In his first address this year in front of Parliament, President Klaus Iohannis on Monday suggested to the MPs a year without populisms or haphazard measures, inviting them to take up some major themes.
“I suggest an election year without populisms or haphazard measures”
“I suggest a different election year, without populisms or lost for themes of interest, and also without haphazard measures. I suggest the year 2016 should be a time when electoral competition will not exclude long-term construction, when the fever of electioneering does not halt civil debates and spectacular daily topics does not eliminate themes of major interest to the citizens and their lives from the public agenda. (…) I am inviting you to join me in taking up some major themes: first is starting to regain trust in politics; the second regards the operation of organisations in a democratic state; the third regards continuing efforts is areas where Romania has made progress and won its foreign partners’ respect; in the area of big systems I suggest we lay some cornerstones on which to build in 2017, irrespective of who will be at rule,” Iohannis told a plenary session of Parliament.
He added that election years have unfortunately brought a certain kind of practices in Romania.
Iohannis pointed out that in 2016 the MPs stand a big chance of doing things differently.
“We are in a context unlike the past when the end of term in office may mean more attention, more responsibility and more preoccupation with genuinely listening to what our fellow citizens want,” he said.
The President mentioned that all this are part of joint action and not the will on one man.
Iohannis said this year’s elections are the first opportunity for a renewal of attitudes, ideas and people, with the political parties being the main actors.
He pointed out that legislative instability affects more than just the operation of the economy, society and big public systems such as education, and it starts being a vulnerability of the democratic system.
“There is no understanding that MP immunity should not be used to obstruct justice”
President Klaus Iohannis used to opportunity to criticise Parliament, saying that he is unpleasantly surprised that parliamentary immunity is used in some cases to obstruct justice demands.
“In our domestic politics, my commitment is unchanged and unwavering as far as the consolidation of the rule of law is concerned, justice independence and the fight against corruption are concerned: my determination to strengthen the rule of law comes from my conviction that consolidating progress in these areas benefits our citizens. I am unpleasantly surprised that in some cases there is still not an understanding that parliamentary immunity must not be used to obstruct justice demands; that is why as far as answering justice demands after some steps forward recognised by everybody and expected by the citizens one step backward comes that once again calls into question the credibility of Parliament and the will for correct relations with justice,” Iohannis told a plenary session of Parliament.
He underscored that Romania is on an irreversible path toward the rule of law and justice independence.
“Consolidating the rule of law and justice independence are the society’s firm commitments and they must be reflected as thus in the relations between Parliament, as the supreme representation forum, and justice,” added Iohannis.
“We are lagging behind in answering major issues on citizens’ agenda”
Klaus Iohannis said that Romania is lagging behind when it comes to answering major issues on citizens’ agenda, such as pension system sustainability and the demographic problem.
“We are lagging behind in providing answers to the major issues on the citizens’ agenda, including in view to 2018 when we celebrate the centennial of the Greater Union. What do we do with the great public systems – education, healthcare, pensions? What solutions do we find for the hundreds of thousands of youth without Baccalaureate diploma who are hard to get integrated, if at all, with the labour market? What happens if we find in a not so distant future that the pension system is no longer sustainable? What do we do with the publicpay? How do we manage the demographic problem and how do we avoid a possible future in which Romania will no longer be attractive in terms of workforce and as a selling market and is weakened inside the EU because of its demographic decline?” Iohannis told a plenary session of Parliament.
He voiced concern with the manner in which the state institutions operate and the separation of powers.
“At the same time, I want to send a very clear message: this state cannot make the impression of a chaotic, disorganised operation, in other works of a state in which each does what he or she wants and each institution has its own agenda,” the head of state maintained.
Iohannis pointed out that there is a national agenda, related to the strategic partnerships of Romania, mainly that with the US, affiliation with NATO and the EU, but also to a policy of development, modernisation and national assertion in areas of interest for the citizens, showing that communication, coordination and collaboration are needed on an organisational level in order to pursue these national goals.
“The state powers do not compete with one another and an efficient functioning of the state to the citizens’ benefit entails each functioning well and citizens trusting all. There cannot be a highly performing governance without a powerful parliament and justice cannot be truly efficient without a matching legislative power. Viewing powers separately and evaluating them separately is a mistake. Romania must move forward as a whole,” the head of state added.
According to him, education and research must be on everyone’s agenda.
“I am telling you once more, same as I have always done when I addressed Parliament: you have a dialogue partner in me. On these topics it is our duty to build for Romania and to generate agreement, beyond left or right politics, technocrat expertise or parties,” Iohannis concluded.
Iohannis, on appointment of chief judiciary officers: I will not be a mere spectator
President Klaus Iohannis said that he will not be a mere spectator when it comes to the appointment of the heads of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) and the Supreme Court of Justice and Cassation and elections to the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM), voicing hope that there will be serious competition in the area far from politics.
“This is not just a year of competition for politicians, but also an important junction for the judiciary. A new prosecutor general will have to be appointed; the tenures of the leaderships of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate and the Supreme Court of Justice and Cassation expire and there will also be an election to the Supreme Council of Magistrates (…) I hope that there will be serious competition and civil discourse in this area as well, where value, performance and honesty will prevail. I believe it is important to the solidity of Romania’s democracy and the rule of law for the election to the CSM to be shielded from politics and strictly kept within the confines of professional representation of magistrates in their own leading and disciplinary body,” Iohannis told a plenary session of Parliament.
He added that he will act on the matter in accordance with his powers.
“As far as I am concerned, in my capacity as the President, I will not be a mere spectator to the process and I will not restrain myself to playing a formal role. I will act by virtue of my powers to make sure Romania will firmly continue on the path it started toward the strengthening of the rule of law, justice independence and anti-corruption fight, and that the requirements for professionalism and integrity are observed,” the President said.
NATO confirming its Black Sea interest, one of Romania’s objectives at Warsaw summit
President Klaus Iohannis on Monday said that one of Romania’s objectives at the forthcoming NATO summit in Warsaw is the alliance confirming its strong interest in the Black Sea zone.
“One of Romania’s objectives at the NATO Summit to be held this summer in Warsaw is NATO confirming, at the end of the event, its strong interest in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly in the Black Sea region as an area of critical importance in the Euro-Atlantic security ensemble,” Iohannis told a plenary session of Parliament.
He added that the six new command centres of NATO in Eastern Europe to become operational in the first part of the current year are a clear signal of the relevance of the region.
Iohannis underscored that Romania’s major priorities and objectives of foreign and security policy remain the same.
He said the current complicated geopolitical context requires a consensual and courageous approach.
“In some important chapters, 2016 has to be a natural continuation of what we built or consolidated in the year before. Yet, at the same time, we have to manage major challenges. A migration crisis, a rise in terror threats, security risks from the East and the very calling into question of the European design make 2016 a crucial year for regional stability and the future of Europe,” Iohannis told Parliament.
The President said 2016 meets all the premises for a quality increase in the strategic partnership between Romania and the US, especially in the economic area, at the same time with strengthened political and military components. To the point, he praised the US quadrupling its 2017 budget for the European Reassurance Initiative.
“In the current complicated context, Romania is and will be an anchor for democracy, predictability and stability of strategic importance at the eastern borders of NATO and the European Union. In such capacity, we are responsible for strengthening our national defence and for contributing to providing collective defence inside NATO. Increasing defence spending to 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product is essential to this end. After the steps taken in 2015 and 2016, I am convinced the commitment will reflect on the preparations for the 2017 national budget,” said Iohannis.
He added that Romania is determined to actively participate in finding solutions to the crises currently facing the European Union as well as to strengthening commitment to and trust in the European design.
“It is our strategic interest for Romania to be a member of a strong, integrated European Union based on respect for its founding principles and values. (…) I would like the agreement we have reached to lead to a positive result of the referendum to allow the UK to keep its European Union membership,” said Iohannis.