Romanian Socialists hits back after #PES leadership ‘freezes’ relations

| April 11, 2019
The Social Democratic Party of Romania (PSD) says it welcomes EU council “solidarity in face of populist threat” and seeks dialogue with “those in PES concerned about rule of law issues in Romania”.

The declaration on Thursday (11 April) comes after the PES leadership announced 24 hours earlier that it will consider relations with the PSD “frozen”  due to “continued concerns about the rule of law in Romania”.

The issue is particularly sensitive as Romania currently holds the EU presidency.

Party of European Socialists (PES) president Sergei Stanishev, speaking at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday just ahead of this week’s EU Brexit summit, restated the PES’s “continued concerns” about the rule of law in Romania.

The Bulgarian informed the prime ministers, commissioners and party leaders that until the Romanian Government clarified its commitment to the rule of law and followed the European Commission’s recommendations, the PES leadership will consider relations with the PSD frozen, pending a formal discussion at the next PES Presidency meeting in June, where PSD Romania’s membership of the PES will be discussed.  

He said that no PES events will be organized with the PSD until this time.

The PSD, however, were quick to respond, issuing a statement which makes a robust defence of its position, saying: “In this time of real threat to the European system from the far right and populists, now is the time to show solidarity and to discuss the situation openly and constructively.  The European Council showed these qualities in recognising the challenges faced by the U.K. and also the damaging effect on the rest of the EU. Solidarity and an open and constructive dialogue prevailed last night. We in the PSD strongly endorse that view.

“We are at a loss to understand the reactions of some of our PES colleagues towards Romania. We have come to expect misunderstandings and accusations without evidence from PSD’s political opponents, but not from our own family. If there are colleagues in the PES who have concerns about the rule of law in Romania, we look forward to them telling us in detail what issues concern them. Until now, none of those who have been worried about the situation in Romania were able to provide a concrete details to justify their concern. That is why we consider that these comments about Romania’s rule of law may be motivated by electoral issues than a real concern. We anticipate that all this controversy will be extinguished after the May 26th elections. Then, after the elections, you will see that the situation will be altogether different.”

Elsewhere, the PSD has condemned the publication by 12 accredited embassies in Bucharest of an open letter expressing concerns on the subject of justice in the country.

The party called the letter a  “violation” of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations which states that “embassies are required to raise concerns or seek clarifications by directly addressing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

The issue is particularly sensitive as Romania is the current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency.

A statement issued by the party said the embassies’ letter demonstrated “a lack of courtesy towards a Government designated by a legitimate majority in Parliament, a government that has a consistent pro-European and pro-Atlantic agenda, a government that contributes significantly in promoting the European agenda of the Alliance, including the international effort to guarantee international security and the fight against terrorism.”

The statement is in response to a letter published on behalf of the embassies of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany , Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the US.

The PSD statement  goes on to claim that the embassies have failed to condemn “series abuses committed in the name of anti-corruption activities by Romanian judicial institutions and the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI).”

These, it says, include “classified protocols between the SRI and key institutions of the justice system, and violations of fundamental human rights to the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial.”

“This apparently inexplicable lack of reaction has occurred even when these serious violations of the basic rules for the functioning of fair and independent justice in any democracy have been recognized by both the Constitutional Court of Romania and the High Court of Cassation and Justice, and also by other territorial courts in our country,” the statement says.

The PSD statement concedes that there may be topics requiring clarifications “but all these must be achieved with respect for the international legal framework, which must be observed in Romania as it is observed in other democratic states, not through public correspondence, which may constitute political speculation or public manipulation, especially in the national context of two important electoral competitions taking place this year in Romania.”

The party, which is fielding candidates in the upcoming European elections, urges the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to drop its “passivity and surprising discretion” and to invite the heads of the embassies concerned for an open dialogue “in a spirit of mutual respect necessary between partners and allies”.


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