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Bucharest, June 16 /Agerpres/ - Prime Minister Victor Ponta talks about the impact of reducing social security contributions [CAS] and the position of the political class regarding this measure, about increasing pensions and salaries in 2015, but also about the designation of the European Commissioner from Romania in an interview granted to AGERPRES. Furthermore, the interview approaches issues regarding the presidential campaign, the main candidates of the right-win in the competition for Cotroceni Palace, as well as negotiations with PP-DD.

AGERPRES: Mr. Prime Minister, at the end of last week, the visit of the International Monetary Fund - World Bank - European Commission joint delegation ended. The negotiations were tough, as the Finance Minister said. You announced that the main objective of the negotiations - reducing CAS - will be applied starting with October 1, through a draft law. How feasible is this measure and why was it necessary this year, why did you insist on its application?
Victor Ponta: Let me answer it in another way. The sooner the better, because practically this reduction in the taxation of the work force was the main request of the business environment. I believe that not only in the Social Liberal Union [USL] program, that we ran in the elections with, but also in the program of the opposition the reduction of CAS with 5 percent is present and it is rare that all the political parties have the same economic objective.
The reality is that you have two effects: Firstly, a reduction in illegal or barely legal labor contracts that exist in reality and employers, in order to not pay very high contributions, prefer to pay salaries under the table or pay minimum wage and pay the rest and not declare it, secondly, a lot of the companies that approached me and other ministers in this period want to draw up a medium and long-term business plan and they're saying yes, the 16 percent flat tax rate is good, yes, it's very good what you've done with energy prices, help us with the reduction in labor tax and then surely business plans for the future will include jobs.
So the main reason: as many jobs as possible because [we're alright on] the other data, and here I'll return to what I've discussed with the IMF and the European Commission, we have economic growth, we have low deficits, we have low inflation, we are on track with absolutely all the commitments of fiscal-budgetary policy and the main challenge for Romania is to create new jobs.
I have said it and I believe anybody in my position would say the same thing: Until we have the same number of employees and pensioners we cannot say that in 10 years or in 15 years Romania can develop. Whereas the CAS reduction is exactly in this sense. If it is sustainable. For this reason we did not go forth with it on July 1, because it would've meant a budgetary impact of over 2 billion [RON] that we could cover, but not with full certainty. From October 1, categorically, the 850 million RON negative impact to the budget we already have from superior budget collections and from reducing some costs. In fact the buffer is larger than 850 million RON, but no Government and no good manager says: ok, I'll spend all my money at once, but practically, we also have a reserve for unforeseen situations. For 2014, the reason for which the IMF and the European Commission did not say they are against it is that we showed them that we have money for 2014, we are changing nothing in the targets we have set together.
For 2015, at the moment the 2015 budget is drawn up, categorically the negative impact must be compensated through superior income or reducing costs. So for 2014 things are clear and for 2015, the coalition that I'm running, and I think, I don't know, the opposition if they were at rule would say the same thing as we are -- namely that this reduction in CAS was a fundamental objective and it must have been done.
And I want to say one more thing. In the USL program two types of measures were presented: on one hand social reparation measures, especially of the PSD [Social Democratic Party], that envisaged giving back what was cut from pensions, from salaries, reducing the VAT for bread, giving back to soldiers, diplomats, aviators what was taken from them. On the other hand some liberal measures that belonged especially to the Liberal colleagues that participated in the program and who were: Mr. Tariceanu, Mr. Chitoiu, Mr. Rusanu, who said three things: firstly, maintaining the flat tax rate -- and it was maintained and still is, secondly tax exemptions for reinvested profits since July 1 -- this is also in force, and thirdly reducing CAS.
Practically, in November, we will present the main economic points of the program we ran with as accomplished, something that not only in Romania, but also in Europe, is pretty rare and it makes me very proud to be able to promise other things so long as what we promised in 2012 we have achieved. Honestly, I await eagerly to see the vote in Parliament, surely the Governing coalition will vote 'for', because we already consulted on the matter. I believe that the PNL [National Liberal Party] and PDL [Democratic Liberal Party] MPs will not ally themselves around a point of view that is hard to explain of ... I don't know, I think Mr. Predoiu or Mr. Iohannis said they oppose the CAS reduction, I believe that the PNL and PDL MPs, regardless of what their leaders say, will vote 'for', because ultimately it is in their governing plan, and President Basescu will promulgate the law. I admit, it is a sort of political chess, because so long as they have attempted a motion to censure the Government for not reducing CAS, and now when we have reduced it to say they are against it...

AGERPRES: Why do you think they are saying this, because it is a right-wing measure...?
Victor Ponta: I believe Mr. Iohannis, and Mr. Predoiu, are both people who lack political experience. And they've started off on this idea that they must oppose anything and did not pay attention at one point and were opposed to themselves. It is a matter of lack of experience, of, how to say this, political intelligence because the idea is not to always oppose, but when your adversaries propose a good thing support them. Whereas here they got carried away.

AGERPRES: They are saying it is an electoral measure that would be applied on the first day of the presidential election campaign.
Victor Ponta: Well they wanted to take down the Government for not applying it, that was the purpose of the motion of censure. You know how it is, if we didn't do it, they would say that they were right with the motion of censure, if we do it... Again I say, this is about two leaders who don't know much politics and don't know much economy, neither of them, neither Mr. Predoiu, nor Mr. Iohannis know the arguments that are the basis for taking economic measures -- what a negative budgetary impact means, what income means, additional costs, when they react that way, like two opposition journalists. But I'm convinced that the opposition MPs will vote for this measure because it is a good measure for Romania. I want to say this for all people to understand because, practically, what a company saves for 20 employees through this measure...

AGERPRES: This is what I wanted to ask, to get a bit of background...
Victor Ponta: I'll say it so that everyone understands. For 20 employees, the money you save through reducing CAS, can pay for the salary of the 21st. So, practically, for every 20 employees you can hire another person with no additional cost. That isn't a small thing.

AGERPRES: It's evident that employers will make some economies.
Victor Ponta: Categorically yes.

AGERPRES: But do you believe these economies will be put forth for salaries?
Victor Ponta: Initially, probably no, because the employers have complained all this time of this financial burden and I think the first thing they'll do is surface what they were paying barely legal and will fill work cards with the full salary. Which is what I want, because people at first may not understand the advantage. But, in fact, what happens with those social security contribution? We're talking about pensions, healthcare, unemployment. And anybody can say: I have a lot of time until my pension, I'm healthy, I have a job. But anybody can happen to need any of these three fundamental social protection components and it's not a small thing to go then and look on your work card and see that you have a smaller salary than what you've earned. In the second stage, obviously that at the moment the employee is negotiating his salary with the employer, be it an individual salary or collective labor contracts, this measure is not a secret deal between the Government and the employer to reduce CAS, it's something public, and practically, each employee will know to say to his employer: I'm working hard, I'm doing my duty, you've earned 5 percent from the Government, it's normal that this would show and it is in fact shown in the increase in real income of the employer.

AGERPRES: I want to come back a bit to the sustainability of the measure, given that you've said that there will be no additional taxes or tariffs...
Victor Ponta: Yes, and there actually won't be, because as I've said in 2014 we have the necessary additional income and a reduction in costs that allows for this negative impact to not lead to new taxes and tariffs and not lead to an infringement of the deficit target we have set together with the European Commission. This was possible, I'll say it frankly: because firstly Romanians have worked more than last year, and as such, given that we have economic growth, we have additional income and because slowly, slower than I'd like to, but this can be felt, the effects of the reform of the Anti-Fraud Directorate of the ANAF [National Tax Administration Agency] and all the investigations, that were also covered in the press, made by prosecutors against those who were committing tax avoidance with the VAT, against those that were committing all sorts of crimes, started to be felt.
There is one more essential moment, from my point of view, when budget income will increase significantly: the entry into force of the Insolvency Code. It was marred by political decisions -- firstly, President Basescu refused to promulgate it, then I believe colleagues from PNL contested it at the Constitutional Court, but the Court rejected the complaint by 9 - 0 vote ... It was stalling. The moment we will have the New Insolvency Code and the moment many of those who up to now would declare insolvency so as to not pay taxes and tariffs to the state and not pay debts to private beneficiaries, we will have another moment of important growth, firstly economical, because you're eliminating those that are affecting economic competitiveness, and secondly budgetary because one cannot run [from taxes] as they could up to now.
You would declare yourself insolvent and idly sit there without paying taxes or tariffs. So I believe that from this point of view the positive data gives us the right to believe that we can take this measure. That's why I saw a sort of frustration, why aren't the IMF and the European Commission reprimanding us. We're not being reprimanded because they saw the numbers and because they know that when we said we will have 1.6 economic growth we had 3.5, when we said we'll have a deficit of 3, we had 2.6... It's the first time when Romania runs better than they imagined two years in a row.

AGERPRES: Is the IMF agreement necessary for the application of these new measures, because it's a bit unclear. And what are the relations between us and the IMF at this moment?
Victor Ponta: The agreements with the three institutions, because the IMF is the most used, but from my point of view and in reality the agreement with the European Commission is the most important. So the agreements with the Commission, with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are operations. This means, to be more straightforward - that the European Commission is offering us that top up of 10 percent for European funds -- that is in fact the benefit of the agreement. The International Monetary Fund is putting at our disposal in any moment we may need a 2 billion dollar line of credit. We don't need it, but if, God forbid, some cataclysmic event happens, tomorrow we can access it, the World Bank has almost one billion in credits for Healthcare, for Education, they are there, we use them every day.
So the agreement is absolutely operational. Further on. This has been explained a little unfairly in Romania so that other may be blamed. It was not the IMF that cut pensions and salaries in 2010, it was the Romanian Government. Sure, the IMF said "if this is the solution, go for it!". Now it's the same, the IMF is not saying to reduce or not reduce social security contributions. They'll come and say "at the end of the year we want to see if you're meeting the 2.2 percent deficit, if you've met those standards that all the EU countries have".
That is why I'm saying that the IMF is not the main guardian, but the European Commission. Because we, next year, will conclude our agreement with the International Monetary Fund. Normally, Romania will not need a new agreement with the IMF because it is a much healthier economy than others in the area, but the standards and conditions of the European Commission will still be there. They will never disappear as long as we are members of the European Union and they are the same in all 28 countries. So it is them who will have a say in November, that is why I said "come discuss the budget on 2015!". The 2014 budget is clear, it's alright, it's fine. When we will meet and discuss the 2015 budget we will see if we can or cannot meet the targets.
From my point of view, we can meet them, but this is a moment, 2014, in which, after two years, you know how they say, after two years of being a good student and doing your homework, you've worked, now comes a moment in which you can take some measures that actually stimulate economic growth. I've discussed very clearly with them and I said: we are good on the numbers, we are not good on jobs in order to achieve that level that Romania absolutely needs. What will we do about jobs? I asked the entire private business environment and they all said "there's one more thing, reduce labor taxation, reduce the CAS". This will not work in a day or a week, these are not measures that garner results in a really short term, but I'm convinced that on the medium and long-term it is a very correct measure.

AGERPRES: Why did you prefer a bill instead of an Urgency Ordinance?
Victor Ponta: For two reasons. First and foremost, as we had no urgency for July 1, we considered this to be also a matter of political legitimacy. Otherwise, the context in Romania is such that whatever you undertake to do, you are told you should have done the opposite. If you turn to the left, it's why you didn't take the turn to the right, if you go to the right, it's why you didn't go to the left. We've seen it these days too, we were asked "why don't you cut the social security contributions?" I choose to pass the law through Parliament and to the extent that it gets a quasi-unanimous vote -- because that's how I think it will be -- it will be hard to criticize something you voted for yourself. From the political viewpoint it's important that I, as a Government, show international partners that this measure enjoys the Parliament's political support. So there was no hurry. We can do it under perfectly legal conditions. And secondly, exactly for us to be able to highlight in a debate in Parliament the precise points that we have had in the USL program and which we accomplished. I tell you, few governments after 2004 can say "yes, we promised items 1 to 5 and did all 5." This is a political benefit I think we must use.

AGERPRES: Having in view the surprises you had before, do you believe the President will promulgate the law? Just remember the fuel excise duty. Such heated debate, so much passion...
Victor Ponta: Categorically, I think the President will sign this bill into law, or if he doesn't, he will have to explain why not, because he himself has spoken dozens of times about reducing labor taxation, and he even criticized the Government for not doing it. I think he is somehow in the situation of the PDL-PNL leaders who lambasted me for not reducing the CAS, and who now criticise me for reducing it. Beyond this sometimes sterile political discussion, the essence for the companies is that this is a good measure, a measure the business community has unanimously welcomed, and I am that Social Democrat of the 21th century who knows that jobs are being created only by the private sector, not by the State. The State helps through its policies, like reducing the CAS, but ultimately it's the private sector that creates jobs, and which then pays taxes wherewith I can keep schools, hospitals, army and roads up and running. As long as the unanimous message from private business milieu is acceptance of this measure, even commendation for it, political disputes are unessential.

AGERPRES: Do you also envisage other tax relief measures? There was talk at a certain moment about reducing the VAT on foods other than bread. Can this be done this year?
Victor Ponta: Implementing other such measures is definitely no longer possible this year. It would be unrealistic to say you can do them all at once. This is comparable with the situation of a man who comes home and says "this year I'll buy a car and also change my furniture and go on holiday." You cannot do all at once. So we took them one by one. This year is dedicated to reducing the CAS, for the next year we already have the fiscal and budgetary strategy planned, pegging the pensions by an average of 4.5 percent and a wage-rising pool we will distribute as we did in 2014, not very little to everybody -- a crumble of around 2-3 percent -- but rather targeted at certain categories that experience very large gaps. I don't think anyone in the public sector collects high wages, but we'll proceed as we did this year with resident doctors, with entry-level teachers, I'd say that there are certain priorities. My point is that we'd better make a targeted use of the money we have, instead of sharing it out in 2 percent portions for no one to feel any improvement...

AGERPRES: Are you referring to small incomes?
Victor Ponta: I am referring to small incomes too, but also to certain categories as resident doctors were. We haven't succeeded in bringing incomes of resident doctors to a level comparable to what physicians receive in the West, but before this, their incomes were truly a disgrace affecting them not only materially, but also sapping the respect for the extraordinary profession they practice. The same with entry-level teachers. How do you persuade a young one to remain in education with this absolutely shameful salary? So the idea is how you solve -- to put it like that -- a material problem too, you cannot entirely fix it, but in the first place you give a certain message, that to the Romanian society, what these people are doing is important.

AGERPRES: Moving to a different thread, could we please clarify the situation of Minister-delegate for Budget Liviu Voinea, who, I gather, intends to switch to the National Bank of Romania?
Victor Ponta: The situation was very clear. Mr. Voinea himself has cleared his situation before my coming up with explanations. In the first place, alongside [Finance Minister] Ms. Petrescu, he has been a main negotiator in relation with the international institutions and the cut of the CAS had his full support, as a man who understands how the private sector works. Because it's been said that Voinea disagrees of the reduction. But he himself said he supports the measure, live, right at the television that claimed the opposite!
Secondly he didn't tender his resignation whatsoever, nor will he do it before we have a discussion about his successor, about how things will be handed over. And thirdly, yes, he was proposed for BNR deputy-governor, something he has wanted for a long time. As a matter of fact, he has always had a special relationship with governor Isarescu, and with the first deputy, Mr. Georgescu. These are the people whose advice I have always sought on everything that has to do with economic and fiscal policies. This is a five-year term in an extraordinary team and I cannot tell Liviu Voinea "no, you don't go there." He worked very hard during this period, he was a Secretary of State, he was Minister for the budget. I cannot tell him "don't go"... This means a career peak for any finance professional. Parliament vote comes first and then we'll discuss how to do the transition. For the beginning, I must find another Budget Minister. I heard a rumor that I would take over that ministry myself. No, no, the budget needs someone stable and with specific knowledge to deal with, because you cannot play with the State budget, and from this point of view, things are... The more so as Secretary of State [Gheorghe] Gherghina, who has spent twenty years and something in the Ministry, is leaving too. In the end, he deserved a nomination for the BNR Board. But I shape the transition with the two with whom I have actually worked very well, even if they are not the most popular people in the Government. But I worked very well with them and they always helped me take the right decisions.

AGERPRES: Mr. Prime Minister, the Government needs to designate Romania's European Commissioner, you said you want us to keep the portfolio of Agriculture, but this seems quite difficult. What else could it be, if it's not Agriculture?
Victor Ponta: It's a bit weird situation, to say the least, and I don't want to get into polemic. But yes indeed, under both the EU Regulation and national law, the Commissioner is appointed by the Government, but I do not participate in negotiations, it's the President who participates, the one who goes to the European Council. It's as if I must buy a car I've never seen and have someone else negotiate for me, the more so as the one to negotiate is Mr. President Basescu, with whom, so to say, I don't have a very close institutional relationship, he did not ask me...

AGERPRES: There has already been a meeting in Brussels...
Victor Ponta: It has been and there will be another at the end of June. I generally find out what goes on there from the other Prime Ministers who are my colleagues and friends, and who share it with me. I don't find it out from the President.

AGERPRES: You didn't discuss at all after that informal meeting?
Victor Ponta: No, we did not. We had just one discussion, more than two months ago, I think, and yes we agreed from this point of view. I said, well, our main goal is to keep Agriculture, because it is an important portfolio, but we had no other discussion on what happens if we cannot get Agriculture, so that, what can I say, I can only hope that the President will negotiate well on behalf of Romania. It's a situation... I repeat, I may get input via informal channels from the other Prime Ministers, but for Romania this actually means a very low power of negotiation because everyone there knows very well that they negotiate with... they know perfectly well that they are negotiating with the wrong person, with the President, who cannot appoint the Commissioner.

AGERPRES: You know that the name of Romania's former chief negotiator with the European Union, Vasile Puscas, has been floated about [for this position]. How do you regard this nomination?
Victor Ponta: I have an excellent opinion about Vasile Puscas, I think he is one of the best prepared Romanians for such a position, but there hasn't been anything concrete. Puscas is very down-to-earth and he is not the type to say "it doesn't matter what portfolio we get, just appoint me". So the idea is for us to know what our portfolio is in the first place and then look for the matching professional profile, because the Commissioner proposed by Romania still needs to pass hearings in the European Parliament, and these are no easy thing at all. But, I say this again, most likely after [June] 27 I hope to hear from the other Prime Ministers what Romania will get. Which, frankly, isn't OK.

AGERPRES: This is a first, politically speaking. Four months before the campaign for the presidential election, the big contesters, from the Power and the Opposition alike, have not officially announced any candidate for the presidential election. How have thing got here, particularly since you said that things on the political stages will clarify after the European elections?
Victor Ponta: Things happened the way they did in a hard to anticipate manner, namely following the break-up of the Social Liberal Union [USL]. Probably I was more naďve than others. Until this March, the coalition I had been ruling and the party, the Social Democratic Party [PSD], were absolutely sure that we had a decision taken by the congress of the coalition to endorse Crin Antonescu for President. To be honest, I do not believe there was anyone able to defeat Crin Antonescu for the office of President this November, no matter how many candidates there could have been, because the USL candidate was the undisputable favorite to win. Then, two things happened. The first, anticipated by some, was the break-up of the USL, and the second one, which I believe was unanticipated by PSD and our allies the National Union for Romania's Progress [UNPR], the Conservative Party [PC] and the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania [UDMR], was Mr. Antonescu's withdrawal from the political stages. I saw he already announced his withdrawal. The idea is that we should have a candidate to call our own that will almost surely make it to the presidential runoff. On the Right sides, there are, I do not know for sure, Mr. Iohannis, Mr. Predoiu, Mr. Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu, Mr. Cristian Diaconescu, very many candidates, so I believe that until November 2 the fight will be for who can reach the runoff against our candidate.
From this point of view, that is a good thing for us. Why? Because we can focus on what is most important, namely on governing. Had my colleagues and I stayed prisoners to the idea of electioneering, governing would have surely been relegated to a secondary place. This way, we can take care of governing and we will see after November 2 who our runoff challenger will be. Besides that, I believe that, as I see things now, the cart was put before the horses, in that there are very many discussions about the challenger being x or y or z.
The thing is who can defeat Ponta and the Government. I am saying that mistakes were made -- and I have seen a very experienced man, Mr. Tiriac, who has no business with politics, but who placed things back on their right track by asking what the future president should do? He or she should be conversant with foreign policy, he or she should know what national security means, what the relations are between the judiciary, Parliament and the Government. He or she may also be able to speak foreign languages, know the European institutions. After drawing up a portrait you can say, here, this is how things are done in a private company, where you first say what the requirements are for a position and only then you call people for the interview. In our case, people have showed up for the interview but you realize that they are no good in foreign policy, national security, Romanian or European institutions. I believe this is where the big confusion emerges, because we have not defined the job descriptions, those vying for the position. Apropos of the discussion over Romania's future European commissioner, first of all, we have to know what portfolio we get and then to see whether the candidates know anything about that field. For instance, it would be ridiculous for me to run against European Agriculture Commissioner Ciolos.
The same is true about the President's office: you say that you want a president, which is very good, I think everybody wants a president; the question is whether or not you know what being the president is all about, whether or not you are ready, what is your own self-evaluation, and after that you ask the public about these fields, which, according to the Constitution, are in the President's job description. So things may get back to the right track before September. PSD and its allies will categorically start up and conduct a procedure to appoint their presidential candidate. Our candidate is already prepared.

AGERPRES: So far as we know, there is a short list inside PSD...
Victor Ponta: A very short one...

AGERPRES: Which you said you have shortened to the displeasure of some to leave only your name and the name of Bucharest Mayor Oprescu. And yet, Mr. Geoana is contradicting you when he says Sorin Oprescu is a non-solution and that he is ready to run. Do you think a new presidential bid of Mircea Geoana is viable?
Victor Ponta: I cannot say anything about that. Only the party can say something overall, because when it comes to running on behalf of PSD, PC and UNPR you must win the agreement of the three as well.

AGERPRES: I am not meaning the designation process only, but real chances if such appointment was done.
Victor Ponta: Let us wait for the designation of the candidate. I have very much appreciated Mr. Geoana having very clearly said that he will wholeheartedly endorse anyone but him if that person is the candidate. That is a normal thing because we endorsed him in 2009, no matter the wishes back then, and from this point of view we will be united. The others will categorically be disunited and then our message will have to be as clear as possible so that people may get it as a very clear matter that we make changes in the Government and Parliament as well as in the office of the President, as we replace a regime against which we have been fighting for ten years.

AGERPRES: Do you think we can expect surprise candidates? Some surprise announcements around the presidential campaign?
Victor Ponta: Honestly, I do not think so, because not anyone can run for President. There are some name recognition and political support requirements, and then the job description. There are some knowledge to be learned, some questions you cannot eschew: what is Romania's main foreign policy issue -- Moldova; have you been to Chisinau to meet the local leaders there, do you know how to be of assistance, what to do for them? You cannot eschew answering to these questions if you are to become Romania's President.

AGERPRES: Do you have a short list of Right endorsees that makes you uneasy in the presidential race?
Victor Ponta: All the competitors are strong. And I very clearly remember that our candidates lost both in 2004 and 2009, albeit by a whisker. I say once again that the idea is any Right endorsee making it to the presidential runoff is a strong candidate simply because he or she will try to get together the others. If we do not treat the matter very seriously, we may lose a third time. Yet, at the same time I think we have learned quite a lot from the past and we can avoid our mistakes.

AGERPRES: Mr. Iohannis and other Liberals are claiming that you are afraid of the Right getting united and you are trying to stymie the process by covertly supporting Mr. Tariceanu's Initiative Group for the Preservation of the Liberal Identity.
Victor Ponta: You have spoken well when saying Mr. Iohannis and the Liberals do, because there is no connection between them. I am more Liberal than other Liberals are.

AGERPRES: And other Liberals as well...
Victor Ponta: I am more Liberal than Mr. Iohannis even for the fact that in 2012, inside the USL of which Mr. Iohannis was a member, we were fighting against the party of Mr. Basescu, even for the fact that we implemented the measures proposed by the Liberals, exactly those Liberals that we see are now chased away from the party: Mr. Tariceanu, Mr. Chitoiu, Mr. Silaghi. So, we have done what we agreed upon with PNL and what won the votes of the PNL electorate, and did so with those people. What I said was in jest, because me being more Liberal than Mr. Iohannis is no reality. I am no more Liberal than Mr. Tariceanu, who 24 years ago founded the PNL, or more so than the others, so when I am mentioning the Liberals I mean those who truly took part in the establishment of the USL, contributed to the government programme, brought up some very good Liberal ideas, three of which we have already implemented.
The idea of a single party is the ideal of Traian Basescu going back to 2005. All those involved in politics back then remember very clearly that in 2005 Traian Basescu wanted a merger of PNL and the Democratic Liberal Party [PDL] to get a big party for the European People's Party [EPP]. You see, history is strange: what did not come to happen in 2005 is coming to happen in 2014, exactly the year when he leaves office. I believe trying in 2014 to do what Mr. Basescu failed to do in 2005 is a sign of political nearsightedness.

AGERPRES: A last question: What chances do you think the Dan Diaconescu - People's Party (PP-DD) are standing of joining the Government, given that your partners are opposing the demarche and negotiations have somehow stalled lately?
Victor Ponta: No, the idea of cooperating with PP-DD came from political reality. Because we ran in 2012 in the local elections as USL we managed to change all counties, with the exception of the counties of Alba and Arad. If I am not so much mistaken, two years now, the PDL leadership only changed one agreement. Mr. Blaga outwitted the Liberals as he pulled them out of USL and came back in power. We were compelled, because there is not other political formation except for PP-DD in the county councils. I do not think there is any exception from building majorities with them. From that point of view, it was a negotiation forced upon by what happened between PNL and PDL.
And then, there is another thing: I want the incumbent government to represent as many Romanian citizens as possible. PP-DD won a significant electoral score in 2012, something above 10 per cent, and I, the Government, am obliged, whether or not I like the formal or informal leader of the party, to govern for the 10 per cent as well. That electorate is even more Left leaning than the PSD voters, because they have social problems, serious economic problems. If I can represent them, I will do it wholeheartedly. AGERPRES

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