POLITICS

Basescu asks Constitutional Court to mediate conflict with Ponta

PM Victor Ponta obtained Parliament’s endorsement for representing Romania at the upcoming European Council Summit two weeks ago, but the head of state insists to go to Brussels backed by a possibly favourable Constitutional Court ruling.

President Traian Basescu notified yesterday the Constitutional Court (CC), over the conflict with the Government regarding the representation of Romania at the European Council (EC) on June 28, 29. The information has been confirmed by the CC, who noted that the petition would be discussed on June 27, on the eve of the departure of the delegation to Brussels. Contacted by Mediafax, Presidency spokesman Bogdan Oprea would not give any details on the subject. On May 17, CC President Augustin Zegrean, a former member of president’s party, appointed as head of the Court by Basescu in 2007 for a nine-year term, already said that the president should go to Brussels as he has done so far. ‘The answer is in the Constitution’, Zegrean said. The Social Liberal Union representatives and the press accused the CC president of issuing an opinion ex ante, exceeding his prerogatives, as his opinion was not requested.A few hours after Basescu had sent his petition to the Court, the Senate approved with 70 votes in favour, 18 opposed and four abstentions the Law removing Parliament decisions from the arbitration of the Constitutional Court. The law had been debated on by the Senate as decision-making chamber. In spite of Traian Basescu’s attempts to by-pass the Parliament, it seems that it will be the institution to decide on who represents Romania in Brussels after all. On June 12, the Parliament adopted with 249 votes in favour, 30 opposed and one abstention the declaration recommending that the country should be represented at the EC meeting by Prime Minister Victor Ponta. The day before the Parliament voted on the draft law stating that the decisions of the Parliament may not be challenged in the Constitutional Court, Traian Basescu awarded decorations to the CC judges in a ceremony celebrating 20 years of existence of the Court, organised at Cotroceni. The president’s decision to take the matter before the Constitutional Court did not come as a surprise, as it is regarded as the ‘last stronghold’ he still has after PDL lost the power. Basescu wrote to PM Ponta last week, threatening to bring him to justice if he goes to the EC summit without ‘the explicit consent of the Presidency’. Snubbing the Parliament’s endorsement for Ponta (MPs adopted with 249 votes in favour, 30 against and one abstention a declaration  recommending the representation of the country by PM at the EC meeting) and sure of his victory, last Tuesday the president sent the Foreign Ministry a list of the members on the Romanian delegation to the European Council including the head of state, Foreign Minister Andrei Marga and European Affairs Minister Leonard Orban.

Ponta: Basescu’s conflict is with the Parliament, not mePonta said yesterday that the matter President Basescu had decided to bring before the Constitutional Court was between the President and the Parliament, the Court judges being at most able to ascertain its existence, but not solve it, because the conflict can only be settled by rewriting the Constitution. ‘It is the Parliament that has adopted a political Declaration on the representation at the European Council, the Government has not done anything in that respect, it has only proposed to the Parliament, therefore the conflict the President has is with the Parliament, not with me’, Ponta said. The premier noted that it was actually the reason why he had addressed the Parliament on June 12 on the matter of the representation in Brussels. ‘Actually, we wanted to leave it with the Parliament, an institution that may dismiss me by no confidence vote and also impeach the president if needed.’ He pointed out that the Council would discuss matters related to proposals for economic growth, creation of jobs and the EU budget for 2014-2020, noting that it was ‘the interest of Romania’ that the Government, the institution that will implement those measures, is represented at the debates. Prior to the statement, Ponta had said he would not like to comment on the letter regarding the EC mandate President Traian Basescu had sent him last week, because ‘wars’, ‘scandals’ and ‘fights’ were not on his job description as prime minister. Political reactionsThe chairman of the Senate’s Legal Committee, Toni Grebla (PSD) considers that CC may not pronounce about the constitutionality of a statement adopted by the Parliament, as its attributions are only related to the constitutionality of laws and decisions. “The Parliament of Romania is the institution that holds the sovereign power, and it has decided that in an event that is about executive matters Romania must be represented by the premier, and not by the president. In other meetings and summits on various topics, it is the president of the country that represents Romania,” Grebla stated. He explained that an exchange of official letters with this regard took place, via the MAE, between the EU, the European Council and Romania, and “nothing can be changed anymore.”He was contradicted by the Speaker of the Senate, Vasile Blaga, who believes that things are very clear when it comes to the person that will represent Romania in the EC. “The Parliament made a decision that has no legal consequences – it has only political effects – and this is clearly stipulated by the organic law which is our common regulation,” Blaga said. According to the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Roberta Anastase, the request sent by the head of state to CC “is a constitutional right of the president,” which he used. PSD Deputy Viorel Hrebenciuc believes that taking the issue to the CC is “an exaggeration” and the president must understand that does not have to attend every meeting of the EC. Asked what he thinks about the fact that CC judges are generally favourable to the president, the Social-Democrat answered that Basescu should not be so optimistic about it. Although she thinks that Romania should be represented by the premier in the EC, PNL EuroDeputy Renate Weber admits that, if both Basescu and Ponta will go to Brussels, the EU leaders will invite only the president to attend the proceedings.

Antonescu: Impeachment, a collateral hypothesisa collateral hypothesisPNL leader Crin Antonescu said yesterday, speaking about the possible start of a president impeachment procedure, that this is a collateral hypothesis with lower or higher degree of probability, which should not be discussed now. Antonescu explained that USL did not ask an extraordinary session of the Parliament in order to impeach Traian Basescu. Asked whether the USL takes into consideration such a move for the near future, the Liberal leader answered that the priorities are the government’s agenda and the Parliament’s statement on who will represent Romania in Brussels. Last week, Antonescu had announced that, if President Basescu refuses to nominate Puiu Hasotti as minister of Culture, USL will start the impeachment procedure. Also last week, in an interview with Antena3, Antonescu mentioned the impeachment also in relation to the participation in the European Council. “I hope that the president will not provoke an embarrassing moment if he goes to the summit. This would require a solution to this row in Romania, which would translate into a discussion about impeachment,” the PNL leader warned, according to Antena3.ro.

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