The latest meeting between Victor Ponta and Crin Antonescu took place yesterday morning, at the government headquarters, and did nothing but confirm the inflexibility of the two leaders of USL, who, after half an hour of talks, did not manage to reach any consensus.
Shortly after the meeting ended the government announced in a communiqué that Ponta will take over the office of interim Finance Minister (office for which the Liberals had proposed Eugen Nicolaescu), and Social-Democrat Constantin Nita will become interim Economy Minister (PNL had proposed Teodor Atanasiu). Both portfolios had previously belonged to PNL based on the agreement between the two parties. According to the communiqué, Ponta asked Antonescu “for the four proposals of Liberal ministers to be forwarded,” the demand being rejected by the PNL President who argued that he does not want to go up against internal PNL decisions. The Prime Minister subsequently asked Antonescu to propose two PNL ministers for the Finance and Economy ministries. Antonescu refused again. “As a consequence, the Premier took note of the resignations of Finance Minister Chitoiu and Economy Minister Gerea (both officially filed their resignations yesterday – editor’s note) and forwarded to President Traian Basescu, after consultations within USL, the proposal for the interim leaderships of the ministries,” (Ponta interim Finance Minister and Nita interim Economy Minister – editor’s note), the communiqué reads.
Subsequently, government sources quoted by Mediafax stated that the government no longer approved during yesterday’s meeting the letter of intent agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during the latest evaluation mission in January-February, because of the lack of a Finance Minister. Shortly thereafter however, the Presidency announced that President Traian Basescu signed the decrees that take note of the resignations filed by Daniel Chitoiu and Andrei Gerea and appoint Premier Ponta and Nita interim ministers.
Antonescu: Ponta must decide by Monday whether he still wants USL
PNL chairman Crin Antonescu gave Prime Minister Victor Ponta until next Monday to decide whether he still wanted the ruling alliance of the USL, which is made up of the PSD, PNL, PC and UNPR, or whether he wished to replace it with the Social Democratic Union, an electoral alliance for the European Parliament elections, made up of PSD, PC and UNPR.
‘Until Monday, Mr Ponta must give the key answer: does he still want USL, for which we are ready, or does he want to replace it with USD? Does he wish to replace this majority with a new one?’, Antonescu said yesterday, on a press conference. On the same occasion, he said that the USL Protocol is in force: “The Protocol has been infringed in some points, but if there is a political will, we can carry on’.
As regards the talks on the existence of ‘secret sections’ of the USL Protocol, Antonescu claimed that he did not know anything about such sections.
Asked what will happen if the Premier does not accept the PNL proposals by Monday, the Liberal answered: “On Monday or Tuesday evening we will have either an USL government or an USD government lacking any legitimacy, a government whose immediate resignation we will consequently demand.” Asked whether this means that PNL would leave the government, he pointed out that “so far we have been pretty much kicked out of the government.” “Victor Ponta and PSD are doing everything in their power to keep PNL First Vice President Klaus Iohannis out of government, preferring to accept any formula other than the one in which the mayor becomes Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister,” Antonescu added.
The day before, he asked Ponta at the end of a meeting of the PNL National Political Bureau (BPN) to annul “immediately” the documents relating to the establishment of the USD. He said that PNL cannot and will not forbid PSD, PC and UNPR to run in a common formula in the European elections, but it wants this to be done ‘not by breaching the USD’s Protocol in effect and not by trying to substitute, with the possibility to deceive the electorate, a name that has meant and means something entirely else, the Social Liberal Union.’ The PNL leader added he wants the USD ‘to disappear immediately’ and if this does not happen, it would mean that PSD no longer observes the Union’s Protocol.
The National Liberal Party (PNL) has asked its partners in the ruling coalition to discuss the Government reshuffle and the reorganisation of the Government formula by June 15, the idea being of reducing the existing number of ministries. He showed that the Liberals believe it is possible to have a government with fewer ministers that could become more flexible and more efficient.
On the other hand, PNL leader said that in the BPN meeting he asked whether there was anyone talking about his possible withdrawal from the party’s helm, but no one requested this thing.
USD leaders say USD ‘neither outside, nor against USL’
Co-chairs of the Social Democratic Union (USD), a recently created alliance for the European elections made up of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the National Union for Romania’s Progress (UNPR) and the Conservative Party (PC) , Victor Ponta, Gabriel Oprea and Daniel Constantin argue that USD ‘is neither outside, nor against the USL, the ruling coalition that also comprises the National Liberal Party, as Antonescu claims. The USD leaders says, in a press release, that USD was established as an election alliance following the common decision of PNL and the other three USL members to run on a split ticket in the European elections. The release also says the USL protocol does not mention anything about the run in the European elections, while ‘USD is an election alliance established in view of a joint run in the elections to the European Parliament.’
Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea claims that the PNL President is “playing a political game” when he is asking, on behalf of the Liberals, for USD to be disbanded. In what concerns the tensions within USL, Zgonea stated that USL has not broken up and there is no political gridlock at USL level, pointing out that these are only emotional statements generated by pre-campaign posturing: “We are patient. The government can work like this too. The government has constitutional instruments to work like this until a party regulates its internal problems,” the Social-Democrat said.
Antonescu: “We will take decent and correct measures in the case of the Labour minister”
Also yesterday, PNL leader Crin Antonescu commented the information that surfaced recently in the media about the acting Labour minister Mariana Campeanu having illegally granted to her husband, in 2005, when she was president of the Ilfov Pensions House, a pension and a companion benefit, because he had the 1st degree of invalidity.
“This thing appeared now, I confess that, because of the very busy agenda of these last days, which you all know, I could not see precisely what this is about. (…) I hope that, depending on how true these things are, starting with Ms. Mariana Campeanu, we will take the most decent and most correct solutions,” Antonescu said.
The information about minister Campeanu appeared in a press material published Tuesday by the Media Investigations Center.