DEFENCE POLITICS

DefMin Les: President should cooperate with Gov’t; decree on General Ciuca’s mandate extension illegal

Minister of Defence Gabriel Les thinks that the decree President Klaus Iohannis signed to extend the mandate of General Nicolae Ciuca as Chief of the Defence Staff is illegal.

He told AGERPRES on Friday that, in the context in which Romania is now holding the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, the head of the state “should shake hands with the Government,” instead of thinking of his own future mandate.

“Do you find it logical that a President behaves like this, when he should play the role of a mediator, when he should be shaking hands with the Government right now for the presidency (editor’s note – of the Council of the European Union)? There are so many good things that can be done, but no, we don’t want them. We are thinking of our future mandate. This was the main theme that the President approached today: his mandate, and not Romania. We don’t discuss anything about the things that should be done … His mandate…He should be happy (…) I want peace, I want to finish the good things that I started, although, in my opinion, although it doesn’t matter, for it’s a personal opinion, this decree is illegal, considering the specific article of the law that stipulates the signature of at least the Prime Minister is needed on such a document. From now on, however, it doesn’t matter what I think or what the President thinks. We are speaking here of legal matters and we will see what happened next,” said Les.

He claimed that no decision was made yet on how exactly to challenge the President’s decree, but he underscored that such challenge will be filed “in due time.”

“We will see what to do next. I cannot say right now, for we are still analyzing things. It seems that for the President everything is legal. Everything that he thinks is legal,” said Les.

The Minister of Defence specified that his proposal for the next Chief of Defence Staff was not a political one.

“I proposed a military and I did it with very well documented arguments and I proposed someone with experience as both a former Chief of the Defence Staff and second-in-command, and with EU experience. I chose someone from the military from the three or four proposals maximum that I could have made at this point. I really didn’t brought up someone politically,” said Les.

On Friday, President Klaus Iohannis stated that he extension of the mandate of General Nicolae Ciuca as Chief of the Defence Staff is a very good solution, “perfectly legal and according to the Constitution.”

“I don’t see how the Constitutional Court could be notified about this. I signed the decree, because the law allows me to do it. The law specifies this very clearly: the mandate of the Chief of the Defence Staff can be extended. First of all, the law doesn’t say anywhere that the President must wait for a proposal from the Minister to extend the Chief of the Defence Staff. Second of all, you do realize what would have happened if Romania had no chief of army. This is unacceptable and impossible and the PSD [Social Democratic Party, part of the ruling coalition] was incapable of coming with a serious proposal, so now they can sit and think some more about it. I can’t stay in Romania if there is no chief of army, which is the reason for which I prolonged General Ciuca’s mandate, who did a very good job in his four years. I am very peaceful with him as the chief of the army for another year. It seems to me this is a great solution, a solution that is also perfectly legal and according to the Constitution,” said Iohannis.

He underscored that there is no conflict in his decision and no discussion on the topic was needed.

On December 28 last year, the head of the state announced, after the meeting of the Supreme Council for Country Defence (CSAT) that he signed a decree prolonging the mandate of General Nicolae Ciuca at the helm of the Defence Staff, while specifying that the proposal made by the Minister of Defence, Gabriel Les, was not approved.

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