PNL might vote for the Forest Code if Art. 20 is removed. The article gives the possibility to exploit forest areas smaller than 10 hectares without obtaining a technical certificate and without having the obligation to reforest, ex-Water and Forest Minister Lucia Varga (PNL) said on Monday.
The technical certificate contains a set of measures for the organisation of forestry exploitations, including the restoration, improvement, enlargement of the forest stock, its protection and rational exploitation. In other words, it is a paper where a specialist says how many trees may be cut in order for the forest to be able to regenerate.
PNL wants the request for the re-examination of the Forest Code to be sent back to the Committees and a particle discussion on Art. 20 and its removal, Lucia Varga said during a press conference.
She brought the argument that approving a law that allows the cutting of forests without technical documents is ‘an attack on the safety of the citizens and communities’, as there are over 200,000 hectares of forest in the strict protection area, reservoirs, slopes with over 3o degree inclination and which have a role of protection against flush floods.
Cutting such forests could lead to ‘water bodies being clogged, landslides and floods’, Varga also said. She added: ‘PNL could vote for the Forest Code initiated by PSD, but only if Art. 20 is re-discussed by Committees and removed. If not, PNL will vote against the Forest Code’.
At the beginning of last week, the specialised Committees of the Chamber of Deputies rejected President Klaus Iohannis’ request for the re-examination of the Forest Code. The draft law was going to be voted on in the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies where PSD has the majority of MPs.
Victor Ponta: ‘When one fights for a legal provision that helps a single company, that’s illegitimate lobby’
Premier Victor Ponta said on Romania TV Sunday night that his former ruling colleagues from PNL were ‘unreliable’ when challenging the Forest Code on which they had worked together. At the same time, the PM stressed t is abnormal for the ex-Environment Minister, Lucia Varga, to lobby in Parliament, as a member of the Chamber of Deputies, for a company.
‘A lady MP from PNL, former minister, and another two or three MPs have met with a private company and are fighting in Parliament for the interests of that company. I also have evidence for this. I didn’t say the president or anyone around him were lobbying. I mean Mrs. Lucia Varga. From their positions in Parliament, they fight a lot for the 30% market share, which, in fact, only applies to one company. When one fights so fiercely for a legal provision that helps a single company, that illegitimate lobby and also something serious’, said the premier.
‘It’s all right to stop a Forest Code that regulates a lot – not perfectly – the way in whish Romanian forests are being exploited and fight so hard for the interests of a company. At the end of the day, it’s all about political responsibility. PNL, who fights against the Forest Code, must be held politically accountable and this is also why we are beating them in Parliament’, Victor Ponta added.
The prime minister said he had received a letter from the Schweighofer company who warned that it might withdraw from Romania if the new Forest Code was approved, but denied that he had been subject to any pressure put by Austrian diplomats. ‘All ambassadors in Bucharest are active in promoting companies from their countries. I meet very often with ambassadors and they always tell me about company x or company Y. That’s not at all abnormal. The abnormal thing is that, if a Romanian ambassador did the same thing, he would be prosecuted the following day. I have received no kind of threats or pressure. I did receive a letter I believe they have also sent to the President and Parliament, but it’s normal for a company to defend its interests.’
Victor Ponta noted that the emergency ordinance stopping log exports was under public debate and that it would not be adopted before the optimal legal formula was found, to avoid eventual sanctions from the European Commission or a possible international legal action.
‘The Liberals worked with us on this Forest Code and now they are its biggest opponents. I have not seen such unreliable people who say one thing today and a totally different thing tomorrow. That kind of terrifies me. If that’s the alternative, it must be a really bad one’, was Victor Ponta’s conclusion.
Basescu: ‘Mr. Iohannis and Mr. Ponta, please understand that you cannot fool us all with a false dispute’
Ex-President Traian Basescu thinks neither Victor Ponta nor Klaus Iohannis actually want to deal with the core of the issue regarding the Forest Code, which is stopping the logging. He says the safeguard clause provided for by the Lisbon Treaty at Art. 191, through which Romania will have the European Commission for an ally, is the one that could end irrational logging and disable the lawsuit appetite of the Austrians. ‘Whilst Mr. Ponta wants to cap to 30% the market share for the Austrian company Schweighofer, Mr. Iohannis does not want the limitation, and this is why he returned the law to Parliament. Hence the noise and mutual allegations. The actual problem is the irrational logging and not the market share of the Austrian company Schweighofer, and the Ponta-Iohannis dispute is as if you gave a piece of bread to a person who is dying from thirst in the desert. (…) The safeguard clause provided for by the Lisbon Treaty at Art. 191, through which Romania will have the European Commission for an ally, is that one that could put an end to irrational clear-logging and disable the Austrians’ appetite for lawsuits’, Basescu wrote on Facebook. ‘Mr. Iohannis and Mr. Ponta, please understand that you cannot fool us all with a false dispute over the sharing of the prey between Romanians in foreigners, whilst, in reality, the problem is to stop the savage clear-logging of the forests, no matter who does that’, the ex-president also said.