Upset with the changes in the structure of the DNA, the president claims the he will no longer “vouch” for the premier because he “severely infringed” the pact of cohabitation and “entered with his boots in the judiciary.” Ponta answers that Basescu is the one who entered with his boots in the judiciary. “He is irresponsible, liar and dangerous for Romania,” Ponta said.
After a relatively uneventful period in the political relation between Traian Basescu and Victor Ponta, the president once again declares war to the premier, going public with an unprecedented attack against the chief of the government and threatening to break the cohabitation pact (signed in December last year).
This time, the dispute centres on the recent changes operated in the structure of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), respectively the dismissing of the chief of Section I of DNA, Lucian Papici by the general prosecutor Tiberiu Nitu and of Mariana Alexandru. “What happened is an interference of politicians, which simply ordered the general prosecutor to do something,” Basescu said yesterday, quoted by Mediafax, in an interview granted to evz.ro, adding that the change was made after “two shocks,” which are the announcement about sending in court for blackmail the honour president of PC Dan Voiculescu and his daughter Camelia, and his condemnation, and the information about the finalising of the case of Vice-premier Liviu Dragnea (PSD) concerning the referendum. “I believe that I have evidence in the sense of a political command. We are not in the zone of naiveties, but of things that we know or not,” the president added. However he stressed that “at the DNA there are people who will not endlessly swallow this type of brutal intervention at political command.”
“I tolerated him (Ponta) many infringements of the pact, in foreign politics and the non-observance of commitments with the health law, the administrative reorganisation etc. But the fact that the moved with their boots into the judiciary for the sake of Dragnea…
If Dragnea has no problem, then he should go before the judge,” Basescu stated. The president thus claims that Ponta “proved to be a liar” and infringed even the political document that made him “acceptable” abroad (the pact of cohabitation).
“Now, what Nitu, Cazanciuc and Ponta did compromised Romania. (…) I found the premier’s discourse on Papici as serious, he called him all names. Nitu is not someone who changes people overnight. Someone escalates him and he accepts. 7 days ago, these people were good, and after the file of Dragnea was placed, and the file of Voiculescu came out, they suddenly were not good anymore. I will no longer vouch for Ponta because he gravely infringed the pact and entered with his boots in the judiciary, only for the sake of Dragnea,” Basescu added.
The president yesterday continued his attack against the premier also on B1TV, where he reiterated that he no longer “vouches” for Ponta: “I will make an analysis and this afternoon I will pronounce. Categorically, the most important point, the independence of justice, collapsed yesterday (Wednesday), with the blessing of Premier Ponta and this makes me turn towards denouncing the pact of cohabitation and informing all the partners to which I vouched.”
Traian Basescu claims that Wednesday he had a discussion with general prosecutor Tiberiu Nitu, before the sending by fax, or almost simultaneously with the revoking of the two section chiefs. “I acted at the decision makers so they do not make something wrong, as I had information about a big unrest with this regard inside PSD especially and their wish to replace them. (…) They did not know, at the time when they made the decision, that the file (on Dragnea) was completed, closed and on the table of Codruta Kovesi (the chief of DNA)”, the president said. Asked if at stake in this row is the case of Vice-premier Liviu Dragnea, Basescu answered: “Look at the reaction which Dragnea had yesterday (Wednesday), in which, in the issue of Rosia Montana, he slammed Ponta very hard. That he will vote for Rosia Montana (…).” The chief of state added that he also had a discussion with the minister of Justice, after the CSAT meeting held Tuesday. “The day before yesterday, after the CSAT, I talked with the minister of Justice and told him: Man, be very careful with the nominations for the DNA,” Basescu mentioned, adding that “the principle is that the chief of DNA or the chief of DIICOT propose their own deputies. “This is how the relation with Morar worked,” the president added. As for Papici, which was described as “a prosecutor loyal to Basescu,” the president said that he never saw either him or prosecutor Alexandrescu.
“In the presidential elections, someone like Ponta risks being defeated by someone like Boc”
In a different move, Basescu reiterated that PSD will have its own candidate in the presidential elections of 2014, probably Victor Ponta, adding that “someone like Ponta risks being defeated by someone like Boc “, as the former PDL premier has more chances than Mihai Razvan Ungureanu in such a race. “Crin Antonescu ended his mandate, he will only remain a candidate, he cannot win anymore. I think that PSD will have its own candidate, probably Victor Ponta, he is lowering his chances. Someone like Ponta risks being defeated by someone like Boc, who is settled and does not lie,” Basescu said.
The president did not stop here, adding that “it is bad having a country whose prime minister is labelled as being a liar,” while also appreciating that “when you have a prime minister who lies at home and abroad, this becomes his only constant and his only label.” Referring to the confidence expressed for the premier in polls, Basescu said that he, too, fared well in polls until he announced the measures of austerity. On the other hand, the president stated that on many occasions he wondered what he would have done if Ponta were prime minister “when the country was collapsing”: “He would not have the courage to take measures, the answer is that Ponta cannot assume critical moments.” Plus, he mentioned that the premier has as great passion, recently, “to jump on the plane and go wherever he is received.”
I have nothing to do with these changes, Ponta says
In retort, Premier Victor Ponta said that he will not publicly denounce the pact of cohabitation with the President, although Basescu infringed it on countless occasions, adding that the move made by the chief of state to discuss with the general prosecutor about the nominations represents a serious interference with the judiciary. “I never talked with Mr. Nitu, I do not know whom he proposes, nor whom he revokes. I learned today that President Basescu called the general prosecutor and told him whom he should nominate in the judiciary, and he even boasts about it. The fact that President Basescu has favourite prosecutors and non-favourite prosecutors is an interference with the judiciary. It is the most brutal interference someone can do,” Ponta said on Antena 3.
The premier explained that the chief of DNA Section I, Lucian Papici actually was not replaced, as his mandate had ended, and instead of him and his colleague were appointed prosecutors that will enjoy a 3-year stability, so “they do not spend all day long talking on the phone with Cotroceni,” as former DNA chiefs Daniel Morar and Papici used to do. He added that, under legal provisions, Lucian Papici was not entitled to a third term of office and he was replaced when he completed his cases, and those who replace him and his colleague are also DNA employees, who worked with the institution since the time of Morar. Ponta also pledged his firm intention to secure the independence of the DNA from government, parliament or the ruling coalition, but also from Macovei and Morar, saying that this is a normal change of leadership in a public institution. “The person that puts pressure and enters with his boots in the judiciary is President Basescu. This whole ruckus he makes actually demonstrates Traian Basescu’s exasperation about no longer controlling in totality the zone where Mr. Morar and all the others were operating. Traian Basescu calls on the phone and banks his shoe against the table, like when he was a ship’s captain. The general prosecutor did well to enforce the law and not be intimidated by Basescu’s shouting.”
The premier reiterated that, in his opinion, the cases regarding frauds during the referendum, also instrumented by Papici, are “political” cases. Furthermore, Ponta affirmed that he wrote twice to DNA prosecutor Lucian Papici, asking him to be cited as witness, in his quality of premier and co-president of USL, as a witness in the case of the fraud during the referendum. However, on both occasions Papici answered him that he is not interested in the evidence. According to the premier, Papici also refused to talk with the leader of PNL and USL co-president Crin Antonescu.
Initially, the news about the dismissal of Lucian Papici, whose delegation had been renewed last week, appeared on informal sources Wednesday evening. The respective judiciary sources claimed that Nitu informed the DNA, by fax, that the delegation of Papici as chief of Section I ended on October 2, and prosecutor Iuliana Bendeac will replace him for a 6-month interval. Bendeac is the prosecutor that, alongside the service chief prosecutor Gheorghe Popovici, sent in court Dan Voiculescu and his daughter Camelia, in a case in which the CEO of Antena TV Group SA, Sorin Alexandrescu is accused of blackmailing the administrator of RCS&RDS, Ioan Bendei.
Subsequently, PM Victor Ponta said on RTV that Papici was not sacked, but his mandates as chief of DNA Section I ended and he will remain a regular prosecutor. “What kind of victim Papici is? (…) He completed his case (regarding Liviu Dragnea) and that’s it, he can be a regular prosecutor. How can he be a chief when his mandate ended?” Asked if the image of PSD or of the government will be damaged by the DNA probe against Liviu Dragnea, Ponta answered: “Not at all. On the contrary. Why would it be? By an investigation against people who voted? We all want to tell how it was, but nobody wants to ask us. (…) This is how it was: We all went and cast our ballots. The turnout was not enough, we only were 90 pc and then Morar and Papici came and said that we were not enough and launched a probe against us all. This is how things went on, in the 21st Century,” Ponta stated, mentioning that he learned on September 21 about the end of Papici’s term of office.
DNA claims that prior to nominating Bendeac Iuliana and Cerbu Ioan Viorel as chiefs of the anti-corruption section, the general prosecutor did not seek a recommendation from the chief of the DNA, as provided by the Regulation of the DNA.
Catalin Ivan: Basescu can cease the cohabitation by resigning
In his turn, PSD spokesman Catalin Ivan answered the statements of President Basescu on denouncing the pact of cohabitation with PM Ponta, by saying on B1TV that the chief of state can use a very simple method to end the pact: by resigning. Later, in a press release, Ivan wrote that it would be ridiculous for Basescu to denounce the cohabitation pact now, after he infringed it on many occasions. The PSD official added that the president “sabotaged” the government’s efforts, from the launching of strategic partnerships with other countries to the privatisation of CFR Marfa and the support granted to R. Moldova in view of obtaining its energy independence. The former president of Romania, Ion Iliescu believes that the premier “should have refrained” from comments about justice, as he committed “an imprudence.” Iliescu added that the premier should only “provide the information,” simply say that the mandates of Papici ended and it is up to the general prosecutor now, as he does not interfere with the judiciary. “No comments. But this is youth…” Ion Iliescu added.
PDL wants “the heads” of Dragnea and Vosganian
Former Justice Minister Monica Macovei commented the judiciary row, saying that the members of USL “are a gang of thieves that now sack prosecutors.” “The moment he finalised the Dragnea file, Mr. Papici was revoked from office by Nitu. This is why Ponta placed Nitu there. To save Dragnea and the others.” Former Premier Emil Boc says that the acting chief of the government, Victor Ponta, “conducts the most violent attack” against justice since Adrian Nastase, behaving “like a nabob from a banana country, soiling the justice and threatening its independence.” PDL yesterday demande, through the voice of vice-president Andreea Paul, the resignation of ministers Varujan Vosganian and Liviu Dragnea, because in just 24 hours “an USL assault on justice” has occurred starting from the cases of the two dignitaries.