Ponta at PACE: After the general election, we identified best solutions for Romania; we have ‘cohabitation’

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After last December’s parliamentary election, Romanian politicians identified the best solutions for the stability of the country, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said in Strasbourg, mentioning in his speech to a plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe(PACE) his cooperation agreement concluded with President Traian Basescu.

‘I’m here to convey a clear message about the commitment of the Romanian Government and the country to all the values of the Council of Europe (CoE), our commitment to learn from all the mistakes of the past and also to think of a common future, a future that for the country means democracy, the rule of law and human rights,’ said Ponta.

He underscored the important role played by Romania’s representatives at the CoE in supporting politicians to identify optimal solutions to the political crisis and ‘all the trials of the past years.’

‘I would say only that 2012 was a difficult year for Romania that followed a political, economic and social crisis, and your involvement in solving institutional issues and finding the best solutions was a very important movement, proof that through dialogue, cooperation and support any kind of crises can be resolved and the best solutions for the countries involved can be found. I want to extend my personal thanks for your personal involvement, Mr. Mignon, and all your colleagues who helped us find appropriate solutions,’ said Ponta.

He added that after last December’s parliamentary election, the Romanian politicians managed to identify the best solutions, mentioning to the point his agreement with the President.

‘In December, the Romanian people went through democratic election, expressing their free will, and after the election, we, the Romanian politicians, managed to find the best solutions, keeping in mind the future of the country, not the past, because, as many of you may know, there is a clear cooperation agreement between the President and the prime minster – ‘cohabitation’ as they would call it in France,’ said Ponta.

He referred to four issues for which implementation Romania needs the support of CoE: constitutional revision, complaints with the ECHR over the returning of forcefully dispossessed property, minorities’ rights and the integration of the Roma people.

‘We will certainly not overhaul the Constitution, but we will make the necessary changes to avoid crises in the future, learning from past lessons and expressing our determination to respect the Constitution as an instrument to avoid crises, without undermining the stability and predictability of the country,’ said Ponta.

He mentioned having requested the Venice Commission support for the revision of the Constitution, having filed a formal request to this end.

‘I want to thank them for having responded very quickly, because we have all the expertise and assistance so that we can proceed with the necessary changes after considering all the suggestions of the Venice Commission, because it is our desire to have a democratic and very effective Constitution that meets all the relevant standards of the Council of Europe,” said Ponta.

He also pointed to the CoE support for the adoption of a law regarding the returning of property.

‘We also need to better cooperate, and I have in mind here the cases currently before the ECHR. There are 3,500 cases related to the return of properties confiscated by the late communist regime in Romania, and with your help, for which I thank you, we were able to adopt a new law, which I am sure will solve most of the problems, ensuring fair restitution and clear legal solutions to this problem, which has marked the Romanian society over the recent years,’ added Ponta.

Another topic discussed regarded the minority protection standards, which he said Romania applied, „but there is always something that can be improved.”

The last issue addressed by Ponta in his speech to the PACE plenary session referred to the Roma community, saying that its integration is the hardest challenge facing the Government.

‘We have a strategy, drawn up jointly with other European countries, and I am grateful to the national governments of France, Germany and the Netherlands. But to get results we need patience, determination and we must be wiling to go to the root of the problem,’ said Ponta.

PACE President Jean-Claude Mignon said about Ponta’s speech that it was excellent, extending his thanks for having answered to a large number of questions from the PACE members.

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