The Constitutional Court of Romania’s (CCR) May 30 decision noting the existence of a juridical conflict of a constitutional nature between the Justice Minister and President Klaus Iohannis, conflict generated by the Head of State’s refusal to comply with the Justice Minister’s proposal to dismiss National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, has continued to generate public reactions and controversies.
The CCR pointed out that, in order to solve this conflict, the President should issue a decree dismissing from office the DNA Chief Prosecutor.
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader has stated that the CCR decision capitalises on the constitutional principle according to which prosecutors carry out their activity under the authority of the Justice Minister. Toader also claims that the Head of State has no legal competence to assess the professional or managerial competencies of high-ranking prosecutors, unlike the Justice Minister.
On the other hand, several Opposition politicians, including ex-President Traian Basescu and ex-Premier Dacian Ciolos, have talked about the need to organise a referendum in this situation. At the same time, other public voices, such as the leaders of the ruling coalition, state that holding a referendum would be an instigation to the non-observance of the Constitution.
Tariceanu on holding referendum after CCR decision: It’s an instigation to the non-observance of the Constitution and of Constitutional Court decisions
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated on Friday evening, for Digi24, that holding a referendum following the CCR’s decision would be “an instigation to the non-observance of the Constitution and of the Court’s decisions.” “This is not possible” Tariceanu said, referring to the fact that constitutional decisions or provisions that are not convenient cannot be changed through a referendum.
Asked for his comment on the idea of holding a referendum, Calin Popescu Tariceanu pointed out that lately he has heard only “aberrant” ideas on the part of the PNL.
“Basically, it’s an instigation to the non-observance of the Constitution and of the Court’s decisions. What should we do namely? To defeat the Court’s decision with a referendum. After all, this is how I would translate it: let’s no longer be a parliamentary democracy and let’s switch to a system of referendum-based democracy, we adopt a series of decisions via referendum. This is not possible,” Tariceanu said.
He said that “this suggests the idea of totalitarian regimes.”
“I don’t believe this is the manner – if a decision doesn’t suit us, if a constitutional provision that must be enforced does not suit us, then let’s try to change it,” Tariceanu added.
He said that removing the political from the sphere of the judiciary was attempted and achieved via the judicial laws.
“It’s just that, each time, instead of expecting a positive reaction, there are negative reactions,” the Senate Speaker added.
“Protocols concluded by SRI with other judicial system institutions are of extreme severity”
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu, stated on Friday that the protocols concluded by the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) with other institutions in the realm of justice, including the Prosecutor General’s Office, when its leadership was ensured by Laura Codruta Kovesi, are matters of “extreme severity” that may have affected the independence of prosecutors.
“Some secret protocols popped up, concluded between the SRI and the Prosecutor General’s Office, when Ms. Kovesi was Prosecutor General. Secret protocols concluded by SRI with other judicial system institutions. These matters are of extreme severity and I see that some who are extremely vocal today, they speak of the necessity to maintain the independence of justice and prosecutors – and I absolutely agree with this, it’s not a necessity, it’s an obligation – but exactly these protocols did nothing but infringe, brutally, on the independence of prosecutors and nobody said a word and everybody was quiet. And Ms. Kovesi has a huge responsibility in this sense,” said Calin Popescu Tariceanu, invited on a show at private broadcaster Digi24.
In his opinion, the head prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) has made two other “very grave, extremely dangerous” mistakes, which refer to investigating some acts of the Government and their political opportunity, as well as her refusal to participate in the works of the Committee regarding the 2009 elections.
“The first mistake was of investigating acts of Government, not respecting the principle of separation of powers, trying to see and analyse, without having that right, the political opportunity of the Government’s decisions. It’s very grave. So, this matter is not encountered in any democracy in which the principle of separation of powers works and in which we speak of the principles of rule of law. The second matter is the systematic refusal that has translated into a defiant attitude towards Parliament, when she was called by the Inquiry Committee regarding the famous 2009 elections,” said the Speaker of the Senate.
In his opinion, President Iohannis should take into account the decision of the Constitutional Court and the considerations given in taking a decision regarding the head prosecutor of the DNA.
“I believe that at this moment, given that the procedures were completed and the considerations that I referred to, partially, are extremely serious, I believe the President should, certainly, take act of these matters and pursue appropriate measures, once the substantiation of the Constitutional Court is published,” Calin Popescu Tariceanu concluded.
Tudorel Toader will address OECD after the statements made by an official of the Organisation who criticized the CCR decision on the dismissal of the DNA Head
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader announced that he will address OECD on Monday morning to officially communicate him if the statements of the head of the Anticorruption structure within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Drago Kos, who said in an interview for ziare.com that CCR decision on the dismissal of the DNA Head contradicts the balance of the powers in the state and the independence of the judiciary, were made in his own name or on behalf of OECD.
“Threats from OECD, or internal manipulation? On Monday morning, I will address OECD to ask them to officially communicate me if Mr. Drago Kos’s statements were made in his own name, or on behalf of OECD” Toader wrote on his Facebook account.
“In an article published on June 1, it is mentioned that Mr. Drago Kos made a number of statements on behalf of OECD, which are very serious, related to the Constitutional Court of Romania. At the same time, the same publication quotes, indicating the same sources, also on behalf of OECD, the statements according to which ‘Your Justice Minister will soon learn, in a tough way, that he’s making a big mistake’ Given the seriousness of these allegations, as well as similar experiences, when statements that haven’t been confirmed later were attributed to certain organisations such as GRECO, in order to correctly inform the public opinion, I find that it’s absolutely necessary to clarify this situation” the Justice Minister mentioned.
In an interview published b ziare.com on Friday, the head of the Anticorruption structure within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Drago Kos, stated that “the recent decision issued by CCR obviously contradicts the balance of the powers in the state in your country and the independence of the judiciary”.
“I cannot avoid the feeling that this is an intentional action, since I saw before such strange interferences of certain constitutional courts in the Balkans in the fight against corruption in the recent years. The Romanian magistrates clarified that they will not return to the old times, when politicians told them how to act. The international community will support them to this end. DNA is one of the successful stories regarding the anticorruption fight at global level. Its functioning and results are a model to be studied by generations of students worldwide. The current Romanian Government doesn’t want to continue the fight against corruption at a high level and does anything to find an excuse to this end. Your Justice Minister will soon learn in a very tough way, that he is making a big mistake. I am sorry that the image of the country has suffer because of his impulsive statements” Kos added, according to ziare.com.
PNL’s Orban: Political majority in Constitutional Court rewrote Constitution
Leader of the National Liberal Party (PNL), Ludovic Orban, criticized on Saturday, in Deva, the decision of the Constitutional Court regarding the dismissal of the head prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), saying that through their decision they “rewrote” the Constitution and “gravely” affected the prerogatives of the President through the attempt to give him orders.
“There is no precedent in the 28 years of democracy for such a decision. Practically, the political majority in the Constitutional Court rewrote the Constitution and infringed on the Constitution through this decision, infringing the independence of Justice, principle inscribed in the Constitution, annulling, practically, through a decision, the Supreme Council of Magistracy, which is the guarantor of the independence of Justice, gravely affecting the prerogatives of the President and especially attempting to issue orders to the President,” said the PNL leader, in a press conference.
Ludovic Orban mentioned that, from his point of view, the Constitutional Court cannot “obligate” the President to do anything, given his legitimacy, gained at the ballot box, and his constitutional prerogatives.
“The President is the political and institutional leader that benefits from the greatest legitimacy, the legitimacy conferred by the vote of half plus one of Romanian citizens. The President cannot be forced to do anything, by anyone, by the virtue of his constitutional prerogatives and the legitimacy that he enjoys. As such, from my point of view, this decision of the Constitutional Court, and the Constitutional Court itself does not have the quality of obligating the President, according to the Constitution, to do or not do something,” Ludovic Orban added.
Ciolos: President must risk anything from a political standpoint to defend Constitution and its clear principles
Ex-Premier Dacian Ciolos considers that President Klaus Iohannis “must risk anything from a political standpoint” to protect the Constitution and to defend its clear principles. Ciolos says that a referendum is appropriate to settle the issue regarding the Romanians’ desire for the fight against corruption to continue.
“I believe the President must risk anything from a political standpoint to defend the Constitution and to defend the clear principles of the Constitution. He represents a very important office in the state, one of the last barricades defending the rule of law, and I believe he must be very firm in defending the Constitution. Unfortunately, the political majority currently represented in Parliament has long overstepped the mandate it received from voters,” Dacian Ciolos stated for EuropaFM.
In the ex-Premier’s opinion, the Constitutional Court is politicised and is clearly adopting biased decisions that support PSD’s political interest in controlling the judiciary.
Ciolos wrote on his Facebook page that the current parliamentary majority lacks the political legitimacy to attempt to subordinate the judiciary, that it was not voted for that.
“There is the need for a way that would allow citizens to express themselves in what concerns these institutional decisions that clearly overstep the mandate received in the elections. I find a referendum very appropriate to settle the Romanians’ desire for the fight against corruption to continue. A reform of the state that would also include a reform of the CCR, so that the appointment of judges, its functioning and decisions would no longer be under the aegis of political pressure or of the interests of this or that party. The Romania Together Movement /RO+ is preparing such proposals, which it will present in the party’s Political Platform,” Dacian Ciolos pointed out.
He says that “the attack on the rule of law is doubled by a process of weakening the economy and hence the welfare of Romanians through incoherent fiscal and economic policy decisions, by attacking the Pillar II Pension Fund, namely the money of Romanians, and by rendering the state indebted in the long term in order to finance inconsistent electoral promises.”
“Without the state’s honest and transparent functioning, and without predictability and coherence in the decisions that affect the economy, there will be no pensions and no salaries either. Once we come to power, all these things will be brought back to normal. Romania needs to develop, not to protect the judiciary from aggressors,” the ex-Premier concluded.
Basescu: CCR has put Romanian President in the position of being obligated to subordinate himself to the JusMin’s will; don’t bequeath solely the Cotroceni Palace and the garden!
The Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) has put the Head of State in the position of being obligated to subordinate himself to the will of the Justice Minister, even though the latter only has the legal mandate to nominate prosecutors for leadership offices, PMP leader Traian Basescu claims. He states that this is unconstitutional, and the minister’s decision will be influenced by his party, so there will be political control over the chief prosecutors. Likewise, Basescu says that the Romanian President is no longer relevant, considering that the presidential office is emptied of prerogatives. “Don’t bequeath only the Cotroceni Palace and the garden!” he tells the ruling coalition.
On Friday, in a posting on his Facebook page, Traian Basescu listed a series of Constitutional articles, namely: Article 132, Section 1, which says that “prosecutors shall carry out their activity in accordance with the principle of legality, impartiality and hierarchical control, under the authority of the Minister of Justice”; Article 94, Section C, which says that “the Romanian President makes appointments to public offices, under the terms provided by law”; and Law no.303/2004 on the statute of judges and prosecutors, which says that “prosecutors holding leadership positions are dismissed from office by the President of Romania, at the proposal of the Justice Minister,” pointing out that he supports their enforcement.
The PMP leader states that the CCR has put the Head of State in the position of being obligated to subordinate himself to the will of the Justice Minister, even though the latter only has the legal mandate to propose, the President being the decisionmaker.
“This is profoundly unconstitutional and has the following effects: the disappearance of the double oversight of the dismissal of prosecutors from the large prosecutor’s offices, the decision remaining strictly at the discretion of the Justice Minister, who is politically appointed within the Government by a party and who is not elected directly like the President. In his decisions, the minister will be subjected to the influences of his party, both when appointing and dismissing prosecutors, and the risk of reverting to the Nastase era is imminent, the ruling party’s political control over the chief prosecutors being instituted via the Justice Minister, who has become sole decisionmaker,” Basescu wrote on Facebook.
Likewise, he went on to say, the Head of State is no longer relevant in what concerns his constitutional prerogatives, considering that the presidential office is emptied of prerogatives, losing to Parliament the right to appoint the President of the National Communications Authority (ANCOM), losing supremacy in foreign policy to the PSD leader and the Premier, and losing the right to decide in what concerns the appointment and dismissal of prosecutors, that right being taken over by the Justice Minister for Calin Popescu Tariceanu and Liviu Dragnea.
He added that Iohannis must immediately hold a referendum on the judiciary issue, to prevent both the destruction of the state and the destruction of the presidential institution.
“Noting the PSD-ALDE-UDMR majority’s unacceptable abuses on the constitutional and legal prerogatives of the Romanian President, Iohannis only has the path of the referendum in order to re-establish and prevent the destruction of the constitutional architecture of the state through the destruction of the Institution of Romanian President. If he doesn’t do it, after his mandate he will bequeath only the Cotroceni Palace and, of course, the Palace’s beautiful garden. P.S. Why has it come to this? It’s a different discussion,” Basescu concluded.