Romania's President, Traian Basescu,discussed online with readers on Monday. The discussions focused on the current political crisis and the presidential elections. The Monday Discussion is put together by and RFI Romania, moderated by Dan Tapalaga.

  • Reader 1 - President Basescu was asked if he would undergo for a political orientation test online -  - and publish the results. Plus, his position on the current lump tax and the government imposing it.

Traian Basescu: "I agree with the current lump tax, it allowed cleaning the list of existing companies that did not have activity, but was sometimes used to lose money trace from different transactions. What still needs to be corrected: the companies whose shareholders and administrators are students or young people without other incomes, the lump tax needs to be symbolic - 1 Euro."

  • Reader 2 asked about possible discussions between the President and the designated PM Lucian Croitoru regarding the forming of a new cabinet.

Traian Basescu: "The designated PM is certainly working and will propose to the Parliament a cabinet with fewer ministers; he will focus on people with reputation in the area, whether they are political engaged or not."

  • Reader 3 wanted to ignore the manipulated mass-media and to realise whether the proposal to include a referendum in the presidential elections was part of the President’s intention to manipulate the civil society, assuming that voting for the reduction of the MPs number will elect Basescu as president. He also wanted to know why Basescu was certain he would win a new mandate.

Traian Basescu:"This is categorically not a manipulation. I wanted to use the presidential elections level of interest to attract a larger number to the polls, which would allow for the referendum validity. Had I organised a referendum separated from any other elections, it would not have been valid, certainly, because of the reduced participation. I remind you: the referendum for introducing the uninominal vote, when only 29% of the electorate took part when all the surveys indicated that 80% of the Romanians were in favour of the uninominal vote. Categorically, it is not the referendum that attracts the voters, but the presidential elections attracting people to the referendum."

  • Reader 4 wanted to know if the President thought the Romanian political class evolved 20 years after the Revolution and whether a clean electoral campaign was possible, based only on viable programmes.

Traian Basescu: I wish, but... Yes. I will do everything in my power for a clean campaign. But it shouldn't be assumed that nobody will retaliate if there is exaggeration.

  • Reader 5 referred to the statement made by President Basescu regarding the new PM, according to which Basescu said that there will be early elections if the second PM will fail the Parliament, later claiming that it might support Boc should Lucian Croitoru not be voted. Was that a decision out of the fear that the IMF will not give Romania the rest of the loan?

Traian Basescu: As the President, I am forced to take into consideration all the possible options. That is presenting a second cabinet if the Croitoru Cabinet fails, or postponing a decision until after the presidential elections, or enforcing the Constitution and preparing the conditions to dissolve the Parliament as the only option to dissolve the Parliament until after the presidential elections and the validation of a new President. In any case, dissolving the Parliament is not a favourite, but it cannot be crossed put from the constitutional solutions of unblocking a political crisis. No matter which of the solutions will be adopted, it is important to be sure that we will enforce the one that will not lead to losing the IMF and EU money (2.5 billion euros). This has to be negotiated with the Fund.

  • Reader 6 was curious weather the Interior Ministry’s secret service archive was in the possession of Vanghelie from rival party PSD.

Traian Basescu: There is no village without dogs.

  • Reader 7 asked the President why the Romanian politics was all about Basescu, Antonescu, Geoana and not about pensions, salaries, economic crisis, taxes, laws or bi-lateral relationships.

Traian Basescu: Because we have Vantu and Voiculescu, who own media trusts because their interest is not to bring to the foreground important issues that might make the politicians’ debates – I actually talked about these things. Their interest is to create an non-breathable atmosphere with the great infantilism level of some politicians who reply without hesitation to the invitations these trusts make, holding dry and stupid shows for long hours, with the main objective to attack Basescu, and maybe Antonescu or Geoana, disregarding the fact that this does not interest anyone. Make an exercise: do not watch the Antene and Realitatea for two weeks. I assure you that you will see Romania differently. You will see it the way it is.

  • Reader 8 was wondering whether Mihai Tanasescu as PM could reunite the broken coalition PSD-PDL.

Traian Basescu: For the time being, my bet is for Lucian Croitoru. We’ll discuss further after he will take the role at the Victoria Palace whether there have been other options. But only as a chat over coffee.

  • Reader 9 checked whether Tal Silberstein was part of the President’s team, a consultant that also worked for Adrian Nastase and Calin Popescu Tariceanu.

Traian Basescu denied.

  • Reader 10 asked what would be the consequences of naming Klaus Johannis as PM, what would Romania lose and why Basescu rejected him.

Traian Basescu: Klaus Johannis was not one of my options because I know very well the people who decided that he would be the candidate. These are: Voiculescu, Hrebenciuc, Ion Iliescu, Mircea Geoana, Crin Antonescu, Marko Bela. If this is the PM that they wish, he cannot be the PM that I accept. The bet on Mr. Johannis’ naivety, which I respect in his mayor.

  • Reader 11 asked the President to forecast who would he compete against in the second elections round.

Traian Basescu: Prediction - Mircea Geoana.

  • Reader 12 wanted to know if Basescu’s ego was more important than the country’s wellness, since he could have named Johannis PM and end the political crisis.

Traian Basescu: I am aware that his designation would have made the country peaceful. It would have been as quiet as during Ion Iliescu’s presidency, when an economic and politic mafia blossomed under him, something I have been fighting with since the beginning of 2005, without making compromises. The lack of compromises with this mafioso system made my mandate very difficult, but I believe I have adopted the right solution.

  • Reader 13 wanted to know what the President would do if he would have to chose between dissolving the Parliament and designating a PM proposed by the PNL PSD UDMR majority.

Traian Basescu: How would you feel about Romania governed by a PM chosen by Voiculescu, Hrebenciuc and Iliescu? I don't personally think it would be good for Romania. This is something I don't understand in regards to Mr. Johannis.

  • Traian Basescu answered affirmatively when asked whether PDL had the strength to impose itself as a powerful party should he not win the elections and whether he had the legal means to organised a referendum even if the Parliament was not awarding the consultative authorisation until November 3.
  • Reader 15 was curios whether the President thought the Ridzi and Udrea episodes, plus the unclear current financial situation of the President’s daughter will downgrade his chances to win the next elections.

Traian Basescu: Ridzi and Udrea were/are ministers. Both of them are treated according to the ministerial responsibility law. Regarding my family, I state without any reserve that none of my daughters are involved in illegal acts or are not in the situation of not being able to justify their incomes. With these in mind, it is very difficult to see the implications affecting the elections’ result. To understand the lying propaganda against my family, I can tell you this about EBA: it has been told for several years that she gets a 8-9,000 euros income from Luxten. In reality, her income was 800-900 euros a month. About my brother it has been said that he bought land for real estate development. In reality, he did not buy any land, but he became an associate to exploit a land being included in the company's social capital and he planted peaches. There are peach trees not blocks of flats. And I finally learnt that my brother was involved in this arm traffic, arms that reached terrorists. My brother had no connections with such actions and the press proved it. What can I do if the only method used by opponents is to attack me with lies? They own TV channels, I don't, nor do I wish it.

  • Reader 16 said that Mr. Geoana asked Mr. Johannis to return and bring 15 people for the new Government. He wanted to know if Geoana was planning an anti-Basescu alliance to try to suspend the President and if the President didn't candidate, who would he vote for: Geoana, Antonescu or Oprescu?

Traian Basescu: This is ridiculous. Mr.Geoana set himself in the front of an unconstitutional march. How does he think of becoming president? I would vote with Traian Basescu.

  • Reader 17 raised the issue of the IMF money. Several months ago, Basescu declared Romania did not need the IMF bailout. But the agreement has been signed and millions of euros entered the country. The deficit adjusts by itself, with a lower demand for export and consumption. The Inflation is under control. The economic contraction is only 8-9%. If an 8% drop leaves Romanians without salaries and pensions, it is grave, indeed. So, where is the money?

Traian Basescu: The IMF money went to the Central Bank, approximately 6 billion euros and 1 billion for financing the state budget deficit. Approximately, this is the money we got so far.

  • Reader 18 raises the issue of compulsory private pensions launched in 2007, which Basescu supported at that time. Meanwhile, the Government backed the development of private funds by keeping the 2009 contribution to 2% instead of 2.5%, and 2010 announces 2.5% instead of 3%. Is the President still attracted by the solution?

Traian Basescu: Yes, I see this as necessary solution for creating this pension fund.

  • Reader 19 indicated that the Constitution sees that the President holds a MEDIATOR role in the state and asks if he alone naming the PM would come against it, provoking conflict.

Traian Basescu: Creating conflicts is a cliché created by Mr. Vantu and Mr. Voiculescu's televisions and by interested political persons. The mediator position plays no role when it comes to negotiation Romania's President attributions, set by the Constitution. Designating the Prime Minister is an attribute of the President. The balance between the President and the Parliament is conveyed through the Parliament's right to approve or reject the President's proposal.

  • Reader 20 asked the President to guess what the intellectuals thought about him, after his last mandate.

Traian Basescu: I believe they are as discontent as I am. I myself realise I did not complete all my objectives, even if part of them have been fulfilled. I will not enlist them here, but I assure you that both I and the citizens want more.

  • Reader 21 was curios why the President did not sack the Tourism Minister when she was guilty of erroneous spending. Oprescu, Bucharest’s mayor, dissolved all her contracts and gave back the Dalli parking to the locals.

Traian Basescu: I did not dismiss any minister during my entire mandate on the basis of parliamentary reports. And I have been member of the Parliament for two legislations and I know that these reports most often have a high level of political interest. But I have never hesitated to dismiss a minister when the notice has been made by prosecutors. And I continue to preserve the way I act. In the Ridzi case: immediately after the prosecutors’ notice has been received, she resigned knowing that I will not spare her.

  • Answering reader 22, Traian Basescu said that the most difficult opponent he has in the last 18 years had has been the economic crisis.
  • Reader 23 argues that Romania should be either a presidential or a parliamentary republic and not half-presidential, because it constantly creates conflicts between the Parliament and the President, with sad effects for the country.

Traian Basescu: The half-presidential regime is good. It is a compromise guaranteeing that it cannot lead to dictatorship. What our Constitution lacks is clarity regarding the relationship between institutions. And my insisting for revising the Constitution aims exactly this issue, not only a one-chamber Parliament.

  • Reader 24 wants the president to argue his wish for the Parliament's dissolution and organise early elections.

Traian Basescu: I do not wish for the Parliament's dissolution, but should there be no constitutional solution leading to the formation of a new government, dissolving the Parliament is a solution to emerge from the blockage. Actually, when politicians cannot find a solution, the one summoned to give it is the people.

  • Reader 25 asks the President why he presents the IMF bailout as the only solution to pay pensions and salaries, when it is known that the IMF did not generally helped the financed countries, but slowed their development. One solution might be issuing treasury certificates.

Traian Basescu: The population does not possess the sums that we need to finance the budget deficit or the Central Bank’s reserves to maintain the currency exchange. I notify you that the EU+IMF+WB loan, amounting to 20 billion euros, is destined mainly for BNR to maintain the currency exchange rate.

  • Reader 26 asked Basescu he Mrs. Gatej would become a minister of the new cabinet, should Croitoru succeed in getting Parliamentary support. But in the case the crisis extends, would the IMF come to negotiate a temporary government?

Traian Basescu: 1. It is the Croitoru Government's option. At this moment, I will not make a public statement. 2. I have the duty to try.

  • Reader 27 wants to know how the party newly set up by Cozmanca will affect the Romanian political scene.

Traian Basescu: It will not influence the political scene in any way. We already have a communist party, so what do you think the electorate would do with another one.

  • Reader 28 asked the president to address himself a difficult question, but one that common sense would expect an answer.

Traian Basescu: It is only now that I realise how difficult is to be a good reporter. I usually criticise those journalists that do not prepare their questions well. There you have it, I cannot ask myself something intelligent on the spot. I’ll think about it and return with an answer.

  • Reader 29, PDL supporter, believes that the party has many impostors occupying leadership positions, despite having a good top leadership. Should PDL revise its membership policy?

Traian Basescu: Absolutely yes. PDL needs to strengthen its membership policy and to carefully select its people that would afterwards help to become the future of the party.

The time does not allow me to stay with you any longer. I can assure you that by the end of the week, I will respond to all the questions asked until 6 p.m.

Good Bye,

Traian Basescu

  • Reader 30, a fan, asked Basescu if a state secretary should not receive more than 4,600 lei since it is responsible for thousands of people and should not be encouraged to steal; if the President should not be paid more than a good worker from the West. He asked why the fiscal duties were not reduced to expose underground economies and why the salaries cannot be decent.

Traian Basescu agreed on the state secretary salary, adding: But we still have a reality – this is how much we produce or we’re so many in the central administration that we cannot afford more until we don’t set ourselves free from the staff excess.

Regarding lowering the fiscal duties, I need to tell you that we do not have resources: the VAT is only 19% and the unique tax is 16%. How much do we need to lower it to make the ones that do not pay to respect the law?

  • Reader 31 referred to two issues: 1. Romania’s population is dropping and she wanted to know if Romania was going to encourage the birth rate or selective immigration. 2. She addresses the issue of free press, claiming the audience was intoxicated by the propaganda of the political opponents. Mass-media is, though controlled by the state through C.N.A., which releases emission licenses. How can the audio-visual press free market self-regulate as long as the STATE gets involved trough C.N.A.?

Traian Basescu: 1. In my campaign programme I will definitely include the birth rate problem, without proposing solutions that are featured in the presidential commission report. I will not present the solutions because these are in the attributions of the executive and of the parliament.

2. I am convinced that as for the press, and as for justice, the correct solution is total freedom. There are domains where only self-regulation is the correct solution. Only this way can I make the comparison between the correct and the incorrect usage of freedom.

  • Reader 32 wanted to know 1. When will Romania recover from the financial crisis and 2. Should the Croitoru Cabinet not be voted by the Parliament, wouldn’t it be wise for the President to accept a proposal of the majority as to emerge from the political crisis?

Traian Basescu: 1. If the emergence from the downturn will be confirmed with the big economies, Romania will start recording positive economic growth starting the second 2010 quarter.

2. If the proposal will hide Mr. Voiculescu, Iliescu, Hrebenciuc, Nastase, Geoana etc., the silence engulfing the country will hurt our hearing. But the silence will privatise for friends the Mail, Romgaz, Transgaz, Transelectrica, Oil terminal etc., and the smart guys will be happy again. I will not tolerate such silence, even if Romanians should wish it. I will not compromise the last days of my mandate, giving up what I haven't in 5 years.