Defence Minister and presidential adviser have argument at debate

Corneliu Dobritoiu and Iulian Fota yesterday had a tough dispute on the national defence strategy, which the former described as “music plaid by ear.

The Minister of Defence, Corneliu Dobritoiu, and presidential adviser Iulian Fota had an argument over the decision made by the Supreme Defence Council (CSAT), which the Minister of Defence said did not take into account the existing financial resources, and over the national defence strategy. Dobritoiu said that the document was not sent in Parliament before the due deadline and that it contains the expression “national interest” at singular, which is against the provisions of the Constitution.The minister’s speech was interrupted by Fota, who stood up and asked him if he actually read the defence strategy. According to the presidential advisor, the document was sent during the first six months of the presidential term. Fota blamed Dobritoiu for failing to provide an alternative point of view to the national defence strategy. “We have a document, good or bad, while you only come with words,” Fota told Dobritoiu.The presidential advisor accused Corneliu Dobritoiu of attacking institutions like CSAT in his address. “I fight you, not the MoD. Do not lash at CSAT or other institutions,” Fota said. Later, the presidential advisor added that he cannot attend a debate in which the Defence minister brought “only lies” and political biasing.After the argument, the two officials left the Aula of the Academy which hosted a debate on ‘National security in the society based on knowledge. Intelligence, strategic knowledge and decision.’ Upon leaving the building of the Romanian Academy, the two accused each other, through the media, over the two issues, and the Defence Minister described the national security strategy as ‘music plaid by ear.’Asked about who is the musician, he answered that the musician is the person that drafted the document. According to the minister, a number of CSAT decision have been adopted that were “each more uninspired than the other.” He added that CSAT adopts contradictory decisions that cancel previous documents. Dobritoiu gave as example the decision on purchasing multi-role planes, without financing being secured from the budget. “Then, how do you promote a decision, in the absence of money? Why promote it?” the Defence minister wondered. Asked about other similar decisions of the CSAT, he gave as example the problems related to the development of force structures. “When a certain force structure is designed, and that structure is not financed, the respective decision of the CSAT cannot be enforced,” the minister mentioned. Dobritoiu also criticised the fact that, after 10 years of participation in military operations abroad, Romania still does not have a post-conflict strategy that would support Romanian companies win contracts in the countries where our country had a military contribution. According to the minister, this happened in Iraq, while others have clear strategies with this regard.The defence minister also mentioned that, when the Constitution will be amended, authorities should also propose the modification of the CSAT law and even the name of this structure. Asked whether he believes changes are required in the composition of CSAT as well, Corneliu Dobritoiu answered: “I don’t know if the composition, too (needs to be changed), as we will make analyses, but I think it does, because as long as western democracies expanded the security framework by including other sectors – agriculture, environment – the respective institutions are not represented at the CSAT table. Or, if these fields are approached by our major allies, they are considered as sectors of strategic importance and they should be there.”Asked whether the president of the country should continue having the role of CSAT president, Dobritoiu answered: “Absolutely yes. If we comply with the provisions of the present Constitution, which gives the president distinct attributions in security, defence and foreign policy, he certainly must have a working instrument as well.” He added that the premier must remain vice-president of the CSAT, because he is not in charge with exerting executive duties in the economic dimension. “This is where resources come from, not somewhere else,” the minister explained.In his turn, while leaving the Aula of the Academy, presidential adviser Iulian Fota said that the matters pertaining to national security are too important to be approached with a hypocritical stance and with many lies. He criticised the “attack on the CSAT.” “I refer to things that have been said and which are false. Either he does not know well what has been done, or he uses them on purpose,” he stated. Fota added that the Minister of Defence did many good things, which he personally appreciated and supported, but now there are too many lies and too much hypocrisy in the national security sector.

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