Gabriel Oprea said that unless the army receives 2.38 pc of GDP, he will resign.
Gabriel Oprea, Adrian Nastase’s former confidant and now Minister of Defence during Traian Basescu’s Presidential term, stated in an interview for ‘Adevarul’ daily that the salary and pension cuts will be applied to all Ministry of Defence employees. Nevertheless the daily allowance for soldiers deployed in theatres of operations will remain unchanged, unlike the pay soldiers receive in the country. “At this moment the Ministry of Defence has a budget of 1.31 per cent of GDP, in contrast to the 2.38 per cent of GDP that Romania committed itself to earmark when it joined NATO. In a state based on the rule of law the Army has a budget higher than 2 per cent. The moment you have a budget of 1.31 per cent of GDP you have to be aware that you need to organize yourself very well in order to fulfil the missions in the country but mostly the international missions you are engaged in. That is why I have created a Decisional Support Committee, a kind of Government of this Ministry, one in which the 12 mainstay structures meet, just like a Government meeting, discuss and vote. I have found solutions but like I said ever since I was sworn in, in the presence of President Traian Basescu, the Army needs a proper budget once we get out of this crisis and unless it receives 2.38 per cent of GDP I will resign,” Oprea stated for ‘Adevarul.’ He argued in favour of a higher defence budget by pointing out that the Armaments Department has a budget of EUR 150 M this year. “But we have a deficit of EUR 450 M and in these conditions we cannot start making all kinds of acquisitions. We have no longer made any acquisition apart from those absolutely necessary. We have no longer spent an extra penny so that we can make ends meet and ration the funds we have.”
Oprea added that he does not back changing military pensions’ system but he backs leaving those pensions unscathed by cuts. “It will be an amendment through which the military pensions smaller than RON 3,000 will not be cut, while those higher than RON 3,000 will be cut but by a smaller percentage.” Asked whether he agrees with cutting the public sector employees’ salaries, including the Army’s employees, the Defence Minister answered: “The measure is the same for all. Everybody has to show solidarity, including the Army. 25 per cent cut for all.”