The head of state believes Ponta or Antonescu will pass the first ballot, but neither of them will win.
President Traian Basescu shocked members of USL (the Social Liberal Union) by stating that PSD will have its own candidate for the presidential elections. In the meantime, the Union has already committed to supporting PNL Chairman Crin Antonescu at next year’s presidential elections.
“I believe PSD will have its own candidate, I see no other solution. Leaving the pact aside, it would seem abnormal and undemocratic for the largest party in Romania not to have a (presidential – editor’s note) candidate. It would be like selling a position through negotiation. How on earth can you say you’re the largest party and not have a presidential candidate? The party would be declassified”, the head of state explained yesterday on the ProTv show “Dupa 20 de ani” (Twenty years later). Asked if he “sees” a second ballot at the presidential elections between candidates Victor Ponta and Crin Antonescu, Basescu replied: “One of them will go in the second ballot, but he wouldn’t win; I don’t think Romanians will finally choose one of them”.
The head of state was also asked if he believes another member of PSD, apart from Victor Ponta, could run for president. “They have more mature people than Victor Ponta, people who are more in touch with the economy and are better managers”, Basescu stated, but refused to give names. “I admire them as a party, but I disagree with them in terms of politics; as a party, I cannot say they are undemocratic. Yes, they have yet to shake off some communist habits and the new generation of politicians has kept the worst of Iliescu, Mitrea and Pascu’s generations and amplified it, throwing out the positive aspects. However, they are not an undemocratic party or a party that does not deserve respect”, the president added. Asked if he sees Crin Atonescu as president, he replied: “Honestly, no”. “(…) At the moment, there is not an ideal candidate. The truth is we are going through a dry spell,” the head of state said. PNL president Crin Antonescu retorted in Pitesti that President Basescu’s statements are ridiculous.
“It’s ridiculous a head of state is caring about a party, if it has or hasn’t a candidate,” said Antonescu, as quoted by Mediafax. PNL leader also said Basescu’s statements are part of a wide campaign orchestrated by USL’s opponents aiming at creating false conflicts inside the Union.
Traian Basescu stated he would not “go so far as to say” the cohabitation pact with PM Victor Ponta is inefficient. “I would not go so far as to say it does not work, as long as we do not get in each other’s way and tasks are achieved. (…) The communication between institutions works. I talked to him (PM Victor Ponta – editor’s note) on his birthday. You don’t have to talk to someone every day, so long as the dialogue between institutions works. And it works without a hitch,” the president pointed out.
The cat fight between Ponta and Antonescu affects Romania’s image
The head of state characterized the recent dispute between the two USL leaders as a “cat fight” in view of the presidential elections, which fuels the impression of political instability and affects Romania’s public image. “I hope things do not go beyond the breaking point because it would cause a political crisis. Their conflicts are already feeding the idea of potential instability, which is why we have not been ranked with «investment grade» in all three categories,” Basescu explained. “If there is anyone who does not wish for the government to be destabilized, that would be me, because I have no political interests. I am interested in neither the presidential nor the legislative elections; as far as I am concerned. (…) The biggest disaster for Romania would be a political crisis,” he said further.
With one foot in and the other out of politics
Asked what his plans are after his term as head of state ends, Basescu jokingly replied that he would step out from politics “with one foot only”. He explained he would remain involved in politics after the head of state term ends, but not as party chairman or honorary chairman. His desire, he added, was to create the People’s Movement Foundation and, subsequently, a political party in 2016, but matters have precipitated in this respect. Basescu also said he would finally have time to spend with his niece, despite his involvement in the political life.
PDL, “a solid party”
Traian Basescu also said that PDL, the party he was a leader of before coming to Cotroceni, is still “a solid party with a strong structure”, which, nonetheless, suffers from “the same disease as PDL”. For this reason, he wanted to create the People’s Movement, but he realized it still had to involve “politicians”, not “nuns”. Asked if he regrets having said “goodbye” to PDL, Basescu answered, “No, it was the right thing to do at the moment because of that big lie, according to which «nothing grows in Basescu’s shadow. All the leaders just wither away, instead of running around and becoming national leaders»”.
Referendum on Rosia Montana, not excluded
On a change of topic, Basescu reiterated on the same show that he wishes to remain neutral in connection with the mining project at Rosia Montana. The president admitted his support for the project and, despite insisting for PM Emil Boc to initiate the Rosia Montana project, it was a relief he left the government before positively saying “yes”. He also stated the final decision on the project should be made by the government, who “wrongly” transferred responsibility to the Parliament, and did not rule out the possibility of a referendum on Rosia Montana. Basescu believes the government is also to blame for not finalizing negotiations on Rosia Montana, in order to ensure the deposits are processed exclusively in Romania and BNR has priority procurement right on the gold. In the president’s opinion, the project will have an impact on the environment that cannot be completely remedied afterward. “There are two deceitful approaches: the project does not create job opportunities, and using cyanide is not the biggest crime”, Basescu added. Commenting on the protests generated by this project, the head of state said that demonstrations in Piata Universitatii are “clean”, while those from Rosia Montana are “fabricated”. “What I can certainly say is that, at present, Soros is not sending the NGOs to the streets. From the information I have, Rosia Montana is a topic in the attention of the intelligence services precisely because of the risk level,” said Basescu, adding there are about 480 notifications from the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) – ‘undiluted information’. When asked if he knew any politician who could have taken money in this case, Basescu denied it.
Shale gas and the economy
The president noted that the Ponta governance has behaved in an unbalanced manner, yet it is paving the way for failures to come by permanently cutting back investment funds and leaving the economy to gasp for air. He warned that Romania is heading toward an accelerated increase in unemployment in 2014, due to foreign investments having decreased by 30% in the first eight months of 2013, compared to 2012. On the topic of shale gases, the head of state said he would no longer be president when the first cubic meter of shale gas is extracted in Romania, but he emphasized the crucial significance of Romania’s independence in the energy sector, as well as the importance of ensuring its own resources.