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February 4, 2023

President tells Parliament to back off, as debates may stir confusion in Brussels

President Traian Basescu explained in a press conference yesterday why the veto was not a good idea. He started by explaining that the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, had assumed further negotiations among the member states in order to arrive to a conclusion. ‘Of course we have started this negotiation, we know the groups whose position is good for us in respect of the common agricultural policy or the cohesion. Other details are not possible at this stage. We are working on making alliances and finding a solution in the EU’, added the president.‘Romania’s interest is to negotiate. I repeat, Romania’s interest is to negotiate the 2014-2020 budget. If we start off with the idea of introducing the veto, we will be outside negotiations! No one will look for us and they will see in the end  whether we assume the veto or not,’ Traian Basescu said. And he continued: ‘We are not the only ones who need allies. Other countries also need us to back their positions, be it the common agricultural policy, the cohesion policy, the eligible VAT, the 75 per cent or 85 per cent co-financing or anything. Romania, as the seventh largest member state, has capacity of negotiation. So I personally say it is in Romania’s best interest to negotiate rather than depart from Bucharest fixed on the veto idea.’ The head of state claims that insisting, ahead of the Council, on the threat that ‘if it doesn’t turn out our way, Romania will introduce the veto’ also showed ‘an inability of setting up alliances on explained the Council, the inability to negotiate’. ‘Romania has never been in this situation and I hope it never will be, I mean in an incapacity to support its point of view by negotiation and obtain at least a compromise. We all start off with the idea of a compromise. Compromise also in Bucharest. The risk of being divided is a major one’, Basescu added. Noting that the entire European Union was in economic crisis, Basescu pointed out that ‘singling itself out was the big mistake a beneficiary state could make’. ‘You know, there are donor states that would be happy to see a veto from a recipient state and the breaking of an agreement. Those who say it would be a good thing to use the veto are kindly advised to remember elementary school arithmetic and do the calculations: What we lose from a veto and from not having a compromise on the budget’. On a distinct note, the president said he was going to the European Council meeting in Brussels because it was a difficult moment and because he had ‘better potential’ than PM Victor Ponta, therefore could serve the interests of the country better than the PM could. The president added a few notes on the prime minister’s recent statements suggesting he had debts to pay in Brussels owed for the support he had got from there on his second impeachment. Basescu said the idea launched into the public space was ‘a wretched defamation’, ensuring that he ‘owes nothing to anyone’ and that the Western leaders who had taken a position in the summer were only defending the rule of law. At the same time, Basescu said he was addressing  to the MPs and the prime minister the ‘request’ to mind that the negotiations ahead of the European Council in Brussels were at their height and therefore divergent signals could create the kind of confusion that could work against Romania’s interest. Later on, Basescu said that he didn’t get any mandate from the government but that in case he receives such a mandate he is ‘not bound by it’, as his constitutional powers allow him to do what he considers best.The president attacked the premier one more time during the press conference, saying that, if he had been the prime minister, his ‘chevrons wouldn’t have fallen’ if he had participated in the Council of General Affairs (CAG) to support the interest of his country, noting that a member of the Government designated by the prime minister goes to CAG. On Sunday, the president wrote a letter to the premier, suggesting that he should attend the CAG. Romania will be represented to the Council of General Affairs by Leonard Orban, Minister of European Affairs. On the other hand, as indicated on the website of the Cypriot EU Presidency, only the ministers of European affairs and never prime ministers are to participate in CAG meetings. Before the Ministry of European Affairs was set up, the foreign affairs minister had been going to CAG meetings, never the prime minister. ‘The General Affairs Council coordinates the meetings of the European’, it is stated on the mentioned website. ‘I know President Basescu is disappointed, but my participation in a meeting designed exclusively for ministers would be as abnormal as the president’s participation in an exclusive prime ministers’ meeting. No one would understand anything about Romania  – the president participates instead of the prime minister, the prime minister participates instead of one of his ministers’, Ponta said after the Cabinet meeting yesterday. In a release posted Monday night, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also explained that the EU General Affairs Council is a strictly ministerial meeting, bringing together ministers or secretaries of state in charge of foreign or European affairs. Regarding the accusations that he was engaged in the election campaign, Basescu said he was being accused simply because he existed, and warned that he might soon decide it was time he defended himself because the entire national and local campaign was carried out around his person.

Orban: Rompuy’s draft budget, unacceptable

European Affairs Minister Leonard Orban stated yesterday after the General Affairs Council meeting that Romania considers the contents of paragraph 45 of President Herman Van Rompuy’s budget proposal unacceptable. The paragraph introduces a link between future cohesion policy allocations and the absorption rate registered in 2007-2011, the stipulation affecting solely our country. The minister raised the issue during a working dinner that took place on Monday evening, the day before the General Affairs Council meeting on Tuesday, a meeting that European Council President Herman Van Rompuy attended and during which ministers of all member states presented their positions on his budget proposal.

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