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Mr. Constantin Niță, vicepresident of PSD

Virginia MIRCEA

One thing is certain however: parliamentary parties will no longer have the presidential institution wield an autocratic influence on the other institutions, namely the Parliament and Government.



Mr. Constantin Niță, you are one of the senior leaders of the main Opposition party, and apart from the Deputy seat in the Parliament of Romania you also hold the presidency of the PSD Brașov branch. The Bran Castle restitution is a key topic on the mass media agenda and a controversial theme for decision makers. What is your opinion on restitution?

Certainly the former owner of Bran Castle, or more precisely the former owner’s heirs are entitled to receive, under the current law, what is rightfully theirs. There is no question about this. But there are also several elements which in my opinion are very important and must not be overlooked. First, Law No. 10 of 2001, which lays down the restitution of buildings to former owners was modified in 2005, to the effect that any real estate asset, regardless of its current destination, may be returned in kind to the former owner. The previous version stipulated that certain buildings cannot be returned in kind, but former owners or their heirs were to receive compensation from the State. Bran Castle fell in this category. This is precisely why in the first notification he filed, Dominic Habsburg, Princess Ileana’s rightful heir, claimed restitution or approx. EUR 25 million in damages. Later on the law was modified, and heirs claimed restitution in kind.

I believe in this case, too, the State, through the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs, handled the matter too lightly, which is why we have come to this dispute in the media between the Romanian State and Dominic Habsburg. In my opinion, apart from the Ministry’s pre-emptive right and the obligation for the new owner to keep the Castle as a museum for three years, the restitution document should have also stipulated the State’s right to withhold at least USD 15 million, that it has invested since 1990 in Castle consolidation and maintenance works.

On the other hand, I find it hard to believe that anyone will bid several tens of million Euros for the Bran Castle, as everybody knows that the upkeep of a castle and the related estate is quite costly. I also believe the best solution would have been for the Brașov community to take over the Castle. I still think Mr. Dominic Habsburg is under a moral obligation to return this asset to the Brașov community, but unfortunately money dictates the rules.

 

You are a member of the new PSD leading team, with major responsibilities in the energy, resources and policies sector. Will you draw up an economic programme, for PSD?

Within PSD I will be in charge with industrial policies, energy and resources. As you can see, a complex sector which has given rise to numerous controversies, debates, views, both in the country and abroad. The objective proposed by PSD for the ensuing period is to secure the country’s energy independence within a common EU energy policy, as well as enhanced competitiveness and efficiency in the sector. According to the European Commission, we will also take part in a joint action plan including a number of clear measures such as at least a 20% increase in energy efficiency by 2020, use of alternative energy sources, an up to 50% increase in allocations for energy research in the coming seven years, refining the domestic electricity and gas markets and a clear-cut distinction between the energy production and destination, the upgrade of energy production facilities, suspension of privatisation procedures for energy producers, transporters and suppliers until a new reorganisation of the European energy market, and so on.

As far as the industrial policy goes, we will have to identify solutions for the achievement of clearly defined objectives for the next 10 years, by enhancing the competitiveness of Romanian products, promoting small and medium enterprises both through fiscal means and by encouraging local authorities to support such enterprises, workforce training in line with competition requirements, environment protection as a factor to stimulate non-polluting industries, etc.

 

You have recently invited President Traian Băsescu to Brașov to inform him on the actions of Democratic “groups of interests.” Would you detail on this?

A correction is in place here. Our intention was not to inform the President on the actions of “groups of interests“. PSD MPs in Brașov have initiated a larger-scale debate in order to identify viable solutions to avoid the bankruptcy of the Brașov industry, primarily Tractorul, Rulmentul and Nitramonia Făgăraș. Invited to the debate were the other Brașov MPs, President Traian Băsescu, Premier Călin Popescu Tăriceanu, Members of the Cabinet, trade union leaders and the management of Brașov companies not yet privatised.

Unfortunately, we found that the Presidency sent no representative; representing the Government were Labour Minister Gheorghe Barbu and AVAS president Teodor Athanasiu, but they only attended the meeting to collect information rather than offer solutions. The three companies are in a very difficult situation. They are virtually on the verge of bankruptcy, and the Cabinet has so far failed to come up with a sound programme to improve their performance. The only measure taken so far was to downsize operations and personnel. We meant to once again caution policymakers that depending on these three companies are the lives of thousands of workers and of their families.

 

How does PSD work with the “Cluj group” and with Mircea Geoană?

Quite well. There is no problem in this respect. The fact that at some point we did not share the views of our Cluj colleagues does not mean that we cannot get along or did not get along. After all, this is a democratic party, which respects the freedom of speech, as the congress held late last year best revealed.

It would be absurd to claim that, in a party the size of PSD, everyone must agree with an individual or a group, without being free to present their own views or ideas. What matters is that that together we are a team and, in a principled debate, we can find the best solutions both for the electorate we represent and for the party.

 

PSD announced it would launch President Băsescu’s impeachment procedure. In your opinion, what will this endeavour lead to?

It is hard to tell what this will lead to, because the President’s impeachment does not depend on PSD alone, at this stage. The normal thing to do is for Parliament to impeach the President over his frequent Constitution violations. We have a lot of arguments and examples in this respect, that we presented to other Opposition parties, but also to ruling parties. Beyond these, I would like to make it clear that the PSD action is constitutional, an endeavour by an Opposition party, a penalty for several undemocratic acts coming from the President. Whether this action will succeed or not should not be subject to all sorts of controversies as to who stands to win or lose.

One thing is certain however: parliamentary parties will no longer have the presidential institution wield an autocratic influence on the other institutions, namely the Parliament and Government.

Interview by Virginia MIRCEA

Publicat în : English  de la numărul 45

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