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Even if the last few days have been underlined by an evident mounting of tension between the prime minister and president, Victor Ponta said on TV Sunday night that their cooperation agreement was still on. And yet, he says some of the clauses laid down are no longer valid….
Both on Sunday and Monday, during the meeting of the PSD national leadership, PM Victor Ponta gave assurance that the agreement he had signed with President Traian Basescu last December, which regulates the framework for a civilised cooperation between the two parties, was still in force despite malfunctions such as the linking of the Schengen accession to the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) and Romania’s allocation in the EU budget for the 2014-2020 financial period.
‘What we agreed in our cooperation pact is no loner valid. What we agreed relative to CVM and the Schengen accession has not been respected, what we agreed to obtain in Brussels we did not obtain,’ Ponta said on Romania TV. Before the BPN meeting yesterday, asked if his protocol with Traian Basescu was still on, Ponta answered: ‘Yes, why wouldn’t it be? I didn’t say anything of the kind. Please consider my thoughts, not someone else’s thoughts. I just explained a few things which clearly indicate that Romania has not obtained what it intended to get from the 2014-2020 financial framework. I think we should not fall into the trap the president was mentioning a while ago of allowing our absolutely correct and deserved access to Schengen to be linked to the CVM.’
Referring to the agreement clause urging politeness and decency in statements, Ponta noted he had been ‘very polite’ and he didn’t care if the president had done the same thing or not.
Lion in Bucharest, kitten in Brussels
After the president had called him ‘the national disappointed’, Victor Ponta, on his part, characterised Basescu as a courageous lion while at the Otopeni Airport, who turns into a kitten when he reaches Brussels. ‘At Otopeni, he is courageous lion, but there (Brussels – a/n), he is also a kitten, if I may use a comparison he fancies,’ Ponta said on RTV. The PM also claimed to have information from EU leaders suggesting that President Basescu was not even in the Council meeting room when one of the important decision was made. On the president’s statement that ‘the disappointed’ would have at best got enough money to pay for their return ticket, the PM said the Government was actually paying for Basescu’s trip from Bucharest to Brussels and back.
Controversy over Schengen
The premier also said Sunday evening that Traian Basescu had no longer either the legitimacy or the interest to fight for Romania, as he is approaching the end of his term, just keeping petty grudges, and would probably be happy if Romania did not enter Schengen. He also said that, if he advocated the linking of the Schengen accession decision to the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) in the area of justice, the president would be working against the interest of Romania. The PM pointed out that he could not understand why the president refused to sign a common letter addressed to the EU member states governments in support of Romania entering the Schengen Area. ‘He’s thinking we will not enter Schengen and he will be able to blame it on the Government. He’s playing a local political game,’ Ponta said. Yesterday, the PM also explained that sending to Brussels a letter signed by the PM and speakers of the two Chambers of the Parliament, as the president had recommended, would be ‘a very big mistake’, as it would mean Bucharest agreed to link the Schengen dossier to the CVM. The PM also said sabotages such as the refusal to sign the letter he had suggested for the accession to Schengen, or the disputing of the 2013 budget in the Constitutional Court were not hurting USL, but Romania, and, because of their principle ‘let the neighbour’s goat also die’, Traian Basescu and PDL are in the situation of being hated in Romania.
President supports Morar
Ponta also said that, during talks to the justice minister, he had found out that President Traian Basescu had proposed the current interim Prosecutor General, Daniel Morar, for the permanent position, noting that he had made his choice known both before and after the selection procedure. He also explained the Minister Pivniceru’s answer to the president was that the selection procedure was also open to Morar, but he had not applied for the position. Asked if, in his view, the president was putting pressure on decision-makers in Morar’s favour, PM Ponta says Basescu had expressed ‘an option, an opinion’. ‘It is his opinion that the best choice would be Mr. Morar, but Pivniceru does not share his opinion,’ Ponta added, pointing out that the selection procedure was a transparent one. Daniel Morar’s interim posting expires on April 2′.
PSD Secretary General Liviu Dragnea said on Monday the protocol for institutional cooperation between the president and premier was ‘solid and necessary’ and that the document was not being questioned by ‘more or less pleasant’ statements. As far as PDL President Vasile Blaga is concerned, the prime minister keeps inventing ‘themes after themes’ when in difficulty, the most recent one being ‘the breaking of the pact with the president’. ‘Ponta is just stressing that he is not interested in how he runs the country, but only in his own image. When he finds himself in difficulty, he invents themes after themes in order to divert the public attention (…). He should do his job in the country and start spending European money,’ Blaga said before the meeting of the PDL National Political Bureau yesterday. PDL MP Elena Udrea, in her turn, states on her blog that the premier is ‘jealous’ and ‘frustrated’ because he does not represent the country on the European Council.