Yesterday, Titus Corlatean announced his resignation from his position as head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE), mentioning that founding new voting stations abroad for round 2 of presidential elections was illegal. Shortly after Corlatean announced he was resigning, PM Victor Ponta declared in a press conference that he accepted Corlatean’s resignation and forwarded to President Traian Basescu a proposal naming Teodor Melescanu as Foreign Affairs Minister.
Corlăţean: “I cannot accept that MAE would be forced to violate the law out of political reasons”
Corlatean explained that, in the night of Friday to Saturday, MAE received an announcement issued by the Central Electoral Bureau (BEC), mentioning that there was no legal impediment in organizing new voting sections. He mentioned that in the previous decree by BEC, a document with legal force, the mention in the announcement was missing, and therefore the announcement had no legal force. “The issue of opening new voting stations abroad, discussed so intensely these last few days is that, after the known BEC decree adopted on the night of last Tuesday and the first that was issued to us, we and the public opinion were simultaneously informed about the issuing of a second announcement by BED, in the night of Friday to Saturday, at 00:00 AM, or, more precisely, at 23:58 PM, of a document that arrived at MAE headquarters by fax and by which, BEC informed us on the “lack of any legal impediment in organizing new voting stations abroad”, Corlatean announced, adding that, after receiving the second release by BEC, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started an internal process of evaluation, in order to fulfil its legal attributions on this matter. “Neither the law, paragraph one of Article 54, or other important legal mentions in the respective law, including procedures, steps, imperative terms that expired, nor the BEC decree of November 4 allow this conclusion that new voting stations could be founded abroad”, Titus Corlatean added. He showed journalits the two discussed documents, explaining that the BEC release refers to the possibility of founding stations as “no legal impediments exist”, while the BEC decree that has legal force mentions nothing related to the inexistence of a legal impediment.
“This paper is a press release and merely makes a mention lacking any legal force”, Corlatean mentioned.
While submitting his resignation, Corlatean declared that he did not accept MAE to be involved in the political games by “Mr. Basescu and Iohannis”. “As a Minister, I am forced to grant, along with the MAE team, applying the laws, as well as preserving the image and prestige of the institution of MAE. As a result, I have informed the Prime Minister and I am informing you as well that I decided to end my term as a Foreign Affairs Minister”, Corlatean declared. “I cannot accept and I will not accept to violate laws and legality, and I will not accept that the institution of MAE would be forced to break the law and legality due to political and electoral interests of Mr. Basescu and Iohannis. I will not accept to provide reasons for the contestation of the results of round 2 of presidential elections based on the fact that founding new voting stations abroad was illegal”, Corlatean outlined.
After the first round of presidential elections, protests were held in several cities of the country, as well as abroad, regarding how round 1 of voting for the presidential elections was organized abroad, and protesters also asked, among other things, for Corlatean’s resignation. The same thing was demanded by President Traian Basescu, twice.
Victor Ponta: “The fundamental right to vote, owned by every Romanian citizen, will be respected”
Shortly after Corlatean announced he was resigning, PM Victor Ponta declared in a press conference that he accepted Corlatean’s resignation and forwarded to President Traian Basescu a proposal naming Teodor Melescanu as Foreign Affairs Minister.
The head of the Government promised that the measures issued by the Central Electoral Bureau and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be financially supported by the Government, based on a decree that was to be approved today, in order to avoid issues abroad for election day in round 2.
If the proposal for the MAE leadership is accepted by the president, Melescanu will organize the second round of voting abroad, according to the “laws and BEC orders”, PM Ponta pointed out. “This way, the fundamental right to vote, owned by every Romanian citizen, will be respected, while also respecting the law and public institutions that will resist until 16 and afterwards, to the illegal and illegitimate pressure put by the person who, in the evening of 16, will be Romania’s former President, Traian Basescu”, Ponta concluded.
President Traian Basescu signed Teodor Melescanu’s appointment decree several hours after Victor Ponta made the proposal.
Melescanu had resigned his position as head of the Foreign Intelligence Service in September, in order to attend round 1 of the presidential elections. Afterwards, Melescanu announced his support for Ponta in round 2 of the elections, and Ponta declared that, if he won the elections, Melescanu would be part of his team in Cotroceni, as a presidential advisor on national security.
Melescanu: “’This main reason for my nomination is ensuring the voting right for all the Romanians in the diaspora”
Former Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) chief Teodor Melescanu stressed his main goal is to ensure the voting right for all Romanians and said his first discussion will be with the Central Election Bureau to this effect. ‘This is the main reason for my nomination, of course ensuring the voting right for all the Romanians in the diaspora. I will have a first discussion with the Election Bureau and on this occasion I will draw the necessary conclusions with respect to the means that can be used so that all the diaspora Romanians might exercise their voting right’, Melescanu said.
Catalin Predoiu: It is obvious that Victor Ponta prepares to steal elections
The resignation of Foreign Affairs Minister Titus Corlatean fails to solve the issue of supplementing voting stations abroad, ACL Prime-Vice-President Catalin Predoiu pointed out. “What happened shows that Victor Ponta prepares to steal elections. Corlatean should have been fired by now. The fact that he was not dismissed proves that PM Ponta is an accomplice and I am demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister today, now. Moreover, Corlatean’s resignation solves nothing; we want to supplement voting stations for Romanians who want to exercise their right to vote”, Predoiu declared.
The nomination of Teodor Melescanu for the office of Foreign Minister is a “reward” that Premier Victor Ponta offers to the former head of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) for his support and will not solve the dysfunctionalities of the November 16 vote, Cezar Preda (PDL) stated. ‘It’s a reward for Melescanu’s support for Ponta. The nomination of Melescanu for the office of Foreign Affairs Minister will not solve any problem in what concerns the dysfunctionalities of the November 16 vote, thousands of Romanians will not be able to vote,” the MP stated for Mediafax.
Zgonea: “Only BEC can clarify whether additional polling stations could be set abroad”
The Chamber of Deputies’ Speaker, Valeriu Zgonea says it is only the Central Election Bureau (BEC) which could clarify whether additional polling stations can be set abroad for the November 16 runoff. ‘All the state bodies have the obligation to abide the law. In this moment, Law 370/2004 says very clearly: in the second ballot, voting is possible in the same polling stations and based on the same lists of voters as in the first round. Who do you think could assume to violate the law without suffering the consequences? The decision of Mr. Corlatean is exactly one to trigger this alarm. The Friday night release by the BEC, after the public calls on this topic made by Basescu and Iohannis, who act in a duo again, has no legal value,’ said Zgonea in a press release. (…) One cannot play with the law. Through the BEC Decision no. 4/ 2014 which interprets the same article 54 of the Law 370/ 2004, BEC says nothing about setting new voting stations. BEC must clarify this matter through a new decision,’ Valeriu Zgonea added.
FADERE: “The resignation by Mr. Corlatean is not enough”
The Federation of Romanians’ Associations in Europe (FADERE) also reacted to Titus Corlatean’s resignation. Its representatives declared for the daily paper Romania Libera that Corlateanu’s resignation was justified but the increase in the number of voting stations abroad is still requested. “We consider that Mr. Corlatean’s resignation is not enough. We are demanding 1,000 voting stations, as well as the doubling of staff and stamps in the already existing stations. We demand one more time Mr. Victor Ponta, Romania’s Prime Minister, to find viable solutions to ensure Romanians abroad the chance to vote”, FADERE pointed out.
Titus Corlatean’s resignation was reflected in the international press too. Most foreign journalist who wrote about it considered it the result of protests that took place after the first round of presidential elections.