Update: Scandal Ion Iliescu – ‘Le Figaro’. Journalists release audio recording, following former President’s denial of statements on PSD and Liviu Dragnea

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PSD is going through the worst political crisis in its history, Ion Iliescu says. The former President is reacting to what is happening now in the party he has led for years, but he does it for the foreign press, more precisely for ‘Le Figaro’, who puts his statements in an article-report titled “Romania, the country of a single party “. The article in ‘Le Figaro’ is challenged by the former Social-Democrat leader. Ion Iliescu says he did not make such statements.

The ‘Le Figaro’ journalists have released on Tuesday a 3-minute audio recording with Ion Iliescu. The entire interview will be broadcast by Realitatea TV private broadcaster Tuesday evening, evz.ro reports.

“I am no longer honorary president of PSD. I have only a sentimental relationship with those who have worked with me. PSD is going through a rather complicated period, difficult, rather confusing. It is a weakness and it is a pity, because PSD is the main party, the strongest one, the party which has great connections with the people. Unfortunately, it is not a simple period for PSD. Even for the party leader, who is going through a not comfortable period, as you have seen,” the ‘Le Figaro’ recording hears.

Later on Tuesday, co-author Thierry Portes, deputy editor in chief with ‘Le Figaro’, has confirmed to Digi 24 TV private broadcaster: “Yes, that’s what he said! He told us PSD is going through a serious crisis! I suppose everyone has understood. It’s obvious: countless were expelled from the party, countless ministers have been withdrawn, 70, I believe! It’s obvious the party is in crisis and his statements were not so surprising. Obviously he talked about a serious crisis due to the fact that Dragnea has problems in court.”

The original in French is on the bottom of the news, as released by evz.ro.

Earlier in the day, the journalist who interviewed Iliescu, Paul Cozighian, announced that he has the recording and is ready to make it public.

The journalist’s remarks come after former President Ion Iliescu denied the allegations attributed to him in the article in ‘Le Figaro’. Paul Cozighian says that the interview was conducted in November and that Gelu Voican Voiculescu was the one who helped him get the interview conducted in French that was recorded. The journalist believes that Ion Iliescu no longer remembers the statement.

In a post on his blog, Ion Iliescu has denied having made the statements attributed to him by ‘Le Figaro’. He does not deny having discussed with the French journalists but suggests that he was distorted in a “sort of compilation” about PSD and the political situation in Romania. The former President accuses he is getting involuntarily involved in an absurd political struggle and requests the French publication to apologize.

“I’ve read in amazement mixed with disgust a sort of compilation about PSD and the political situation in Romania, which was published by ‘Le Figaro’. Surprisingly, because ‘Le Figaro’ has always been a solid newspaper that practices quality journalism. Disgust, because I’m quoted with things I have never said, neither to ‘Le Figaro’ nor to anyone else. Everyone is free to believe what he wants about PSD, about the political situation in Romania, about the post-December history. But I cannot accept to be involved in political battles for absurd power, without a stake for PSD or Romania. The reality presented in the article is caricature, and the statements attributed to me are part of this political struggle. It is not my intention to participate in such a thing. The PSD is a mature and responsible party that will solve its problems according to its statute and the laws of the country,” Ion Iliescu wrote Monday evening on his personal blog.

In the interview Iliescu reportedly said “it is a difficult, confusing period for the party which is going through its worst political crisis.” They note that the former President has no respect for Liviu Dragnea, whose “personal situation, with his legal problems, has given rise to fractures” in PSD, as Ion Iliescu says.

‘Le Figaro’ reads that, at first Ion Iliescu has supported the struggle against the anti-corruption magistrates’ offensive, those who made so many PSD members fall, leaders and parliamentarians, including two former prime ministers. During the protests in January 2017, ‘Le Figaro’ recalls, Ion Iliescu publicly criticized President Klaus Iohannis, the right-wing president, who “instead of assuming the role of moderator, incited the street and provoked this anarchy.” However, the struggle has inevitably turned into a personal conflict between PSD leader Liviu Dragnea and a judicial institution that investigates him in three cases, being already finally convicted for one of them for electoral fraud and several times for abuse of power and fictitious employments, in which case the final appeal is still to be judged, explains ‘Le Figaro’.

Like many other PSD members, Ion Iliescu believes that, in order to resist, the party must turn the page called Liviu Dragnea. The former President prefers not to say more. Intelligent, cultivated, Ion Iliescu prefers to emphasize the power of his legacy, noting that “there is no alternative force to PSD in today’s Romania, there is no other force capable of meeting the demands of society,” ‘Le Figaro’ wrote.

Transcription of the interview in French

Ion Iliescu : „Vous savez ? Je suis, maintenant, pas assez actif dans ma vie publique. Le Figaro : Vous êtes toujours le président d’honneur du PSD ? Ion Iliescu : Non, non ! Le Figaro : Ah bon ? Je croyais que vous étiez encore le président d’honneur. Gelu Voican-Voiculescu : On a changé le statut ! Le Figaro : mais il y à encore quelques années vous étiez le président d’honneur ! Ion Iliescu : Il y a quelques années que je ne suis plus entré dans aucune activité du parti Le Figaro : D’accord, mais je croyais que vous aviez encore un titre. Puisque vous êtes le fondateur du parti ! Ion Iliescu : Bien sûr, mais pas de titre. C’est seulement une liaison sentimentale avec ceux qui ont travaillé avec moi. (…) Autrement, le parti passe une période assez compliquée, assez difficile, assez confuse. C’est une des faiblesses et c’est malheureux, parce que, quand même, c’est le principal parti, le plus fort, c’est le parti qui a des liaisons assez larges dans la population. Le Figaro : C’est le vrai seul parti ! Les autres c’est pas des partis ! Ion Iliescu : C’est le seul parti fort et sérieux. Le deuxième parti, le Parti Libéral, qui fait l’opposition, il est faible en général. Comme position, comme théorie, comme pratique politique mais aussi comme personnages qui font l’ensemble… Donc le seul parti sérieux c’est le parti social-démocrate. Mais, quand même, lui-même passe une période pas assez facile. Il y a pour cette motivation, même dans les relations intérieurs du parti, je pense, une situation pas assez simple. Même pour le leader du parti et pour les autres aussi. Je ne sais pas quelle sera l’évolution ultérieure mais, autrement, c’est le seul parti sérieux du pays ! Qui encore est crédité d’un support assez large. Le Figaro : Ils ont gagné les élections locales et nationales. Ion Iliescu : Et dans la population c’est le seul parti qui a vraiment une position sérieuse, solide, et les gens sont confiants. Le Figaro : Ils sont toujours confiants n’est-ce pas ? Ion Iliescu : Oui mais malheureusement c’est une période pas assez facile. Même pour le leader du parti qui passe une période pas assez commode comme vous l’avez vu…”

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