Ilie Bolojan: We reject any kind of accusation of separatism, of pitting the West against the Capital, there is no real basis to this, however the principles of local autonomy and of association can’t be disputed
The critical reactions to the setting up of the Alliance of the West are coming from persons who are “commentators by trade,” Oradea Mayor Ilie Bolojan stated on Monday for the RFI, after he and the mayors of Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara and Arad, all members of the PNL, launched the Alliance of the West on Saturday, an association meant to develop the region especially by drawing European grants. He rejected any kind of accusation of separatism, of pitting the West against the Capital, saying that there is no real basis to this.
Referring to the criticism levelled by some PSD members, according to which the Alliance of the West is jeopardising the territorial integrity of Romania, Bolojan stated: “So far, this kind of reactions have come from some party members or persons who are commentators by trade, but there is never something behind them. (…) But certainly, regardless of the comments, we reject any kind of accusation of separatism, of pitting the West against the Capital and so forth, there is no real basis to this, however the principles of local autonomy and of association are rules that cannot be disputed.”
The Oradea Mayor says that “there are some realities that we cannot dispute.”
“That the Governments and ministries unfortunately have proved the poorest administrative capacity in handling the European grants that Romania has received these years is a fact, for example. We lost European money, due to the inability to handle these projects, due to red tape and persons of poor quality,” Bolojan said.
He explained that the Alliance of the West proposes that a group of localities should directly manage European grants, even more so since these localities have proved the administrative ability to handle such projects.
“So, it’s a model that is being successfully implemented in Poland, for example, which has absorbed important sums during the last two cycles of European financing, and a model that Romania has proposed for the Danube Delta during the current period of financing too, this formula of integrated territorial investments, but which unfortunately is not functioning successfully. We believe we have the capacity to directly handle these European projects, just as we have done so far – it’s true – via the ministries,” Bolojan stated.
Asked why central authorities would support the projects of the Alliance of the West instead of supporting projects in other parts of the country, Ilie Bolojan explained: “We do not pit the West against the South or East, this is not the goal. Our Governments must work based on some priorities. Unfortunately, for many years, Romanian Governments have been changing the priorities from one Government to the next, from one minister to the next, and since Governments and ministers are being replaced very often, the work is done not based on some priorities but very often based on the whims of this or that person. That is why instead of inaugurating highways we are inaugurating highway stumps. We propose projects that solve not only the problems of some cities but the problems of whole regions.”
Falca: Gov’t refused to set up Arad-Timisoara economic pole, a World Bank proposal, and Alliance of the West is an association in the spirit of the Alba Iulia Declaration
Arad Mayor Gheorghe Falca (PNL) rejects the comments made by some PSD members who claim that the setting up of the Alliance of the West is jeopardising the territorial integrity of Romania, pointing out that the platform is built “in the spirit of the Alba Iulia Declaration, namely in the spirit of unity,” and its purpose is to draw grants directly from Brussels for projects of regional interest and to develop local communities. Facla recalls that an attempt was made in 2014, at the World Bank’s proposal, to set up an Arad-Timisoara economic pole, but the Government opposed it. PNL sources state that most mayors, who are not PNL members, have asked to join the Alliance of the West.
“The Alliance of the West is a platform built in the spirit of the Alba Iulia Declaration, namely in the spirit of unity. We are interested in the development of communities, the freedom of communities, more power to the communities and, obviously, administrative stability. I regret the accusations levelled by some voices from the PSD, who probably don’t know that there are also other similar associations in Romania. One is in Tulcea, which receives 1.2 billion euro from the European Union and is called ITI – Integrated Territorial Investments. As we know, Tulcea hasn’t left Romania… In a similar manner, three city halls have formed an association for tourism promotion – Constanta, Bucharest and Brasov. Moreover, parliamentarians from several parties have formed an association and have managed to pass a law on building the highway that would link Iasi to Transylvania. The association between the four mayors is meant to draw more European grants, to achieve a financial instrument exactly of ITI’s type, which is nothing grave, in fact it is very good for the citizens of these four cities, including for Romania,” Arad Mayor Gheorghe Falca stated on Monday for News.ro.
The mayor recalls that the World Bank proposed in 2014 the setting up of an ITI-type instrument in the form of an Arad-Timisoara economic pole, in order to directly draw grants from Brussels, but the Romanian Government did not consent.
“In 2014, the World Bank authored two reports and proposed two ITI-type associations, one for Arad and Timisoara, an economic pole, and one for Tulcea. The Government accepted only ITI Tulcea. Our goal back then was to obtain direct financing from Brussels for integrated projects, just as it is today,” Falca said.
The Arad Mayor states that the Alliance of the West will present to the Romanian Government, by spring, the next steps it will take, and that he expects collaboration.
“I don’t believe our association will be sabotaged by the current Government, because it is in Romania’s interest to draw as many European grants as possible,” Falca added.
On the other hand, PNL Arad sources have stated for News.ro that several mayors, including mayors who are not members of the PNL, have asked to join the Alliance of the West. The mayors of Drobeta-Turnu Severin, Petrosani and Campia Turzii are among them.
The four mayors who have set up the platform – the mayors of Arad, Timisoara, Oradea and Cluj-Napoca – have allegedly agreed that this association will not be political and that other mayors will be able to join it regardless of party membership.
Nicolae Robu: Those accusing us prove their limits in ability to understand things and times
Timisoara Mayor Nicolae Robu, one of the signatories of the Alliance of the West alongside mayors Gheorghe Falca (Arad), Ilie Bolojan (Oradea) and Emil Boc (Cluj-Napoca), has emphasised that the mayors’ initiative is “a framework body for the exchange of ideas and experience,” and that the separatism accusations levelled by the PSD are impossible to understand, adding that those making the accusations “prove their limits in the ability to understand things and times.”
Timisoara Mayor Nicolae Robu stated on Monday, for News.ro, that the Alliance of the West aims to access European grants for projects of interest for the communities, and that this made known ever since the idea of the Western Quadrilateral was launched.
“As we have stated ever since the alliance was launched in the initial formula, as the Western Quadrilateral, what we – the four mayors of Timisoara, Arad, Oradea and Cluj-Napoca – want is to create a framework body for the exchange of ideas and experience between us and the local public administrations we are in charge of, to adopt joint positions on various topics and especially to cooperate on large projects, primarily on projects that seek better connectivity between our cities, as well as between them and the rest of the country – obviously our country Romania! –, but also in the field of culture, education, healthcare, tourism, sports, security and development, in a wide sense. We seek to access grants for projects of interest for our communities, from all sources at our disposal: the budget of the Romanian state, the budget of the European Union, in a targeted manner via Romanian governmental bodies as well as directly via structures in Brussels,” Nicolae Robu stated.
The Mayor of Timisoara says that the separatism accusations levelled by the PSD are impossible to understand.
“We find the accusations of separatism coming from the PSD, but not only from them, impossible to understand! We only want the well-being of our communities, as important parts of Romania, of Romania the unitary state as defined by the Constitution of Romania! Those accusing us prove their limits in the ability to understand things and times! With people like them at the helm, no wonder there are no results,” Nicolae Robu added.
The Timisoara Mayor added, once again, that the four mayors’ initiative “falls in line by excellence with the spirit of the Alba Iulia Declaration of 1 December 1918.”
Several voices from the PSD have stated that the Alliance of the West jeopardises Romania’s territorial integrity.