On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Teodor Melescanu showed up at the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) to be heard in a case concerning emergency ordinance (GEO) 13 which would have amended the criminal codes, case opened following the denunciation filed on January 24 by members of the ‘Initiativa Romania’ Association.
Melescanu said he takes responsibility for transposing in Romania’s legislation, through emergency ordinance no.13 , EU law provisions that he can explain, insisting that so far as he is concerned the procedure was followed.
He added that he okayed GEO 13 in order to transpose in Romania’s legislation a directive of the European Parliament and Council.
Asked which are those directives, Melescanu mentioned directive no.216 and directive no.342 of the European Parliament and European Council.
Asked whether former Justice Minister Florin Iordache enlarged upon the significance and consequences of the ordinance, Melescanu said, “No. I enlarged upon it myself because I can read.”
He added that he had read the entire piece of legislation, but his competence was strictly related to the European directive.
“I okayed it because some provisions of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council were transposed into the Romanian legislation and we had to agree with the transposition,” said Melescanu.
He added that he had consulted with his Romanian Foreign Ministry subordinates about the approval of the piece of legislation.
“Normally, the approvals from the foreign minister come after an analysis that is undersigned by all the relevant persons,” said Melescanu.
About the fact that the onus for the ordinance was on the justice minister, even if he too issued an approval, the Romanian chief diplomat said, “I take responsibility for the inclusion of some EU law provisions in the Romanian legislations. That is all and I am ready to explain myself.”
“Juridical acts do not regard persons, but categories of offences,” said Melescanu asked whether GEO 13 was designed to favour certain people.
He added that as far as he is concerned, the legal procedure for the ordinance was followed entirely.
“The ordinance had been posted on the website for 10 days, so it had to be included on the agenda someday,” Melescanu said when asked when the piece of legislation was to be included on the Government’s agenda.
Asked whether he found GEO 13 to be a fair legislative act, Melescanu said that in his view it was “a necessary act.”
“Since the Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional some abuse of office provisions, it was normal that an effort be made to adapt the legislation to Constitutional Court decisions,” Teodor Melescanu added.
The Foreign Minister also said that GEO 13 was not adopted at night but “in the afternoon.”
“The delay was caused by the pending CSAT report. Why it wasn’t included on the order of the day? You should ask those who drew up the order of the day, against the backdrop in which we have a legislative vacuum because the Criminal Code provisions were not set in line with the Constitutional Court’s decisions within 45 days,” Melescanu added.
Referring to the street protests, the Foreign Minister pointed out that this is a relatively new phenomenon and a first not only for Romania but also at European level in general.
“It’s the idea of demonstrations that do not have an obvious political character and are based on social media mobilisation. There are no organisers, no permits, there’s nothing, but people express a certain discontent and I believe in our country they have the right to do so,” the Foreign Minister added.
Asked whether the Government should take into account these demonstrations, Melescanu answered: “Obviously.”
Melescanu added that GEO 13 was not custom-made for certain politicians, because “juridical acts do not regard certain persons but various categories of offences,” pointing out that this legislative act was necessary.
On Monday, Internal Affairs Minister Carmen Dan also went to the DNA, to be heard as witness in the same case.
Last week, Government Secretary General Mihai Busuioc and Minister for Relation with Parliament Gratiela Gavrilescu were heard at the DNA in the same case concerning the amending of the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure under Emergency Ordinance no.13.
Previously summoned to the DNA for hearings were prosecutors Oana Schmidt-Haineala and Constantin Sima, former senior officials with the Ministry of Justice.
Early this February, the DNA confirmed it had registered a notification submitted by several individuals regarding possible guilty acts related to the way in which certain pieces of legislation were adopted, and added that procedural actions are being carried out.
The Ministry of Justice specified back then that it had received a request from the DNA to hand over the original documents connected with the drafting and issuing of GEO 13 amending the criminal codes, as well as with the bill on the granting of pardons.