DEFENCE POLITICS

Romania, without Chief of Defence Staff. Court of Appeals suspends Iohannis’s decree. Reactions

The Bucharest Court of Appeals has decided to suspend the presidential decree extending General Ciuca’s term at the helm of the Defence Staff. The decision is not final.

“Rejects the redocket request, as groundless. Rejects the exception of inadmissibility of the suspension request, the exception of the plaintiff’s lack of locus standi, and the exception of the defendant’s (Presidential Administration’s) lack of locus standi, as groundless. Takes note of the plaintiff’s decision to drop the trial of the head of claim concerning the cancellation of Decree no.1131/2018. Partly admits the request. Orders that the enforcement of Decree no.1131/2018 be suspended until the trial court issues a ruling. Open to appeal within 5 days. In case an appeal is declared, the appeal request will be lodged with the Bucharest Court of Appeals,” reads the decision adopted by Bucharest Court of Appeals magistrates.

Based on Article 7 of Law no.554/2004 on contentious administrative matters, the Ministry of Defence lodged, on January 8, a complaint against the Presidential Administration, demanding that Decree no.1331, issued on 28 December 2018 to extend the term in office of the Chief of the Defence Staff, be revoked.

In the document, the MoD claimed that the decree infringes upon Article 32(5) of Law no.346/2006 on the structure and functioning of the Ministry of Defence, according to which “the Chief of the Defence Staff is the serviceman holding the highest commanding rank in the armed forces, nominated by the Ministry of Defence, with the Prime Minister’s endorsement, and appointed by the President of Romania for a four-year term that can be extended by up to one year.”

“Concretely, the document shows that in order to extend the Chief of the Defence Staff’s term in office, the same procedure as the one used for appointment in office should have been used, namely a proposal made by the Defence Minister and endorsed by the Prime Minister. In this case, neither the ministry’s proposal nor the Premier’s endorsement exists,” the ministry explains.

The document outlines the legal precedent, namely the fact that the Romanian President extended the Chief of the Defence Staff’s term in 2010, via Decree no.882, while considering the Defence Minister’s proposal and the Prime Minister’s endorsement.

At the time, President Klaus Iohannis criticised Defence Minister Gabriel Les’s decision to attack the presidential decree extending the term in office of the Chief of the Defence Staff. “What will a high-level official from the army of an allied country think if they find out that the Defence Minister is resorting to administrative court to challenge his own chief of the Armed Forces? These are poorly thought-out actions of a PSD type,” the President said.

Iohannis announced on December 28th that the Supreme Defence Council did not approve the Defence Minister’s nomination for the office of Chief of the Defence Staff, blaming the situation on PSD’s incompetence. The President announced that he signed the decree extending General Nicolae Ciuca’s term as Chief of the Defence Staff. Defence Minister Gabriel Les then stated that President Klaus Iohannis told him that the nomination for the office of Chief of the Defence Staff is not legal, without mentioning why. Les added that he does not know what the legal basis of extending General Ciuca’s term in office was, since the law states that the term in office is to be extended following a proposal made by the Defence Minister, with the Premier’s endorsement. Likewise, Premier Viorica Dancila stated on the same day, at the start of the Government meeting, that President Klaus Iohannis’s decree extending the term in office of the Chief of the Defence Staff is not legal and creates the premises of a juridical conflict of a constitutional nature.

The decree was published in the Official Journal the next day. The decree was not countersigned by Premier Viorica Dancila.

According to the decree, General Nicolae Ciuca’s term as Chief of the Defence Staff was to be extended by one year.

The decree points out that the extension of the term in office was done “by taking note of the absence of a nomination, in line with the law, for the office of Chief of the Defence Staff, bearing in mind the need to ensure the continuity of the leadership of the Armed Forces, against the backdrop in which the regional and international security environment are in continuous flux, considering the result of the debates that took place during the Supreme Defence Council meeting on 28 December 2018.”

 

Reactions

 

Minister Les, after BCA decision on Ciuca’s term in office: We’ll see the solutions

 

After Bucharest Court of Appeals magistrates decided to suspend the decree extending General Nicolae Ciuca’s term as Chief of the Defence Staff, Defence Minister Gabriel Les has stated that he will come up with solutions following MoD analyses.

“I believe it’s not the right context to talk about such a situation. It’s an issue that, after all, pertains to the Ministry of Defence, it’s a strictly administrative issue. I’ve just found out about this decision. We’ll see the solutions we will have from now on,” Defence Minister Gabriel Les stated.

According to Ministry of Defence sources, the procedure stipulates that Major General Laurian Anastasof should temporarily take over as Chief of the Defence Staff.

 

Tomac: Decision on Ciuca’s term in office, result of DefMin’s intervention

 

Popular Movement Party (PMP) President Eugen Tomac stated on Thursday, after magistrates decided to suspend the decree extending General Nicolae Ciuca’s term as Chief of the Defence Staff, that “the war has gone too far,” pointing out that the Bucharest Court of Appeals decision came as a result of the intervention of PSD’s Defence Minister.

“The war has gone too far! Take your hands off the Armed Forces. Precisely during the NATO Secretary General’s visit to Romania, and at the height of the summit of EU Defence Ministers in Bucharest, the Bucharest Court of Appeals has suspended the extension of General Nicolae Ciuca’s term at the helm of the Defence Staff. The court’s decision comes as a result of the intervention that PSD’s Defence Minister made in this sense. Russia exults while PSD’s petty people think more about lining their personal and/or political pockets with defence procurement money than they do about national security. And if a man is not on their liking he must disappear at all cost, even at the cost of destroying the servicemen’s respect for their leaders. This is a different kind of war for which the Armed Forces cannot and should not prepare. The political war has gone too far. Hands off the Armed Forces, down with the PSD,” Eugen Tomac wrote on Facebook.

 

PSD: Right in the context of the meeting with NATO’s Secretary General, Iohannis left the Romanian Armed Forces without Chief of Defence Staff! Worst undermining of the Armed Forces since the fall of the communist regime

 

The Social Democratic Party (PSD) states that President Klaus Iohannis has left the Romanian Armed Forces without the Chief of the Defence Staff against the backdrop of the meeting he had with the Secretary General of NATO, pointing out that this is the worst undermining of the Armed Forces since the fall of the communist regime. PSD claims that Klaus Iohannis must drop his hard-headedness and appoint a new Chief of the Defence Staff.

“Iohannis does not understand any of the obligations he has toward the Romanian Armed Forces. Right in the context of the meeting he had with the Secretary General of NATO, Iohannis left the Romanian Armed Forces without a Chief of the Defence Staff! It’s the worst undermining of the Romanian Armed Forces since the fall of the communist regime and the first time when the armed forces of a NATO member are left without their military commander! Although the Court of Appeals’ decision is not final, the Romanian Armed Forces cannot remain in uncertainty and cannot be the subject of political disputes! Iohannis must drop his hard-headedness and appoint a new Chief of the Defence Staff,” PSD points out in a Facebook posting.

 

PNL’s Raetchi accuses chaos generated by PSD’s steps against Chief of Armed Forces

 

House Defence Committee Deputy Chairman Ovidiu Raetchi stated on Thursday that PSD’s steps against the leadership of the Defence Staff are impossible to understand and have generated chaos within the system, precisely on the day of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s visit to Bucharest.

“I believe that, at the end of all the legal proceedings (because the appeal and the trial in the court of first instance are up next), General Ciuca will remain at the helm of the Romanian Armed Forces. Because that is procedurally fair (Minister Les not having offered legal appointment alternatives), and because this is professionally and morally normal, considering General Ciuca’s prestige within the Romanian Armed Forces and among our country’s strategic partners,” Ovidiu Raetchi wrote on Facebook.

Moreover, he blamed the PSD for its steps against the Chief of the Romanian Armed Forces, steps that led to their leadership being suspended precisely on the day of the visit that the Secretary General of NATO paid to Bucharest.

“However, until then, until the entire legal process is exhausted, what is left is the chaos generated today by PSD’s steps against the chief of the Armed Forces: while the Secretary General of NATO is in Bucharest for essential talks, Romanian servicemen find out that they have a temporarily suspended leadership because of Liviu Dragnea’s ambitions. PSD’s steps on this topic are simply impossible to understand, just as the repeated blocking of the Armed Forces’ attempts to build credible deterrence at the Black Sea by procuring corvettes is impossible to understand. Romania needs functional Armed Forces and real modernisation, not turmoil and blockages,” Raetchi added.

 

 

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