Hot on the heels of an exchange of invectives with Speaker of the House Liviu Dragnea, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has found himself in the middle of a substantially similar but somewhat less abrasive exchange with Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă.
While in Vienna for the European Union-Africa summit, Iohannis told Romanian journalists there that from January he would attend the cabinet meetings from January 1, to help the government cope with the additional responsibilities of the revolving presidency of the EU. Romania will take over the presidency from Austria for the first half of 2019. Next in line is Finland.
“The Prime Minister extended several times invitations of cooperation to me. Now I will cooperate with her. I will attend the cabinet meetings”, Iohannis said.
All very polite and cooperative, but those familiar with current issues in the turbulent Romanian political life will have noted that the previous day Iohannis officially asked Dăncilă to send him at least 24 hours in advance the topic of every government meeting. Political analysts agree that the real reason for the president’s request is that he wants to attend any government meeting where an ordnance on an amnesty is likely to be passed.
An amnesty – if properly formulated – would allow Dragnea to head the government. He cannot hold office because of his previous convictions for fraud and election rigging.
In a very formal response, Dăncilă wrote Iohannis that the agenda of the cabinet meetings with all relevant documents attached is available on the government’s website and whenever the agenda contains “items pertaining to national interests regarding foreign policy, national defense or public order,” her office will notify the president. The quoted matters are the ones stipulated in the constitution as grounds for the president to attend cabinet meetings.
In all others cases, “I will, with celerity, extend an invitation to you if I deem your presence necessary”, Dăncilă wrote.
Title image: Klaus Iohannis and Viorica Dăncilă