Tariceanu: Solidarity without fissure within PSD. DNA’s actions are political actions
Convening on Monday morning at the headquarters of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), in order to analyse and take a political decision on the situation created by the DNA prosecutors’ decision to criminally prosecute Deputy PM Sevil Shhaideh for abuse of office in the “Belina Island” dossier, the party’s Standing National Bureau (SNB) decided to fully support ministers Rovana Plumb and Sevil Shhaideh. “They will not be asked to resign, nor will they resign,” reads the unanimous decision taken by PSD’s forum.
PSD’s Lower House whip Ioan Munteanu stated on Monday, after the PSD meeting, that the decision taken is to give full support to Sevil Shhaideh and Rovana Plumb, whom their party colleagues did not ask to resign.
“We listened to our colleagues. The conclusion was that they observed the provisions of the laws in force and consider themselves innocent. After the interventions of some colleagues, the decision was full support. They asked them not to resign, and we will support them,” PSD’s Lower House whip Ioan Munteanu said. PSD’s decision to offer its full support to Shhaideh and Plumb was adopted unanimously. In the PSD body’s opinion, this is a political dossier, an attack against PSD, the Coalition and its leaders.
According to PSD leaders, they also mull asking the Constitutional Court to rule on what the Coalition calls a conflict of a constitutional nature between state institutions.
Sevil Shhaideh and Rovana Plumb: We’re innocent, we observed the law. We’re not resigning
Sevil Shhaideh and Rovana Plumb left the PSD headquarters at the same time, and stated that their colleagues decided to back them, that they are innocent, they observed the law and will not resign from the Government.
“At this moment, the solution is to support the two ministers. I haven’t thought in any way about resigning. All endorsements are in line with the law,” Sevil Shhaideh stated.
“I’m not guilty, I’ve always observed the law and I always will. I always acted in good faith, in the interest of the citizen and with maximum responsibility. (…) I don’t consider I must resign, since I’ve always thought about Romania. I’m not guilty, I didn’t do anything wrong,” Rovana Plumb stated in her turn.
Dragnea on criminal probe targeting Shhaideh and Plumb: Such a precedent is very dangerous, would mean all transfers done so far have been illegal
PSD Chairman Liviu Dragnea stated on Monday, after the Standing National Bureau (SNB) meeting, that the criminal probe targeting Sevil Shhaideh and Rovana Plumb represents a very dangerous precedent that would mean all transfers done so far have been illegal.
Dragnea pointed out that Shhaideh and Plumb briefly presented, during the SNB meeting, a report on the two legislative acts and all their SNB colleagues, without exception, firmly asked them not to resign, the fact that the two are holding two key positions in the Government being among the arguments invoked.
“The transfer of a plot of land from the state’s public domain to the public domain of a local authority, just like hundreds of such transfers… hundreds of plots of land left unused were transferred and were taken over by local authorities. Such a precedent is extremely dangerous. Even now there are requests (…) to transfer buildings to local authorities, for the latter to be able to include them in a development programme,” Dragnea added.
He emphasised several times that such a precedent is “very dangerous” because “it would mean all transfers done so far caused damage to the Romanian state.”
“When it goes from public [ownership] into public [ownership], it’s very dangerous to talk about damage,” the PSD leader added.
Answering a question, Liviu Dragnea pointed out that Premier Mihai Tudose informed him that he had not talked with President Klaus Iohannis about Rovana Plumb and Sevil Shhaideh’s situation.
“I’m interested very little in whether Kovesi remains head of DNA; it’s a problem of structure”
Lower House Speaker Liviu Dragnea, leader of PSD, stated on Monday that there is a structural problem within the judiciary and, that is why, the important thing is not the replacement of a head of institution but the adoption of measures so that things would take their normal course.
“I’m interested very little in whether Laura Codruta Kovesi stays head of the DNA. I don’t think this is the biggest problem. Anyone can come. If the practices remain the same, we haven’t achieved anything. If, on the other hand, measures were taken or are taken against those prosecutors who, it is proven – via recordings, via statements, via revelations –, made abuses, blackmailed, put pressure so as to obtain false denunciations, things would start to take the normal course. (…) The situation is far more profound. We’ve seen judges talking about pressures and threats, we’ve seen judges asking associations of magistrates for some things to take place. So, let’s not look solely at the top of the iceberg. I don’t know what the Judicial Inspection will say, I don’t know what Tudorel Toader, Klaus Iohannis, Ms Kovesi will do. We have a structural problem in the judiciary. (…) It’s a problem of structure, which, unless solved today, will be solved later on, but with costs. I don’t have a personal feud with Laura Codruta Kovesi, even though that may be the case on her part,” the PSD leader stated at a press conference.
“Justice Minister must take public stance toward what has happened lately”
The Justice Minister must present a timetable for the promotion of the judiciary laws, but must also take a public stance toward the latest events, Lower House Speaker Liviu Dragnea, President of PSD, stated on Monday.
“The Justice Minister must present a timetable for the promotion of the judiciary laws and, likewise, it’s natural for him to take public stance toward the numerous events seen lately, generated by transcripts, records, revelations, and so on,” Dragnea stated at the end of PSD’s SNB meeting.
He argued that “serious talk is starting even about a conflict between two, maybe even three branches of government.”
“This war should no longer occur. Hence, it’s a situation that must be settled within a reasonable period, so that we would return to normality in this country, because we have huge challenges and huge stakes. (…) And we’re not all revolving around a pond,” the PSD leader added.
Tariceanu: Solidarity without fissure within PSD. DNA’s actions are political actions
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Chairman Calin Popescu Tariceanu took part in PSD’s SNB meeting on Monday. After the meeting, he stated he noticed all PSD members’ “unmeasurable solidarity” with Sevil Shhaideh and Rovana Plumb.
On Monday, Tariceanu stated that the actions against ministers Sevil Shhaideh and Rovana Plumb are political, and the challenge against a Government decision should be lodged “with the administrative court, not by prosecutors.”
“They all claimed the two have no reasons to resign, because they didn’t break any legal provision,” Tariceanu added.
He emphasised that the transfer of property to local authorities is not illegal, and the anticorruption prosecutors’ action is “political.”
“There are thousands of decisions like this, it’s perfectly legal, there is no legality problem,” the Senate Speaker underscored.
Tariceanu pointed out he will analyse, along with specialists, whether the Constitutional Court can be notified about a constitutional conflict between branches of government.
“Apart from the fact that we’re coalition partners, I wanted to tell them my opinion, to share with them my own experience as Premier. I had confrontations with the system. I noticed solidarity without fissure, they all claimed the two have no reason to resign. There are hundreds and thousands of Government decisions. It is – as I’ve been saying since long ago – a clear political action. Unfortunately, we’re witnessing these actions on the part of some who are working within the DNA, and it’s our obligation to stick to the programme we committed to. Had it been a corruption problem, maybe the attitude would have been different. Their advisability can’t be probed. If there is a way to challenge them, that can be done in administrative court, not by prosecutors,” Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated.
PNL demands Rovana Plumb and Sevil Shhaideh be dismissed from Gov’t
The National Liberal Party (PNL) demands that Rovana Plumb and Sevil Shhaideh be dismissed from the Government, PNL President Ludovic Orban stating that keeping them in office gravely harms Romania’s image.
Orban also stated that keeping them in office renders any anticorruption overture useless.
He reminded that when a criminal probe started against him, he withdrew from the electoral race for the Bucharest City Hall and also from political offices and no longer ran for another mandate in the Lower House.
The PNL Chairman underscored that this is the normal behaviour of a state official who cares about Romania’s image.
DNA’s Kovesi: “Belina” case, opened in May 2017, not 2014
The “Belina” case, involving two Government ministers – Deputy Prime Minister Sevil Shhaideh and Minister-delegate for European Funds Rovana Plumb – was opened in May 2017, not in 2014, as rumours in the public sphere have it, Laura Codruta Kovesi, Chief prosecutor of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA), stated on Monday.
“The case does not date from 2014, this case was opened in May 2017. We are in September, so for four-five months we have compiled the first documents and carried out the first investigations. (…) We can take notice from the press whenever we have clear clues that a criminal deed has been committed. The media merely reporting that an emergency ordinance was given doesn’t mean that a criminal deed occurred in that case. (…) When the first pieces of information came that a criminal deed of DNA competence was committed, regarding the adoption of an emergency ordinance, we took note ex officio, and this surfaced in May 2017. So it is out of the question that we might have known ever since 2014,” Kovesi stated for Europa FM.
Asked how she responds to the allegations launched in the public sphere, that this case attempts to “destroy” the Government and the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the DNA Chief prosecutor replied: “There is no such thing”.
“We have fulfilled our attributions prescribed by the law, what is DNA supposed to be doing? To investigate high level corruption. We investigated a corruption deed, we pressed charges, it is an intermediate stage, we are investigating these allegations. We are a filter which checks, before reaching the court, if there is or there isn’t any evidence. If there is proof, we send the cases in court, if there is no evidence we classify them. This is what we are paid for, this is what prosecutors do, they investigate. So we have done our job, we have investigated an alleged corruption deed,” the Chief prosecutor said.
She also rejected the accusation regarding the selection of cases being investigated by DNA.
“We don’t pick our cases, the law says whom we can tap or whom we cannot or whom we can investigate or not,” the DNA Chief prosecutor specified.
Other reactions after the criminal probe targeting Shhaideh and Plumb
Dragnea: I expect to be called at DNA. Belina dossier is fiction, DNA’s violent attack on Gov’t
PSD Chairman and Lower Chamber Speaker Liviu Dragnea stated on Sunday, for Antena3 private broadcaster, that he expects to be summoned at the DNA in the “Belina dossier” in which the DNA has started a criminal probe against Deputy Premier Sevil Shhaideh and has asked the Lower House to lift the immunity of European Grants Minister Rovana Plumb. Dragnea claimed this dossier is “fiction,” that it represents a violent attack against the Government and that he has information according to which DNA prosecutors will go after his son too.
“I haven’t been summoned at the DNA,” Liviu Dragnea said.
Asked whether he thinks prosecutors will subpoena him, he said: “I believe so, I don’t think they won’t summon me, I mean that would be without a finale.”
He also claimed the DNA’s action is a violent attack against the Government.
“First of all, it seems to me to be a second powerful aggression on another government branch, a violent attack against the Government. We are talking about issuing and passing an Emergency Ordinance that ranges with the other several hundreds and thousands that have been adopted in Romania, and more precisely the transfer of property from the public sector to the public sector, with one important specification – for a five-year period. I have only read DNA’s statement, for the rest I have followed you and whatever else has been discussed in the press and other comments and information on sources. We are discussing a transfer not towards the private sector but to a public institution, the County Council, so from public to public. And I am not certain that there haven’t been in history transfers of property towards a local authority so that an investment, a private one, could be carried out. Which I consider as very good,” Liviu Dragnea told private TV broadcaster Antena 3, quizzed about the DNA prosecutors’ action in “Belina” case.
He explained that the “Belina” case revolves around “a land area covered in weeds, just like the entire Danube shore, and with some concrete slates that we have known since we were kids.”
“I grew up there, in that area, where there are also some ponds. This piece of property was transferred from the state’s public domain to Teleorman County’s public domain, so still public, and that’s it,” Dragnea said.
He added that “all the ponds in Romania are rented to private firms for fishing, all of them.”
The PSD Chairman added that given the circumstances, with ministers of the current Government indicted, if there ever will be another request to transfer one plot of land from a state’s domain to a county’s public domain, there will not be anyone left to undersign it.
“Just yesterday [Saturday – ed.n.] I have received a piece of information from a member of the Cabinet, a very important one, that a great corporation, one of the greatest in the world, wishes to make a huge investment in Romania and needs 80-100 hectares. Do you think anyone from the Government can sign the transfer of a piece of land from the state’s public domain to a county’s or locality’s public domain after this story?” Dragnea said.
The PSD leader specified that he went fishing in Belina area but denied having derived any advantage from the transfer of the respective plots of land from Teleorman County Council to TelDrum.
“No. Many people fish there, (…) you simply go and fish, just like on the Danube, but I have been fishing in many places in this country,” Dragnea said.
He added that ex-PM Victor Ponta’s statement according to which he did not realise, at the moment the Emergency Ordinance was adopted, that Belina Lake would not be transferred to the “Teleorman people”, as he was told, but to TelDrum firm instead, is “false”.
“We’re talking about a plot of land covered in weeds, which also has some ponds. This property was transferred from the state’s public domain to Teleorman County’s public domain. (…) The plot of land was owned by the state and was being administered by Romanian Waters, and was transferred to the Teleorman County Council and administered by the Teleorman County Council,” Dragnea added.
Liviu Dragnea also claimed that the Belina dossier is fiction and that the DNA’s alleged goal is the destruction of PSD.
“The dossier is fiction, but has real consequences. Two very important ministers, and I don’t think I’m still the stake here. I believe the stake is, in fact, PSD. On the other hand, I believe that everything that has recently surfaced – transcripts, accusations, statements, revelations about pressure put on some judges, the ever more acute talk about the Judicial Inspection’s report – generates a lot of turmoil and fear and generates this kind of reaction. In my opinion, apart from this intention to destroy PSD, there is also the desire to prevent a bad report. It’s being said that, in fact, the report is bad because an action against PSD has started. I haven’t seen any other DNA actions in recent months,” the PSD President said.
The PSD leader also claimed he received information according to which DNA prosecutors will go after his son too.
“I’ve received all kinds of information this weekend, I don’t know if it’s real or not, according to which they [DNA prosecutors] don’t want to limit this to me, they want to take my child too, to detain him, to… I can’t figure out why. Just in his capacity as my son. How did they take the ex-wife? It’s a fight between abuse and democracy, between political police methods and democratic methods,” Dragnea added.
Ciolos: I believe we deserve more than a political leadership that is at war with Justice from dawn to dusk!
On Sunday evening, ex-Premier Dacian Ciolos wrote on Facebook that “we deserve more than a political leadership at war with Justice from dawn to dusk!”, his reaction coming after PSD leader Liviu Dragnea claimed that the DNA probe in the “Belina dossier” represents a violent attack on the Government.
“I believe we deserve more than a political leadership at war with Justice from dawn to dusk!” Ciolos wrote.
The message was posted shortly after PSD President Liviu Dragnea told Antena3 private broadcaster that the Belina dossier is fiction and that DNA allegedly seeks to destroy PSD.
Tariceanu: DNA has ended up being a political police instrument in Romania. A coup d’état is being attempted
In a statement by phone, made in the same Sunday evening talk-show on Antena3, Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu said a coup d’état, the toppling of the Government and the disintegration of the PSD-ALDE coalition is being attempted. He said the DNA has ended up being a political police instrument in Romania and that he obtained information that the desire is to open criminal dossiers on his and Liviu Dragnea’s name.
“Things entered a fast-forward route the moment certain information concerning the Judicial Inspection’s audit at the DNA started to leak. (…) The crucial moment was marked by the failed attempt to behead the Judicial Inspection within the CSM. A move difficult to imagine. We are witnessing a desperate attempt to behead the Judicial Inspection, so that the Judicial Inspection would not be able to present the report which is already delayed. Both Liviu Dragnea and I, we received information that there is an attempt being made to open criminal dossiers against us or against members of the Government, and this is visible given what has happened in the last week,” Tariceanu told Antena3 while Liviu Dragnea was present on the set.
He also claimed a coup d’état is being attempted and that the DNA has ended up being a political police instrument in Romania.
“After all, a coup d’état is being attempted, and I’m not saying this easily. The toppling of this Government is being attempted, the disintegration of the PSD-ALDE ruling coalition, of PSD, because the DNA has ended up being a political police instrument in Romania. The question I ask myself is: those from the DNA, not all of them, those in charge of these actions, are they doing these things on their own or are they instruments in somebody else’s hand?” the Co-President of the PSD-ALDE coalition said.
Moreover, Tariceanu said he received information that the opening of criminal dossiers on his and Dragnea’s name is desired. “Both Liviu Dragnea and I, we received information that there is an attempt being made to open criminal dossiers against us or against members of the Government, and this is visible given what has happened in the last week,” Tariceanu added.
UPDATE-DNA delivers heavy blow to PSD: Sevil Shhaideh, Deputy PM and Development Minister, indicted. PSD leaders meet on Monday to discuss party strategy : “We are worried about it”