The President refers Constitutional Court on PM’s refusal to countersign presidential decrees.
Ponta: I cannot countersign the awarding of medals to people who mismanaged public money and have fascist opinions.
As the elections for the European Parliament, due for the end of this month, close by, but also in the context of the presidential elections set for autumn, President Traian Basescu and Premier Victor Ponta continue to trade most serious accusations.
President Traian Basescu has referred the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) on Tuesday about a constitutional conflict generated by Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s unjustified refusal to countersign presidential decrees concerning the decoration of personalities that have managed the Romanian Cultural Institute (ICR) between 2005 and 2012, including Horia Roman Patapievici, Tania Radu, Mircea Mihaiea and Dan Croitoru.
The Court will discuss the President’s referral on May 21, CCR President Augustin Zegrean announced on Wednesday.
According to a release of the Presidential Administration received by Agerpres on Wednesday, on April 25 President Traian Basescu sent to the Prime Minister, through the Administration’s Chancery of Orders, two decree drafts for the decoration of ICR management members and of personalities of the Romanian community of neighbouring countries; PM Victor Ponta should have countersigned the decrees. ‘We appreciate that by his way of treating his legal responsibility of countersigning, the Prime Minister has blatantly infringed the constitutional principle of loyalty and of collaboration between public authorities,’ the President appreciated, quoting several previous rulings of the Constitutional Court.
“The refusal expressed by the prime minister, without justification, created an institutional blockage, generating a legal conflict of constitutional nature between public authorities involved in the procedure of awarding medals, respectively the prime minister, on one hand, and the president of Romania on the other. (…) In our opinion, in relation to constitutional jurisprudence, a refusal that is not motivated is equivalent to a veto exerted by the prime minister, which voids of content the constitutional attribution of the President of Romania to bestow honour titles and medals,” reads the complaint. Thus, Basescu demands the Constitutional Court to pronounce over the existence of a legal conflict of constitutional nature that appeared between the prime minister, on one hand, and the president of Romania on the other, caused by the prime minister’s action of not justifying the refusal to countersign the decree by which awards are granted.
While visiting the town of Giurgiu, where he attended a meeting with local authorities, PM Ponta answered that he cannot countersign the document by which medals are awarded “to people that mismanaged or diverted public money,” some of whom “often had anti-Romanian, even fascist opinions” and if the president wants to give them medals, he can do it, but not with his signature.
“I have two reservations: the former pertains to the fact that, under the report of the Court of Audits that was submitted to all pertinent institutions, the former leading team of ICR – the Court of Audits says it, not me – wrongly used a large amount of public money, so I think it is wrong to award medals to those who misused public cash or even diverted it. Second, some of the recipients were persons that often made statements and expressed anti-Romanian, even fascist opinions, and I am not exaggerating, because if you read (the list of recipients), there is a gentleman named (Mircea) Mihaies (ICR vice-president during 2005-2012), who has far-right opinions, he is an old fascist, so although we believed there were no neonazis in Europe anymore, here they are in Romania. Or, I cannot countersign the awarding of medals who, on one hand, I repeat, mismanaged public money and on the other express positions against Romania. If President Basescu wants to honour them with medals, let him do it, but without my signature,” Victor Ponta explained.
The tirade of insults: “coward”, “myth maniac”, “uncontrollable”
The president-premier dispute escalated to a new phase Tuesday evening, when the head of state once again lashed out at the premier and Ponta retaliated in style.
Traian Basescu on Tuesday accused PM Ponta of trying to get himself responsibilities which he does not have and “grossly” trespassing his attributions through his statements on national security related to the situation of Ukraine.
The president said that the leader of PSD “lost his compass.” “It is written in the Constitution, dear Ponta, that you had nothing to do at the Army to establish strategies for Ukraine. The president of Romania is in charge and is the commander of the Army and I would like Victor Viorel to understand where the army begins, the Army does not begin in the office of the minister of Defence, but with the head of the General Staff of the Army, with the heads of branches and so on,” Basescu conveyed to Ponta. He added that Ponta cannot be the president of Romania because he created ambiguity over the strategic orientation of the country through theories regarding the partnership with China, mentioning that the prime minister avoids saying that the Russian Federation annexed Crimea. In his opinion, Ponta must not be president of Romania also because “the country will regress,” asking the head of the government to “cool down” with the current presidential campaign he is waging.
The president also reiterated the accusations about the premier being “corrupt, coward and liar,” giving as examples the transfer of lands from the Grand Island of Braila to the Braila County Council or the “desperate” attempt to obtain from CSAT an approval for the privatisation of CFR Marfa.
According to Basescu, Ponta lied Sunday in Certeze, when he told the attendance that the president asked him to convey his salute to them, and also lied at the Metropolitan Church of Cluj when he said that it is not him, but the Metropolitan Bishop that was booed. “This man is a myth maniac! He lies without shame! (…) A myth maniac cannot be the president of a country, someone who lies as he breathes,” Basescu added, explaining that he will react to each statement made by the prime minister, even on daily basis, arguing that “we cannot have a state-party.”
In his turn, Premier Ponta said Tuesday evening on Romania TV that the statement delivered by President Basescu was not a press statement, but “a nervous breakdown,” adding that it probably was the first in a long succession of nervous breakdowns because the president is “profoundly uncontrollable.” He answered Basescu’s accusations on national security, saying that there was no reason to invite him at the government meeting, because on the agenda of the Executive there was neither Tuesday, nor previously any draft act regarding national security. Furthermore, Ponta came with his own accusations against the head of state and Elena Udrea, reiterating that Udrea is involved in the Nana land acquisition and the Basescu-Udrea tandem will answer to prosecutors.
Regarding the complaint filed by the government about the president being involved in the electoral campaign, the premier said that the Parliament has no other penatly than impeachment, if the Constitutional Court rules that the president infringed the Constitution, adding that the decision belongs to the Parliament, not to the Government or any party.