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June 25, 2021
POLITICS

Ponta and Antonescu make peace: USL not breaking up

The ruling coalition has successfully overcome what Premier Victor Ponta called last Thursday ‘the biggest crisis of USL’ sparked by PNL Senator Sorin Rosca Stanescu’s criticism of PSD. After their meeting on Friday, Crin Antonescu and Victor Ponta seemed to have got over the difficult moment and appeared together at the National Conference of Liberal Youth on Saturday, when they made statements in support of USL.

PNL President Crin Antonescu said, on Saturday, that he deemed the Sorin Rosca Stanescu episode closed, assured Prime Minister and PSD leader Victor Ponta of the entire PNL support and that the USL construction was still sanding. ‘We did discuss the matter rather than hide it under the carpet. We each said what bothered us, what we should do and we agreed that we would continue’, Antonescu said at Romexpo, where he was present for the TNL National Conference. The Liberal leader pointed out that his dialogue with Ponta had not focussed on the Rosca Stanescu subject, but rather on the solidarity of USL and the PM received all reassurance that the opinions voiced by the Liberal MP were not shared by the party. Asked if the Rosca Stanescu subject would be resumed at the USL meeting on Monday, knowing that Ponta had asked for sanctions against him, Antonescu answered that it would be a routine meeting discussing government and administration subjects. Antonescu also said USL was ‘a long-standing political alliance in the nation’s interest’, that there was determination to make it successful while remaining anchored in the political philosophy of liberty. He assured that the PNL ministers in the Government had ‘a very good cooperation’ with PM Victor Ponta, also on health reform and that Minister Eugen Nicolaescu and the head of the Government were both willing to work together.
Premier Victor Ponta’s message also heralded the message of conciliation. At the same TNL Conference, he said USL people had been , for two and a half years, ‘a united team’ and that he wanted them to be ‘together in the next two years, A team for Romania indeed’. In fact, Ponta and Antonescu arrived together to the Romexpo event Saturday.
The reconciliation was possible after the Antonescu-Ponta talks at Victoria Palace on Friday. PNL leaders Daniel Chitoiu and Radu Stroe and Social-Democrats Liviu Dragnea and Sebastian Ghita also attended. The PSD leader said the Friday meeting with PNL had been ‘useful’. In his opinion, the PNL leaders ‘seemed to have understood’ what the PSD problem was – if the Government could count on PNL’s complete solidarity or not. ‘You can’t demonstrate solidarity or reliability if you tolerate a character like Sorin Rosca Stanescu’ and ‘ if Sorin Roşca Stănescu becomes a hero in PNL, more people looking for glory will pop up and the separation will be inevitable’, Victor Ponta said in a telephone intervention on RTV Friday night. In the beginning of his call, the premier noted ‘there were serious issues’ in USL, that were also going to be addressed on Monday. Asked whether he had explicitly demanded PNL leaders to oust Rosca Stanescu from the party, the PSD leader said he was not interested in his formal position. He added that it was a campaign conducted by the PNL senator against PSD since February, which ‘PSD could not tolerate in someone who pretends to be in the opposition while, in reality, is in power and fully benefits from it’. The premier also said he did not give ‘ultimatums’ and that he wanted to continue to cooperate with PNL.
The Friday meeting happened after Victor Ponta had said, Thursday night, that he was not happy with the PNL solution in the Rosca Stanescu situation. ‘I believe it is the biggest crisis for USL since its foundation and, in fact, Mr. Rosca Stanescu continued after that meeting. It means that, as long as nothing is done, it is an invitation to other PNL members to continue the attack on PSD, in which case we cannot continue together’, Ponta said. Asked what the solution was in that case, the prime minister said he was going to wait for a clear delimitation of PNL from Stanescu’s statements until the following USL meeting on Monday. Ponta deplored the fact that PNL leaders had just disavowed the senator’s position without actually taking sanctions against him. PNL leader Crin Antonescu answered on Thursday that he or Ponta was in no position to give ultimatums.
PNL Senator Sorin Roşca Stanescu said on Friday leaving the party was ‘out of the question’ and that ‘an alliance so important as ULS’ could not possibly ‘collapse’ on his account, that, if Ponta stuck to the same line, it only meant that something different pushed him to ‘try to break up USL’. PNL Honorary President Mircea Ionescu Quintus said Senator Sorin Rosca Stanescu was facing exclusion form the party ‘unless he pulls it together’, but noted that Prime Minister Victor Ponta was in no position to tell Liberals what to do.
However, the tensed situation in the Social Liberal Union has deeper roots. It all started in February, when PSD MP Sebastian Ghita and PNL Senator Sorin Rosca Stanescu fought a true war of statements. In an interview for ‘Cotidianul’, the PNL senator accused the Social-Democrat businessman of being a covert officer. ‘The gentleman comes straight from general Zamfir from the Romanian Intelligence Service. All of Mr. Ghita’s businesses in the sector of IT, from which he has built a financial empire and more recently a media empire were done with the state, via SRI. I take full responsibility for what I say and all those things must be dismantled’, Rosca Stanescu said, according to Realitatea.net. On the other and, Romania TV station owned by Sebastian Ghita says Sorin Roşca Stanescu had tried to convince PM Victor Ponta to help Dan Diaconescu in the privatisation of Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea. Sorin Roşca Stanescu denied the alleged influence peddling for Dan Diaconescu, adding his gesture was ‘collegial help’.

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