Intense negotiations with UDMR. President Basescu says this is a new Cabinet with a new ruling programme, so the premier should be re-appointed. Ponta contradicts him.
Negotiations with UDMR over the new Government are under way, as PM Ponta plans to present the new Cabinet in Parliament tomorrow, after signing two agreements for the support of the new Executive, respectively with UDMR and the group of national minorities. The agreement almost reached by USD with UDMR is however disputed by President Traian Basescu, who said yesterday on Pro TV that inviting UDMR in the ruling coalition means “a new government will come to be invested,” warning that in these conditions he will no longer nominate Victor Ponta as premier. In retort, the prime minister said that he will not come in Parliament to change the ruling programme and only wants to modify the political composition of his Cabinet.
UDMR mandated to negotiate with PSD tentative entry
The 127 members of the Council of the Union Representatives (CRU) gathered on Saturday in Targu Mures unanimously mandated the Standing Council of the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) to hold negotiations with the Social Democratic Party (PSD) on the Union’s joining the government. UDMR chairman Kelemen Hunor said that negotiations will not start with the positions to be assigned to the Union in the future Government, but with the political agreement to be sealed by the potential partners. At the end of the works, Kelemen Hunor said that, understandably, the governing program will not be changed, but that a political agreement can help forge several common projects that can be backed in Parliament, in the Government, and that the legislative initiatives which – according to the document – are referred to Parliament, can be voted on. Kelemen argued that if UDMR accepts a role in the Government, this will benefit Romania too, but this can happen only if concrete terms are formulated. He also specified that the negotiations with the Social-Democratic Party would envisage three major chapters – minority rights, economic and social aspects, and infrastructure.
UDMR’s political vice-chairman Laszlo Borbely said in his turn that the Union is capable to represent the interests of Hungarians both in Bucharest and Brussels and therefore, the community’s claims must be worded ‘clearly and smartly.’ At the CRU meeting, Borbely said that it has happened before that UDMR caused a Government to fall and that the Union has its own terms to table to the negotiation partners.
Later, Borbely said that “serious negotiations will be conducted” with PSD in view of forming a new government and the Union will not be give “the stars in the sky.” “Serious negotiations will take place, we will not be given the stars in the sky. We will have to fight at this table of negotiations, because if half a year from now investments will be made and the Targu Mures-Turda motorway will be constructed, this will be not only for Hungarians, but also for the Romanians living in Ardeal,” Borbely mentioned. In his turn, former UDMR president Marko Bela said Saturday that it would be a “mistake” for the Union to join the government in inappropriate conditions, adding that “the Ponta team must not be left in pain from now on.”
The USD-UDMR talks regarding the structure and the programme of the new cabinet due yesterday, have been postponed for today, according to PM Ponta’s schedulle.
What UDMR actually wants
Apart from formal statements, UDMR officials indeed have intense negotiations over offices in the new Cabinet. Friday evening, Kelemen Hunor said that he considers an office of vice-premier and 2-3 ministries, but this will be decided depending on the structure of the ruling coalition. The Hungarians also want the Romanian state to withdraw the lawsuits against the mayors that raised the Szekler flag, the adoption of an act that will legalise the use of local symbols by public institutions and the founding of a Hungarian speaking line at the University of Targu Mures.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said on Friday that the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) did not connect their entering the government to the flying of the Szekely flag and that the lawsuits filed on this subject cannot be dropped. ‘They set no such condition. (…) One cannot drop the lawsuits,’ said Ponta, who is paying an official visit to Rome. He mentioned that he and the chairman of the National Liberal Party (PNL) Crin Antonescu had frequently discussed the subject of the Szekely flag, and that the Liberal leader had voiced a similar opinion. Victor Ponta said that everything is ‘all right’ as long as the national symbols, the European Union emblem and the symbol of the respective local authority are displayed on the headquarters of the said local authority ‘whether in [the county] of Gorj, Teleorman or Harghita.’
In his turn, the executive president of PSD, Liviu Dragnea said Friday that the UDMR officials did not come with “conditions that cannot be negotiated” during the talks with PSD, nonetheless adding that one will not accept the use of “the flags of certain lands or minorities.”
President Basescu not willing to re-appoint Victor Ponta as PM
President Traian Basescu told Pro Tv private broadcaster on Sunday that he would not re-appoint Victor Ponta as prime minister. ‘I will definitely not appoint Victor Ponta once again, not for the world, because he is a corrupt prime minister. Corruption at Victor Ponta is similar to that having loomed in the Tariceanu Cabinet (Calin Popescu Tariceanu – editor’s note). The corruption on the Government’s table is made through normative acts. I want to remind you about the 2,800 hectares of land taken from the Agricultural Academy and given to the Braila County Council at the request of the Braila baron. I remind about the protocol with Rompetrol which the Government tried to submit to Parliament for approval, in which Romania lost 380 million dollars,’ Traian Basescu said, adding he is also working at filing a complaint at the Prosecution Office on this topic. The head of state claimed that the Social Democratic Union (USD) can nominate other politicians for the position of prime minister.
Basescu also accuses PM Victor Ponta of “influence peddling” in issuing the Ordinance on ASF, a decision in which Viorel Hrebenciuc was also involved.
The president mentioned that the modification of the ruling programme means that Premier Ponta should be re-appointed as prime minister, because the Parliament must have a say over the new Cabinet and ruling programme: “If the premier does not come to Cotroceni, I will challenge the decision of the Parliament to the Constitutional Court.”
PM Ponta replied yesterday on Romania TV that President Basescu’s statements about re-appointing the prime minister are purely political and have no constitutional basis, because only the political structure will be changed in Parliament, while the programme will remain the same. The change of the political structure will be made in accordance with article 85 of the Constitution, while the mandate of the premier ends as provided by article 110. Later, Ponta also issued a communique, via the Press Office of the Government, in which he explains that the new Executive will push forward with the ruling programme of USL, so there is no role of the president in the present procedure.
“Ponta, guilty of breaking the USL”
President Basescu described the break-up of USL as “a big blunder” adding that he had not thought things would go this way, and the person to blame for it is Victor Ponta. He added that in the new government formula, Victor Ponta will have to make bigger “negotiation efforts” in order to keep the majority, because UDMR sometimes has “excessive demands” and the negotiations for the new government will have to be “completely” mirrored by the ruling programme.
Speaking about the upcoming presidential elections, Basescu said that Victor Ponta will have to run for president, as party leader, but if he makes it to the second round with Crin Antonescu, he would not vote for the acting premier. However, Basescu added that he cannot feel ideologically close to Antonescu either. He considers that Klaus Iohannis could win the presidential elections if he runs as an independent. As for himself, Basescu reiterated that he wants to raise the People’s Movement Party until 2016 and that he would make a good premier. “I am not saying that I don’t see myself prime minister, in tandem with Emil Boc at the Presidency,” the head of state affirmed.