Klaus Iohannis has answered the questions of the nine journalists, analysts and opinion-makers in the debate organised by PNL and hosted by the Central University Library on Tuesday evening.
“I took this office five years ago and I said back then I want to be a different kind of President doing politics in a different way. To generate solutions, common, equal approaches, obviously to meet some of the very important national goals. But I met a strongly hostile PSD, which, after December 2016, came up with an approach that threw Romania into chaos. Why? To save several offenders“, Iohanis said at the beginning of the debate.
He added that he had managed to oppose PSD enough “to maintain Romania on the European path”. “I’ve managed to save Romania’s image through my foreign policy. I’ve managed to counter the toxic effects of the PSD’s ruling abroad”.
Furthermore, he urged people to come to polls for the presidential election runoff on Sunday, November 24, to remove PSD from the political front-line.
“For 30 years, the PSD has prevented Romania’s development and I believe that now, after 30 years of transition, things must fundamentally change. The PSD must be removed from the decision-making process in the state. But, not anyhow, but democratically,” the president said.
Iohannis made a new call on the other parties’ voters to vote for him, arguing he counts on the electorate of the National Liberal Party (PNL), Save Romania Union (USR) – Liberty, Union, Solidarity Party (PLUS) Alliance, People’s Movement Party (PMP) and the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR).
“I am not at war with the PSD electorate, they have the right to be represented by a democratic party and this is why the PSD must be sent to the opposition to reform itself. (…) We will make sure that pensions and salaries increase,” Iohannis assured.
Moreover, the head of state made a call on young people to turn out to vote. “Voting in vital and if you wish to participate in Romania’s construction go to vote on 24 November,” Iohannis said.
The incumbent president also pointed out that he had some achievements that will significantly impact on Romania’s journey, exemplifying the Pact to allot 2 percent of the GDP to Defence and the Sibiu Summit:
“That understanding with all the parties to allot 2 percent of the GDP to Romania’s Army made us a very respected and reliable partner inside NATO, while allowing us to provide Romanians security in the region. Then, we had that European Summit in Sibiu attended by all European top leaders, when we shaped up the path of the European Union for the next five years. My term started as a mandate of construction, this how I thought it, but, on the way, I have actually ended up in keeping Romania in the great coordinates wished by Romanians, opposing PSD”.
Justice laws and the referendum on judiciary
Asked by one journalist why the referendum on justice had been delayed, with the observation that he did not prevent the justice laws from being adopted, Klaus Iohannis explained that by requesting the re-examination of the Justice Laws or by sending them to the Constitutional Court, he managed to cancel 70 percent of the measures which would have compromised them.
” (…) I sent back to Parliament the Justice Laws, I sent the Justice Laws to the Constitutional Court, I requested an opinion from the Venice Commission and I asked, over the past days, the colleagues in the specialist department to make an assessment. I have managed to cancel 70 percent of the measures introduced which would have compromised the Justice Laws, therefore, 70 percent of the measures introduced by the PSD in the Justice Laws. Of course, they aren’t perfect,” the President stressed.
Iohannis voiced his belief that the Justice Laws would be further amended, after the parliamentary elections.
The head of state explained that he postponed the referendum on Justice until he believed that it would produce maximum effects, which he believes it did.
“I started my campaign in 2104 with the pledge that I will reinforce the rule of law and that I will encourage the anti-corruption fight and I’ve held on to these things. Hadn’t been for me, the rule of law would have broken,” Iohannis stated.
New criticism against Dancila, PSD on the Israel Embassy topic
Also replying to a journalist’s question, President Klaus Iohannis labeled the former PSD Gov’t initiatives to relocated the embassy of Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as “dilettantism”, arguing that the debated memorandum was in fact “a study-type documentation.”
Asked by a journalist to comment if ‘obscure centres’ have masterminded the relocation of the embassy, Iohannis replied: “An obscure centre no, but an obscure thinking yes. It is the typical PSD approach. The Dragnea-Dancila regime woke up, mainly Dragnea and Dancila woke up in the attempt to focus on foreign policy, but they had nothing to do with it. The Chamber Speaker has no prerogatives in foreign policy, apart from parliamentary diplomacy, therefore he had no place in the discussion about the embassy, and Romania’s Prime Minister hasn’t these prerogatives of deciding on moving an embassy, according to the Constitution, this is done by the President. I have voiced my point of view very clearly: together with all partners we believe that these things cannot be done now because the conditions aren’t met, the conditions that were asked back then when embassies were moved from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, which weren’t in Tel Aviv. So, I can label these initiatives as political dilettantism in foreign affairs which has brought a lot of damage to us, and that much debated secret, memorandum and sophisticated approaches were used to leave the impression of a certain legitimacy,” Iohannis said.