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Victor Ponta: 'Romania is a democracy'


interview

Victor Ponta: 'Romania is a democracy'

EVictor Ponta spoke to euronews in the midst of a political crisis: the centre-left government wants to oust the country’s Conservative president, Traian Basescu, saying he has overstepped his powers. Meanwhile Brussels is concerned about justice within the government’s power struggle with the president.

The conflict could have far-reaching consequences. Alongside Bulgaria, corruption-ridden Romania wants to join the Schengen Zone, a step which could be postponed. Just a few days ahead of the impeachment referendum, the European Commission prolonged its monitoring of Romania’s legal and justice system and its fight against corruption.

Hans von der Brelie euronews: “Is Romania still a democracy?”

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta: “Definitely it is. And it is a part of the European Union. It shares the same values and I am convinced that we will prove this to all our friends and partners in Europe.”

euronews: “During recent weeks you have issued more than 40 urgent decrees. Is Romania at war?”

Victor Ponta: “No, I would not say at war. It is in the middle of a political conflict. We lack the tradition of dialogue between political forces. We did not suceed in solving our differences, which could have let to avoiding this political conflict.”

euronews: “This fight between the President and you is harming Romania. Maybe there will be a postponement of membership of the Schengen Zone, due to this?”

Victor Ponta: “That would be a pity because we have accomplished – and here President Basescu and myself we completly agree – we have accomplished all the technical requirements and the standards, to be a very strong and effective border of the European Union. That would be a pity that Romania and maybe Bulgaria would be politically punished when we have accomplished all the standards (of the EU) to be a Schengen member.”

euronews: “The European Commission will issue a follow-up report on Romania later this year. What is your strong message for Brussels?”

Victor Ponta: “The strongest message is that out of 11 concerning points put forward by European Commission President Barroso, we have already solved seven or eight in one week. So we will solve the rest of them and we will prove that we got the strong message from the European Commission, we positivly reacted to it, and we are ready to put all things back on track.”

euronews: “Washington and Brussels: both are deeply concerned. Do you still respect the constitutional court and its decisions?”

Victor Ponta: “Completely. And fully. The Parliament also reacted very positivly and put all the decisions of the consitutional court into action. Everything it is going to be the way the constitutional court has decided. Even the popular referendum with a quorum (50 percent participation), and also all other actions taken by the Parliament and by the government are going to fully respect and implement the constitutional court decisions.”

euronews: “What is the reason that you are attacking the President? Why do you want to get rid of the President?”

Victor Ponta: “I would answer very simply because 80 percent of the Romanian population want to get rid of the President. But that would not be a political answer. The real problem is the complete differences between our political agendas. President Basescu has assumed a different political agenda, not only austerity, but he even protected his own party, and he politised all State institutions. We got a huge public support for us during the last local elections, on 10th June, with a different political agenda, which is budgetary discipline. We are applying all the agreements with the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, but also to some growth and job solutions, which I think is the new European trend.”

euronews: “Earlier this year Romania saw huge mass manifestations and we got the impression that the people are fed up with austerity. Is it getting too much, maybe? Do you really stick to this austerity deal with the International Monetary Fund?”

Victor Ponta: “Absolutely we do. Yes, we will stick 100 percent with the agreements with the IMF and the European Commission. This is a fait accompli.”

euronews: “The European Commisison is worried about you and having fired the independant ombudsman, how do you react to this?”

Victor Ponta: “The Parliament, our new majority, is going to appoint an ombudsman only based on a political agreement with all the political forces.”

euronews: “Another point: you tried, your government coalition tried to change six out of nine constitutional judges.”

Victor Ponta: “Immediately that this rumour came up in the press, I issued an official statement from the government and also from the coalition, that nobody, in any way, is going to initiate any action against the independance of these nine judges and of the constitutional court. So that was just a political accusation, a very serious one, and that is why I reacted immediately, to be very clear and without leaving any doubts.”

euronews: “Just a few months in front of upcoming elections you changed the electoral law. This looks strange.”

Victor Ponta: It was an initiative of the Parliament. The Constitutional Court ruled that there cannot be any change in the election year, and this constitutional court decision is going to be respected. In November 2012 we will run and we will get elected exactly based on the law adopted in 2008.”

euronews: “Your friend and former Prime Minister Nastase was jailed for corruption and there are allegations that maybe this movement to get rid of the President and to have a new President is a movement to get a pardon for Nastase, your friend.”

Victor Ponta: “Mr Nastase was not my friend. He was the best Prime Minister that Romania had. Now the court convicted him, he is going to serve his penalty and the acting president, Mister Antonescu, announced very clearly that he is not going to issue any pardon for anybody.”

euronews: “There are allegations that you copy-pasted parts of your doctoral thesis. Will you step down?”

Victor Ponta: “I respected all the standards, all the Romanian standards, of 1999.”

euronews: “The fight against corruption, will it go on? There are allegations that youm are trying to change the head of the National Anti-corruption Directorate, DNA?”

Victor Ponta: “All the chief prosecutors are going to keep their jobs and continue and finish their mandates and new appointments are going to be based only on a transparent procedure which is also going to be scrutinized by the European Commission.”

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