DefMin Fifor, EcoMin Simon take oath of office
New Defence Minister Mihai Fifor and Economy Ministers Gheorghe Simon on Tuesday were sworn in office before President Klaus Iohannis.
Attending the swearing-in ceremony were Prime Minister Mihai Tudose, Deputy Prime Ministers Sevil Shhaideh and Marcel Ciolacu, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea and Senate Chairman Calin Popescu-Tariceanu.
Also present were presidential advisers Ion Oprisor and Cosmin Marinescu.
Social Democratic Party (PSD) President Liviu Dragnea announced on Tuesday that Mihai Fifor will take over the Defence portfolio, while Lower House member Gheorghe Simon will replace him at the helm of the Economy Ministry. Dragnea stated he informed President Klaus Iohannis about the two nominations as early as Monday evening, the Head of State agreeing “in principle” with the new changes taking place within the Tudose Government.
“I was with Premier Mihai Tudose, I called the President, I informed him what our nominees will be today and, of course, he agreed. The President, in principle, agreed with these nominations. Of course, he’ll analyse them only after the paperwork officially arrives, but last evening he didn’t have a reaction of rejection or disagreement. Of course, the decision will be in his hands today,” Liviu Dragnea stated.
The announcement concerning the nominations was made after PSD’s National Standing Bureau (NSB) meeting.
“The National Executive Committee presented the Prime Minister with two nominees, namely Mihai Fifor for Defence and Mr. Gheorghe Simon for Economy. In recent days, I’ve had several talks with the Prime Minister regarding the nomination for the Defence Ministry. The joint decision was Mihai Fifor, because he is a responsible man, he has the advantage of having worked at the Economy Ministry as minister in recent months, and of having travelled the country; he saw economic sites and during this period he worked a lot with the MoD for the defence industry. Gheorghe Simon is a man with great economic experience, he is a senior party member,” the PSD President added.
Third DefMin since start of year
PSD’s National Standing Bureau (NSB) convened on Tuesday in order to nominate the new Defence Minister, following Adrian Tutuianu’s unexpected resignation. The nominee is set to be the third Social Democrat to head the ministry this year.
PSD Senator Gabriel Les was Defence Minister within the Grindeanu Government, taking over the portfolio at the start of the year. Les did not pass PSD’s internal evaluation and, unlike other colleagues of his, he no longer remained in office as member of the Tudose Government. After just six months at the helm of the ministry, he was replaced by PSD Senator Adrian Tutuianu, chairman of the parliamentary committee overseeing the activity of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI).
Tutuianu’s term in office was even shorter than Les’s, lasting only two months and five days, basically overlapping the parliamentary recess period. Tutuianu’s term stood out through two negative elements, the first consisting of a protocol blunder, namely failure to invite President Iohannis at the Aviation Day.
The second negative element, labelled “an error of communication,” was the cause of his resignation and consisted of the release of an MoD communique concerning the payment of servicemen’s salaries in instalments.
Tutuianu resigned last week, after he was urgently summoned before Premier Mihai Tudose to explain the MoD communique. The Head of Government accepted his resignation, and Deputy PM Marcel Ciolacu became acting Defence Minister. As a result of this “blunder,” Tutuianu also lost the political endorsement for his position at the helm of the SRI Committee, PSD triggering the procedures for his replacement.
Gheorghe Simon nominated for Economy Ministry: I’m part of a very serious party
Lower House member Gheorghe Simon, nominated for the office of Economy Minister, talked to journalists about the qualities that recommend him for this office and about his plans in the office vacated by Mihai Fifor, the latter being set to become Defence Minister.
“I’m honoured to be designated. I have political experience since 1992 as local councillor, county councillor, parliamentarian; I’ve worked within the Economic Committee, I’m deputy chairman. I’m part of a serious party, because party members are promoted on account of their work. It’s very good that we find party members who worked. It’s an issue of gratitude that I can express for President Dragnea for this point, for promoting party members,” he stated on Tuesday after PSD’s NSB meeting.
“The governance platform is the main priority. People voted for us and we have to fulfil the platform,” Gheorghe Simon added.
He listed the law on mining and royalties among his priorities.
Mihai-Viorel Fifor was born on May 10, 1970.
In 1994, he obtained a degree in Philosophy at the Faculty of Letters and History from the University of Craiova. A year later, he obtained his Master’s degree in “Romanian Literature”, also at Craiova University. Since 2003, he is a Doctor in Social Anthropology, Craiova University. In 2007, he got a Master’s degree in Public Management at the National School of Political and Administrative Studies, and in 2009 – “Internal Affairs Management” at the National College of Internal Affairs, the “Al. I. Cuza” Police Academy and “Security and good governance” at the National Defence College, according to the official website of the Chamber of Deputies.
He worked as: main scientist researcher at “C. S. Nicolaescu-Plopsor” Institute for Studies in Social Studies and Humanities, the Romanian Academy (1994-2001); director of the County Centre for Preservation and Promotion of Traditional Culture, Dolj (2001-2005); manager of the Oltenia Museum in Craiova (2005-2009); Secretary of State at the Ministry Internal Affairs (2009); manager at the Oltenia Museum in Craiova (2009-2012), Secretary of State at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (May-2012).
In the legislative elections of December 9, 2012, he won a Senate seat while running in Dolj (on the Social Democratic Party -PSD lists), in No.2 Uninominal College, No.17 Constituency.
In the parliamentary elections of December 11, 2016, he won a Senate seat while running in Arad, also on the PSD lists. PSD Senator Mihai Fifor is chairman of the joint parliamentary commissions investigating the organization of the 2009 elections and the presidential election since the commission was founded, on May 11, 2017.
He speaks French and English.
On June 28, 2017, Mihai Fifor was proposed Minister of Economy in Mihai Tudose’s Government, being sworn into office on June 29, 2017.
Gheorghe Simon was born January 1, 1961 in Viseu de Sus, Maramures County.
A 1988 graduate of the Mechanics Faculty of the Cluj Napoca Polytechnic Institute, he worked mainly in the local administration and also served as a general manager at SC Angred SRL, Baia Mare (2008 – 2012).
Deputy Chairman of the Social Democratic Party’s (PSD) Maramures County branch (as of 2000), currently PSD Deputy Chairman.
Member of the Viseu de Sus Local Council (1992-2000), then of the Maramures County Council (2000 – 2012).
He won a Lower House seat in the 2012 – 2016 parliamentary term in Maramures constituency No. 26, uninominal college No. 5, as a PSD candidate. Simon sat on the Economic policy, reform and privatization Committee and on the Joint Chambers’ committee on the development of the legislative proposal to revise the Constitution of Romania (as of April 2015). He was re-elected for a new term on December 11, 2016, running on the PSD list.
Since March 2017, Gheorghe Simon has been chairman of the standing committee on the lawmakers’ statutes, the organization and functioning of the Chambers’ joint sittings.
Reactions to nomination of new ministers
Tariceanu views “with friendly eyes” nominations made for Defence and Economy ministries
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) President Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated on Tuesday that he views “with friendly eyes” the nominations made for the Defence and Economy ministries, namely Mihai Fifor and Gheorghe Simon respectively, stating that Fifor is an extremely serious and profound man and also well-prepared politically.
“I can tell you I met Mr Fifor during the previous Parliament too, as PSD’s whip in Parliament. I saw him. He’s an extremely serious, profound man and I believe he is well-prepared politically. He has good political experience, which actually recommended him as Economy Minister until now, and I believe he’ll meet all criteria necessary for the proper fulfilment of the office of Defence Minister,” Tariceanu added.
He considers that Fifor has the experience required for the office of Defence Minister. “Since 1990, the political philosophy that used to dominate the selection criteria for ministers of defence has changed. The office of Defence Minister is a political and civilian office, so I consider that his experience as Senator and member of the Government is the one that sufficiently recommends him for holding this office too,” Tariceanu argued.
Orban on Fifor: As a philosophy graduate, he probably spent a lot of time in the library, where there are books from several fields and he read their titles
On Tuesday, National Liberal Party (PNL) President Ludovic Orban lampooned the decision to nominate Mihai Fifor as Defence Minister, calling him PSD’s handyman nominated at the helm of three ministries, but warned that Fifor’s main obligation is to make sure 2 percent of GDP is allocated for defence, in line with Romania’s commitments.
“Fifor is a handyman. They took him from Oltenia and placed him chairman in Arad, he went through various ministries – he was nominated for the Transport Ministry, before that he was Economy Minister and now he’s good for Defence too. This Fifor is good at everything. As a graduate of philosophy, spending a lot of time in the library, he had access to… in a library there are books from several fields and he probably knows their titles, he read their titles. He’ll do precisely what he’s done at the other ministries, namely nothing,” Ludovic Orban stated.
The PNL President warned that, in what concerns the Defence Ministry, the biggest danger is the loss of Romania’s credibility because the Government does not want to observe the commitment it took as a state, namely of allocating 2 percent of GDP for defence, something that, he added, jeopardises Romania, affects the country’s security and its relations with constitutional partners.
“I’m not talking nonsense, I know very well there were talks on this issue: how do we keep the deficit under 3 percent. One of the solutions presented was not to go ahead with these weapons procurements, on the pretext that there is no time to sign the contracts. I can’t help but notice that two Defence Ministers lost their mandates before going to Washington,” the PNL leader added.
In what concerns Gheorghe Simon, nominated at the helm of the Economy Ministry, Ludovic Orban said he “is part of the category of pseudo-ministers that appear out of nowhere and return there.”