Romania's Tariceanu Reverses Decision on Resignation


Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu said Tuesday he had decided not to resign and would instead focus on cleaning up the damage in flood-stricken areas and on EU required reforms.

(Rompres - 20/07/05; AP, Reuters, AFP, EUobserver, Xinhua, Rompres, Economist Intelligence Unit - 19/07/05)


Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu said that with the country in turmoil after severe floods it was no longer appropriate to resign. [AFP]

Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu said Tuesday (19 July) that he had cancelled his plans to resign and would instead continue in his post, focusing on cleaning up the damage in flood-stricken areas and on EU required reforms.

"A courageous leader cannot abandon his people in hard times," Tariceanu said. "It would be a sign of weakness if I were to resign today."

The prime minister first announced his decision to step down on 7 July, a day after the Constitutional Court partially rejected reform bills critically needed for Romania's EU entry in 2007.

"When I announced my resignation I didn't have the prospect of a country affected by floods," Tariceanu told reporters on Tuesday. "I will ask for a joint session of parliament. I will go in front of the chambers of parliament with a ... statement on rebuilding the country after the floods, EU integration and justice reform for which I will take responsibility."

According to the prime minister, the joint parliament session for the confidence vote could be called on Thursday.

Tariceanu was expected to tender his resignation on Tuesday, after his visit to Brussels the previous day. That would have set the stage for early elections this autumn -- something President Traian Basescu has been advocating since December. The president is said to believe an early poll would enhance the ruling parties' majority in parliament, allowing them to easily pass the necessary reforms.

However, an Economist Intelligence Unit report on Tuesday cast doubt on the ruling coalition's chances of garnering the two-thirds majority it needs to be able to overrule constitutional court decisions, and recent polls suggest most Romanians would prefer the government to stay in office.

Officials in Brussels have voiced concern that political instability could hamper Romania's implementation of reforms required for EU entry, expected in January 2007. Safeguard clauses in Romania's accession treaty with the Union allow Brussels to postpone its entry by one year if it fails to fulfil its commitments.

During talks with Tariceanu in Brussels on Monday, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said Bucharest should make sure that the reform process does not slow.

"For the moment, the first and foremost priority for Romania is to prepare for the [EU] membership, especially as regards the implementation of the necessary reforms of the judiciary and the fight against corruption," Rehn was quoted as saying.

In comments to reporters Tuesday, Tariceanu echoed Rehn's remarks."Each day, each hour must be dedicated to integration efforts", he said.

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"Everybody in Brussels wondered whether or not the early election decision, with the entire procession of actions to follow, and I mean the electoral campaign, would allow the administration to work at the pace necessary to meet the EU accession pledges," he told the Romanian news agency Rompres.

Both ruling and opposition parties reportedly welcomed Tariceanu's decision not to resign.

"We have the obligation to fight until the last moment for admission to the EU and to get over the floods crisis," Reuters quoted the head of the opposition Social Democratic Party, former Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, as saying.

Meanwhile, Basescu ratified the justice reform law Tuesday, a day after the Constitutional Court withdrew its initial rejection of the legislation. After rewriting the articles the court had ruled as unconstitutional, the parliament sent the bill back last week for reconsideration.

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