President Klaus Iohannis stated on Tuesday that an “impressive” number of politicians have attacked the Justice since the parliamentary elections up to the present. In his view, in this case a “maximum” civic involvement is needed, yet adding he is not calling people to protest in the street, but to say their opinion.
“Since the parliamentary elections up to now an impressive number of influential politicians are busy with attacking the Justice system, prosecutors, the judiciary procedures, inducing the impression on the population that the Justice is not working. Definitely, one can see that many of these influential politicians are either criminally convicted, or prosecuted or with a lawsuit under way (…) Before elections, I have repeatedly warned that it would be extremely serious that convicted persons or who are criminally investigated to get top state positions, for it would be automatically seen as a huge pressure on the justice system. And here it has happened. That’s why a maximum civic involvement is needed, all those who want a rule of law country and who want an independent justice need to say their opinion. I don’t want anyone to understand that I am calling people to protest or that major frictions emerge, but a healthy society – and I want a healthy society for Romania – is compelled to publicly debate these issues, for they affect us all,” the Romanian President said at Cotroceni Palace.
Two justice-related concerns
The head of state also said he has complaints against the justice law amendments and two of them are related to the removal of the president from the procedure of appointing chief prosecutors and the transfer of the Judicial Inspection from the Superior Council of Magistracy to the Justice Ministry.
“I have personally voiced my opinion regarding this intention of the so-called reform of the justice laws and I have publicly expressed my view that there are many wrong approaches. Two things are of most concern to me,” Iohannis said.
He added that the proposal to remove the head of state from the procedure of appointing the chief prosecutors “is a fundamental error”, arguing that only through the presence of the president in this procedure Romania succeeded in having a consistent anti-corruption activity, internationally acknowledged.
“Romania’s President, and I am not talking only about the person of Klaus Iohannis, but Romania’s President is the guarantor that the anti-corruption fight is not politically subdued,” he explained.
“The second matter that is wanted is the proposal that the Judicial Inspection should not be subordinated to CSM anymore, but to the Justice Ministry, which is political body. The government is political and subordinating the justice system to a minister risks putting a political pressure on the Judicial Inspection,” Iohannis pointed out.
Plumb and Shhaideh should have resigned or been dismissed
Referring to the recent criminal investigation opened against the deputy PM and a minister, the President said that Sevil Shhaideh and Rovana Plumb should have resigned or been dismissed.
“I want to believe that Romania is a country where the rule of law is strengthened. In a rule of law state, criminally prosecuted persons or criminally convicted should not hold state positions,” Iohannis argued.
“Yes, the two ministers should have resigned. The second acceptable option- they should have been dismissed,” he said, adding that the fact that “ruling Social Democrat Party is defending the ministers doesn’t bode well.”
“I don’t know details from the file. I only talk from the president’s point of view. I want a Government that should be under no suspicion. It’s not PSD’s business to establish the guilt. The judges should do that,” Iohannis said.
Presidency slams Dragnea’s retort
Chairman of the ruling Social Democrat Party, Liviu Dragnea avoided to comment President Iohannis’ statements regarding PSD’s attitude towards Justice, yet stating that the President “has talked enough”, that he came “upset” from vacation and “snubbed us all”.
“I won’t talk. The President has talked enough. He came upset from his vacation and snubbed us all,” Dragnea stated when asked to comment on Iohannis’ press statement on Tuesday night.
In retort, the spokesperson of the Presidential Administration Mădălina Dobrovolschi stated that the fact that President Klaus Iohannis represented Romania to the UN is no “vacation”.
“Is it a joke or an irony based on lie? I would like to make a comment as well, if Romania’s representation to the UN and meeting with heads of state, including with the president of the United States, represents to go in vacation, then I really don’t have any further comment from this respect,” said Dobrovolschi.