The joint plenary sitting of the Deputies’ Chamber and Senate on Tuesday adopted by 282 votes to one and one abstention the National Strategy for Romania’s Defence.
The meeting of the Parliament began half an hour later than planned. Many PSD MPs, as well as the Speaker of the Senate, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, who was in Turkey to visit PM Victor Ponta, were missing from the meeting.
‘It is an important moment for the future of national security’, said acting PM Gabriel Oprea. He noted that the Government supported the 2015-2019 Defence Strategy for and that its adoption should not be the object of politicised debate, as the national interest was at stake. ‘In a moment like this we should be united in good faith’, Oprea added.
On Monday, President Klaus Iohannis presented before approximately 400 MPs in the Romanian Parliament the National defence Strategy for the 2015-2019 period. He took the opportunity to indirectly asking PM Victor Ponta to take a step back.
Parliament’s foreign affairs committees fail to mount quorum
The Chamber of Deputies and Senate’s committees on foreign affairs on Tuesday failed to issue an opinion on the National Defence Strategy for lack of a quorum.
“The committees did not issue an opinion, yet I am glad that we did discuss the substance of a problem that is absolutely important to all the state organisations and that concerns in the long-term the way in which Romania will conduct its security and foreign policies, no matter who draws them up. I explained to my colleagues that there was a mistake of the standing bureaus, which should have notified the foreign affairs committees as well for the substance talks because everywhere in the European area when there is talk of security there is also talk of foreign policy as well,’ said Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Affairs Petru Filip.
Ulterior, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Valeriu Zgonea has announced Parliament’s debates on the National Defence Strategy will be held, adding that the opinion of the committees on foreign affairs is not mandatory, just consultative.
“In terms of the regulations, the standing bureaus made a joint petition asking the foreign affairs committees for an opinion, which is not mandatory, just consultative. Thus, according to the regulations of the joint actions of Parliament, we are under an obligation to holed debates today on the National Defence Strategy,’ Zgonea told a plenary session of Parliament after consultations with the floor leaders.
The Speaker added that he discussed the matter with interim Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea, who told him he will come before the joint session of Parliament at 13:30hrs to deliver the opinion of the Government on the Defence Strategy.
He added that no quorum is required for the debates, only for the final vote on the National Defence Strategy. In order to pass, the strategy needs a majority aye vote from the attending senators and MPs.
The document was criticised by some politicians. Some of them are ex-President Traian Basescu, the Speaker of the Senate, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, and PNL Senator Ioan Ghise.
‘The document with the headline Defence Strategy is a poor quality document, with a criticisable content in quite a few points. The emphases fall erroneously. Not to mention the fact that the document permanently mistakes the defence strategy for the security strategy. The emphasis does not fall on the citizen, it falls more on the state and institutions. I regret that the Parliament acted superficially regarding a document of such importance’, Calin Popescu Tariceanu said.
‘In my opinion, as this document is presented in the name of a generous concept – extended security – it creates the prerequisites for a supra-government. The Parliament, the supreme representative body of the sovereign people, mandates the Government in the area of foreign and domestic policies based on a ruling programme. Or, if we adopt this paper the way it is, we create an unfortunate prerequisite for subsequent governments. I propose to you to return the proposed Strategy to its author in order to be amended so that it remains in the field of national security’, Liberal Senator Ioan Ghise also said.
President Iohannis: ‘Powerful Romania is a nation of citizens whose rights and freedoms are defended’
President Klaus Iohannis unveiled to the Parliament on Monday the National Defence Strategy of Romania called ‘Powerful Romania in Europe and the World’, underscoring the document is a “declaration” Romania is making.
“The National Defence Strategy is the president of Romania’s legal obligation. This document, however, is not and must not be an act of will of a person or some institutions. The National Defence Strategy is much more than that. It is a declaration Romania is making. It seeks to answer certain needs and expectations and it targets the state, the society and citizen alike. By its objectives and content, the National Defence Strategy relates, in fact, the defence and national security as a whole and the two concepts go together”, Iohannis told a plenary sitting of the legislature.
“The process of drawing up and completing the Strategy included the consultation with specialists and representatives of the institutions having tasks in this sector, the civil society, the academic circles and the political parties”, the head of state underscored.
He stressed that powerful Romania in Europe and the world is the future and the vision set at the foundation of the National Defence Strategy.
“Powerful Romania is a nation of citizens whose rights and freedoms are defended. A powerful state respects and protects its citizens. It is by no accident that we have included among the national security interests ‘the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of all citizens and the guarantee of their safety’,” the president said.
“The consolidation of the strategic partnership with the United States of America, the strengthened profile of Romania in NATO and the EU, deeper cooperation with the neighbouring states and the states at NATO’s Eastern flank and boosting the regional cooperation are among the national security objectives that the Strategy asserts. The main guarantor of Romania’s security is the North Atlantic Alliance. Romania, in turn, is powerful in a powerful North Atlantic Alliance and in a powerful European Union. The pledge made by all the political parties to increase the defence budget up to 2 percent by 2017 is the signal that Romania understands the requirements of the moment and takes upon itself the responsibility of being a security provider, not only a beneficiary, a country that projects security and stability in the area. Besides our being a NATO member, we must prove that we have the required capabilities to participate in collective defence”, he pointed out.
Iohannis explained that the National Defence Strategy brings several novelties, among which an extended national security concept.
“Besides the elements relating defence, public order or the intelligence and counter-intelligence activity, security can no longer be separated from a competitive economic environment, from financial-budgetary stability, from the existence of public systems – education, health, pensions – that should be functioning and adjusted to the changes, from the protection of the critical infrastructures or the capability of responding to environmental problems. This is the time to build political consensus around these crucial matters in the period ahead, a political consensus that should really produce reform and long-lasting legislation”, he said.
The Romanian leader underscored the Strategy must be followed by other documents: “This National Defence Strategy is the beginning, not the end of a process. It will have to be followed by other fundamental documents, ranging from the White Defence Paper to the other sectorial strategies and its implementation on all dimensions will have to be watched. A vital role in this process will be played by the integrated planning and the capability of the concerned institutions to work in a coordinated manner. I insist on this matter – institutional cooperation. Romania cannot afford that each institution should have its individual strategy and planning or its own allotment of resources in a separate manner from the other institutions and without unified conception on a national level”.