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March 6, 2021
POLITICS

Forestry Code stirs heated debates

Victor Ponta accuses Liberals that they have influenced President Klaus Iohannis not to promulgate the Forestry Code. In return, Alina Gorghiu says that the Premier was caught “red handed”. She denied the Prime Minister’s accusations and defined them as irresponsible.

 

Ponta makes harsh accusations to Liberals: There will be a report to CSAT

 

The Prime Minister claimed that some representatives of the Opposition might have private interests related to the Austrian company Holzindustrie, Romania’s greatest wood processing company. Victor Ponta declared on Wednesday evening that several Liberal politicians had had meetings “in official and private quality” with the representatives of Austrian company  Schweighofer and that they have misinformed the Presidential Administration on the topic of the Forestry Code.

The Head of the Government declared that he had announced President Klaus Iohannis on the intention of the Government to temporarily forbid the exportation of unprocessed wood by an emergency ordinance.

The Prime Minister also mentioned that the dialogue with the Head of the State was “very serious and constructive”.

“We discussed this topic with the President, including the fact that we want to analyze this in CSAT (…) and we announced the President about the intention to adopt this law.

My personal impression is that the President has sent back the law to the Parliament based on information he has received from a few “well intended” people – especially a few well intended Liberals you see lately struggling for the interests of Schweighofer, interests that, from my point of view, are strictly private”, Ponta declared.

I am talking about politicians from PNL who had worked along with us on that draft Forestry Code and now they fight as they can so that it would not be adopted and this limit would not be imposed, so that they would not be affected by concrete measures. Obviously, they follow strictly private interests”, Ponta declared for B1 TV.

Asked whether the respective politicians were peddling their influence, Ponta replied: “I cannot give legal verdicts but I am fully convinced that the ladies and gentlemen you see struggling on TV had official and private meetings with Schweighofer representatives”.

Ponta declared that he had information about such meetings as he, in his quality as Prime Minister, needed to be very well informed “whenever an emergency situation appeared.”

“I am convinced that the state institutions are ,monitoring these things and, moreover, I will report it to the Supreme Council of National Defence (CSAT). I find an explanation for the struggles that occurred these days and even for misinforming the Presidential Administration by the interests of politicians from PNL who had met and, in consequence, are struggling for  Schweighofer both in public and in the Parliament”, PM Ponta insisted.

Asked by the host whether the CSAT meeting might result in a few prosecutions, Ponta replied: “Mr. Basescu was the only one to know in advance who will be prosecuted and why. I do not know these things and I do not want to know them.”

Referring to the fact that the Presidential Administration had claimed that they had resent the Forestry Code to the Parliament based on the opinion revealed by the Competition Council, Ponta declared: “Haven’t you seen people from the Competition Council who are working now for Schweighofer?”.

The Prime Minister also added, referring to the Forestry Code, that the issue was not with the President, but with people caught “stirring controversy these days and, who, perhaps, have their own ways of complaining to the president.”

“As there were other people who went to complain about how bad the health card was. The health card is great, but there are Liberals who are friends of some of those doctors (…) who are discontent with the health card. You see quite well that people who are struggling against health cards have their own direct interests to do so”, Ponta further added.

 

PNLs Gorghiu: Ponta makes irresponsible statements by claiming that PNL has lobbied for a company

 

In response, PNL co-President Alina Gorghiu declared in a Facebook post that PM Victor Ponta makes irresponsible statements by claiming that PNL has lobbied for a company.

“I understand that Mr. Ponta makes irresponsible statements and claims that PNL has lobbied for a company. I invite him to file complaints at competent institutions if he is not lying; otherwise, I will have to file a complaint against him for favouring offenders”, the Liberal leader announced.

Also, Gorghiu added that the measure announced on Wednesday by PM Ponta, on limiting wood exports for a certain amount of time, is based on an idea by Lucia Varga, PNL member and former Forest Minister.

“Otherwise, limiting wood exports and replacing them with a finished product – furniture – was the idea of our colleague, Lucia Varga. Victor Ponta is once again taking credit for one of our initiatives. It is great! At least, we hope he will apply our good initiatives! Our country would have a lot to earn, not his colleagues in the party, involved in forest retrocessions and deforestation mafia. As we all know, the love for forests had caused some of Mr. Ponta’s colleagues in the PSD to be legally investigated and others to be sentenced to jail, based on forest retrocession mafia files”, the co-President also declared in her Facebook post.

 

The response of the Presidential Administration to Ponta’s statements

 

The Head of the Presidential Chancellery, Dan Mihalache, commented in a phone intervention for TV station B1 TV, the statements made by the Prime Minister who had claimed that President Klaus Iohannis was allegedly influenced by members of PNL when he had sent back the Forestry Code to the Parliament.

“The points of view expressed by President Klaus Iohannis follow the reexamination requirements of laws. They are not influenced, they are the results of the expertise in Cotroceni. We published today the point of view of the Competition Council. Mr. Prime Minister should understand that he is responsible of his statements. At Cotroceni, we also receive information from behalf of state institutions. That point of view was presented after a personal evaluation. Nobody in the Presidential Administration ever met any representative of the wood industry, including Mr. Schweighofer or his entourage”, Dan Mihalache declared.

 

Iohannis: What Ponta claims is surprising and false; there haven’t been interventions on Forestry Code

 

President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday said that he took note of Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s statements on a possible influence at the Presidential Administration level on the Forestry Code and labelled these statements as surprising and false.

“A very curious statement, I have taken note of this statement in awe. The young Prime Minister says on TV he has information from the [intelligence] services according to which people of my entourage have allegedly met various representatives of some wood processing companies and lets people understand there could be some sort of influence peddling at the presidential level. This is both surprising and false. I have checked within the Presidential Administration and there has never been any discussion with the lobbyists, not even with former colleagues of the PNL [National Liberal Party] on this topic,” the President said at the Henri Coanda Airport.

Iohannis announced that on Thursday morning he asked Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) head Eduard Hellvig to investigate with full seriousness the statements made by the Prime Minister and pointed out that if these statements are not confirmed the Prime Minister will be held responsible for the accusations brought.

“There has never been any indication that someone intervened for this matter, not with me, at any rate, and not with the Presidential Administration, either. Therefore, taking note of the Prime Minister’s statements, I requested the competent bodies to check what kind of pieces of information did the Prime Minister dispose of, if they are confirmed or not. If they are confirmed, the required measures will be taken at once, if they are not confirmed, then the Prime Minister will be held responsible for these statements. Such statements insinuating influence peddling at the presidential level cannot be regarded as mere statements through which he wants to seem interesting on TV. They are much more serious and will be treated as such. I hope that this slippage doesn’t point to a comeback to the logic during the election campaign promoted back then by candidate Ponta, which was at an unacceptably low level. (…) This morning I had a discussion, on the telephone, for now, with the SRI Director and I officially asked him to analyse and investigate with maximum exigency and seriousness these statements,” the President added, pointing out that he hadn’t spoken with the Prime Minister yet.

The head of state said that as early as Wednesday evening he asked those with the Legal Department of the Presidential Administration “to check in which category such statements fall” and how “certain steps can be made in the very likely case that they prove to not to be backed by evidence.”

Iohannis also explained that he resent the Forestry Code to Parliament making that decision based on the document coming from the Competition Council.

“When I resent the Forestry Code to Parliament there was a document that we based our decision on. It is the document which was sent to us, without our request, by the Competition Council, through which they were drawing our attention that Romania could face the infringement risk. (…) It seemed a very serious thing to us. Not only the President, but also the Prime Minister has the duty to make sure that Romania’s legislation be in agreement with the European legislation. I am not playing with Romania’s laws,” the President concluded.

 

 

 

 

 

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