PM Ponta says private visit to Italy was reason for not meeting Victoria Nuland


 

According to the Premier, the discussions the Romanian officials had with US Assistant Secretary of State are confidential.

Premier Victor Ponta explained on Sunday evening on Antena 3 why he did not meet US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, and also commented on the controversial laws that are currently in Parliament and those that were sent back to Parliament by President Basescu.

PM Ponta stated that over the past few days he has been on a private scheduled visit to Italy, where he met the leader of the Italian Socialists. “I have been on a private visit to Italy. I have been away for three days together with my wife. On this occasion, I also met with my Italian counterpart, the head of the party that leads Italy’s government, because in exactly one month the Party of European Socialists will hold its Congress in Italy to designate its candidate for the European Commission (President- editor’s note). (…) When I am not working at the Government or paying an official visit abroad, I am spending time with my family,” Ponta told Antena 3 channel late on Sunday. Moreover, the prime-minister said that President Basescu was informed about his destination, as the Protection and Guard Service (SPP) knew where he was.

Victor Ponta also said the discussions the Romanian officials had with the US official are confidential. “Her visit to Bucharest was a very good thing. The main issue that has been approached is an important topic in the Romania-US relation, we also tackled it at the last meeting of Romania’s Supreme National Defence Council with President Basescu, with the heads of the intelligence services. This topic has not been made public, is confidential and we cannot give further information at this moment, but Minister Corlatean, due to his position and diplomatic knowledge, is by far the most entitled to express the Government’s point of view, following talks held with the other institutions of the state,” said Ponta.

“This is not about a President, Prime Minister or Foreign Minister, it’s about us as a country and America has and should have a positive attitude, just like we have when it comes to America. Apart from that the discussions focused on the important issues,” Ponta pointed out, thus being of the opinion that the “crazy allegation” according to which the US official came to Bucharest to reprimand the government “is a Phanariote illusion according to which one goes and complains and someone shows up.”

In what concerns the relation with the US, the Premier pointed out that Romania wants to develop this relation, but also wants to have ties with other foreign partners too, including a strategic partnership with China. “It’s good to be EU members, it’s good to have a strategic partnership with the US, these are important things that have to do with our relationship and that can improve every time. Good, but what is important for the Romanians? For the Romanians it’s important to know they are the partners of the US, we have security, but the idea of the visas is extremely important for Romanians and that is why we have to discuss it and we are not discussing it by slamming the fist on the table. (…) Where is the change? (…) I believe that being EU members, having a strategic partnership with the US, for our economic but also political development having very good relations with Turkey for example – Turkey is Romania’s main trade partner –, with China, a country that is not only a source of imports but we can export there, even with Russia. Being from a different generation and also, unlike Basescu, having a far greater capacity to relate to international partners, I want to maintain Romania’s pro-European and American relation, but to open up Romania to as many partners as possible, and that means investments, jobs, exports for Romania,” the Premier said.

 

Parliament to revote all laws Basescu asked to be reviewed

 

PM Ponta also told Antena 3 that the Parliament will revote the laws President Traian Basescu has lately sent back to Parliament for review. “I discussed this matter today and although the Parliament is currently in recess, the commissions will be convened immediately, we shall revote all these laws,” Ponta said. The Premier also said that the laws have to be signed by Basescu in maximum 10 days since their being voted again. “He would probably break china again, he’ll sign the drafts at midnight…a thing typical to a knotty child, not to a serious person”, ironically commented Ponta. The Head of State has asked Parliament to re-examine the law on selling farmland plots to EU citizens, the law on the public-private partnership and the law on energy production from renewable sources.

Regarding the Penal Code, Victor Ponta said the Government will repeal any Penal Code article affecting the freedom of the press, by emergency ordinance, if necessary, from February 1. “I’ve examined your challenge and the challenge of the national and international journalists unions and, yes, I also discussed with the justice minister and I am ready to modify those provisions restraining the freedom of the press, by an emergency ordinance if need be, in case a law takes too much time, I’ll modify them as soon as I have the right to pass an emergency ordinance, therefore from February 1”.

As for his allegations on Adrian Nastase’s conviction, Ponta said he still stands by them, explaining he just expressed some facts which had nothing to do with the independence of the judiciary.

 

Hiked fuel excise to be applied in April

 

Premier Victor Ponta considers that the fuel excise should be hiked in April because postponing this hike would negatively affect the budget and the government will be forced to give up other fiscal measures. “I believe it will be applied starting on April 1, because if it isn’t applied then we will have to give up something else, the lowering of the social insurance contributions. (…) I believe it’s a solution that affects a fairly small number of people and that we can use in order to do good in the health system, education system, in what concerns the highways,” he said.

 

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