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Farewell and Here I Come!
POLITICS - July 9 2004PM Adrian Nastase would not give up his position as Social Democrat Party (SDP) leader and will serve the full mandate as prime-minister. Following talks with President Ion Iliescu yesterday, Nastase scraped his resignation plans and stated that he will revamp the SDP and reshuffle the Executive.
SILVIU SERGIU, MONICA IORDACHEThere was no break-up between Iliescu and Nastase, though their relationship these past days reached a boiling point commensurate with the heat-wave we experienced.
Though the tensions escalated to an all-time high, the president and the PM managed to defuse the conflict which had the marks of an unprecedented political crisis in the four years of SDP ruling.
Nastase did not give up the party top-position and decided to give his political marriage with Iliescu another shot. Nastase himself implied this when he stated: "I had a series of differences of opinion with President Iliescu regarding the government activity."
But Nastase also said that those "differences" were ironed-out, one by one, during the meeting he had with Iliescu.
"I want to make clear one thing regarding my relationship with President Ion Iliescu: a major rift between the two of us is hard to come by."
The make-up meeting between the two politicians took place yesterday in a neutral venue, at Villa Lake 2, in Primaverii neighborhood, while the fight between them took place at the beginning of the week at the Cotroceni presidential palace.
The choice for the villa was prompted by comments that the President infringed upon the Constitution as it made the Presidency meddle with the activity of the ruling party.
The fist to arrive at the meting point was Nastase. He came in accompanied by Minister Eugen Bejinariu, at 08:26, one minute ahead of the set time for the meeting, riding an elegant Jeep. Then the President arrived, followed by the Speaker of the House of Deputies, Valer Dorneanu, and the SDP vice-president, Serban Mihailescu. None of the latter took part in the meeting.
Iliescu and Nastase had a tÃşte-Ã -tÃşte meeting.
In about one hour, the two of them left together in the Presidentâs car for the Embassy of Austria, to sign in the Condolence Book opened at the embassy in the memory of late Austrian President, Thomas Klestil.
Both men kept silent about the results of their meeting and refused to answer to questions from the media.
"We meet at two oâclock at the Government Headquarters for a press-conference," told Nastase the waiting journalists, with a colluding smile.
Thus, at 14:30 Nastase delivered his official statement: "I will not resign as president of the SDP since we need to undergo radical changes within party ranks, and I am sure I am up to the task. I will complete my mandate as prime-minister and in the near-future I will reshuffle the Executive team," said Nastase.
The PM admitted that the talk about his resignation from the top position in the ruling party was not only media spin, as President Iliescu alleged: "I do not think we need to deny that we had some problems following these elections (TR. NOTE: June local elections). This is why I considered all avenues, including my resignation from the position of party president," said Nastase.
He also said that party and executive functions will have to be completely separated in future: "When I considered resigning as SDP president I also took into account that the next few months are crucial to the European Integration of our country. The parting of party activities from executive activities is one of the proposals I would put forth to the party Congress meeting in August. I believe this division of labor is necessary and should be stated in the party statute, to be applied consitently following next elections. Future governments, no matter their political hue, should not mix the party teams with the Executive teams," said Nastase.
This idea, however, is not Nastaseâs, but Iliescuâs. He was the one who put it forth to the SDP leadership. On the other hand it seems that the president gave up on his idea that Nastase should announce his candidacy for the presidential ticket as soon as possible.
After meeting Iliescu, Nastase said in his public address that the issue of the SDP candidate for the presidency will be settled by the Congress assembling in August.
In the meeting the two politicians had at the beginning of this week, Iliescu blamed Nastase for his wavering over announcing his bid for the top-job at Cotroceni Palace.
The head of state stated then that SDP will benefit from an early announcement of its presidential candidate, and thus fend-off a poor show of votes, as in the Mircea Geoana case (TR. NOTE: Geoana was the SDP candidate for the Bucharest mayor; he lost to the candidate supported by an alliance of the opposition parties, National Liberal Party and Democrat Party.)
PM Nastase said that in the near future he will complete the revamping of the SDP leadership and the Government reshuffle. "I talked these past days about radical changes to take place in the party. I assure you that I will fully apply these plans for change," he said. Sources in the SDP say the changes Nastase mentioned will be drafted this week-end. Tomorrow the SDP Permanent Delegation (TR. NOTE: the collective body exercising executive leadership in the party) will decide over the government reshuffle and the change in party leadership. On Sunday it is likely that the party leaders will meet Iliescu.
The president moved ten minutes earlier the press-conference he was to deliver jointly with the President of Turkey, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, on a state visit here.
Thus Iliescu was able to see the live television broadcast of Nastaseâs press-conference, scheduled for 2 p.m.
The statements of the two presidents started at 13:35 and ended 20 minutes later, when Iliescu saw his guest to the car and checked on his watch immediately after the Turk presidentâs departure.
The following two minutes Iliescu answered the journalistsâ questions on his morning meeting with Nastase and the latterâs alleged resignation from the SDP top position.
Immediately after his meeting with the press, Iliescu went to his office, just in time to listen to the PMâs statement.
True, it was not exactly "in time", as Nastase conveniently postponed his statement ten minutes, giving thus a chance to Iliescu to see him live.
Though Nastase admitted he wanted to resign his SDP position, Iliescu said this was all hear-say and media spin. "I have no idea where these rumors come up from. We (TR. NOTE: Romanians) tend to have a wild imagination. Probably he will make the necessary clarifications â¦ This is our problem: people look for sensationalism," said the president.
When asked why it took Nastase two days to dismiss the so-called rumors, Iliescu said that "he probably sat on it." The President also said that his talks with Nastase were "a friendly dialogue" between people who worked together for a long time and reiterated that he is not meddling in the inner workings of the SDP.
"They (TR. NOTE: the SDP leadership) are the ones to think through the solutions. We worked together and considered most seriously the conclusions to be drawn from the local elections results," Iliescu said. He added that the SDP Congress assembling in August will decide the steps for preparing the party for the (TR. NOTE: November) general elections . "It is their own matter how they will do that," added the President.
Translation: ANCA PADURARU
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