*There is no deep state, that’s the fabrication used by PSD to justify anti-judiciary overtures
* In Romania there is a single state, and I represent it. A politician who is also a criminal can’t threaten prosecutors and judges
President Klaus Iohannis states that “the deep state” is the fabrication used by Social Democrats to justify certain overtures against the judiciary and the intelligence services, pointing out that there is a single state in Romania and he represents it. The Head of State also commented on the statements that PSD leader Liviu Dragnea made on Sunday evening on Antena3, statements that prompted the CSM to ask the Judicial Inspection to carry out verifications. Iohannis said that the magistrates were justifiably upset, because a politician “who is also a criminal” cannot threaten prosecutor and judges after staging “a mediocre rally” against the judiciary.
Asked on Tuesday whether Liviu Dragnea’s statements – according to which the “deep state” was allegedly financed by some of Romania’s external partners – might affect Romania’s relations with other states, Iohannis said that that statement is “very stupid and counterproductive,” because in Romania there is no deep state, the latter being only the fabrication of the Social Democrats.
“It’s a very stupid and counterproductive statement. In Romania there is no deep state, it’s the fabrication of Social Democrats, with which they want to justify their anti-justice and anti-intelligence services overtures. That’s how simple it is. There is a single state in Romania. And I represent that state. So, the story about the deep state is a fabrication. I don’t know whether it’s the fabrication of Social Democrats or of the Social Democrats’ consultants, but I assure Romanians that there is no deep state in Romania and the rest are stories with which the PSD is trying to validate certain fairly debatable overtures,” Klaus Iohannis stated.
The Head of State also commented on Liviu Dragnea’s statements about prosecutors, statements that prompted the CSM to ask the Judicial Inspection to carry out verifications, saying that “a politician, who is also a criminal,” starts threatening magistrates on television after “a mediocre rally” against the judiciary on Saturday evening.
“The magistrates are justifiably up in arms. I mean, how does a politician, who is also a criminal, go on television to threaten magistrates. After he convened a mediocre anti-justice rally. So, it’s inadmissible. That is why I said we must not allow the state to enter a situation of uncertainty, should not allow us to enter a tailspin and wake up that instead of consolidating Romanian democracy we are giving up democratic values for the sake of someone who wants to be more powerful than it is healthy,” Iohannis added.
On Sunday evening, Liviu Dragnea stated for Antena3 that Daniel Horodniceanu’s term as Chief Prosecutor of the DIICOT was extended “on orders,” and that that is “a clear action, an order from Iohannis,” against the backdrop in which PNL President Ludovic Orban had filed a criminal complaint against Premier Viorica Dancila for high treason. Dragnea stated that he hopes no prosecutor would risk as much as to play into this “insanity,” adding that “very many prosecutors risk paying a heavy price.”
On Monday, the Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM) asked the Judicial Inspection to verify PSD leader Liviu Dragnea’s statement, to establish whether the independence of the judicial system was affected.
Likewise, the National Union of Romanian Judges (UNJR) and the Association of Romanian Magistrates (AMR) have called on “all interested persons” to be aware that the problems of the judicial system are solved institutionally, through legal procedures, not by counting street protesters who are in favour or against a topic that concerns the judiciary. The associations of magistrates also say that it is unacceptable for persons who hold leadership positions at the helm of the Romanian state to use their influence to put pressure on the judges that have to solve cases in which they on trial.
“PSD is trying to amputate the President’s powers because the President has a different opinion. It’s obvious that the CCR decision comes precisely along PSD’s line to amputate the President’s powers. Many questions have appeared, ample debate is needed”
On Tuesday, President Klaus Iohannis had a first reaction after the Constitutional Court published its substantiation in what concerns the dismissal of DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi. The President said the substantiation brings to the surface more questions than clarifications but maybe a subsequent profound study will “bring us closer to the truth.” He added that the PSD “is trying to amputate the President’s powers because the President has a different opinion,” and that it is obvious that the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) decision “comes precisely along PSD’s line to amputate the President’s powers.”
“I have read the Court’s substantiation. For confusion not to appear in the public space, I said from the get-go that I will read this substantiation until I understand it very well, so we have a bit more reading to do. However, while reading, several issues appeared, prompting me to assess certain overtures in a new light. At this stage, I admit that the substantiation brings to the surface more questions than clarifications, but a subsequent profound study may bring us closer to the truth, we will see,” Iohannis said after meeting the Venice Commission’s delegation.
He said that the anticorruption fight must be waged with all firmness and Romania must be confident that it is a just fight.
“Allow me to start from the beginning. Obviously, the whole debate started around the anticorruption fight and so the legitimate question is raised: if so many politicians are dissatisfied with the anticorruption fight, is there still need for it? My answer is firm and clear: Romania needs the anticorruption fight. It must be waged with all firmness and Romanians must trust it is a just fight,” the President said.
Iohannis added that it can be easily noted that the PSD has been trying, for some time, to amputate the President’s powers.
“We can fairly easily note that the PSD has been trying for some time now to amputate the President’s powers. A political party, mind you. Why? Because, on many issues, the Romanian President obviously has opinions that differ from those of the Social Democratic majority. We have seen this desire first when the ANCOM law was modified. The discussion also continued with the judicial laws, when the power of the President was diminished compared to the prior situation in the laws that were in force. Could it be that they were modified to diminish the President’s power too? The PSD is clearly trying through all means at its disposal to diminish the President’s power,” Klaus Iohannis added.
In his opinion, the Constitutional Court’s decision clearly “comes precisely along PSD’s line to amputate the President’s powers.”
Asked whether, from a juridical standpoint, he still has any possibility of asking the Court for these clarifications, the President said: “I will clarify what the juridical steps are when, along with the [Presidential] Administration’s jurists, we will reach a conclusion. You must understand that here we are not talking about a simple case, we are talking about a very complicated case, we are talking about a case that will definitely influence the way the Romanian state continues to function and the way we continue to interpret the architecture of the state. We cannot make the mistake of mechanically applying certain things, because the very high risk that appears here is for us to find ourselves in a situation of form without substance. We do not need a state construct that is form without substance, we need a strong substance, we need a strong state, and to have a strong state we must find our answers, the answers of Romanians, to these questions.”
Klaus Iohannis emphasised that he cannot take the next step until it is clarified what we are being told in the substantiation.
Asked for his message to those accusing him of breaking the Constitution as time passes, against the backdrop in which a Court decision is immediate and mandatory, President Klaus Iohannis emphasised: “I am not breaking the Constitution, I watch over the enforcement of the Constitution.”
Asked whether he accuses the Constitutional Court of political involvement, the President replied: “No, I would not do that, since it is not the case. I notice a coincidence which, this time around, raises many questions, the ones I have just listed.”
Asked who should clarify this coincidence, Klaus Iohannis said: “I believe these issues must be clarified primarily by politicians, because the Constitutional Court has now issued a decision and has raised many questions, but the overture to amputate the President’s powers is the PSD’s clear overture and it did not start one month ago, it started much earlier. So, seeing over so many years that it is unable to give the country’s President, and desiring to control the whole political space, the PSD thought that cutting the President’s prerogatives and powers is a solution, and I’m telling them clearly: it is not a solution.”
Iohannis wants a wide-ranging debate after the CCR decision, which rose many questions: Do we have a new Super-Minister of Justice, who decides, and the President executes? What does CSM mean anymore?
President Klaus Iohannis stated on Tuesday that after the CCR decision on the dismissal of the DNA Chief-Prosecutor was published, a wide-ranging debate in which all those who are interested should participate is needed, because the motivation rises several questions whose answers are essential for the state architecture: What is the role of the prosecutors in Romania anymore? Do we have a new Super-Minister of Justice, who decides, and the President executes? What does CSM mean anymore? The President mentioned that a referendum could be organized at the end of this debate.
“If we read the motivation (of the Constitutional Court – e.n.), the question is: what is the statute of the prosecutors in Romania anymore? After this decision, are the prosecutors independent anymore, as efficient as we wish them to be, an example in the anti-corruption fight, or they are rather subordinated to the Justice Minister than under the authority of the Justice Minister, as the Constitution provides? This is a question which requires an answer. Another question which is obviously regarding the same context: do we have a new Super-Minister of Justice who decides, and the President executes, without taking into account the CSM’s opinion? Which rises the next question: what does CSM mean anymore? How can CSM fulfill its main role provided by the Constitution, to guarantee the independence of Justice, when CSM doesn’t even count anymore in the dismissal procedure of a Chief-Prosecutor? These are questions to be slowly answered by both sides” President Klaus Iohannis stated.
The Head of State said that these answers must be given after “a clear, healthy and extended public debate” with all the interested actors, and in the end, Romanians should express their opinion.
“These are questions to be answered after a clear, healthy and extended public debate, and I am willing to put these questions in a public debate” the President said.
Klaus Iohannis stated that “a referendum can eventually take place at the end of such a debate”.
“Unfortunately, I saw what questionable things can result from a badly organized and non-transparent debate, as the one in the Parliament. We need a wide-ranging debate, a discussion with all the interested actors, and in the end the Romanian people should express their opinion. Maybe we need a clarification in the Constitution, maybe we need to check together if the state architecture is well designed, or new mechanisms should be implemented in order to guarantee this” Iohannis stated.
PSD: CCR decisions are not open to debate. President Iohannis’s irresponsible statements undermine the Constitutional Court’s authority
The Social Democratic Party (PSD) claims that the statements that President Klaus Iohannis made on Tuesday are “irresponsible” and undermine the authority of the Constitutional Court. The Social Democrats tell the Head of State, in a press release, that “the CCR decisions are not open to debate.”
“The Social Democratic party considers that President Klaus Iohannis’s recent statements concerning the Constitutional Court Decision on solving the conflict between the President and the Justice Minister represent a very grave attack on the Romanian constitutional order. President Iohannis’s intention to put the decision of the Constitutional Court up for discussion, in a public debate, represents an act of aggression against an institution that is fundamental for the Romanian democratic system. The Constitutional Court’s decisions are final and mandatory – they are executed, not open to debate! In President Iohannis’s logic, any Romanian court decision would be open to debate, instead of being immediately executed,” the PSD communique reads.
The Social Democrats emphasise that, even more so, the Constitutional Court is the only institution able to establish the correct interpretation of the Constitution.
“Nobody else, not the President nor another state authority, and not even civil society, has the right to substitute the CCR’s authority to issue verdicts regarding the observance of the Romanian Constitution. Consequently, President Iohannis’s statements are the equivalent of an encouragement to insubordination before Romanian laws and courts. Based on President Iohannis’s example, any citizen can delay as they please the enforcement of a legal obligation, of a fine or of a sentence, arguing that they want to better understand the substantiation of those who issued the decision,” the party led by Liviu Dragnea claims.
PSD says that it is inadmissible for President Iohannis to insinuate that the CCR decision puts into doubt the independence of prosecutors.
“The CCR substantiation explicitly points out: ‘The Justice Minister’s oversight consists of the verification of managerial efficiency, of the way prosecutors carry out their duties. (…) The oversight cannot concern the measures ordered by the prosecutor during the criminal prosecution, nor the criminal solutions.” Nobody – not the Constitutional Court, nor the parliamentary majority, nor the Justice Minister, nor anyone else – questioned, not even for a moment, the independence of prosecutors in the handling of cases. In fact, even the new judicial laws, adopted with the vote of the PSD+ALDE majority, explicitly guarantee the independence of prosecutors in handling the cases. The amendment brought to Law no.303 on the statute of magistrates, Article 3, Section 1: “Prosecutors are independent in the disposing of solutions, in the conditions stipulated by Law no.304/2004 on the judicial system, republished, with subsequent modifications and supplementations.” Hence, the President’s suggestion that someone would want to interfere with the independence of prosecutors is a deliberate action to disinform the Romanian public opinion, which is unqualifiable considering the office of President of the Republic,” the PSD adds.
In the Social Democrats’ opinion, “President Iohannis’s statement that PSD or CCR seeks ‘the amputation of his prerogatives’ falls under the same registry of disinformation and misinformation of Romanian citizens.” “You cannot amputate something that does not exist. The Romanian Constitution does not give the Romanian President any role in the dismissal from office of Chief Prosecutors. Hence, it is a lie that his constitutional prerogatives were allegedly diminished through a PSD overture or through the CCR decisions,” the PSD states.
The party led by Liviu Dragnea also explains that the CCR recognises the President’s role in verifying the legality of the procedure to dismiss a Chief Prosecutor. “On the other hand, the CCR eliminates the President’s whimsical refusal of a dismissal request. If a Chief Prosecutor infringes upon the legal terms of his office, then he/she must be dismissed from office, because that is the law! President Iohannis’s whim cannot be above the law! That is why he cannot refuse a legal dismissal request! So only President Iohannis’s whim is amputated, his constitutional prerogatives are certainly not,” the source adds.
At the same time, PSD condemns President Iohannis’s sarcastic statements regarding the deep state, which, in his view, is just “a story.”
“The secret protocols through which the judiciary was subordinated to the intelligence services are a fact, not a story. Prosecutor Lucian Onea and Mircea ‘Orange’ Negulescu’s abuses, which are now being criminally probed, are a fact, not a story! Some courts’ decisions to reject DNA dossiers due to the fabrication of evidence or the distorting of interpretations are not a story, but a very concrete fact. The acquittals in the big political dossiers, opened based on the political agenda of those elected, also represent a fact, not a story. Mr Iohannis’s political short-sightedness in what concerns all these grave abuses seriously puts into doubt his decision-making autonomy, especially against the backdrop in which the DNA has confirmed the start of the criminal prosecution in a dossier that directly concerns the President of Romania. Last but not least, the PSD emphasises that in other recommendations addressed to Romania, the Venice Commission clearly pointed out that, even though political decisionmakers are free to be critical of CCR decisions, they have the obligation to point out that they will observe them, even if they disagree with them – a fundamental rule for the constitutional order of a democratic state, a rule that Iohannis trampled on immediately after meeting the representatives of the Venice Commission,” the press release reads.