DIPLOMACY POLITICS

PM Ponta replies to President’s accusations about lack of mandate in Sofia: I meet PMs when I find appropriate, Iohannis goes to Brussels like a deaf to dance

Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Monday said that he didn’t need a mandate from President Klaus Iohannis to meet his counterparts from Bulgaria and Serbia and underscored that his duty is to make sure the common policies of Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria on refugees are efficient and known in Europe.

“The problem isn’t what Mr Iohannis says, the problem is that he doesn’t do anything. Do you know what he did yesterday in Brussels? As other of my prime minister colleagues tell me each time that Mr Iohannis goes to Brussels, you know as the Romanian puts it, as the deaf to the ring dance. He keeps quiet, he changes positions, and keeps quiet and then my duty as head of government is to make sure that our common policies in the three countries regarding refuges are efficient and also known in Europe. I reiterate, [let there be] solidarity, but not with the others building fences and with all the problems remaining in Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania. This is what we are talking about, the rest, the story about the mandate… here if it weren’t funny it would be tragic, or vice versa,” Ponta said before a meeting of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) National Standing Bureau.

He added he didn’t need a mandate from the head of state to meet his counterparts.

“A mandate to do what? To meet the other prime ministers? Am I a deputy mayor in Sibiu to ask for a mandate? I meet the other prime ministers when I find appropriate, especially since I meet them in Romania’s interest. The rest… I believe that Mr Iohannis has no idea what we talked about in Sofia and it is a shame because he is a citizen of Romania and he should be informed ahead,” Ponta added.

He explained that in Sofia he discussed the refugee situation and the tendency of some states to close their borders.

“There currently is a tendency in Europe that Hungary initiated – but that can also continue in the case of Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, Germany – to close borders. Therefore my duty to Romania’s citizens, as their prime minister, is to discuss with our main partners on a regional level, namely Bulgaria and Serbia, so we may have a coordinated action in the case of the greatest challenge of the moment. The governments of Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania – on the one hand we are solidary with all our duties, we participate in the European effort, on the other hand, if everyone else closes borders, we won’t agree to all refugees remaining in Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. It would be unfair and it would also be impossible for the three countries,” said Ponta.

When asked about the relation between the two palaces – the Cotroceni Presidential Palace and the Victoria Palace, the governmental headquarters – , Ponta replied: “The palaces have a very good relation.”

President Klaus Iohannis in Arad on Sunday said that Prime Minister Victor Ponta hadn’t consulted him about the trilateral meeting in Sofia, with his counterparts of Bulgaria and Serbia, and that he didn’t have a mandate to engage Romania in any way.

“Mr Prime Minister hasn’t consulted me, he went to Sofia, he met other prime ministers, it is a matter that is interesting as a weekend activity. Mr Ponta had no mandate to engage Romania in any way. The declarations he made lack any kind of commitment to me,” Iohannis said, adding that after he comes back from Brussels he will discuss the matter with Ponta.

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