Fresh News

Thursday, 04 May

Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu pays official visit to Israel

End-of-visit statements by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu

 

Reporter: Prime Minister, can you tell us how this visit has been and what will follow in the next period?

Sorin Grindeanu: This visit included very many meetings, with Prime Minister Netanyahu, with the President of Israel, Mr. Rivlin, the Minister of Economy, the Minister of Defence, and surely it is very important what you asked – the follow-up to this visit. Today, we signed two memorandums: one in the economic field, the other regulating the framework for reducing the roaming costs between Romania and Israel, so that, in the next period, we can enact these cuts. The most important thing is what ensues: traditionally, we have very good relations with Israel,we have had uninterrupted diplomatic relations for 69 years which led to very good political and military contacts. It is very important from our point of view and from Israel’s point of view too that the economic relations live up to the level of political and military ties. For us, Israel has represented the most important ally in this region for many years, it will further remain our most important ally in the region.

Reporter: The Constitutional Court rejected today the petition filed by the Ombudsman. How do you see it? There are four delays, CCR kept on meeting for this problem...

Sorin Grindeanu: I have read it too, I do not know much details, nor do I know if the motivation is public; what I have not done in other cases, I will not do it now either. I do not comment on the decisions of the Constitutional Court that are mandatory.

Reporter: Politically speaking, cannot we say that it comes as a blow to Mr. Dragnea? He is your party colleague, who supports you with the parliamentary majority.

Sorin Grindeanu: He is the president of the party that I have been a member of, for 21 years. He is the man who led the PSD in 2016 to victory in both local and general elections. We have talked about politics many times in this period. You asked about a decision of the Constitutional Court that, as aforementioned, alike all the other decisions of the Constitutional Court which refer to certain articles of the Criminal Code or the Criminal Procedure Code, are mandatory, and they cannot be discussed.

Reporter: There were protests across the country after the adoption in the Legal Committee of some amendments to the pardon law, punishments including for abuse of office, corruption deeds with less than three year  imprinsonment.

Sorin Grindeanu: I have said it many times, yesterday too when I found out about it, before leaving for Israel, I took a stance from this point of view. The Government’s stance was that we do not endorse this amendment, we endorse the form which was adopted in the draft law in the Government, and in connection with all issues related to pardon of corruption deeds, I think I have made myself very clear during this entire period, and if necessary, I will convey once more these issues: I do not endorse these amendments, nor the Government does. With respect to the form we sent to Parliament and the form under work, surely, we are open to certain good ideas, but which do not refer to such amendments, they are what we endorse, not something else.

Reporter: There were amendments, including from PSD, but also from former President Traian Băsescu. Have you talked to PSD members about adopting those amendments in the Legal Committee or with the party leader? Or, with the Minister of Justice, after the adoption of this decision?

Sorin Grindeanu: I talked with the Minister of Justice to ask if he attended yesterday the meeting of the Legal Committee. A state secretary attended it, he presented the Government's point of view but he did not endorse the amendment filed yesterday by a Senator. Things are clear from my point of view. The form that we submitted and which has an opinion from the Government is the one we endorse.

Reporter: Mr. Prime Minister, is there a need for a more serious discussion in the ruling coalition, considering that it somehow affects your image? Or, if you think that, in your opinion, it affects your image, given that people protested in the street and may, of course, do it again in large number; although it is a legislative project? Is there a need for a more important discussion in the party, in the coalition, so that such divergence of opinion is avoided?

Sorin Grindeanu: First, I would like to clarify certain things. Every MP is entitled to initiative, amendments or draft laws. Currently, what matters is that the Justice Ministry is in an ample process of consultation or promotion of some draft laws or packages of laws, in this field, extremely important, such as the judiciary laws about which Minister Tudorel Toader has talked a lot, or the draft law which is in public debate, the draft law on aligning the Constitutional Court’s decisions with the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code or the extensive consultation as Minister Toader mentioned, on updating the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. It seems there have been too many decisions of the Constitutional Court saying that certain articles of the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code are not Constitutional. All these things have been explained by Minister Tudorel Toader. It is a process which must necessarily be transparent, which must be subject to public debate, so that draft laws of such impact be passed by Parliament, because that is where they must be adopted after this extensive consultation. This is the path the Government will take in this area. Thank you.

Reporter: Such a Parliamentary initiative undermines the Government’s intent and objective to lift the mechanism of cooperation and verification before Romania takes the Presidency?

Sorin Grindeanu: I think that things as I could see them today, have been clarified, i.e. these amendments were rejected on the final report, which is a very positive thing and I am sure that such slippages will be clarified, either in the plenum – like this aspect, through the final report , through the vote in the plenum or the vote in the other Chamber so that we avoid accidents of this type. Thank you!

 

Statements by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu at the meeting with representatives of the community of Romanian-born Israelis

 

Sorin Grindeanu: Good evening. Ladies and gentlemen, I am for the first time in Israel in my capacity as Prime Minister, but not only. It is my first visit ever to Israel and this represents for me both an opportunity and a privilege, given the valuable contribution that the Romanian –born Jews made to the creation of this state. Otherwise, there is a traditional cooperation between the two states, the diplomatic relations being established ever since 1948, and this year, in addition to the 69 anniversary of Independence some days ago, we mark 69 years of diplomatic uninterrupted relations between Romania and Israel.

It was not a simple period, especially for Romania, the Communist period, and back then, it remained the only state in the Eastern block that continued to have diplomatic relations with Israel. I would like to mention the excellent metings I had today with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin. The series of meetings will continue after our meeting now, with a dialogue with the Minister of Defence, taking into account the extremely good cooperation Romania has with Israel in this field. I want to tell you that beyond the excellent cooperation we had in areas such as: defence, intelligence, political relations , both states want that the economic relations between Romania and Israel live up at least at the level of the other areas. That was also the purpose of a good part of the meetings we had today. We are accompanied among others, by the Economy Minister who had several meetings. This is why, I told you it is our duty, of Romania and Israel that the economic side live up at least at the level of the other components related to politics and defence. The Romanian community in Israel is an extraordinary case, as it managed to convey from generation to generation the Romanian identity values, the interest for Romanian language, and I want to narrate what we experienced today : in one of the breaks between meetings, I stopped along with my colleagues in an extremely visited place, there was a group of children aged 6 - 7. They heard the delegation speaking in Romanian, and a boy aged 6-7 came to greet us in Romanian, which was a moment of joy for us and this reinforced what I said earlier, the fact that traditions were conveyed from one generation to other in these places, unlike elsewhere. As the centenary of the Great Union is approaching, we want to recall the Jewish martyrs who sacrificed themselves in the First World War alongside Romanian soldiers. Following the course of history, other common chapter to the two nations is the Holocaust. The most important element achieved by Romania during its chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, IHRA, refers to the adoption of the working definition of Antisemitism, based on the principle of consensus, IHRA adopted this definition as a token of the political commitment to combating Antisemitism. Whereby this working definition, the organization aims to set an example of responsible conduct for other international forums as well. The Jewish Community in Romania played a further important role in the Romanian society, achieving a very good cooperation both in the economic, educational and cultural fields. In the spirit of this very good dialogue that Romania has with the State of Israel, the Romanian Parliament – as I think the majority of you passed last year a legislative document regarding the restitution of the Jewish properties, the Holocaust survivors having priority in their claims resolution. At the same time, I remind the fact that the Jewish State Theatre was refurbished with governmental funds, in the context of its 140th anniversary. As I am sure that you know, recently the Bucharest City Hall together with the Government allocated a building in the Old Town (Bucharest), that will host a museum of Holocaust and of the Jewish community in Bucharest. It is a project that I especially follow, I am a member of the leading board, it is extremely important for us, for the Romanian state to have such a place, to remind us of events taking place in the history of the Romanian people. Taking into account the hundreds of years of history, starting from the first Jewish communities established during Vasile Lupu’s reign, on Romanian soil, or the first Romanian –Jewish settlements in 1884, in the north of today’s Israel and given the good cooperation that has been preserved to date, I have no doubt that there are identity elements that the two nations share, which will make us stronger in front of ever increasing challenges that we are currently facing in a global world. I am sure that together we will cope with them. Thank you!

 

Joint press statements with Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu

 

Benjamin Netanyahu: Welcome Prime Minister Grindeanu, welcome to Jerusalem with your delegation! I want to say that this is the continuation of a great friendship that Israel has with Romania. There are four hundred thousands Israelis of Romanian origin, they are very good friends, my doctor, and so many others. We feel a special and intimate kinship with Romania, we have been there many times. I welcome you on this visit. I look forward to meetings which enhance these relations.

Prime Minister, you have taken a very strong stance against antisemitism, against the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, and I want to thank you for that and to express our appreciation. We are going to sign a joint declaration today on roaming rates, we want to bring down cellular costs, and help business people from our two nations. I think we have great opportunities. We are small countries but we want to see our future. I think the future in many ways is dependant on the development and use of technology. Israel is eager to discuss it with you in many, many fields.

We began that discussion, we are keeping you waiting, because we have so much to talk about, and we will continue to do so. Our Ministers of Economy are going to sign an agreement on joint cooperation, and we are going to discuss other areas as well in addition to technology, health, security, I believe it is a limitless opportunity.

In the spirit of great friendship, I want to welcome you to Jerusalem and tell you that we shall meet next year, in Bucharest or next year, in Jerusalem, either one is good and you are most welcome.

Sorin Grindeanu: Thank you. I would like to start by conveying to Prime Minister Netanyahu and to the people of Israel my warm congratulations for the sixty ninth anniversary of the Independence Day, along with my best wishes for peace and prosperity. I would like to use this opportunity to underline that in 2017, Romania and Israel also celebrate 69 years of uninterrupted diplomatic relationship. This continuity speaks about the strength of our friendship. Israel is our closest ally and partner in the region, and I came here today with the determination to enhance our partnership, to build more on our economic side, as you say, to diversify the Romania – Israel relationship. Romania has a fast growing economy which offers in return..potential for Israeli businesses.

We can use the intergovernmental platform to launch the preparation for our third joint government session which will reconfirm both our governmentsreadiness and commitment to expand our bilateral relationship.

I avail myself of this opportunity to strongly encourage the Romanian and Israeli businesses to expand their activities together.

Romania could be seen as one of the most attractive country destinations for European and Israeli companies.

I would like also to mention that Romania is interested in enhancing cooperation with Israel in the energy sector. Moreover, we are interested in the cooperation in the field of cyber and digital industries, in learning more about eco-systems, and start-ups activities and strengthen our cooperation in the agriculture and in tourism.

It is important to mention today that we are going to sign a joint declaration which aims to facilitate the reduction of roaming costs, enabling Romanians and Israelis to be closer.

I reiterate Romanians’ solid commitment on combating antisemitism. The Romanian chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance which ended this March, has succeeded in the adoption of a working definition of Antisemitism, an expression of clear political commitment at international stage. My Government is determined to consolidate the education on Holocaust and in this regard, I would like to mention my strong support for the Museum dedicated to the History of Jews and Holocaust in Romania to which we have already allocated an important building in the old center of Bucharest. Together, with Prime Minister Netanyahu, we talked about the fight against terrorism. The terrorist attacks witnessed in Europe lately are alarming, and unfortunately, Romanians also lost their lives in these outrageous acts. Romania remains strong in supporting the fight against terrorism. We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stress that there cannot be any justifications for such acts.

Today, we have also discussed about relations between EU and Israel. Romania favors a united and relevant European Union, closer to its citizens and remain an advocate of strengthening the EU- Israel relations. In a nutshell, our agenda reflects the strategic relevance for our relations. I am looking forward to continuing this dialogue and I am very, very pleased that I am in Israel. Thank you.   

Benjamin Netanyahu: Thank you. I would say that we are partners in the effort to defeat terrorism and also in our efforts to achieve peace. I look forward to discussing with President Trump the best ways to advance peace, this is something that we fervently share with the President. I heard President Abbas yesterday say that: „our citizens teach their children peace”, that unfortunately is not true, they name their schools after mass-murderes of Israelis, and they pay terrorists but I hope that it is possible to achieve a change and to pursue a genuine peace, this is something that Israel is always ready for, I am always ready for a genuine peace. Thank you.

 

Address by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu at Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

I am deeply impressed by what I have just seen. The Yad Vashem is a testimonial to collective memory that gathers within its walls so much pain and despair. It is a difficult but necessary experience because commemoration itself is a challenge to the spirit, it helps us to understand the past in order to educate future generations so that such horrors may never happen again. The city I have lived most of my life, Timisoara, a symbol of Romania is a city where I first learned about tolerance, solidarity and dialogue between cultures. In Timisoara, we are lucky enough to have a solid Jewish community, with many remarkable personalities that have left their mark on European culture.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In communist Romania, it was impossible to speak of the Holocaust. But my generation had the chance to contribute to the political decision of bringing those pages of history back into the public by recognizing past mistakes and tragedies, and by improving education. It is my pledge that Romania will always be in the frontline of combating antisemitism, xenophobia, intolerance and discrimination. I will switch now to my native language for my Romanian friends.

We are here to pay homage to the victims of the Holocaust, to survivors and those who played an important role in saving lives. Our concern for the memory of the Holocaust must also be reflected in the way we respect those who suffered and are still with us today, in the country or abroad.

As you know, the Romanian Parliament passed last year several amendments to the Law on the restitution of property abusively confiscated by totalitarian regimes, establishing that Holocaust survivors’ claims will be solved first.

The Romanian Government and the General Bucharest City Council are in favour of a museum of Jewish history and Holocaust remembrance in Romania opening in the country, and a building in downtown Bucharest has already been awarded to this end. I am honoured to be a member on the project's consultative board. The establishment of the museum will be coordinated by the Elie Wiesel National Institute for Holocaust Studies in Romania „Elie Wiesel”. Moreover, in March, Romania concluded the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Chairmanship; Romania directly and significantly contributed toward the adoption of a working definition of anti-Semitism inside the alliance as a token of its big political commitment to combating Antisemitism.

I would also like to recall an element that seems to me very important to evoke at this remembrance center: last year, the world lost the great writer born in Sighetu Marmatiei, Elie Wiesel. This Holocaust survivor continues to represent, for all of us, an example of humanity and a model of consistent human rights defender. And as we remember the past, nowadays, we are perfectly aware of the troubled times we live in, where antisemitism, intolerance and hate speech persist. It is essential to tell the youth of the 21st century the truth about that dark age in the history of mankind, about the roots of hatred, discrimination and intolerance that led to the Holocaust tragedy so that young people do not lose the courage to prevent and combat such acts in the future. The acts of courage and responsibility can make the difference between life and death. Our commitment, of the world's nations must be to remember the victims who perished, to respect the survivors and to educate the new generations in the spirit of respect for human values, diversity and inclusion. Thank you!

***

Press release

Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu is paying official visit to Jerusalem, where he will have a tête-à-tête with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The meeting will be followed by an official luncheon offered by Prime Minister of the State of Israel to all Romania’s delegation members: Economy Minister Mihai Tudose, National Defence Minister Gabriel Les, Minister for Romanians Abroad Andreea Pastirnac, Secretary -General of the Government Mihai Busuioc and Chairperson of the Romania — Israel parliamentary friendship group Gabriel Vlase.

The Head of the Romanian Executive and the Israeli Prime Minister will hold joint press statements and will attend the signing of two bilateral documents: a Declaration of Intent on the reduction of the international roaming charges, between Romania's Ministry of Communications and Information Society and Israel's Ministry of Communications, and a Cooperation Declaration between Romania's Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Economy and Industry of Israel. The second joint declaration aims at cooperation in certain fields, such as: electricity and natural gas transport, research, development and innovation, high technologies and investments.

Prime Minister Grindeanu will be received by the President of the State of Israel, Reuven Rivlin and will have a meeting with Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Minister of Defence.

"This visit will be a good opportunity to assess the bilateral relations, considering that we aim to boost the political dialogue between Romania and Israel and to go through a new stage, towards a strategic dimension of the Romanian-Israeli relationship, capitalizing on the economic field” Romanian Prime Minister has stated.

The agenda of the Romanian Prime Minister in Israel also includes a visit to the "Yad Vashem" Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Memorial Museum, a meeting with the representatives of the Romanian-born Israelis, and talks with Theophilos III, the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, and with Archimandrite Teofil Anastasoaie, representative of the Romanian Orthodox Church to the Holy Places.

Prime Minister will also meet with Colette Avital, the Secretary General of the World Jewish Restitution Organization.



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