Premier Victor Ponta officially announced on Adevarul Live on Thursday that he will run in the presidential elections. The PSD President would have feared an electoral competition with Crin Antonescu, however PNL’s decision to designate Klaus Iohannis as its presidential candidate “took a load off of his mind.” “I will run,” Ponta pointed out. “It’s what I will demand. On Tuesday, July 29, I will ask PSD to support my candidacy. In September we need a Congress meeting. (…) On Tuesday I will definitely ask for PSD’s support. I am entering in order to win.” Asked who he will battle against, Ponta said: “I have the impression the possible candidates do not know that either, but the range of options is limited – Iohannis, Predoiu, Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, Macovei, Kelemen. In what concerns Cristian Diaconescu, I don’t think he will run. Just for the fun of the elections it’s important who runs from PMP. (…) I believe that any candidate making it to the runoff is strong, through the fact that he will try to collect the votes of as many as possible. Strictly personally speaking, Antonescu would definitely have been the most difficult opponent. I find it difficult to fight people that were close to me. PNL’s recent decision has taken a load off of my mind.”
Referring to Klaus Iohannis, the right wing’s most likely presidential candidate this autumn, Ponta stated: “I know it won’t be a theme I will use to attack him, there is nothing to reproach him with for the fact that he is an ethnic German, but I shouldn’t be reproached with being Romanian either. I am in Romania and I am proud to be Romanian. The same goes for the talk about religion; there is nothing bad in the fact that he is a Protestant, but I am Orthodox. I don’t believe it will be an issue, but I don’t want to create a sort of complex – someone should come from abroad because we are not capable. We, as a country, have our resources in order to develop. I don’t believe it’s a flaw that Iohannis is German, but nobody should reproach me with being Romanian.”
“There are three great vulnerabilities you have: the problem of barons, which every PSD candidate has, the Duicu case and the plagiarism case. Do you have a strategy to respond to these three great problems?” ‘Adevarul’ daily asked. “The issue of barons – we are now in a tie. PSD-PC-UNPR hold half of the county council chairmen, the new party holds about half. If we are to compare ourselves barons-wise I don’t believe someone stands to win or lose. This evening I will go to Calarasi, where Mr. Filipescu is a veritable county master.
From this point of view the problem is the following: whether the county council chairmen have immunity for the offices they hold.
On the contrary. The Duicu story – I will continue to abstain from commenting too much on it because it’s an ongoing court case in which I have no legal involvement. I saw that every day it is said that he talked about me. I too can call up a friend and tell him I am dining with Barack Obama and I will appoint the head of the Federal Reserve for him. Mr. Duicu was not in my office for influence peddling, there were others. Some good moguls. If I am summoned at the DNA I am ready to go. The plagiarism thing is an institutional issue. I have a High Court decision that exonerates me. Secondly, I am accused of something bad I did 16 years ago. Had I killed someone I would have walked after 16 years. I believe I paid the political, the moral price – this scandal has affected me greatly – the question is how much longer do I have to pay for something like this? I have an edge over Iohannis – everything about me is known, even more than I know. My life has been public ever since I entered high-level politics. Iohannis has the advantage that we know nothing about him; it could also be a disadvantage.”
Asked whether he knows something, Ponta answered: “No. I don’t want to do what Basescu does, I really don’t know, I’m just saying that when you take the decision to elect someone for the most important office in the country it’s a legitimate thing to want to know as much as possible, in order not to have surprises.”
Asked who he believes will be Premier after the elections, Ponta stated: “This is like ‘guess what.’” He doesn’t have to be a party member, he will be Premier for a year and a half and you can’t change everything at once. If he has results he should run on his platform, but basically he will come on my platform. I have learned something during these years of activity – I worked as a prosecutor for six years, I have been MP for ten, I have worked in three governments – Romania, through its constitutional system, has the following handicap and opportunity at the same time: if the Premier and President are fighting things go badly. If they are working together we are making progress. It’s easier to work in a team. From my point of view the idea of putting a stop to this war and of making two people work together is fundamental.”
“Romania can afford increase in sanctions against Russia”
Prime Minister Victor Ponta also said Romania can afford an increase in the sanctions against the Russian Federation, amid the current issues linked to Ukraine, due to its diminished dependence on the gas imported from Russia. Romania imports about 20 percent of its national gas demand from the Russian giant Gazprom and its trade relations with Russia are up to five billion euros.
“From the economic and social point of view Romania can afford an increase in the sanctions. I cannot sit and look around me and (pretend not to) see that Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, even Poland to a large extent, if the gas tap is really turned off, are having a problem much bigger than Romania. (…) From this viewpoint, we have a firmer, clearer, better outlined position, still I can understand the difficulties other European countries encounter. Romania, hopefully I am not mistaken, has trade relations with Russia under 5 billion euros. It’s a relationship (…), but should we stop tomorrow, Romania won’t collapse”, Ponta said.
He stated that Romania is directed towards the European Union, adding that Turkey is a strategic partner for Romania, yet we have a closer position to the USA.
“Romania is not a neutral state, a Switzerland where all parties could gather. Romania is a committed and active member of both NATO and the EU, so I don’t believe it could be seen as a third state, a mediator. (…) I definitely believe that Romania cannot be a bridge, it should be a stronghold of the European and transatlantic interests in this area”, the Prime Minister stressed.
As regards the airplane shot down in Ukraine, Victor Ponta said the separatists are obviously supported by the Russian Federation, the tragedy actually putting a ‘magnifying glass on the obvious ‘.