At a solemn meeting on Thursday, the Romanian Senate marked its 30th anniversary in its post-communist design, in the presence of some of its former chairs, including Nicolae Vacaroiu and Petre Roman.
Interim Senate Chairman Robert Cazanciuc (photo), who opened the solemn sitting, said the Senate was and is a point of stability, a balancing factor in Romania.
“The three decades we celebrate today have passed as if in a moment (…) Even in this complicated context, the Senate has continued to assert its profile as a defender of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens. In its 30 years since the December 1989 Revolution, the Senate has managed to bring to our public space the naturalness of our parliamentary debate. (…) The Senate we celebrate today was and is a point of stability, a balancing factor in Romania, a guarantor of the country’s constitution. Adding up to its lawmaking activity in the 30 years we celebrate today, was also parliamentary diplomacy, through which the Senate has constantly supported the interests of the Romanian state. Without a doubt you feel nostalgia; I am convinced that you have each of you has precious memories that you will relive today, memories that we must pass on, we must collect them and cherish them, because they are part of our identity,” Cazanciuc said.
He mentioned that democracy must be maintained constantly.
“The democracy we won 30 years ago is a living system that must be constantly kept up. Parliamentarism, debate for the best result must be the supreme energy of democracy. Democracy is a path we must follow carefully, always paying attention to the aspirations and hopes of those who send us to legislate,” added Cazanciuc.
Nicolae Vacaroiu, the chairman with the longest mandate as Senate chairman, said that in 30 years at least 20,000 were adopted, mentioning also the moment when the Senate relocated from the former Omnia Hall to Parliament Palace.
“I spent so many days and nights with my colleagues in Parliament, with the architects, to build this beautiful hall, what headaches, combinations of marble, chandeliers, chairs, comfortable armchairs, in other words creating the conditions for senators to meet the obligations on them under the constitution,” said Vacaroiu.
He noted, however, that “there have been a number of changes over the course of 30 years, some of which have not been very successful,” referencing amendments to the 2003 revision of the Constitution. “I never understood, although I did have serious discussions in 2003, how can you lay down in the Constitution the tacit approval of a law with the first notified chamber if 45 days or 60 days of being there have elapsed,” said Vacaroiu.
Mircea Geoana, currently NATO’s deputy secretary general and former chairman of the Senate, sent a message to the solemn sitting, saying that the MPs play a key role in establishing the strategic direction of any country.
“Parliamentary diplomacy has an extremely important role in supporting foreign policy and security objectives. As former chairman of the Senate, minister of foreign affairs and current NATO deputy secretary general, I want to thank the Romanian lawmakers in the current legislature and the former legislatures from all parties for all their support. (…) I remember with great pleasure an important moment, King Mihai’s speech to a joint plenary session in 2011 that the course of today’s European Romania is based on the existence of Parliament. Our irreversible path to the EU and NATO would not have been possible without the action for freedom and democracy of the Romanian Legislature after 1989,” Geoana said.
MEP Vasile Blaga, a former chairman of the Senate in 2011-2012, also sent a message, mentioning that at 30 the Senate reached the age of full maturity.
“May the Romanian Senate live many more years! (…) On the 30th anniversary of operation after the [December 1989] Revolution, we can say that the Romanian Senate has reached the age of full maturity. It was 30 years in which the Senate started from learning democracy and went on to understand its essential role in the functioning of the state, to watch over the consolidation of democracy. (…) We must honour this institution that is not about us, but about serving the Romanian people and its fundamental interests,” said Blaga.
Calin Popescu-Triceanu said the Senate “has passed its youth.”
“We can say that the institution of the Senate has passed its youth in its second life and is entering maturity. I hope that by entering into the fourth decade of its existence it will also remove any question and any intention to question the existence of this institution. It is unfortunate that the Senate came to be used for propaganda purposes: that is the only way to read the attempt to dissolve the Senate at a referendum in 2009. (…) Today, the existence of the Senate is motivated not only by historical argument, but also by the need for the best possible representation of politics and regional communities,” said Tariceanu, himself a former chairman of the Senate.
The key to the success of the Senate is the ability to negotiate in order to really do things that are reflected in a better daily life of the citizens, Teodor Melescanu underlined in his turn.
“As a decision-making chamber on very important issues, such as foreign policy, ratification of treaties and others, the Senate obviously has an important role in our work as senators. Of course we are very impressed by the feelings we have, of the ideas we collect from those who voted for us and I would like to tell you very honestly that, from my point of view, we need to overcome feelings and illusions and focus on themes that really address the issues of the Romanian citizens. (…) There is a very simple golden rule of democracy: the majority rules, the opposition or the minority expresses itself. However, that does not mean that when you have a majority you can get over it,” said Melescanu, a former chairman of the Senate.
On this occasion, photographs from the AGERPRES archive were exhibited in the Senate foyer, depicting Senate meetings and sessions from the period 1990-1992.