President and Premier in inconclusive meeting over European Council issue

PM Ponta: We both received invitations to the summit. European Council representatives however state that those were not official invitations but a technical timetable.

The dispute between President Traian Basescu and Premier Victor Ponta over the issue of which of them should represent Romania at the European Council scheduled on June 28 has reached a new stage. PM Ponta stated yesterday that both he and the Head of State have received invitations to the summit. He promised to show the invitation to the press, stating he received it from Herman Van Rompuy: “We’re both invited, both the Head of State and the Prime Minister receive the timetable, receive everything, after which each country establishes its representative,” Ponta stated for Mediafax. Nevertheless, European Council experts quoted by Hotnews pointed out that nominal invitations to the European Council scheduled on June 28-29 have not been sent so far, the invitations being sent along with the final agenda one or two days before the summit, after the member states have nominated their national delegations. They pointed out that from a procedural standpoint a so-called summit timetable that includes technical details and accreditation procedures is sent two weeks before the summit. The Prime Minister went to the Presidential Palace yesterday in order to discuss the issue with President Basescu, however the meeting was inconclusive. At the end of the talks, Ponta stated that the only conclusion reached is that the two will meet again in order to continue the dialogue. “We haven’t established anything apart from meeting again to continue the dialogue,” the Prime Minister stated for Mediafax.Before the meeting Ponta was hoping to persuade the President that he is the one that should attend the summit, promising nonetheless that he will ask for the Head of State’s advice, considering the experience he gained in the eight years in which he attended European Council summits. “I believe President Basescu’s experience can be useful. (…) This is not a question of youthful arrogance. You should know that when it comes to anything that concerns European affairs I seek the advice of Mr. Puscas for example, who is very experienced, of Mr. Orban,” Ponta stated, hinting nevertheless that each one has his place irrespective of one’s experience. “That’s not about an issue of ego or about who is stronger at one point. We’re talking about Romania’s position and Romania’s position is strong and taken into account if it is a position adopted by all state institutions in coordination – government, president, parliament,” the Head of Government added.On Wednesday evening Ponta staunchly supported his right to attend the June 28 summit. “Nobody contests the President’s right when it comes to representation, but only Prime Ministers attend the European Council. The final solution will come in 2013 with the modification of the Constitution. (…) I can’t give up, it would mean breaking the Parliament’s decision. I’m sure this won’t result in an impeachment, at least not for this reason, because I will attend the Council and the discussion will end,” the Head of Government stated.Neither Ponta nor Basescu revealed what positions they will discuss during the meeting. The Head of State said on Wednesday that he does not want to anticipate the result of the talks, pointing out however that nobody should ask him to renounce his constitutional prerogatives. On the other hand, Basescu gave assurances that he “won’t place himself in ridiculous situations.” “I can’t go to the President after I state on TV what I want to tell him. Let’s meet and we will inform you afterwards,” Ponta stated. PSD Honorary President Ion Iliescu backed Premier Ponta, saying yesterday that Traian Basescu should be realistic and should understand the situation since the European Council summit scheduled two weeks from now is a summit of Prime Ministers. “The Head of State’s presence could be useful, but there is no ambition in the case of the other states… It would be better for the President to be realistic and understand: there are moments when his presence is necessary. The Prime Ministers meet there, not the states’ representatives,” Iliescu stated, adding that the lecture on European law that the Head of State offered on Wednesday at the Presidential Palace had a “false start,” being based on the erroneous premise that he is the one that should attend the European Council.

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