The Deputies’ Chamber in a plenary sitting on Tuesday vetoed the prosecution request to initiate criminal investigation procedure against Prime Minister Victor Ponta by 231 votes to 120. 351 Deputies attended the plenum session and cast their vote out of the total of 387.
President Klaus Iohannis promptly slammed the Parliament’s decision to reject the opening of a criminal investigation in the case of the premier, pointing that the Legislature has turned into a shield for the latter and that the solution is Victor Ponta’s resignation.
“I maintain my point of view according to which Parliament shouldn’t hinder the act of justice. I regret the ruling coalition imposed a contrary decision today. At the same time, I regret the fact that Parliament has turned into a protection shield for the person Victor Ponta, suspected of criminal offenses. It is a proof of maximum irresponsibility and defiance against the citizens the fact that lawmakers representing the ruling coalition prevent justice from doing its job, and that they are willing to destroy the institution of Parliament, as it should function in a rule of law state, and affect Romania’s image in order to politically save one single person,” Iohannis says, according to a press release issued by the Presidential Administration.
He believes that the solution to come out of crisis is the Prime Minister’s resignation.
“The parliamentary majority refuses to accept the signal given by the citizens, which was a very clear one: put a stop to corruption, (go in for) politics with integrity and responsibility. I still believe that the solution to come out of the current crisis is the resignation of Mr Victor Ponta from the Prime Minister office,” the head of state says.
PNL considers notifying Constitutional Court
Prime Minister Victor Ponta believes that the result of the vote in Parliament regarding the initiation of criminal proceedings against him, as requested by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), “is a normal one.” “The result is normal: 231 to 120. I want and I believe that Parliament and the Government have the obligation to observe the Constitution and particularly defend the others, as the others, and I refer now to the simple people, do not enjoy the support that I have. This is what we should reflect upon from now on,” the premier said after the vote cast by the Deputies.
Before the vote, PM Victor Ponta had asked deputies to issue a resolution in his case, accusing the Opposition is trying “a kind of Transalpina trick” through which no resolution should be adopted so that it could notify the Constitutional Court over this, as in Sova’s case.
After the request on Ponta’s prosecution was vetoed by the Chamber’s plenum, the leader of the Liberal deputies, Ludovic Orban informed that Liberals were looking for “consistent grounds” in order to be able to notify the Constitutional Court over Ponta’s case and when these ground are sought, PNL would definitely notify the court.
Explanations for the foreign media
PM Ponta also told an interview for the foreign media that “nothing will crimp the investigation’s follow up”, expressing conviction that judiciary will “quickly” rule a decision in his favour.
“Nothing is crimping the investigation’s follow up, as, firstly, the prosecutor can decide if suspicions targeting me are confirming or not,” Ponta told the interview for France Presse, Bloomberg, Reuters and Associated Press.
“I want to come to the prosecutor and say my point of view (…) it’s in my interest to move forward and I am convinced this case will be cleared out,” he added.
The Romanian premier also said that he considered resignation after being informed he is suspected in a corruption case, but explained he decided to hold office in order to ensure the political stability.
Later on in the day, in an interview with The Guardian Ponta dismissed a renewed demand by President Iohannis for him to resign, saying that neither Romania nor Europe could afford political instability in the face of Russian expansionist moves to the East.
“Romania is in the most sensitive area of Europe,” Ponta said. “We hope we will close this small but intense political crisis and we will get back to work, because Europe requires Romania to be stable and predictable in this region. I think only Russia will open the champagne bottles if Romania will be in long political crisis.”
Dutch Embassy: Law applies the same to all people. UK Embassy: Judiciary must act impartially
The Dutch Embassy in Romania publishesd the following statement on its Facebook official page: “As we have stated before, the Netherlands strongly believes that the law applies the same to all people. Recent developments in Parliament raise broader issues about the attitudes towards justice and corruption in Romania. This concern was highlighted earlier this year in the 2015 CVM Report of the European Commission. We attach great importance to the recommendations of the CVM report. We trust Romania and all its institutions to take them into consideration.”
The UK Embassy in Bucharest also says it doesn’t comment on individual cases, pointing out that “the situations regarding Romania’s Government represent a topic that must be managed by the Romanian citizens.”
The UK Government recognizes the importance of the anti-corruption fight in Romania, as well as the need that judiciary institutions could impartially act and in the spirit of a total independence, the British embassy also notes.
The German Embassy also informed it supports the CVM principles, based on the European rule of law values that the Romania’s Government committed to implement, adding it won’t comment on individual cases.
Position of US Embassy in Bucharest available here: http://www.romaniajournal.ro/us-embassy-any-allegations-of-wrongdoing-by-government-officials-should-be-fully-investigated/
German Embassy said in a statement that it supports the principles of the CVM, based on the European values of the rule of law to which the Romanian Government is committed to implement.
“German Embassy reiterates full support for the principles of Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, based on the European values of the rule of law and to which the Romanian government is committed to implement,” said the German Embassy on Wednesday.
It reiterates that the diplomatic mission does not comment on individual cases.
Official sources told local media that PM Ponta met the ambassadors of EU countries in Bucharest and the representatives of USA and Canada on Tuesday evening. Chamber and Senate Speakers Valeriu Zgonea and Calin Popescu Tariceanu were also attending the meeting.