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March 28, 2023

Constitutional Court president intervenes in Ponta-Basescu dispute

Zegrean: The Head of State should attend European Council meeting. The Premier: “I know Zegrean is Mr. Basescu’s friend, but he’d better talk when he is asked to.”

The issue concerning who should represent Romania at the European Council meeting in Brussels, an issue that rose after Prime Minister Victor Ponta stated that “European affairs are no longer considered foreign policy issues in Europe,” could be settled in favour of President Traian Basescu. Augustin Zegrean, President of Romania’s Constitutional Court (CCR), stated yesterday that the Head of State is the one who should attend the event, just like it happened until now. “The answer can be found in the Constitution. The Head of State went there until now, nobody challenged that, I don’t know where this issue came from,” Zegrean stated for Mediafax. Asked whether the CCR can rule on such an issue, as Presidential aide Iulian Chifu recently stated, Zegrean (whom Basescu appointed judge for a 9-year term in 2007 – editor’s note) stated that the institution he leads is competent in answering any questions concerning constitutional law. Former Foreign Affairs Minister and current Presidential aide Cristian Diaconescu (UNPR) expressed his opinion in favour of the Head of State yesterday too. “The Constitution is very clear. According to Article 80, Paragraph 1, the Romanian President represents the Romanian state. In what concerns the Prime Minister’s prerogatives, Article 107 does not show he may represent the Romanian state. I say this word, “representation,” because it is also important from the point of view of the Lisbon Treaty’s text which asks the states, the 27 members of the European Union, to be represented by only one official,” Diaconescu stated for RFI. In his opinion, any political discussion over this issue “would only serve to render Romania’s mandate vulnerable.” On the other hand he pointed out that former Presidents Ion Iliescu and Emil Constantinescu “did not hesitate to take responsibilities” in Romania’s EU and NATO accession bids, those responsibilities being given a concrete form through internal measures adopted by the government. “From this point of view the cooperation worked very well,” Diaconescu added. Ponta’s reply was not late in coming. Thus, the Premier told the CCR President that he knows he is “Mr. Basescu’s friend,” but that it would be better for him “to speak when he is asked to.” In what concerns Cristian Diaconescu, Ponta claims that the former Foreign Affairs Minister should express his opinions only in his talks with President Basescu. “The talks between the President and Prime Minister need no advisers, especially since I don’t trust such advisers,” the Head of Government stated. We remind our readers that Victor Ponta met the Head of State early this week. During the meeting the two discussed at what level Romania should be represented during the next European Council meeting. “We agreed to disagree on this issue. We will continue to discuss,” Ponta stated at the end of the talks. Following this dispute, democrat-liberal MEP Cristian Preda told Mediafax yesterday, in an interview, that the EPP group received an announcement regarding the European Council on May 23, president Traian Basescu being the one present on the list of invitees. Trying to be ironical, Preda said that the officials invited to the Council are the one not needing to make phone calls when making decisions.

Marga: I’m scheduled to attend NATO Summit with Basescu

Until this issue is resolved, Foreign Affairs Minister Andrei Marga (PSD) announced during a TV show that according to his schedule he will be on the same flight with President Basescu on their way to the NATO Summit in Chicago. Asked whether he will sit next to the Head of State during the flight, considering the exchange he and the President had prior to the Ponta Government’s swearing-in ceremony, Marga pointed out that “there are more seats in the plane” but he will not shy away from talking with Basescu. “We should not dodge talks and rival arguments, the important thing is to see what we do after they are presented,” he said. Likewise, he pointed out that ever since he became Foreign Minister his relation with the President has not been “dysfunctional when it came to dealing with complex dossiers.” In fact, the Foreign Minister reiterated the idea he presented while he was heard by the Parliament’s commissions, namely the idea according to which Romania should return to constitutional provisions in what concerns devising, approving and executing foreign policy and the Head of State’s, the Government’s and Parliament’s prerogatives have to be observed. In other developments, the Foreign Minister stated that he is in favor of normalizing relations with Russia, pointing out at the same time that he did not say that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a model for him. “I believe at this time in politics models are no longer important. (…) Obviously I said that we (…) should normalize relations with Russia, they grew colder than they had to, colder than necessary and after all why shouldn’t we use the opportunities offered by Russia’s market, which is enormous,” Marga said.



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