Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis told a joint conference with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday that he will work organisationally with the government to prepare Romania for assuming the presidency of the Council of the European Union, pointing out that this does not mean that he will have lower standards in terms of justice reform.
“As far as I am concerned, I am not prepared for anything in the world to lower my standards in terms of the rule of law or justice in Romania. The rule of law must remain the rule of law, justice must remain independent, and democracy in Romania cannot be attacked in any way. That is my position come what may, but on the other hand, it is obvious that everyone in Romania understands the importance of a successful EU Council presidency. I am ready and it seems the government is itself ready to work, to collaborate for the presidency and that will be a success, but this does not mean that I will have lower standards of justice reform. We will continue to have a heated debate in Romania on this issue, but the presidency, on the other hand, will be a decent one, a successful one, and on this chapter we will conduct organisational co-operation,” said Iohannis.
“Sibiu European summit, one of Romania’s most important projects”
Romania’s head of state underlined that one of Romania’s most important projects while holding the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2019 is the EU summit to be held next year in Sibiu, underlining that Romania intends to have a successful office tenure.
“There will be a very good opportunity for Romania to prove not only that it believes in the future of the European Union, but also that it can be involved in this future, that Romania is able to respond to these challenges, because Romania will hold the presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2019. We intend to be successful and we are going to make efforts to achieve a stronger and more effective European Union. (…) One of the most important projects to Romania is the summit to be held at Sibiu on May 9, 2019. The summit is very important for Romania, because it will be the first summit organised by our country, but its real importance is related to what will be discussed at the meeting, because the summit will be dedicated to the future EU, and Romania and the Romanians are determined to be involved in this future, to be part of the decision-making process on the future of the EU. I am convinced that together with all the other participants at the summit in Sibiu we will create a credible, feasible project that will make the EU a powerful new design,” Iohannis told a joint news conference with EP President Antonio Tajani.
He reiterated that the lack of connection between politicians and citizens is one of the great problems of the EU. He said that while in office, Romania will have a number of files – Brexit, the multifinancial framework, migration, the European elections – to manage.
“We believe that we will be able to find clear answers and approaches. We need clear, easy to understand, logical answers, clear approaches and better communication. We do not need a lack of transparency, half-hearted answers to the questions that European citizens will pose us. We want to be more open, to communicate better and to provide clear answers, even if that will not necessarily be the answers expect of us, but all this will succeed in improving the link between citizens and politicians. The wrong way would be to find simple answers to complicated questions. That is an approach that we see from populist politicians around the world, it is not necessarily something specific to Europe. The complicated issues need complete and easy to understand answers; we do not need simple and wrong answers to complicated questions,” said Iohannis.
“It’s highly unusual for EP to debate,vote resolution one month before Romanian Presidency of EU Council”
He stated that it’s the European Parliament’s right to debate a resolution with respect to Romania, but he underscored that it is highly unusual for the EP to hold such discussions only one month before Romania taking over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
“The European Parliament has the right to debate these topics and, if needed, to come up with a resolution to vote on. It’s this institution’s right. On the other hand, (…) my presence today in the plenary sitting has nothing to do with the rule of law in Romania. Despite this, I’ve made comments on this topic. (…) It is highly unusual for the EP to debate and vote on a resolution about a member state only one month before the state in question takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The decision belongs to the European Parliament,” Iohannis said at a joint press conference with President of the EP Antonio Tajani.
He underscored that Romania is a functional democracy.
“Romania is a very vivid democracy, although there are certain approaches that some people find wrong. We have a debate on justice in Romania and I voiced my opinion with respect to this matter very clearly, but I did this in Romania. I don’t want get into Romania’s political debates,” said Iohannis.