No clear answer on visa lifting issue.
Premier Victor Ponta, who on Oct. 23 wrapped up a three-day visit to Washington, discussed with U.S. officials the shale gas exploitation, mentioning that he asked the U.S. Department of Energy to provide the Romanian side with their environmental protection studies. “At the meeting with the U.S. Secretary of Energy, we asked the Energy Department to provide us with all their environmental protection and impact studies, for us to develop and implement in Romania too such high standards, although we already have some set in place. But, mind you, for people to get this right: they will be applied at the time we start exploitation. (…)Chevron, but other companies too – because it’s not just Chevron that explores shale gas – are for the time being using conventional technology for exploration, there is no hydraulic fracking yet, so if resources are found in significant quantities, in about four to five years a new exploitation license must be issued and until then we must get absolutely all the environmental standards ready,” said Ponta, according to Agerpres.
Referring to the protests in Romania, Ponta said later on, at the public TV station that he is bothered by the demagogy and populism expressed lately on the gold and natural gas topics. “Nobody is leaving Romania with the gas (…) In fact, it’s about a last battle of the transition from post-communism to the European system”, said the premier.
Ponta also met chairman of the U.S. Congress’s Friendship Group for Romania Michael Turner and other U.S. congressmen on Wednesday. The American officials assured him that there is a clear wish that Romania should benefit from the modified legislation on immigration, a bill currently blocked in the House of Representatives debates.“(…) I stressed how important it is for Romania to be considered in the future legislation as one of the countries to be included in Visa Waiver programme. I consider it to have been a very constructive discussion. I am very satisfied to see Romania is seen as a serious, reliable partner both in the Congress and the Administration”, Ponta. The Prime-Minister also said Romania’s arguments for Visa Waiver have been clearly understood by the U.S. Congressmen, yet adding that he doesn’t want to create “empty hopes” and that, for now, he only thinks another ”brick” has been added to this aim’s fulfilment.
In his turn, Turner underscored the excellent arguments put forward by the Romanian premier on the issue of Romania’s inclusion in Visa Waiver. “(…) The premier presented excellent arguments on the topic of Romania’s inclusion in Visa Waiver programme. This issue of the legislation on emigration is at the moment blocked in debates in the Congress, but the judicial commission chairman very clearly communicated him he wants Romania to benefit from the legislative modifications”, Turner stressed.
Next stop: Moscow
Prime Minister Victor Ponta said he intends to visit Moscow next year. “A visit by a representative of the Romanian state to these capitals, Washington, Berlin, Beijing – also Moscow at a certain time, because it is still a major world power – I think it is very important. Everyone would want to know what the future holds for Romania after it is clear that a political era, that of Mr. Basescu, comes to an end’, Ponta told Antena 3 TV station on Wednesday night. Asked when he plans to go to Moscow, the Premier said next year. Ponta also stressed that President Traian Basescu has lost the legitimacy as representative of Romania, once the referendum on his impeachment was held.
Also referring to President Basescu, PM Ponta reiterated that Justice will be independent only “after 2014”, as the President will not change until then.
“We are bound to assume our past”
Ponta on Wednesday attended the signing of an agreement providing the continuation of cooperation among the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Romania’s Ministry of National Education and the ‘Elie Wiesel’ National Institute. “I believe that we have an obligation to assume our past just as it is and never shy away from putting the finger on sore points too (…) I am convinced that the new generations will be better educated and informed, with no additional sense of guilt, by just assuming history and being aware of it so as to never again accept not just repeating it, but also that it is given a makeover”, said Ponta at the end of the ceremony.