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President Iohannis: GRECO report , a'red card' to Romania's gov't

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The compliance report released by the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) on Tuesday is "another red card" to the ruling coalition of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), President Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday.

He added that the report was similar to a report on Romania's progress under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) and the recommendations of the Venice Commission. "The PSD-ALDE ignores all these warnings that show the direction they are steering Romania to is the wrong track," said Iohannis.

He asked the Executive to "immediately" come up with an initiative "to correct" the situation related to the Special Section for the Investigation of Magistrates, which he labeled "an abnormality."

Asked what the next step should be in the context in which the GRECO experts insist that the said Section be disbanded, being considered an abnormality, Iohannis affirmed he shares the same view.
"I am of the same opinion, I have said it and I repeat it. But not through emergency ordinance, but by law. Everyone understood very well that this section is an abnormality, there is no need for it to exist. Consequently, the Government should urgently come up with a legislative initiative to correct this abnormality and other issues in the field. Of course, the debate will take place in Parliament and the decision belongs to Parliament and not the Government, but the initiative has to be drafted within the Government," added the head of state.

Klaus Iohannis called on the Social Democratic Party (PSD), "on behalf of the Romanians," "to come to its sense" and correct the legislation: "PSD should come to its senses and correct the legislation that they themselves have ruined." În his opinon, the referendum on amending the constitution should be organised with the first or second round of the presidential elections. He added that there is no recommendation from the Venice Commission to hold another election with the presidential election.

"Of course, some politicians who have boycotted this referendum were quick to tell us that there is a recommendation from the Venice Commission not to organise another plebiscite at the same time with the elections. I would like to inform the public that such recommendation does not exist. There is no recommendation from the Venice Commission to avoid overlapping. So we have no problem organising the referendum with the presidential election. As a footnote it is very curious that some politicians who are very dissatisfied that GRECO and the Venice Commission lecture them use the argument that the Venice Commission has told us not to hold a referendum and an election simultaneously. That is a sad example of duplicity with Romanian politicians," said Iohannis.

President Klaus Iohannis also said that he has supported "from the outset" Laura Codruta Kovesi (former chief prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate, ed.n.) in the race for the post of EU Chief Prosecutor and said this is a known fact in Europe. According to him, "chances are good, but there is no guarantee" for Laura Codruta Kovesi to be elected as EU Chief Prosecutor.

He also stated that he expects the Interior Minister, Carmen Dan and Foreign Affairs Minister Teodor Melescanu to be replaced at the Government's reshuffle, as the head of state requested after the 26 May elections. Asked if the changes in the Executive are timely, he replied: "They are certainly timely and I honestly expect for at least two ministers that I indicated Interior and Foreign Affairs [ministers], to be changed."

At the same time, the head of state ruled out the option of a negotiation with the Social Democratic Party (PSD, major at rule, ed.n.) concerning the reshuffle. "I am not willing to negotiate anything with the PSD, but obviously without me there can be no reshuffle, so I expect them to come up with the proposals," Iohannis said.

President Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday that he had asked Premier Viorica Dancila to inform him about the nomination for the position of full-term European Commissioner, but that no such proposal has come so far.

"It is good to clarify a bit these aspects about the Commissioner - who makes the appointment and how it works. Mrs. Prime Minister informed me that she wants to make a nomination for acting Commissioner, which has also happened. Yet after the candidate proposed for the Commission's presidency is validated, Romania will have to nominate someone for full-term European Commissioner. And I want to emphasize this very clearly: the nomination and the responsibility for obtaining an adequate portfolio are fully under the government's competence. This is how things work in Romania - the government makes the nomination and negotiates the position of Commissioner. I have the legitimate expectation to be informed in due time of who is being envisaged for this nomination," the head of the state said at the Cotroceni Palace.

President Iohannis said that he has already sent Premier Dancila a request in this respect, but that "no proposal has come so far for the position of Commissioner for the next term," although the Prime Minister had agreed to inform him about it.

The President also explained that up until now, no negotiations have taken place in Brussels for the positions of European Commissioners, but only for the top EU jobs. Asked what portfolio could Romania receive, given Premier Viorica Dancila's previous statement that she and Iohannis had discussed the subject, the President said: "Those inquiring abut these things have obviously not understood anything about what happened there. No portfolios have been negotiated, the negotiations were for a configuration of the top positions - specifically the leadership of the European Commission, and of the European Council, these were the subjects of negotiation."

"This time, the situation in the European Parliament and in the European Council is a bit more complicated than in previous terms, because whereas until now two political groups could reach an agreement and build a majority, this is no longer possible now. Three or four political groups are needed to ensure a stable majority. This, plus the fact that there are 28 members in the Council, each of whom wants to say their point of view, has led to extremely complicated talks and negotiations, and I have to admit that they have ended very well, in consensus. The decisions there were made by consensus, yet national interests for Commissioner positions have not been negotiated. I should however remark that several of us, the newer member states, claimed that the absence of an Eastern European in the leadership of the European institutions be fairly compensated by positions of European Commission Vice-President at the time when the structure of the Commission is discussed. But the portfolios have not been negotiated this time," said President Iohannis.  

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