President Klaus Iohannis on Monday invited the political parties and political organisations represented in Parliament to talks on the subject of Defence financing. On the agenda there was a political agreement on providing a minimum of 2% of GDP budget for the Ministry of National Defence in 2017.
At the Cotroceni talks with the heads of parties which began at 10 am, Klaus Iohannis was accompanied by several advisers including Dan Mihalache and George Scutaru.
The Defence pact is to be signed at Cotroceni Palace on Tuesday at 10 am.
Victor Ponta: ‘We will sign such an agreement, on the PSD behalf’
The PSD delegation was headed by Premier Victor Ponta who was accompanied by Defence Minister Mircea Dusa, Finance Minister Darius Valcov, Deputy Prime Minister Liviu Dragnea and Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea.
The consultations with PSD ended without statements and the conclusions of the meeting the president had with the PSD delegation were posted on Facebook by the spokeswoman for the Presidential Administration. ‘The President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, saw at 10:00 the delegation of PSD led by Victor Ponta. They discussed a political agreement on increasing the financing of Defence to 2% of GDP in 2017. The delegation of the Social Democratic Party said, in the end of the talks, that the party would sign the agreement’, Tatiana Niculescu Bran wrote on Facebook.
Victor Ponta said the talks had been ‘very good’ and, after the PSD meeting, added that his party would support the agreement on the financing of the defence system and would sign it.
‘We back the idea of a long-term agreement on funding the defence system. We will sign such an agreement tomorrow, on the PSD behalf. We also want that what we began in 2012 – namely more money for defence every year – be a long-term process pledged by all the political forces, no matter if in government or in opposition at one moment’, Ponta stressed.
Alina Gorghiu: ‘By signing this agreement, we deem that Romania gives a sign of maturity and responsibility’
The National Liberal Party (PNL) was represented for the consultations with President Iohannis by a delegation made up of PNL Co=president Alina Gorghiu, First Vice-Presidents of PNL Anca Boagiu, Catalin Predoiu, Teodor Atanasiu, Andrei Chiliman and PNL Secretary General Marian Petrache. Alina Gorghiu and Catalin Predoiu presented the conclusions of the discussion they had had with the president. They hailed the initiative for the signing of an agreement on raising the Defence budget to 2%, in keeping with the commitment Romania made at the NATO Summit in Wales, and stressed that, after the signing of the agreement, the Government would be under an obligation to comply with the provision.
‘By signing this agreement, we deem that Romania gives a sign of maturity and responsibility, assuming through consensus a promise I hope it took as a NATO member, ‘Alina Gorghiu said.
She added that this agreement initiated by the head of state is fully justified.
‘This means, on the one hand from our viewpoint the enforcement of all commitments Romania has made from the moment it signed the NATO joining agreement, and on the other hand it absolutely means an investment in the national security and in the security of each and every citizen of Romania,’ the PNL co-president said.
Alina Gorghiu underlined there is a guarantee that the initiative of the Romanian president, even if our country has an unhappy history of ‘agreements on various things’, would become reality.
‘Romania will pass from the enthusiasm of being a NATO member, to the responsibility this commitment is implying,’ the PNL leader added.
Inquired if the agreement would be taken through Parliament, PNL Vice-President Catalin Predoiu, in turn, said such a course of action regarding the agreement had not been discussed, but noted that ‘by itself the agreement binds the Government to deliver on its commitment to the Army under the state budget’.
Gabriel Oprea: ‘The Romanian army needs this budget’
The UNPR delegation to the consultations was made up of Gabriel Oprea, Neculai Ontanu, Ioan Toma, Catalin Chereches, Florin Secara and Liviu Codarla.
After the meeting, party President Gabriel Oprea said UNPR would back the growing of the Defence budget to 2% as of 2017, as the accord proposed.
‘I believe the UNPR position surprises no one. Ever since its founding, 5 years ago I said that Romania should observe its commitment it made when joining the NATO, to grant a minimum 2.38 pct. of the GDP to the Romanian army. If I’m not wrong, the first and the last time it kicked this minimum 2 pct. amount was in 2004, I believe it was 2.13 pct. The Romanian army needs this budget, especially in the current context of world, regional security, it has major endowment programmes, I would enumerate but three: the multirole aircraft, the frigates’ upgrading or the Deveselu 99 Base,’ Oprea said at the Cotroceni presidential Palace, after the meeting of UNPR representatives with president Klaus Iohannis.
He added that he has proposed the president and he will propose his ruling coalition partners that the 2 pct. minimum budget for Defence should be granted starting with 2016, since ‘any day won means more safety for the Romanians, the strengthening of the national security and, why not, more respect for the Romanian army within the NATO.’
Daniel Constantin: ‘I have appreciated not just the intention, but also the text proposed by President Iohannis’
Conservatice Party (PC) was represented to the talks by Daniel Constantin and District 4 Mayor Cristian Popescu Piedone, but also by Senator Vasile Nistor, MP Bogdan Ciucă, MP Damian Florea and Senator Eugen Durbacă.
Daniel Constantin sees President Klaus Iohannis’ initiative of a political agreement on financing for the Army as a guarantee of this priority for any future government.
‘I think nowadays it’s more than a proof of responsibility towards national protection, [in the] geopolitical context of our country; thus, I have appreciated not just the intention, but also the text proposed by President Iohannis for signing by the political parties. It is a guarantee of the fact that, after we overcome the – let’s call it so – tensed situation in the region, the financing of the Army will remain a priority of the government, irrespective of who will be ruling in 2016 or 2020. The guarantee of the fact that we will have ten years after 2017 when the financing for the Army will represent at least 2 percent of the GDP; I think it’s a guarantee for the citizens of Romania that we do have and will have the capacity of defending ourselves within the borders and beyond, when it comes to it’, said Daniel Constantin.
In addition, the PC delegation proposed to President Klaus Iohannis to hold a referendum so that Romanians could decide on the form of government to be enshrined by the future Constitution.
Kelemen Hunor: ‘We will sign this political agreement’
Following consultations with President Iohannis, UDMR President Kelemen Hunor, who led the delegation, noted he supported the accord on the 2% Defence budget.
‘We are security providers. This partnership with the USA prompts a financial effort for Defence. So the allocation of 2% of GDP for 2017 is something we agreed to and we will sign this political agreement’, said the UDMR leader.
At the same time, Kelemen Hunor said during the talks with Klaus Iohannis UDMR had also made a set of proposals including for growing the education and health budget by 2019.
‘We ought to allocate 6% of GDP to Education or else we’ll have not competitive. It is a commitment to ourselves, not to our partners. Our proposal was to increase the budget of education to 6% by 2019. We also proposed an increase in healthcare budget also by 2019. A political agreement among parliamentary parties, between the majority and ethnic minorities. If we came to an agreement that would be for the benefit of Romania and all citizens’, Kelemen also said.
Varujan Pambuccian: ‘We exchanged views on Romania’s economic development’
The next after UDMR was the delegation of the national minorities led by MP Varujan Pambuccian. After the talks, he presented the conclusions, saying the predictability of the Defence budget ought to also apply to the remuneration of the military.
‘We exchanged views on many matters, some of a general nature, regarding the economic development of Romania, and some of a more particular character, such as the Roma ethnic group or other minorities’, the MP also noted. He added that the talks with the president had been ‘very good, very relaxed’.
Dan Diaconescu: ‘There is no sane person in Romania who could say that any one of these measures is not good’
The PP-DD delegation was the last to be seen by President Iohannis yesterday. It was led by funding President Dan Diaconescu, who told the press before walking into the consultation room that his party wanted a government of national union and denounced the fact that the Ponta Government had only implemented ‘2-3’ of the 100 measures supported by PP-DD. ‘There is no sane person in Romania who could say that any one of these measures is not good’, Dan Diaconescu said.
After the discussion, he said he had told the president that ‘over 40% of the money was being robbed by the gigmen’, so ‘much care should be given not just to growing the money, but also to measures that it should no longer be stolen’.
PP-DD also talked about the ‘imminent formation of a government of national union’ and asked that ‘we should be very careful about corruption going on in Parliament’, being convinced that ‘behind many of the over 100 migrations from party to party’ there are ‘acts of corruption, sums of money, threats’.
PP-DD also asked for a change of election laws and told President Iohannis that ‘we are all Charlie’, and so the new member on the National Broadcasting Board who will represent him ‘should take measures to defend the freedom of speech, regarding a solution in the OTV case’.
Iohannis: For the first time in 25 years since the Revolution we have an agreement for Defence funding assumed by the entire political spectrum
President Klaus Iohannis has announced on Monday that he has obtained the necessary consensus so that Defense budgeting reaches 2 percent of the GDP in 2017.
“I have called today the parliamentary parties to consultations to propose, for the first time in 25 years since the Revolution, the conclusion of an agreement assumed by the entire political spectrum for the Defence domain. I have obtained the necessary consensus so that Defence budgeting reaches 2 percent of the GDP in 2017”, said the head of state, at the Cotroceni Palace, after consulting with political parties and groups.
He stated that he proposed this level be a minimum for the 2017-2027 period.
“In this way we ensure predictability for this vital sector”, said Iohannis.
The head of state showed that on Monday he held the first consultations with parties and political formations of his mandate.
“I considered it is necessary to have as a first topic of debate the political consensus to ensure a correct financing of the Army, more specifically the Defense budget. Europe and NATO must face the greatest security challenge since the end of the Cold War. For the first time a state appeals to force to redraw its borders. All these grave things are happening near our frontier and cannot be ignored. We are NATO members, but this does not mean we should sit and wait for others to ensure our security, paying from their own countries’ budgets for us. We have the duty to treat the situation in the region maturely and show that we are a responsible nation. This is why I considered we must ensure the means necessary for the Romanian army to benefit from the funds needed for training and programs to acquire modern technology”, said Iohannis quoted by Agerpres.
He emphasized that it is necessary that these funds, representing a budgetary effort of the entire country, be allotted responsibly for acquirement programs truly necessary for the Army.
Iohannis pointed out that this step can open up the way to technological cooperation between the defense companies of Romania and those of the allies, thus being an opportunity for the national defense industry. In this context, Iohannis showed that we can thus speak of job creation and the creation of production units in Romania.
“We must have vision for these things and I ask the Defence Ministry to draw up a multi-annual acquirement program based on the real needs of the Army, that takes into account the security challenges and our obligations as NATO members. Every dime spent by the Romanian citizen must be invested where there are defense needs and must not be wasted, as has happened in the past”, said the head of state.
He thanked those taking part in the consultations, showing that the leaders of the parliamentary parties and the deputies of th national minorities fully understood the necessity of concluding this political agreement on an important topic of national security.