President Klaus Iohannis’s consultations with parliamentary parties, on the topic of the judicial laws, started on Wednesday, at the Cotroceni Palace.
The Social Democratic Party (PSD) was the first to discuss with the head of state, being represented by its leader, Liviu Dragnea, and MPs Robert Cazanciuc, Florin Iordache, Serban Nicolae and Eugen Nicolicea.
When asked on Wednesday, at the end of the National Standing Bureau meeting of the party if the PSD will sign a “peace deal” related to the justice laws if the President offers one, Liviu Dragnea said: “I prefer not to comment and to discuss this after the meeting, so that I won’t ruin his surprise.”
President Iohannis called the parliamentary parties to consultations on Wednesday, starting at 3 pm, to discuss the justice laws.
According to the Presidential Administration, the programme of the consultations was the following: starting at 3 pm – the Social Democratic Party, at 3.30 pm – the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), at 4 pm – the National Liberal Party (PNL), at 4.30 – the Save Romania Union (USR), at 5.00 pm – the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR), at 5.30 pm – the People’s Movement Party (PMP), at 6 pm – the Parliamentary Group of National Minorities.
Participating alongside the head of the state are also presidential advisers Mihaela Ciochina, Laurentiu Mihai Stefan and Andrei Muraru and state adviser Daniela Barsan.
Before starting his consultations with the parliamentary parties, President Klaus Iohannis stated that he wants a political agreement reached on the judicial laws re-entering the legislative process, with responsibility and transparency, leading to their modernisation. Iohannis emphasised that he wants to be a mediator, not to enter a pact with the parties.
President Iohannis says he does not want to enter pact with ruling coalition or other parties
President Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday that he does not want a pact with any political party that attended consultations with him at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, as he just wants to be a mediator for the justice legislation.
“I do not want a pact with the Social Democratic Party (PSD) [major at rule]. I’m not talking about that. I do not know how the idea came about, but I think it has been wrongly understood what is happening here. I want in these consultations to be seen as a mediator, a mediator between parliamentary political parties. I do not want a pact with PSD, or ALDE or with others. I want them to understand each other, to resume the discussions on the justice laws in a considerably improved form, to finally have laws that really help the Romanian justice system. I think what I could get and hope to get is a political understanding among political parties,” said Iohannis.
According to the president, the justice system must be independent and stable, and “sooner or later” consensus will be required in Parliament.
“I want to explain these things to them. Consensus is needed because otherwise these laws will always be altered, will generate instability and will eventually generate a system that does not work optimally. So what we have now are laws that do not function properly. You have noticed that after promulgation, the government has already issued an emergency ordinance,” Iohannis said
PSD team tells President Iohannis of 10 principles for real judicial independence, rule of law
The negotiating team of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) that on Wednesday attended negotiations with President Klaus Iohannis offered the head of state a list of 10 principles “for real judicial independence and respect for the rule of law,” PSD national leader Liviu Dragnea said at the end of the talks.
Among the principles passed on to the Iohannis are those regarding respect for the Constitution of Romania in its letter and spirit, including the provisions regarding the statutes of prosecutors and judges; halting the abuse of justice against citizens and removing the effects it has generated; respect for the fundamental human rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Romania and international treaties, such as the right to defence and the right to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence, the right to privacy and the inviolability of the secret of correspondence; guaranteeing the independence of judges who dispense justice both from the political environment and from any other form of pressure exerted by prosecutor’s offices or intelligence services.
Other principles aim to secure the independence of prosecutors in building cases, in accordance with the constitutional principle of hierarchical subordination; the accountability of magistrates for bad faith and serious negligence in fulfilling their duties; ousting the magistrates who have collaborated with intelligence services and implemented secret protocols by violating the constitution and laws in force; guaranteeing judicial independence from any interference by the intelligence agencies; the principle of celerity in building and solving criminal and civil cases; the principle of meritocracy and moral and professional probity in the promotion of magistrates to higher offices of the judiciary.
Dragnea: It was a relatively sensible discussion
PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated that the discussion with President Klaus Iohannis was relatively sensible, but that in PSD’s opinion there is no need to redo the legislative process because Government Emergency Ordinance no.92 will enter the legislative process. ALDE President Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated that there is the need for consensus among parliamentary parties on the changes brought to the judicial laws, but it must start from the definition of the rule of law. Tariceanu added that a technocratic Justice Minister must be accepted.
“It was a relatively sensible discussion I may say, in which the President presented us his point of view on the judicial laws, [for them] to re-enter the legislative process. There’s no need for that, in our opinion, because in Parliament there is Ordinance 92, which enters parliamentary procedure, and which contains a great part of the Venice Commission’s recommendations,” Dragnea stated after the PSD delegation met President Iohannis.
“We never rejected a discussion on the Romanian judicial system. On the contrary, it was an undertaken objective, because we already decided, as early as 2016, not to make the mistake of feigning not seeing what is happening in Romania, not seeing the abuses that citizens were and still are subjected to by a part of the Romanian judicial system. We cannot feign that there are no secret protocols, unconstitutional, non-legal, toxic agreements that in fact fuelled the construction of occult organisations that have leeched off important state institutions, a part of the Romanian judicial system,” Dragnea added.
He said he gave the President a set of ten principles and a set of seven questions.
The PSD leader pointed out that not all the recommendations of the Venice Commission will be taken over, giving as an example the setting up of the special section investigating magistrates.
Likewise, in what concerns the early retirement of magistrates, Dragnea said that this was the recommendation of the Superior Council of the Magistracy (CSM) and it must be seen whether one considers the CSM over the Venice Commission.
Tariceanu: Consensus needed at level of parliamentary parties on amendments to the judicial laws, but it must start from the definition of the rule of law
ALDE President Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated, after the consultations with President Klaus Iohannis, that at the level of parliamentary parties there is the need for consensus on the amendments to the judicial laws, but it must start from the definition of the rule of law. Tariceanu added that a technocratic Justice Minister must be accepted.
“I believe a discussion between parliamentary parties is needed to reach a consensus on the amendments,” Tariceanu said, adding that it must start from several principles. He said that, firstly, it must start from a discussion on the definition of the rule of law.
The ALDE leader pointed out that he has “a relatively bitter taste” in what concerns the Venice Commission’s opinion on the judicial laws’ impact on the rights and freedoms of citizens.
“We must start by considering the need to bring to light all secret protocols, their abrogation and obviously everything that it entails as consequences,” Tariceanu added, claiming that the persons who signed the protocols no longer have the necessary credibility to hold leadership positions within the judiciary.
Tariceanu also wants the setting up of a “committee for truth and reconciliation,” which would bring the abuses to light.
He emphasised that “the idea of a politically independent minister, a prestigious technocrat who would hold the leadership of the Justice Ministry” must also be accepted.
Orban: Debates on amendments to judicial laws and Criminal Code must restart and consider Venice Commission recommendations and CCR decisions
National Liberal Party (PNL) President Ludovic Orban stated on Wednesday that he presented to President Iohannis the Liberals’ point of view on the judicial laws, namely that the debates on the amendments brought to them and to the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code must restart and consider the recommendations of the Venice Commission and the decisions of the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR).
“PNL welcomes the President’s initiative to convene the parties to a discussion on the judicial laws, the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Codes, following the reports adopted by the Venice Commission. PNL has presented the mandate it received as a delegation, which is an extremely simple mandate: the restart of the debates on the judicial laws, Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code, and when restarting the debates we must take into account the recommendations of the Venice Commission, the decisions of the CCR, all the treaties Romania has signed, there should be an extremely clear political will on ensuring the independence of the judiciary, the citizens’ access to the act of justice, and the observance of the rights of citizens,” Ludovic Orban stated on Wednesday after the PNL delegation met President Iohannis.
Orban said that Romania is at a crossroads because of Liviu Dragnea’s obsession with getting rid of his convictions and the obsession of the “ultras” with controlling the judiciary.
“We are about to take over the presidency of the Council of the EU. Based on how Romania exercises its office, our country will be respected by the European partners and will be able to put to good use the advantages it has as an EU member. But because of those who have trampled the independence of the judiciary, who have mocked the will of civil society, the points of view of experts from the judicial system, the warnings received, there is the risk that Romania would suffer and that citizens would be sanctioned,” Orban said.
The PNL President warned that the time has come for ruling coalition parties “to abandon their support for Dragnea’s project.”
Barna: I’ve tabled a bill concerning Venice Commission’s recommendations on amendments to judicial laws
Save Romania Union (USR) leader Dan Barna announced on Wednesday that he has tabled in Parliament a bill concerning the Venice Commission’s recommendations on the amendments to the judicial laws, also stating that he has asked President Klaus Iohannis not to accept, in case of a Government reshuffle, a Justice Minister who does not firmly commit to implementing the recommendations of the Venice Commission.
“I have tabled in the House a bill concerning the recommendations of the Venice Commission. (…) I have asked the President that, in case of a reshuffle, he should not accept a Justice Minister who does not firmly commit to implementing the recommendations of the Venice Commission in the amendments to the judicial laws. As long as we remain in this paradigm, we have no real chance to re-enter the European track,” Dan Barna stated after the USR delegation met President Iohannis.
He added that during the discussion he also brought up the August 10 protest, pointing out that until the investigation into the events bears results none of those involved in the gendarmes’ intervention at the time, such as Colonel Paraschiv, should be promoted.
Kelemen Hunor: I agree we must take Venice Commission’s report seriously, but let’s see what Venice Commission reports were issued in recent years and observe them all
Democrat Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) leader Kelemen Hunor stated on Wednesday that he agrees that the Venice Commission’s report on the judicial laws must be observed, however all other reports issued by the Commission in recent years should be observed, referring to a report issued 13 years ago on the statute of minorities in Romania.
“Everybody says we must take the report, the opinion of the Venice Commission seriously. I agree, but I have a request. Let’s see what reports the Venice Commission has issued in recent years and then let’s observe all these reports, all these suggestions, because we cannot enforce double standards. (…) The Venice Commission must be taken seriously when we are talking about the judicial laws, the Constitution, the statute of minorities too, so that nobody would have the impression that in Romania the Commission is used only when someone has an interest. I’m not saying we should start with the report issued 13 years ago, but we should also talk about this, the Venice Commission is the same,” Kelemen Hunor stated on Wednesday following the UDMR delegation’s discussion with President Iohannis.
The UDMR leader said that the Venice Commission’s report on the judicial laws should have also contained a comparison between EU member states regarding the way their judiciaries function.
“The Venice Commission report has several interesting characteristics. In contrast to other reports authored by this Commission, this time a comparison between EU member states in terms of how the judiciary is working is missing. Such a comparison would have been good too, especially in what concerns the appointment of magistrates. On the three judicial laws, of eight points noted, several have been resolved via GEO – I don’t want to discuss whether they were resolved all right or not, but of course several aspects remain up for discussion, including early retirement. We are open to any discussion on these subjects, on these topics concerning the judicial laws, but it must be seen how we would do it so that the independence of the judiciary is not affected,” Kelemen Hunor said.
Asked whether an agreement between political parties is possible, the UDMR leader said that this is not possible at this moment.
“Do you think this is possible? An agreement, a pact, plays a role if it is respected. (…) At least let us establish we will build highways. Or a pact on education. There are some four or five domains in which us reaching a consensus is needed, but I get the impression this is not possible now,” the UDMR leader explained.
PMP’s Tomac: We need censure motion; the current power is compromised
The People’s Movement Party (PMP) intends to initiate a censure motion against the Government, considering that the current power “has compromised itself for good,” this party leader, Eugen Tomac, stated on Wednesday.
He led the PMP delegation at the consultations with Klaus Iohannis on the justice laws.
“The current power, PSD-ALDE (Social Democratic Party – the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats) has compromised itself for good with the justice laws. The current Government no longer has any legitimacy to be able to defend our interests in this centennial year, and the People’s Movement Part brought up this issue, which we discussed with President Iohannis, and we believe that, as we have been saying for three months, we need a censure motion,” said Tomac.
Thus, he said, the party will initiate a new dialogue with the parliamentary parties on the topic of this motion.
“We believe that the only solution to get rid of this gang that terrorizes the rule of law is to dismiss the current governing, to dismiss the current Government, for this Government of puppets isolates Romania, keeps Romania away from the civilized world, and the latest report received from the Venice Commission proves that this duplicitous language they use when they go to Brussels, while at home there is another story, no longer fools anyone,” pointed out Tomac.
Pambuccian says joint Senate-Deputies’ Chamber committee on Justice Laws is needed
Leader of the national minorities group of the Deputies’ Chamber Varujan Pambuccian stated on Wednesday, at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, that the setting up of joint committee of the two Chambers of Parliament to debate matters regarding the justice laws is needed.
“All we have to do is harmonising the points of view of the Venice Commission, the Constitutional Court with the existing legislation and this, in our view, can be done only in Parliament, in one single manner, namely through a joint Senate-Deputies’ Chamber Committee, a joint committee to debate these issues and propose amendments that reconcile the existing legislation with these points of view (…). I don’t think we have to discuss it a lot, just do these things, debate them in the committee where experts meet. (..) Those who discuss the respective matters should be jurists and let’s see what such commission brings forth, see them at the vote,” Varujan Pambuccian said.
He led the delegation of the parliamentary group of national minorities to the consultations with President Klaus Iohannis on Justice.