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November 17, 2019

Antonescu’s confidence in the Premier diminishes after Rosia Montana row

PNL President: “Ponta had a good life with me. We are not supporting PSD because our knickers are in a twist over the presidential elections.”

PNL President Crin Antonescu’s attacks against Premier Victor Ponta, his alliance partner, continued over the weekend, the Senate Speaker revealing that his confidence in the Prime Minister has diminished and that he gives to the government grade 8.
Asked on Friday evening on Antena 3 how much confidence he has in Premier Victor Ponta after the Rosia Montana row, Antonescu answered: “Less (confidence in Victor Ponta – editor’s note) than I had during the Kovesi issue. And during the Kovesi issue it was lower than it was when we set out together,” pointing out however that the confidence he has is sufficient for the Social Liberal Union to function. Likewise, the PNL President was asked whether he still considers the Premier “a friend.” “I’m his public office colleague,” Antonescu replied. The PNL President admitted that the relationship within USL is currently complicated. “If there were disagreements, misunderstandings, confusions, they have to be clarified. (…) The announcement that the project (Rosia Montana – editor’s note) is off, that it will no longer be discussed in Parliament, wasn’t made by me, the Premier made that announcement mistakenly – not with ill-intent, I’m sure, but mistakenly.”
Asked for his opinion on the statement made by Ponta last week, a statement according to which he did not publicly attack Antonescu for the past three years, the PNL President stated that Ponta’s statement should not be interpreted in the sense that he has constantly attacked Victor Ponta for three years making his life difficult. “He (Victor Ponta – editor’s note) had a good life, had a politically irreproachable partnership like he never had before and will never have again in his long political career. (…) The whole PSD should understand that the Social-Democrat Premier and PSD are living a good life with their ally PNL and Antonescu not because our knickers are in a twist that they will no longer support us in the presidential elections, but because this government has to succeed. (…) If they can understand this it will be all right. If not, they won’t back me in the presidential elections and that’s that, good luck and thank you for your collaboration,” Antonescu stated.
The PNL President however takes a dim view of the PSD-PNL Government, stating that he gives grade 8 to the government’s activity so far, and grade 7 to the PNL ministers, complaining of their lack of communication on public policies. “The government’s grade would be an 8 let’s say, the Liberal ministers’ grade would not go below 7, the difference indeed consisting of the Premier’s performance, his extra effort,” Antonescu said. He pointed out that one of the complaints he has in what concerns the activity of PNL ministers concerns Radu Stroe and the changes brought to the Traffic Code. The PNL President stated that Stroe did not discuss this issue within the party before proposing the changing of the legislation. Nevertheless, Antonescu does not believe that Stroe should be reshuffled for this, or that a wider government reshuffle would be called for.
Another Liberal mentioned by Antonescu is Ludovic Orban who asked for the resignation of Premier Victor Ponta and Minister Dan Sova in a Facebook post concerning Rosia Montana. “Ludovic Orban made a personal statement, it does not represent the party’s position, it does not represent the position of the Parliamentary group, he’s a Liberal MP who made a statement from which I distanced myself. There was no need for that because if PNL reaches the conclusion that it wants the resignation of Victor Ponta or that it no longer wants to be in the government it will say so officially,” Antonescu stated.
Ponta: We’ve set out on a path and I want us to keep our word
Premier Victor Ponta did not pick up the glove this time either. In reply to the PNL President’s criticism, he stated that the PNL President is right when saying that he is not his friend but merely his “work colleague” and pointed out that he had set out on a political path with Crin Antonescu, Daniel Constantin and Sorin Oprescu, this being the reason why the citizens voted for them. “I’ve set out on a political path with Crin Antonescu, Daniel Constantin and Sorin Oprescu, the people voted for us because of this and I want us to keep our word until the end,” Ponta said on Friday evening on RTV.
Fourth day of protests
The protest against the Rosia Montana mining project reached its 14th day on Saturday, the protesters gathered in University Square chanting messages against shale gas drilling. They again asked for the draft law on mining in the Rosia Montana perimeter to be withdrawn, for the contract with Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC) to be canceled, for mining projects involving cyanide to be banned in Romania, for the Rosia Montana area to be introduced in the UNESCO patrimony and for the four signatories of the draft law – ministers Dan Sova, Rovana Plumb, Daniel Barbu and ANRM director Gheorghe Dutu – to be sacked.
In parallel with the protests in Bucharest, 33 miners were still blocked yesterday in a mine at Rosia Montana. Twenty-two of them were on their fifth day of protest, the other 11 being on their third day of protests. According to Mediafax, on Sunday they stated that they are determined not to give up until they will talk with the leaders of Parliamentary groups or with government representatives. `
Most Romanians (70 per cent) consider that the decision on the Rosia Montana mining project should be taken after a Parliamentary debate, while 28 per cent consider that this decision can be taken without a Parliamentary debate, a SOCIOPOL poll quoted by Agerpres shows. The debates and news concerning Rosia Montana were followed closely by 95 per cent of Romanians. When asked who should take the decision on the mining project, 41 per cent of respondents pointed to the Parliament, 21 per cent to the government, 15 per cent to the Romanian President, 10 per cent to someone else and 13 per cent did not know or did not want to answer. More than half of the respondents (52 per cent) believe that only by continuing the current project there will be investments in the creation of secure jobs, while 35 per cent believe that if the project is rejected the area can develop through tourism too.
The poll, ordered by www.b365.ro, was conducted on September 9-12, on a sample of 1,017 persons.

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