Fresh News

Wednesday, 18 January

Press statements by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu and the Justice Minister Florin Iordache, following the Cabinet meeting

Sorin Grindeanu: Today, we had an ordinary Executive meeting, as you had been announced. Allow me to present you from the very beginning, some considerations and because of time, you have been announced that I am leaving for the United States before 1 p.m, I will answer three questions. We debated and approved the meeting agenda. At the same time, we had a first. Under Constitutional provisions, Article 87 of the Constitution, the President is authorized to preside over the Cabinet meetings. That happened today. Beyond this, I wanted to tell you that we adopted extremely important legislative documents, for the programme for government that we are going to implement, we have started to adopt those measures stipulated in the programme for government, today, we have continued.

I can give you one example. The first item on the meeting agenda was an emergency ordinance regulating something we committed to, namely the first rent. Last week, we had in first lecture, this emergency ordinance, and also extremely important, legislative documents regulating the limits for each Ministry to comply with, in order to keep and adopt as we agreed, the budget law next week. All these days, the Finance Minister along with me and the Vice Prime Minister Sevil Shhaideh have held discussions with all Ministries for us to complete the budget law until next week. Thus, on January 25, we can send it to Parliament. Issues have been discussed with every Ministry, the budget limits have been approved for every Ministry, keeping the deficit under 3 percent, and of course, 2 percent allocation for Defence, there are Romania’s commitments that we will honor. These are to a large extent the information I wanted to convey to you, outlining once again: today, on the meeting agenda, there have been discussed things we communicted in time and thus, we enter the Executive meeting.

Reporter: Good afternoon! You said that the meeting agenda was observed but I want to ask you if you are working on those two draft emergency ordinances: the pardon ordinance and the one amending the Criminal Code.

Sorin Grindeanu: There was not and it will not be discussed on the meeting agenda... I want to be very clear in this respect: irrespective of the presence or not of President Klaus Iohannis. Whay you aforementioned or what has generated very many discussions in the last days, was not on the agenda of the meeting. I can add something more, and make myself clear, according to Constitution, we are allowed to grant amnesty and pardon? The Constitution says we are allowed...

Reporter: Law obliges you to submit the draft law to public debate

Sorin Grindeanu: I will give a full answer to your question. Does the law allow us to do these? Yes. Therefore, they are not against the law. Having in view the fact that yesterday too, I had discussions with the Minister of Justice, he will detail these issues for you, he expressed what he wanted to achieve in his mandate as Minister of Justice and our policy in this area,

I believe that it is as constitutional as President Klaus Iohannis came to preside over the Government meeting, it is as constitutional, with the observance of the law, to issue an emergency ordinance in all the areas the law allows us to. It wasn't on the agenda communicated in due time to you, irrespective of the presence (...)

Reporter: No, no. While you were speaking and said that it was public,  the meeting agenda came by email.

Sorin Grindeanu: OK.

Reporter: I can prove it.

Sorin Grindeanu: I have told you what we had on yesterday’s agenda. As it was not on meeting agenda that we had yesterday in the working folder, we could not adopt items on additional points. Irrespective of the president’s presence.

Reporter: It would not be for the first time, therefore, I return to question: are you working on these two draft laws?

Florin Iordache: Allow me to answer this question. Therefore, the Justice Ministry drew up two draft laws, which are in public debate and ...these were finalized yesterday. They were sent to consultation, to CSM, High Court, the General Prosecutor’s Office, and the two draft laws pertain to pardon and not amnesty, pardon which does not include corruption offences, serious crime and which pertains to the recovery of damage, and the second draft law pertains to the decisions of the Constitutional Court which establishes it should be better clarified for certain offences. Therefore, the two legislative documents which the Justice Ministry assumed through my presence and signature, were sent to all those concerned. When we have the official sanction of them, in favor or not of them, with amendments or not, we will resume discussion and they will enter the Executive agenda. At this moment, the Justice Ministry assumed the two legislative documents. What they allege publicly that there is a large project to amend the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, are some draft laws that the Justice Ministry assumed, and they were submitted to Parliament, for debate. The only thing that the Justice Ministry assumed is to put in accordance the Constitutional Court’s decisions with the legislation in force, and furthermore, that ordinance further pertains to the transposition of a directive pertaining to free access to justice. You can view these two legislative documents today, they were finalized yesterday. Thank you.

Reporter: To be very clear, the conflict of interests and the abuse of office will be decriminalized or not?

Sorin Grindeanu: I have seen this morning these things, and they did not enter today’s agenda. I outline this aspect: they are not decriminalized in the draft laws either– I understood from Minister that this morning, as they were sent to Government, they were also sent to the Higher Council of Magistracy, and the other institutions, and you can see that neither the conflict of interests nor the abuse of office are decriminalized, but these are clarified from the Justice Ministry’s viewpoint, in accordance with the Constitutional Court’s decisions. I want to add that any decision of the Constitutional Court is mandatory. We cannot pretend we do not have it. This clarification that the Justice Ministry makes now, and sends it to public, to public debate, is the Justice Ministry’s vision. We cannot pretend that we do not have it. Things are very clear, but I outline that they are not decriminalized either in this morning’s proposals. Other question.

Reporter: I have one more question: you stated having sent the draft laws to consultation, but were they drafted through consultation? Did you consult with anybody else except the Ministry to draw them up?

Florin Iordache: The Justice Ministry drafted them and sent them to consultation to everybody from professional associations.

Reporter: When did you send them to consultation?

Florin Iordache: This morning, as they were completed yesterday.

Reporter: Did you intend to bring these draft laws to the additional agenda?

Florin Iordache: No, madam.

Reporter: ...before the news that President Klaus Iohannis comes here?

Sorin Grindeanu: I have thought I clarified this.

Reporter: No...

Sorin Grindeanu: There was no intention to put these draft laws on the meeting agenda irrespective of the president’s presence.

The President’s presence changed absolutely nothing. Is it clear?

Reporter: No, because President Iohannis referred intentionally to these draft laws at the beginning of the Cabinet meeting.

Sorin Grindeanu: What can I say? You should ask Mr. Klaus Iohannis, not me..

Reporter: Mr. Klaus Iohannis did not come here to preside over an ordinary meeting in which the two draft laws, emergency ordinances had not been taken into account.

Sorin Grindeanu: It is not me to answer this question. It is the President’s Constitutional right to...

Reporter: In what consisted more precisely the discussion between you and President Klaus Iohannis? I guess you did not discuss about ordinary legislative documents, common ones, that were on the meeting agenda which had been sent to the press with great delay, hardly after the Cabinet meeting began.

Sorin Grindeanu: I apologize that this happened. We had the meeting agenda before. And all the Cabinet members also had it, you can check this yourself. The discussion did not pertain to what you said, Mr. President asked if these draft laws are on the meeting agenda. I assured him that these draft laws are not on the meeting agenda, and all the issues aforementioned to you, will be studied. What the Justice Minister told you, they were sent this morning to the Superior Council of Magistracy, and to all the other institutions.

Reporter: When are they published on the Justice Ministry’site?

Florin Iordache: During today, of course.

Reporter: I would like to ask you if the President’s first question did not pertain to the two ordinances, because I assume this is the reason, and did he announce his presence at today’s meeting?

Sorin Grindeanu: I learnt about it when he was approaching the Government, in an informal way..

Reporter: By a text message?

Sorin Grindeanu: ...from those who guard the premises, but let us be clear: it is the President’s constitutional right to come and preside over the Cabinet’s meeting.

Reporter: This is true, but the institutional cooperation does not imply nevertheless prior announcement, a telephone, press release?

Sorin Grindeanu: Do not ask me all these things. If I had arrived unannounced at Cotroceni Palace, perhaps, you should have asked me. I have always announced my visits.

Reporter: Mr. Iordache, whether the draft laws you sent to approval this morning includes the change of the abuse of office provision, the definition of the abuse of office in the Criminal Code and if affirmative, I want you to tell us in what this change of definition consists.

Florin Iordache: The amendment is done in compliance with the Court’s decision, study it and I can give you additional details. Thank you.

Sorin Grindeanu: Let us be clear. Seeing this proposal of the Ministry of Justice, I repeat this morning, along with the two colleagues in the Government who are present here, as they give the approvals too, on such a legislative document. There are two proposals of the Justice Ministry.

One pertains to pardon, which does not include corruption offences, and violence offences or those related to organized crime.

You will see them in detail.

Florin Iordache: Money laundering.

Sorin Grindeanu: The second, transposition of an European directive in our legislation, directive from February 2016, regarding the citizens’ rights to a fair trial. Clarifications related to Constitutional Court’s decisions...I share with you the belief that the CCR decisions are mandatory in this country. These clarifications represent the Justice Ministry’s view, it sent them to debate to the other institutions. We will see what decision we will make over the next period, I think other aspect should be clarified too and the Justice Minister can detail it. We are in this period, regarding the pardon, excluding all the other things I told you about, or those crimes, we are under the influence of a pilot –decision of the ECHR.

Florin Iordache: At this time, the degree of infringement at penitentiaries level in Romania is more than 150 percent. Romania in May is under the influence of an ECHR decision which may bind us, due to the fact that regarding all 40 places in penitentiaries, there are decisions condemning Romania, for ill –treatments and inhuman conditions for inmates, and Romania cannot cover overnight the almost 9000 places we have in this moment, as surplus of inmates in these detention prisons. Under these circumstances, taking into account a coherent criminal policy, we can grant a law of pardon which does not concern: corruption, money laundering, and other serious offences, so that from the estimates of the Justice Ministry, around 2.300, 2.500 persons can benefit from this pardon law. This is in public consultation, but the opinion of the Justice Ministry is that Romania should issue a law of pardon at this moment.

Sorin Grindeanu: Last question, please.

Reporter: Two clarifications, first „Mr. Prime Minister invited me to participate, to preside” – this is Mr. Iohannis’ statement. You have just said that it was an unannounced visit. Clarify this aspect once for good. The second question, since you benefit from a comfortable majority in Parliament, why not a draft law on both issues, so that there are not anymore these debates and fears on the part of NGOs and other institutions of the Romanian state, DNA, DIICOT, CSM?

Sorin Grindeanu: With respect to your second question, and this is the last I will answer today, we do this over the next period. The Justice Minister came with his vision on these two problems.

Reporter: Do you take into account a change of these ordinances in draft laws following consultations with institutions?

Sorin Grindeanu: As far as I know, these things can be done in two ways: either by emrgency ordinance or through Parliament.

Florin Iordache: Draft law.

Sorin Grindeanu: You should know that it is not the Grindeanu Cabinet that invented the emergency ordinances related to the Criminal Code. I think that including the previous Cabinet, the technocrat Cabinet issued emergency ordinances to amend the Criminal Code last year, didn’t it? Therefore, let us clarify things. Secondly, there are these two possibilities provided by law. The Justice Minister expressed its vision ever since the beginning, regarding judiciary. It is a first step, a proposal. Currently, we followed what we discussed so far, we consult with the other institutions, and not only, and afterwards, we will see what decision we are going to make. I'm running out of time. That does not prompt me to use rotating  lights and official columns, I have never done it before, and I will not do it from now on either, and that is why I do not want to miss the plane. I aforementioned an article of the Constitution, article 87 of the Constitution, according to which the President of Romania has the right to preside over Cabinet meetings. Thank you.

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