Romanian president tries to re-connect with the people in first speech since protests started

Romanian president Traian Basescu hopes to re-establish the connection between himself and those who are unhappy and believe the president does not represent them anymore, as well as and urging the nation to trust him and his decisions. “When I was the captain of a ship I never failed to bring my ship to port and I won’t fail to bring Romania to safe harbor,” he said in his first speech since the beginning of street protests in Romania, 13 days ago. “The belief that the president no longer represents the people is false. The president’s obligation is to represent them continuously, as the president has been elected through direct vote,” he said.

Traian Basescu admitted it was a mistake to quarrel with Raed Arafat, going live during a TV show, and said he will have to shift his position on this issue, but appeared to rule out imminent resignation, “I am not taking into account a resignation during the crisis. Unless this turns out to be the only solution,” he said. The fight between the president and Arafat was the spark that triggered street protests in Romania. Read more about it here.

The president acknowledged the tough situation, which follows a string of tough measures, required by the economic crisis and by the structural reform of the state. “We are right where we should be right now, thanks to the efforts of the Romanian people,” said Basescu in his 45-minute speech.

“My request to the people is to be understanding. We we will come out of the crisis together. No one can escape the crisis individually. We know what we need to do, we have the needed resources to go past the crisis, we are better prepared than in 2009,” he went on.

Speaking in fairly general terms, echoing prime Minister Emil Boc a couple of days ago, the president outlined the areas where Romania still needs to work, so that the country takes its chance to get out of the global crisis. “We hope that mid-February numbers show Romania with a 2.5 percent GDP, which would be among the highest in the EU,” he said. He went on to highlight the need for politicians to be more ‘modest and less arrogant’.  He also reminded of the referendum asking for a single chamber Parliament and only 300 MPs, that was ignored and avoided by all political parties.

In his speech, he also mentioned the need to re-open mines in Romania, as the price of gold and other precious metals is more favorable now than it was 15 years ago, and re-opening the mines would create new jobs, much needed during a time when foreign investments are lower.

Responding to commentators saying the Romanian president runs the Government, he said he had negotiated with members of the Government in the past to help advance certain pieces of legislation, all beneficial for Romanians. “And if I were to run the Democrat Liberal Party (the governing party – e.n.), trust me, it would be much better run,” he added. He acknowledged he will continue to speak publicly whenever he feels it is needed, trying to avoid public mistakes, such as the public fight with Raed Arafat.

More about the protests in Romania here.

Corina Saceanu, [email protected]

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