating information concerning Uioreanu’s bribes? Mr. Antonescu, is it true that you were asked to drop out of the presidential race in exchange for creating a united right wing under Basescu’s leadership? Mr. Basescu, do you admit you offered Antonescu protection in this court case? We invite you to an objective dialogue and to honest answers, because Romania has the right to know who is behind the power games,” the Social Democrat wrote.
Johannis looking for backers
Meanwhile, interim PNL President Klaus Johannis has started a forceful tour through the party’s local branches, in order to win their backing for his presidential bid.
Johannis has started, on Tuesday, internal consultations regarding the party presidency. ‘Today (yesterday) we are starting a series of regional meetings during which I wish to invite those who are running for the party presidency to express their thoughts, and colleagues in the party come with questions, different suggestions (…)’ said Johannis, at the Palace of the Parliament. He said that he wishes to talk to his Liberal colleagues about the unification of the right wing, PNL’s adhesion to the EPP, as well as the presidential candidate. ‘I want to emphasize the importance of internal competition in the party for the elections that are to determine the president and vice presidents’, said Johannis. The PNL leader expressed his hope that the consultations will be attended by PNL senator Ioan Ghise, who has announced his candidacy for the party chairmanship.
On the other hand, he showed that he is not worried about the fact that former PNL President Crin Antonescu may return to the presidential elections, stating that he sees this competition as being open and he does not want to artificially close it. The PNL consultations are to take place in the regional organizations as well.
The interim PNL president commented on Premier Victor Ponta’s statement that he has more liberal views than he has, replying that he invites Ponta to join PNL if he has such deeply etched liberal views: ‘I read about Mr. Ponta’s highly interesting statement that he is allegedly more liberal than myself. The reverse is not true. I am not more socialist than Mr. Ponta, but on the other hand here’s an easy way for PNL to secure the position of Prime Minister. If Mr. Ponta is that liberal, I invite him to join the Liberal Party. Anyway, it seems that he had voted for the Liberals, so this would be an interesting solution’.
The meetings of the Bucharest-Ilfov region and of the party branches located in Oltenia and Muntenia were scheduled yesterday afternoon. The day before, the PNL branches from Dolj and Vrancea counties adopted resolutions backing Johannis as the party’s presidential candidate. On the other hand, the PNL Arges branch claims that in what concerns the Romanian Presidency the candidacy has to be assumed by a Liberal designated as a result of opinion polls. On the other hand, PNL Braila’s Permanent Delegation has approved, with 109 votes in favor and one vote against, PNL’s merger with PDL, as well as PNL’s adhesion to the European People’s Party.