The statement comes after the Ponta – Antonescu row intensified, the Premier pointing out that PSD will not support Antonescu’s presidential bid against his will, the PNL President replying that if USL breaks up then Ponta should resign from the office of Prime Minister.
Victor Ponta and Crin Antonescu, the two leaders of the Social-Liberal Union (USL), continue their rhetorical duel, increasingly undermining the Union’s stability. Yesterday Premier Victor Ponta had an emergency meeting with the Social-Democrat MPs at the government’s headquarters. After the meeting Ponta nevertheless offered assurances that USL will not break up and stated that next week he will meet the leaders of PSD’s territorial branches during the Permanent National Bureau meeting in order to discuss the political situation, the Premier adding that he avoids any public conflict. He added that in the last 24 hours he did not “have the chance” to talk with Antonescu but that he has a dialogue with him.
Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea stated in his turn, after the meeting at the government’s headquarters ended, that “there is no problem” and Crin Antonescu is “a very good colleague” and “the teams (PSD and PNL – editor’s note) are working very well together.” This came just several hours after he had stated that Crin Antonescu’s emotional reactions are irritating “the hundreds of thousands of PSD ants” that will work for his presidential campaign. Subsequently Zgonea explained that he referred to the fact that it would be good for the disputes “not to take place on TV.”
Also yesterday, PSD spokesperson Catalin Ivan issued a press communiqué in which he called on the Liberals not to harm the alliance through public statements and drew attention to the fact that the USL project should not be jeopardized. “We are honestly worried by a series of attacks coming from our alliance colleagues, attacks that seem to be escalating. Through some positions adopted lately wrong messages have been given to the electorate and USL’s unity can be jeopardized,” the communiqué reads.
The discussion comes after the two USL leaders continued to reproach each other in the press, including for the risk of USL’s breakup and the government’s collapse.
After Antonescu stated several days ago that he will run for president in 2014 with or without the support of his current partners from PSD, Premier Victor Ponta stated on Monday evening on B1TV that the PNL President’s attitude “is not the smartest strategy” and that PSD will not support him “by force.”
“I believe he doesn’t (prepare – editor’s note) because preparing for the elections campaign by saying you don’t need PSD’s support does not seem to be the smartest strategy. (…) Of course, we’re not going to support him by force. If he says he doesn’t want to then we will meet at PSD and we will decide who we will support. We decided once that we support Crin Antonescu, but if he doesn’t want us to support him, one can’t force him,” Ponta said. He added that PSD does not have a candidate for the presidential elections at this moment and he will not run for president in 2014.
The Premier expressed his annoyance with the term used by Crin Antonescu (“a bit rotten” – editor’s note) to refer to his way of promoting the Rosia Montana project, pointing out that the PNL President has been very critical and ironical lately, but in his opinion he is wrong. “I believe this affects him too and people rather appreciate the solidarity shown by people that are together, not the fact that they kick each other,” the Premier said.
At the same time, Senate Speaker and PNL President Crin Antonescu answered Ponta in an interview for ‘Gandul’ daily by saying that Victor Ponta should decide whether he still supports his presidential bid, the Liberal also pointing out that if USL breaks up then Ponta should resign. “If someone within PSD imagines that Antonescu will shut up as if this is the Communist Party, or will go on all four in order to become president backed by PSD, then he is horribly mistaken. (…) The attitude displayed for many months now not by Mr. Ponta personally, but the attitude of his television channel, of many PSD members, the attitude of behaving as if the Romanian Presidency is something that sits in a safe in Cluj at Mr. (Ioan) Rus and they will or will not give it to us Liberals or to me, is unacceptable. (…) If I am going to be a president I will be president for Romania. If USL supports me in this idea then fine, if not then so be it. To put an end to these speculations, I did not and I’m not begging at PSD’s door. This issue hasn’t been started by me, it has not appeared now, it has appeared through PSD’s media organs for a long time and I believe it would be good to clarify things,” Antonescu said, adding that he was attacked by Victor Ponta through third parties and through “his pet television channel.”
“I withstood all these attacks, but I cannot stand the hypocrisy of someone who tells me “I never attacked my friend Crin.” Well, he has persons that do that. If you see what appears daily on Mr. Victor Ponta’s pet television channel then I believe you would no longer have any doubts. Nevertheless, I went forward. We cannot play dumb because we aren’t,” Antonescu stated. The PNL President pointed out that he will not try to break USL, but he cannot vow “for the others.”
Ponta came into conflict with Liberal MP Ludovic Orban too, who stated on Monday that he would support a no-confidence vote against the current Premier. On B1TV Ponta replied that Orban in fact has a conflict with Crin Antonescu and lashes out at him in order to hit the PNL President. According to the Premier, Orban is “in group” with Elena Udrea, “friends of Nelu Iordache’s,” and that they “topple governments” on Facebook while being at the seaside. Orban reacted again yesterday, stating for Mediafax that instead of “talking billingsgate” and “evasively” announcing the setting up of political dossiers Premier Victor Ponta should denounce the cohabitation protocol with President Traian Basescu and should give up the Rosia Montana project. “It’s not a right, it is PSD’s obligation to support Mr. Antonescu’s presidential candidacy,” Orban added.