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Friday, 26 May 2023

Press statements by Prime Minister Nicolae –Ionel Ciucă, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Marcel Ciolacu, and Vice Prime Minister Kelemen Hunor


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Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă: Good morning! Ladies and gentlemen, dear Romanians, I took over as Prime Minister at a time similar to this one, in which some problems needed to be solved, and we could then find solutions for the healthcare crisis, energy crisis, then the conflict in Ukraine ensued, all the consequences of economic crisis, inflation and together with the ruling coalition, with you all, we managed to overcome these successive and overlapping crises. Last year, we went through all these, responsibly undertaking and identifying together solutions to all these problems. I would not repeat them now, as you all know very well.

The Government I am leading is a government that is politically endorsed, with consolidated parliamentary support, we are here before you, with the chairman of the Social Democratic Party(PSD), with UDMR chairman, Kelemen Hunor. We all agreed that the only chance for us to overcome all these problems is a stable political coalition, it is what we achieved. We can state that through this political stability, we could manage the energy crisis, the consequences of the war in Ukraine, and the inflation effects, and we could all notice that as of this year, inflation began to drop, and there are premises that by the end of the year, the inflation fell below two figures and I consider that all these measures ensured our economic growth, Romania is the country in Europe that had the third biggest economic growth last year and in the first trimester of this year.

We considered that our measures should be oriented so that citizens do not feel all these consequences and we can easily overcome them. I thought that through investments, we ensure economic growth, and last year, the absorption of European funds and the value of direct foreign investment amounted to nearly 22 billion euros, a record value for our country.

We also established at the political level that halfway from the time I decided to form this coalition, up to next year's elections, a year and a half from November 2021 to now, we should do it in such a way as to secure the coherence of political stability, governmental policies, and at half-way through this period, I will lodge my mandate, and Mr. Marcel Ciolacu will take over.

Today, I should have ended my term in office if the situation had remained at a certain balance. Considering that as it happened so far, together with you I found solutions, I did not fall back on responsibility, after the discussions we had at the coalition level last evening, and this morning, we decided to continue the dialogue with the unions in education, to maintain this dialogue to find solutions for the justified problems of teachers and do it in such a way that, based on understanding and reason, together with you, we find solutions, only that these solutions cannot be solved by a single decision. These are problems that have been accumulated over time, over 30 years.

What we did for education, as I stated yesterday in Cluj, was to demonstrate that in this year and a half, the present coalition has undertaken the development and modernization of the education system. We have allocated considerable sums in this regard, compared to what meant only words until recently. From 2022 until today,  additional  8 billion lei have been allocated to education from the state budget.

Through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, we have assumed the allocation of 3.6 billion euros precisely for everything that means the modernization and reform of the education system, everything that means technical support, and, of course, the training and specialization of teaching staff. We are also aware of the need to increase the salary level of teaching staff not only at the level of your expectations but to the level of recognition for what it means to be a teacher in Romania. We all want the future of this country to be predictable. The future depends on the education of our children, the level, and the standard of education of our children. This is done not only by allocating resources but all this is done by ensuring a framework as well established and as complex as possible in terms of both the technical endowment of the education system and the training and specialization of all teaching staff, as well as through a salary level. It's just that, at this moment, once again, appealing to the reason of all teaching staff, we cannot assume to unbalance the entire system and state budget through a one-way measure.

Returning to what we have to do in the future, in the short-term future, that is, in the coming days, we will continue to maintain the dialogue with the unions, and hold talks with them, I presented them all the data as honestly and accurately as possible and we hope that, eventually, to the extent of the trust that we are sure that we will acquire, following this dialogue, we will reach a conclusion, a solution to their protest.

It is also very important to mention that the measures we have taken and presented at this time, do nothing else or have not been oriented in any other direction than to demonstrate to them that all we say we assume. In fact, during the entire term of office, we did not say anything or commit to anything, if we were not able to achieve it. Everything that I said, together with you, once again, and I admit and emphasize this, we had an open dialogue with the entire associative environment, the business sector, with all those who wanted to present the problems as well as the solutions and they were of great help to us, because we were able to come and adapt both legislative and administrative measures to reality, to what people come to us to report that we need to solve.

We will do the same in the future, in the dialogue we will have with civil society, the trade unions, especially with those in education, and I presented them as clearly as possible that in the government program, in the measures that we took, in the package of laws, education remains a priority for all of us. Education and health are the priority areas for this government or any government that will take responsibility, and there are issues as sincere as possible. I didn't make any kind of mention of anything in particular that ultimately wasn't resolved.

In such conditions, as I mentioned earlier, we had discussions until late last night, we met again this morning and we agreed that until this problem is solved I will not tender my resignation and I will continue to assume my responsibility as prime minister.

In this way, I hope that the conditions will be created so that, in the shortest possible time, we can implement the plan at the coalition level. Thank you.

Marcel Ciolacu: Mr. Prime Minister, Chairman, this government is not only about stability but as you say, it is also about taking responsibility. I have said it ever since last week that, before political discussions, we have to assume together the solution to major problems in society, especially since a general strike implies a particular emotional burden, especially since we are talking about a general strike of the teachers. Education represents one of the pillars of society, it regards both the present and the future.

I believe that the decision made by us three, the co-chairs of this coalition, is fair. It is the decision we assume together. Together we will continue - I, as the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, representing the Legislature; the prime minister, representing the Executive - to solve this as quickly as possible this issue, is justified, coming from the teachers. However, we must have the balance to find the most suitable moments and, together, we assumed the fact that the number one priority in the program for the government is the teachers and the health system. We agreed on a timetable, together with the leaders in Education. It is a very short timetable, which we assumed together. I believe it is a fair decision not to enter political discussions until this teachers' strike is solved, and afterward, to find together the best timetable for the rotation. Thank you.

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