According to the Presidential Administration, CSAT had “a very constructive meeting”, but nothing new was decided regarding CFR Marfa. The prime minister was not present at the CSAT meeting, he is on vacation for 10 days. The government is led during this period by Deputy Gabriel Oprea.
Members of the Supreme Council for Country Defence (CSAT) had an urgent meeting on Friday where they discussed the privatisation process of the CFR Marfa. “A meeting of the Supreme Council for Country Defence (CSAT), chaired by Romanian President Traian Basescu, (…) convoked following a request made by the Romanian government to the CSAT Secretariat on Thursday, August 1, 5:05 am, to include on the agenda of the day of the CSAT meeting a debate on the Government Decision No. 526 as of July 24, 2013, regarding the approval of the main conditions of the sale of shares, through the Ministry of Transportation, as the seller, and the Romanian Railway Group national company, as a buyer, regarding the transfer of the property right over a share package, representing 51 percent of the share capital of the National Rail Freight Company CFR Marfă S.A.,” informed the Presidential Administration in a press release, quoted by Agerpres. According to that, the CSAT members had “a constructive meeting” about the national freight rail carrier privatisation process, while they were focusing mainly on the continuation of the legal procedures in this case. “The Council didn’t take any new decision concerning this matter”, the Presidential Administration reports.
The Presidency points out that the urgency of convening CSAT meeting is justified by “the pressures made by the very members of the Government of Romania’ and by Prime Minister Victor Ponta in recent weeks in the respective issue”, says a statement of the spokesman for the President, Bogdan Oprea, posted on Friday, on the website of the Presidential Administration. Oprea is calling on the Government to show ‘more accountability and accuracy’ when providing information to the public. ‘We beg the Romanian Government to show more responsibility and accuracy in providing information to the public, to avoid eventual misinformation and to correct the information published in the press release dated July 26, 2013, which says that the ‘Government of Romania expects further convocation of CSAT by the Romanian President’ and that the documents on the privatization of CFR Marfa ‘have been sent to the Supreme Council of Defence of the Country’ (in reality, the documents were sent only after a week, on Thursday, August 1 this year, at 17:05 local time) ‘, Oprea’s statement emphasizes.
Attending the meeting, according to the presidential press office, there were Vice Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea, Minister of Public Finance, Vice Prime Minister Daniel Chitoiu, Minister of National Defence, Mircea Dusa, Minister of Home Affairs, Robert-Marius Cazanciuc, Director of the Romanian Intelligence Service, George-Cristian Maior, Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Teodor-Viorel Melescanu, Chief of General Staff, Lt.Gen. Stefan Danila, presidential adviser for national security, Iulian Fota, Secretary of the CSAT, General Ion Oprisor, spokesperson for the Romanian President, Bogdan Oprea. Presidential adviser Claudiu-Constantin Dinu, the head of the Legislative Constitutional Department also participated in the meeting, as a guest. Beforehand the CSAT meeting, the Vice Prime Minister had a private meeting with the ministers who participated at the CSAT meeting in order to discuss about the privatization of rail freight company CFR Marfa.
On the other hand, the Government specified on Friday that it did not require the ‘urgent’ summoning of the meeting of the CSAT, but only requested the President to instruct the inclusion on the agenda of the next Council sitting of the Government’s draft decision on the privatization of rail freight company CFR Marfa. “The Government of Romania considers that discussing the subject in a CSAT meeting should not be actually aimed at passing the responsibility among state institutions, but at highlighting potentially new information which may question the viability of CFR Marfa’s privatization, or removing doubts raised lately. The privatization process cannot continued in absence of such clarifications’, the Government said in a release.
Nastase: Basescu rendered CSAT risible
President Traian Basescu’s decision to convene the Supreme Defense Council (CSAT) in great haste while Premier Victor Ponta was abroad was harshly criticized by former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase. The former president of PSD stated on Saturday evening in a TV interview that Basescu rendered the CSAT risible by convening a meeting that adopted no decision and doing so at an inappropriate time while “the Premiere was leaving and was on the plane flying towards the US.” “I am talking about the fact that Traian Basescu wanted to show that he is the boss of CSAT, that he sets the meetings when he wants, even though he did not consult the Premier, who is the Vice President of CSAT, and after all he rendered this institution risible because by organizing a meeting that did not adopt any kind of decision he only satisfied his whim by summoning the ministers from wherever they were and after all holding common sense in contempt. (…) What did you do eventually? You tried to show that you have control over this institution. But, I repeat, if four members of CSAT do not show up at the CSAT meetings from now on there will be no quorum and no meeting can be held,” Nastase said, being quoted by realitatea.net.
Former Premier Emil Boc considers on the other hand that the current Premier’s absence from CSAT’s meeting last Friday means, among other things, “lack of responsibility and respect, flight from responsibility, duplicity and, in the end, hypocrisy.” The same opinion is shared by PDL Vice President Raluca Turcan who claims that “it was probably a coincidence” that Victor Ponta and Liviu Dragnea went on holiday at the same time, leaving Gabriel Oprea to finalize the CFR Marfa issue, stating that “Ponta is good at dodging responsibility.” “I don’t want to believe that it was a calculated political gesture meant to hide under the carpet the issue of privatizing CFR Marfa. The way Victor Ponta is good at dodging responsibility it wouldn’t surprise me to see, after a while, Mr. Ponta blaming Mr. Oprea for the finalization of the privatization contract,” Turcan stated.
On the other hand, Presidential aide for national security Iulian Fota stated that the government asked the president to introduce on the order of the day of the CSAT meeting the CFR Marfa issue, not the approval of the privatization. “We referred exactly to what the government asked through its communiqué. That’s exactly what we did, it was a talk,” Fota said, being quoted by Mediafax. Asked whether during the meeting Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea asked CSAT to approve GFR’s privatization of CFR Marfa, Fota pointed out that he cannot answer because that would mean addressing the content of the talks, which is confidential according to the law on whose basis the Council functions. At the same time, Iulian Fota pointed out that he cannot comment on the privatization procedure, being able to do so solely on CFR Marfa’s strategic importance: “There is no impediment for this privatization to be finalized. The CSAT decision from February 5 suffers no modification from the point of view of today’s discussion, those points are still on and the institutions with legal responsibilities have to carry it through.”