President Traian Basescu signed the decree by which he appointed liberal Ramona Manescu as minister of Transportation. Premier Victor Ponta had sent to President Traian Basescu, yesterday morning, the proposal to nominate Ramona Manescu as Transportation Minister, not before having a discussion with Ramona Manescu at the Victoria Palace. In the early hours of the afternoon, Ramona Manescu was sworn in as minister at the Cotroceni Palace, in presence of President Basescu, Senate Speaker Crin Antonescu, Chamber of Deputies speaker Valeriu Zgonea, Deputy PM Gabriel Oprea and several members of the Ponta cabinet. As for Victor Ponta, he was not present, as he went on a state visit to the Republic of Moldova.
During the ceremony, the president congratulated the liberal politician for her nomination, wished her success and also ironically alluded to PNL leader Crin Antonescu. “I hope that you will no longer have Antonescu-type appreciations regarding the DNA,” Basescu told the new minister of Transportation. The president also told Manescu that on her list of priorities should be the privatisation of CFR Marfa, the absorption of European funds for the Transportation sector, the completion of the Arad-Nadlac motorway segment and the Bucharest metro.
The leader of PNL was not present when Basescu held his speech, as he had left previously. Antonescu had announced Sunday that “it is not by accident” that ANI and DNA have no other activity than PNL this year, referring to the probes opened against the liberals appointed or proposed for the office of Transportation Minister.
The office is vacant after Relu Fenechiu was sentenced on July 12 to 5 years of prison by the Supreme Court, in the ‘Power Transformer’ case, for complicity to misuse of authority in qualified form, the decision not being definitive.
Later, he was revoked from the position of Minister of Transportation, which he held since the end of 2012. The liberals nominated Ovidiu Silaghi, but promptly withdrew the candidacy when DNA asked to start a probe against Silaghi, under the accusation of influence peddling.
Manescu family, close to Antonescu
Ramona Manescu said she is honoured by the nomination, adding that her experience with the European Parliament will help her to administer this ministry. “I am honoured and obliged by the confidence of my colleagues of PNL and the confidence of Premier Victor Ponta. (…) I have at least the courage, the will, the energy to use my entire experience which I acquired in the European Parliament, in the relations with all European institutions,” Ramona Manescu said on Realitatea TV. “I am not afraid of this job, which I take as a challenge. In general, I was never afraid of starting projects that seemed to me as impossible,” Manescu stated Sunday on Digi 24.
Ramona Manescu (41) is a lawyer and, for the last few years, she acted as member of the European Parliament in Brussels, but unrelated to the Transportation sector. She is the wife of the liberal mayor of Bucharest District 6, Rares Manescu, who belongs to the entourage of PNL leader Crin Antonescu. The good relations between the Manescu family and Antonescu are known both to the liberals and the press, and was also admitted by the liberal president.
“It was the president’s proposal, we all know how things go and there was no other suggestion in the meeting. Antonescu needs someone whom he trusts completely as Minister of Transportation, and Ramona Manescu is the best solution after Ponta frowned upon Sapunaru. We are all aware of the friendship relation between Antonescu and the Manescu family,” liberal sources said, quoted by Hotnews.ro. In 2012, Rares Manescu was designated chief of the PNL campaign at country scale for the parliamentary elections, also upon the proposal of Crin, and he was formally validated by the National Executive Council of PNL on 12 October 2012. Hotnews also informs that Rares Manescu is one of the liberals with strong business connections to the so-called group of Monaco, a group of influential Romanian entrepreneurs with relations in all political parties.
CV with many specialisations in European topics
She is a graduate of the Law School of the University in Bucharest (1999). She attended postgraduate studies at the National College of Defence in the National University of Defence (2005) and at the National Intelligence Academy in the High College of National Security (2006). In 2006 also took her master’s degree in international relations and European integration from the National School of Political and Administrative Studies in Bucharest and also finished postgraduate studies of public international law, community law, international relations, European and Euro-Atlantic studies and diplomacy with the Diplomatic Institute in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2000-2005 she worked as a lawyer in the Ramona Nicole Manescu individual law firm.
In 1990 she joined the National Liberal Party. She held several positions in the party, in the youth section, then in PNL. During 2002-2004 she was a parliamentary expert and during 2005-2007 she was vice-president, in rank of undersecretary of state, with the National Authority for Youth.
She has been a PNL MEP since November 2007; she was reelected in June 2009.
In 2008 she was declared the MEP of the year 2008 in education and culture during the gala titled ‘The Parliament Magazine Awards.’
What does the opposition think?
PDL President Vasile Blaga said that Ramona Manescu “has many qualities, but none which recommend her for the office of Transportation minister,” adding that “the PNL in disarray is led by Ponta.”
“They (the liberals) do not even dare proposing a minister of Transportation. The sides reached no agreement in PNL, so it was Mr. Ponta that did it,” Blaga mentioned, quoted by Mediafax. “Ms. Manescu has enough qualities, but none that would recommend her as minister of Transportation. Romanians no longer want ministers that learn their job at work,” the democrat-liberal leader added. “Romanians paid too much for the incompetence of ministers that had nothing to do with the sector they had to administer. Ramona Manescu unfortunately is no exception and I even think that, the less suitable she is for the job, the smaller and more criticized politician she will become,” mentioned Andreea Paul, first vice-president of PDL.
Another tough reaction came from MEP Cristian Preda, Manescu’s colleague in the European Parliament, who considered that PNL replaced “a client of the DNA” with “the wife of a baron” on the list of nominations for the office of Transportation minister. “After long searches, PNL found the magic formula for Transportation. As Ponta refused replacing a DNA client with another DNA client, the liberals of the Antonescu sect found the miracle solution: the wife of a PNL baron (…),” Preda wrote on his blog.
“The origin of this proposal: the husband and the political position of the husband and, of course, the friendship with Daciana Sarbu, plus other underground things which we ignore now,” considers the political consultant Cozmin Gusa.