President Klaus Iohannis has joined Prime Minister Ludovic Orban for the Liberal minority government’s first Cabinet meeting where Orban is expected to decide on a new European Commissioner, drastically reduce the number of ministries, and pass a decree guaranteeing incomes for striking coal miners who risk unemployment when their mines close down.
Iohannis’ presence at the meeting comes ahead of presidential elections, where he is the favorite in a field of 14, but not expected to win an outright majority. Ex-Prime Minister Dancila is fighting to get into the second round, as are centrist Dan Barna of the Save Romania Union and Mircea Diaconu, an actor turned politician.
Iohannis said the some of the new ministers found “a very bad situation” in the ministries after the Social Democrats made “systemic attacks on justice, the anti-corruption fight, investors and …..the business environment,” adding he was glad that the “toxic PSD government” was out of power.
He said the Social Democrats “emptied the public coffers and now we are in the situation to see how we can cover the bills.” He said it would be “very complicated” to manage this year’s budget and draw up a budget for next year.
Orban’s priority is to cut the number of ministries to 16 down from 24 under the Dancila’s Social-Democrat government. As president, Iohannis will chair the meeting.
Orban and Iohannis will also discuss the party’s pick for European Commissioner, which is likely to be Adina Valean or Siegfried Muresan, both European lawmakers.
Orban says he will sign a emergency ordinance to guarantee the incomes of striking miners who were laid off by the Hunedoara Energetic Compex as part of ongoing coal mine closures in Romania.
He will rid the administration of nepotism and people who are not fit to hold a post “the son of, the son of and so on” he said.
WHO ARE THE NEW MINISTERS?
The new ministers include Bogdan Aurescu, a former adviser to Iohannis who was previously foreign minister from 2014 to 2015.
Aurescu successfully represented Romania in the International Court of Justice from 2004 to 2009 in a forty-year-old border dispute over a large petrol and gas-rich area of the Black Sea. The court ruled largely in Bucharest’s favor on the contentious issue of ‘Snake Island.’
The new defense minister is Nicolae Ciuca, a three-star general, respected by NATO, trusted by Iohannis who was at odds with the Social Democrats’
The 52-year-old was named Chief of Staff by Iohannis in 2015, and last year the president extended his mandate, amid a reported dispute with the Social Democrats over the acquisition of warships.
Former Liberal Party leader, Raluca Turcan, will be deputy premier (the only one; the Social Democrats had four), marking the first time since the veteran politician has held a ministerial portfolio.