Former Romanian President Ion Iliescu:
The only field Basescu is qualified to give us lectures on is the art of drinking
“We may ask: what were the criteria that made voters prefer Basescu over Nastase? Basescu had his qualities and knew how to win ordinary people over. Nastase may have seemed more arrogant, but Nastase was an intellectual, with a different level of political experience, of education and culture. May a man who never opens a book be considered representative for Romania? You saw it; Is this a person we wanted to appoint as our representative in the world? This is our reality,” an indignant Iliescu stated at the launch of his autobiography, which covers the period from his childhood up to the Revolution of 1989. Asked about Basescu’s open backing of Elena Udrea’s presidential candidacy, Iliescu stated that although this is not in the spirit of the Constitution it represents a “human,” understandable element. “Obviously, it does not follow the spirit of the Constitution. He does not even have the caution to mask it up a little bit. On the other hand, I understand that, emotionally, each of us has a certain affinity. Obviously I, as a president of the country, was interested in what was happening within PSD and who were the persons promoted by PSD. He does the same, it is understandable and human. Yet, his status as president of the country demands a certain discretion and a behavior that would not expose him to such negative remarks,” Iliescu said.
Victor Ponta “is more impulsive, younger, but he is an intelligent lad”
About Prime Minister Victor Ponta, seen as the presidential candidate with the highest chances, Ion Iliescu stated that “age may become an advantage,” while “the dynamism of the younger generations may bring him a further boost.” “’This is the party’s desire. And it’s not bad. I mean, the way in which society works has boosted new generations, young generations, and that is not bad. Thus, we, in 25 years, have known three generations. (…) I was, in the 1990s, the youngest candidate in the presidential elections. (…) But now we have wound up with the generation of 40-year-olds. And it’s not bad. And it’s not just this example, but you can see in Europe many similar situations and younger Prime Ministers and Presidents. So it may be an advantage. The dynamism of the younger generation may bring him a further boost.”
Iliescu also stated about Ponta that he is impulsive but intelligent and should show more restraint in his statements about prosecutors. “You see, age shows. He is more impulsive, younger, but he is an intelligent lad and I am confident he knows how to learn from such moments too,” the former Head of State said.
“I don’t believe Mr. Iohannis has big chances of success in this presidential campaign”
In what concerns Klaus Iohannis, the second candidate in the order of the chances to win, former President Ion Iliescu stated that he does not believe that he will have chances of success, pointing out that he has a lot of shortcomings, including lacking the political experience required for this presidential campaign. “I don’t believe Mr. Iohannis has chances of success in this presidential campaign. Of course, he has his party’s support, the support of the two parties (PNL and PDL – editor’s note), he is a man with certain qualities, namely seriousness, I knew him as the mayor of Sibiu, but he has many shortcomings for a national level politician,” Iliescu said. Asked what Iohannis’s shortcomings are, the former Head of State said: “He lacks the political experience required at this level. ”
“I read dozens of pages daily”
Now 84, Ion Iliescu is in enviable shape, many wondering how he manages to maintain his vitality. He stated for ‘Libertatea’ daily that he stays in shape by running several minutes every day and by drinking a glass of red wine after lunch. However, he pointed out that what matters most is maintaining his intellectual capacity. “I read dozens of pages every day. I focus on coming up with as many details as possible for my future book, whose subject will be my life after 1989,” PSD’s Honorary President stated.
Nevertheless, he admits he can no longer afford to do what he used to be doing 20 years ago. “I am at the age at which I can no longer afford to do what I was doing at 60. At 60 I was young and I was running around the whole country. At 70 I still engaged in sustained campaigning. Well, at 84 I have settled down a bit and am now writing books,” Iliescu stated. He also offered details about his personal life and his wife who has always been by his side. “Me and my wife, we know each other since we were young, sine we were 18, and we have had a relationship based on total affection. Life arranged things so that we were unable to have children,” the former President stated.