PM Ponta says new government is determined to continue reforms for a fair and credible justice system. The Premier met NATO Secretary General Rasmussen – Romania will observe all its obligation as NATO member.
Romania has the right to join the Schengen Area now because it has fulfilled all criteria, Socialist Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, stated in a joint press conference he had with Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta in Brussels. “It’s Romania’s right to accede to the Schengen Area now. It’s not a gesture of charity. And we once again underlined that we are committed to sticking to what we’ve adopted through the accession treaty according to which once the criteria are met the country has to have access to the Schengen Area, as is the case now,” Schulz stated, Antena 3 informs. Asked for his opinion on what should happen with the MCV, whether it should be lifted or not, Martin Schulz stated that everything depends on the success of reforms in the following period. “I’m convinced the government wants to strengthen the justice system’s independence and to fight against corruption. I have full confidence in my friends that are in office. I know Titus Corlatean (Romanian Justice Minister – editor’s note) and I trust him,” the President of the European Parliament stated, adding that Corlatean “is trustworthy and tough” and that “it’s hard to persuade him to do something he doesn’t believe in.” The EU’s future multi-annual financial framework was another item on the agenda of the talks that Schulz and Ponta had, the President of the EP pointing out that special care has to be given to the cohesion policy and to expenditures that could contribute to growth and job creation. The new government is determined and committed to continue all necessary reforms in order to have a fair and credible justice system, Premier Victor Ponta stated in his turn during the press conference.Victor Ponta pointed out that Romania is ready to accede to the Schengen Area and thanked the European Parliament for the support it offered in this sense.In what concerns the mechanism of cooperation and verification on the justice system, Ponta pointed out that “the new government is determined and committed to continue all its efforts to have a fair and credible justice system both for Romanian and for European citizens”. According to Realitatea.net, Ponta said the Government is willing to accept Dutch or other European experts at the Border Police and Customs Office in order to prove “we have nothing to hide and we are not vulnerable as the former authorities used to be”.Premier Ponta also pointed out that the Romanian government is determined to respect all provisions of the fiscal treaty, another proof in this regard being the fact that the day after the new government was sworn in the Lower Chamber adopted the law that ratifies the European Economic Governance Treaty. “However we believe that Europe should add to it a strategy that would favor economic growth and job creation,” the Romanian Premier stated. In what concerns the country’s economic problems, Ponta announced that the current fiscal buffer can cover the monthly reimbursement of the CASS contributions from pensions higher than RON 740 but only for a period of three months, underlining that the Finance Ministry and the other institutions concerned are tasked to come up with the rest of the moneys by the time of the next IMF mission. At the same time, the Premier reiterated the idea that the government will not “tinker” with taxes and fees this year, but that fundamental changes to the VAT and the social insurance contributions will be included in the budget that USL proposes for next year. PM Ponta also met in Brussels with the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, with Sergei Stanishev, president of the European Socialist Party and with NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. At the end of his meeting with Rasmussen, Ponta stated that Romania will fully respect its prior obligations as a NATO member, including in what concerns the operations in Afghanistan, and any possible foreign policy changes in this domain will be taken only in agreement with NATO partners. ‘A change of policy will not be unilaterally applied by Romania, but in agreement with our partners. We are determined to integrally fulfill our obligations as a NATO member state, including in Afghanistan,’ Ponta said in the end of his talks with Rasmussen. The NATO secretary general said, in turn, that the ballistic missile defence system developed by the North Atlantic Alliance was not directed against Russia, but actually meant to protect the member states against possible missile attacks, therefore any offensive measures on behalf of Russia are not justified.