Appointed interim Justice Minister on Thursday, following Florin Iordache’s resignation as a result of the scandal surrounding the amending of criminal legislation, European Affairs Minister Ana Birchall thanked those who were by her side “with a good thought, an opinion or a message of congratulations,” pointing out in a message posted on Facebook on Thursday evening that constructive criticism will also support her in her desire to be a better minister.
“I thank the Premier, the presidents of the ruling coalition, as well as my colleagues from PSD and ALDE for the confidence they have put in me, while at the same time understanding the immense responsibility the Justice portfolio entails. I will do everything in my power to carry out this mandate with professionalism, seriousness and balance. Alongside the institutions that have prerogatives and responsibilities in this field, the representatives of civil society and media, as well as through transparent dialogue with our external partners, I want to be able to ensure the proper functioning of the judiciary, as a fundamental premise of a consolidated democracy,” Birchall wrote on Facebook on Thursday.
Birchall took over her portfolio on Friday, after President Klaus Iohannis signed the decree that noted the vacancy of a Government portfolio following Justice Minister Florin Iordache’s resignation, as well as the decree appointing European Affairs Minister Ana Birchall as interim Justice Minister.
The interim will cover a period of 45 days at most.
“I understand the sensitivity created around this portfolio, I’ve also understood the message of all those who publicly expressed their opinions”
On Friday evening, on her official take-over of the Justice Minister portfolio, Ana Birchall announced that on Monday she will start talks with the representatives of the Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM), the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) and the Directorate for the Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT). The talks would focus on solutions in the judiciary domain.
“Starting on Monday, I will invite to dialogue all institutions that have a say in the judiciary domain and together we will find the best solutions. The first phone call I wanted to make after saluting Mr. Iordache is to CSM, because on Monday I would like us to have a first meeting. Also on Monday, I want to have a meeting with the DNA and DIICOT too. For me, my mission is, if I manage to do what I plan to do in this fairly short period of time, I plan to bring everyone to the same table and together in Parliament to find the solutions needed both to observe the law in Romania, and here I refer also to Article 147 of the Constitution, which very clearly says that Constitutional Court decisions are mandatory, not optional, and we cannot decide which decision is mandatory and which isn’t. During this period, my mission is to ensure the proper functioning of the ministry’s current activity,” interim Justice Minister Ana Birchall stated on Friday evening.
Asked whether she will still promote a bill amending the Codes, Birchall stated: “I understand the sensitivity created around this portfolio, I’ve also understood the message of all those who publicly expressed their opinions and the concern of our external partners, and I assure you that through dialogue with all those who want to come to the same table we can find solutions for the proper functioning of the judiciary. It’s my preoccupation and I assure you I will do everything in my power to implement our ruling alliance’s governing platform, but at the same time to bring to the same table all those who have a say in the proper functioning of the judiciary. And I would be very content to be able to do so.”
Ana Birchall added that she has no hidden agenda and that Parliament will give a final solution for the proper functioning of the judiciary.
Birchall: OUG was repealed – it’s the Government’s point of view. Let’s analyse the Codes
Government emergency ordinance (OUG) no.13 amending the Criminal Codes was repealed, this being the Government’s point of view on the topic, new interim Justice Minister Ana Birchall stated on Saturday, adding that an analysis of the Codes is nevertheless needed.
“This ordinance was repealed and this is the Government’s point of view on this topic. Apart from this, I want us to calmly, transparently, professionally use our expertise to analyse the Codes. I do not find it normal, speaking as a law graduate, for us to decide which Constitutional Court decision is mandatory and which is not. I express my regret that last year, when some Constitutional Court decisions was transposed in international legislation, not all Constitutional Court decisions were harmonised,” Ana Birchall stated at the Justice Ministry on Saturday.
Asked whether she intends to go and talk with the protesters in the public square, as Justice Minister Florin Iordache claims to have done, Ana Birchall said: “I believe having a dialogue in any form is important. Something that I promoted each time.”
Iordache on handing over his mandate: I was in Victoriei Square, people did not know the overtures, many of them hadn’t read the ordinance
Former Justice Minister Florin Iordache stated on Friday, when he handed over his mandate to Ana Birchall, that his overture was correct but better communication was needed, claiming he went among the protesters in Victoriei Square and many of them had not read the ordinance.
“I’m telling those in the street that the overture was correct. I regret that wider communication was needed. In my view, some normal, constitutional overtures were made,” Florin Iordache stated after he handed over his mandate.
Iordache claims he was in Victoriei Square too, where tens of thousands of people protested for 10 days in a row, dissatisfied with the Government decision to modify the Criminal Codes through an emergency ordinance.
“I was in Victoriei Square, the people didn’t know the overtures, many of them hadn’t read the ordinance and didn’t know what it was about. They are disgruntled people, that is why I decided to resign. It’s not normal to have a Romania torn in two, with one protest in Victoriei [Square] and another at Cotroceni [Presidential Palace],” Iordache added.
The former minister also stated that bigger dialogue will be needed to modify the Codes in line with Constitutional Court decisions. “Otherwise, courts may find it impossible to issue rulings. The rule of law must be strengthened in the upcoming period.”