Romania’s Liberals call for radical party to be sanctioned after altercation erupts in parliament over offshore law

Foto: Inquam Photos / Sabin Cirstoveanu

Lawmakers from the anti-system AUR party on Tuesday disrupted a parliamentary committee  debate on an offshore bill which will reduce dependence on Russian gas.

It was the latest furor involving the nationalist party this year. Its members have clashed verbally and sometimes physically with other lawmakers over legislation that the party considers to be against Romania’s national interest.

The latest incident came as parliament’s joint budget and energy committees were discussing the draft legislation with representatives of the Oil and Gas Employers’ Federation.

Lawmakers from the nationalist Alliance for the Union of Romanians, known by the acronym AUR, interrupted the debate and accused the energy minister, Virgil Popescu, of being:  “a thief and selling Black Sea gas to the Austrians.”

AUR leader George Simion then pursued the minister after the debate and a verbal altercation ensued.Mr  Simion also shoved Liberal lawmaker Calin Bota, justifying his behavior saying: “He stood in front of me.”

The Liberals later issued a statement saying “the more the dependence on  Russian gas  is eliminated, the more misplaced AUR’s  behavior is. “

„The National Liberal Party does not tolerate the reprehensible behavior of ..AUR  whose agenda appears to be linked to the Kremlin.”

It defended the offshore law saying it would  “unlock investments in the  Black Sea and  eliminate the dependence on  Russian gas.”

“AUR does not miss any opportunity to point out on Putin’s agenda. Even more so today when Parliament is moving quickly with the offshore law which will restore Romania’s energy independence.”

Romania is seeking to tap gas reserves from Black Sea drilling after Parliament passed a law to allow it to go ahead.

In March, Black Sea Oil & Gas (BSOG) said it would  start extracting gas from its Romanian offshore project in the second quarter, months later than planned. Gas producers have spent more than a decade and billions of dollars preparing to tap Romania’s estimated 200 billion cubic meters in the Black Sea.

In February a parliamentary session was suspended after the leader of AUR grabbed the energy minister and struck him on the back during a parliamentary address.

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