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March 24, 2023

Basescu threatens to hold Ponta liable if he goes to Brussels

The president sent a letter to the PM last week, warning him over the legal consequences of his participation at the European Council.

The row between President Traian Basescu and Premier Victor Ponta over the issue of who should represent Romania at the European Council in Brussels is deepening several days ahead of the summit. The President allegedly informed the Premier through a letter that he cannot represent Romania at the European Council on June 28-29, threatening that he will be held legally accountable if he takes over Presidential prerogatives.In the letter (that according to press reports was registered at the Prime Minister’s office on June 20), Basescu reproaches Ponta for deciding to attend the European Council without his explicit approval. “I caution you that the absence of a written approval from the Romanian President concerning the participation at the European Council, corroborated with the lack of an explicit delegation of the Prime Minister as representative of the Romanian state will be equivalent to the Prime Minister taking over one of the President’s constitutional prerogative,” the letter allegedly reads. After sending the letter to Ponta, the President no longer wanted to comment on it. “At this moment the Presidential Administration has no point of view concerning the letter that Traian Basescu sent to Mr. Ponta,” Presidential Administration Spokesperson Bogdan Oprea stated. The spokesperson pointed out on Friday that the President is not in conflict with the Premier or the government. “Mr. President considers that the government is adopting a wrong position if it believes it is in conflict with the Romanian President. At the same time, the President does not understand why the time earmarked for government meetings is wasted, like Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta himself states, on discussing political issues instead of being used to exercise the act of governing,” the statement reads. On the other hand, the PM said on Friday that today, when the Supreme Defence Council (CSAT) meeting is scheduled, he wants to have new talks with Traian Basescu on the European Council issue. “On Monday we have CSAT, we will probably have the swearing-in of a minister (designated Culture Minister Puiu Hasotti), and, from my point of view, I want to discuss with the President the issues that are on the agenda. I cannot confirm at this moment whether the President too would like us to discuss or not,” Ponta explained. The premier also announced that the Foreign Affairs Minister sent last Wednesday to the European Commission the list of Romanian delegates that will attend the European Council summit, the list including himself as head of the delegation, the Foreign Affairs Minister and the European Affairs Minister. President Traian Basescu was not on the list. In reply, the Presidency claimed that it sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) a list of Romanian delegates, a list headed by President Traian Basescu, Foreign Minister Andrei Marga and European Affairs Minister Leonard Orban. The European Commission spokesperson pointed out that the list of Romanian delegates should be sent to the office of president Herman van Rompuy, at the European Council.A referee in this dispute, Foreign Affairs Minister Andrei Marga stated that the ministry sent to Brussels the list of Romanian delegates headed by PM Ponta and that Brussels confirmed registering it. Moreover, he pointed out that his office received no list from the Presidency. “At the time we sent to Brussels the aforementioned list we did not have a concrete proposal at the foreign ministry level. If it was sent at other levels, how should I put this, more hidden levels, then that’s something else, but it was not at the foreign ministry’s level at that time,” Marga told  Saturday Antena 3 TV news channel. Asked what would happen if the Head of State nevertheless goes to the European Council, Marga answered “a decision will be taken there.” According to Marga, Basescu’s letter to Ponta contains a legal error. “It ignores the fact that the Prime Minister has foreign policy prerogatives too, because the President is not the only one that has foreign policy responsibilities,” the Foreign Minister explained. In his turn, PNL President Crin Antonescu told Antena 3 on Saturday evening that even if the President creates an embarrassing moment in Brussels that “would mean a settlement of this row in Romania, which would mean impeachment talks.” From President Basescu’s camp, PDL MEP Monica Macovei stated that if Ponta goes to Brussels nobody will talk to him there “because his plagiarism is obvious for the Europeans.”

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