Klaus Iohannis in the Austrian press: I hope the disputes won’t have a negative impact on the exercise of the EU Presidency

Romania can exercise the Presidency of the Council of the EU despite internal political disputes, President Klaus Iohannis states in an interview for the Austrian press, the Head of State presenting Bucharest’s priorities and signalling that he will run for a new term in office.

In an interview for Austria’s ‘Kurier,’ Klaus Iohannis talks about Romania’s mandate at the presidency of the Council of the EU and about internal political disputes, emphasising that he supports the rule of law principles and the fight against corruption.

Asked what Bucharest’s priorities are on taking over the Presidency of the Council of the EU, Klaus Iohannis said: “The Presidency of the Council of the EU is facing many challenges and difficult dossiers: the process of United Kingdom’s exit from the EU, the multiannual financial framework, migration, the debate on the future of the EU. A joint vision on safeguarding the European values must be a priority for all member states.”

“The attention shown to unity, cooperation and solidarity among member states must be of priority. We are talking about cohesion at the level of the European Union. People are expecting clear answers to problems. Romania wants to offer concrete results. A central project will be the informal summit of the European Council, scheduled on 9 May 2019 in Sibiu. The summit is dedicated to debating the future of the European Union. We hope the summit will offer a clear and positive perspective on the European Union and that it will render the European citizens sensitive,” Iohannis said.

Asked whether the United Kingdom’s exit may be a fatal political signal for the European Union, Iohannis pointed out: “We respect London’s decision, even though it is regrettable for us. The European Union is ready for any scenario. The European Union is more united than ever, this is a political signal for solidarity. The Brexit procedure is not yet finalised, we are interested in reaching an agreement with London as soon as possible. We hope the British will approve an orderly withdrawal from the EU. This is a precondition for the future relationship with the United Kingdom.”

Asked whether there are talks for him to be appointed Donald Tusk’s successor as president of the European Council, Klaus Iohannis said: “I would like to recall that I have already announced publicly, in June, my candidacy for a new term as President of Romania.”

‘Kurier’ reporter: You are permanently fighting against corruption and for the observance of the rule of law. You are the political adversary of the ruling Social Democrats. How will you avoid disputes while holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU?

“I’m the adversary of anyone who endangers the fight against corruption and the observance of the rule of law in Romania, irrespective of whether they are members of Government or not. It’s true that the current parliamentary majority, which supports the PSD Government, wants the weakening of anticorruption actions and of the independence of the judiciary. I support the fight against corruption. Since the first day of my term in office, I have used all the prerogatives conferred upon me by the Constitution to prevent the enforcement of the laws that affect the judiciary and the criminal law,” Iohannis said.

Asked for his comment on the statements according to which the Government of Romania is not ready to take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU, Iohannis explained: “It’s obvious it would be desirable for the Government to be better prepared, for this opportunity to be used in Romania’s favour. Even in these difficult domestic political circumstances, we can exercise a reasonable mandate at the Presidency of the EU. Aside from the controversies and the diametrically opposed ideas, my and the Government’s ideas on the judiciary and the rule of law, I hope the disputes will not have a negative impact on exercising the Presidency of the EU.”

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