Traian Basescu had an extremely active media presence over the weekend, speaking in two interviews – one for Pro TV and one for ‘Adevarul’ daily – about his recent visit to Washington, relations with Russia, as well as PDL and the Government’s future political, economic and social projects.
Invited on the ‘20 years after’ Pro TV show, the head of state said that, in principle, he was not a supporter of simultaneous local and general elections unless the process is justified by the territorial re-organisation. ‘The perfect justification would be if the parties in the coalition said: <Yes, we are postponing local election because we need to do the administrative re-organisation and cut the expenditure incurred with the operation of coalition in the territory.>’
‘Otherwise, as far as I am concerned, this is their problem and I am not going to assume it,’ Basescu said. At the same time, Traian Basescu is pushing for the first past the post voting in a single round of election which, in his view, is the only fair way in which the public can select its representatives.
‘No money for F16s’
The president revisited the subject of his recent visit to Washington, announcing that, the following week, he was going to discuss with the Government the setting up of working groups to deal with the priorities laid down in the Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century with the US, adopted during his visit. The president further said the Romanian party ought to understand that the Americans do not have the habit of discussing a deal three times.
‘We must forget about the Balkan way of doing business when we deal with Americans,’ Basescu said, adding it is crucial for Romania to explain to the Russian Federation that its agreement with the US is not hostile to Moscow and that he is the advocate of solutions enabling political co-operation with Russia.
At the same time, the head of state insisted to clarify various rumours on the economic component of the visit. He pointed out that, during his talks in Washington, he had made it very clear that Romania does not have the money to purchase the F-16 multi-purpose fighter. He is making the clarification after US Ambassador in Romania Mark Gitenstein said last Thursday that one of the topics discussed by President Basescu in the US was the procurement of new F-16 fighters. ‘The position I stated there on behalf of Romania was: we don’t have the money and we cannot commit to such a contract, unless we are able to come up with a long-term financing solution. In other words, in the next five-six years, Romania will not be able to pay billions, but actually 200 M, or a maximum of 300 M per year. There is no American pressure that we must buy F-16 fighters,’ Basescu explained.
As for Bechtel, the president noted that the agreement between Romania and the American company was ‘an unfortunate one’, but admitted that his assertion while still in the US might have been too tough. During his meeting with representatives of the Romanian community in Washington, Basescu said that, instead of recommending Romania not to enter into that agreement, the World Bank preferred ‘to remain silent and now is coming to lecture us’.
In an interview with Adevarul daily, Basescu says his talks with Barack Obama had been scheduled in advance and tat he was by no means the journalists’ enemy, but a person who detests journalistic campaigns on order and personal attacks. He further noted that the American president’s answer to his question about what Romania could do for the US was: ‘Make sure the justice system functions, because complaints I hear from American companies are related to your justice system.’
On Russia, R. Moldova and… retirement from politics
In the same ‘Adevarul’ interview, President Basescu says the support Romania gives Chisinau in its European aspiration irritates authorities in Kremlin. ‘My position is first and foremost based on the fact that the Republic of Moldova once was Romanian land and still is Romanian land (…). Our pro-R. of Moldova attitude has caused big annoyance in Moscow. We therefore need to create a climate of trust and explain that Romania does not want to annex R. Moldova. Our intention s good: we want R. of Moldova to join the European Union,’ said Basescu.
In the same dialogue with the ‘Adevarul’ journalists, Traian Basescu confessed he no longer intended to continue in politics after the end of his current presidential term: ‘I want to quit politics (…). After some time in politics you want back the common man’s freedom which I hope I will get back on January 1 (2015 – our note).’
Pensions and salaries not growing
On the other hand, in his Pro TV interview the president referred to the domestic situation as well, noting that pensions cannot be raised as long as the deficit is EUR 3.6 bln and salaries cannot go back to what they were in 2010 as long as there is still an excess of 200,000 employees. In addition, he advocated a massive cut of welfare.
‘The Government gained credibility with the measures it took in 2010, but it may lose that credit – and this is a shock Romania could experience by failing to fulfil its obligations under the agreement with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund,’ Basescu said. In his opinion, Romania will experience a major growth by spending European money.
As for another extensively debated national media subject – the Rosia Montana gold mining project – the president pointed out that he had asked to see a report on that, and that document recommended the implementation of the investment. Basescu added he was going to have investors drink water from the area to demonstrate that it does not present hazardous cyanide levels and is safe.
More consideration for PDL ladies
Asked to explain who exactly in PDL he had in mind when he mentioned the ‘iron lady’ – Margaret Thatcher at the PDL Summer School, Basescu answered: ‘(…) Unfortunately, I have not identified either Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan. But my opinion is that, at least in PDL, ladies have more will power to grow than men have.’ Asked if he did not think PM Emil Boc might not appreciate what he had just said, Basescu answered, laughing: ‘I meant people who are growing. Emil Boc worked a lot and became president.’