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Friday, 26 September 2014

Prime Minister Victor Ponta has participated in the event: “Romania, a Gateway to a Safe and Diversified Energy Sector” at the World Affairs Council of Houston

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Statements by PM Victor Ponta following his participation in the event: “Romania, a Gateway to a Safe and Diversified Energy Sector” at the World Affairs Council of Houston


Victor Ponta: I had few meetings with the main companies in the field of energy here, in Houston, the US capital of energy. I presented the situation of Romania, the business opportunities, and everything which subscribes to our strategic objective, to have energy independence for Romania, for the Republic of Moldova, and to be the most important place for US companies’ investments in the region. I am absolutely convinced that, based on the information presented by the Energy Minister, Finance Minister, Romania will further benefit from the attention of US investors. Those who are already in Romania, through Exxon, especially, for off-shore explorations, participation on all other conventional explorations, this will assure on short –term, because in energy, few years mean a short –term, which we need for Romania, and for Moldova, namely energy independence, and the ability of never be blackmailed from the standpoint of energy imports, by Russia and any other producer.

Reporter: Did you discuss with the two large energy companies about the future system of royalties, the new system of royalties?

Victor Ponta: I have not entered into details, but I assured all companies which are already present in Romania and especially those about to come, as today, there has been confirmed the information pertaining to other US company that is already present or comes in Romania with concrete investments, therefore, I confirmed the fact that the royalties system will be a system to ensure budget revenues at the European average, but will not deter investments, it will not be a system in which to try to take too much as if this happens, you do not have from where to take. The new law is to be first discussed with the World Bank, with IMF; it will be debated by the business environment early next year, because you know very well, that obligation of the Romanian state not to amend the royalties system. Expires on December 31, 2014 and will offer first and foremost predictability, those who come to invest, know very clearly how to recover their money and the debts to be paid to the Romanian state.

Reporter: Which is the feeling of US oil men regarding Russia’s presence to Black Sea, much accentuated at the Black Sea…

Victor Ponta: Certainly, and at the political level too, which I could notice on discussions in New York, and at the economic level, here where I'm seeing companies investing in the Black Sea, not only in Romania, because they have operations elsewhere too, the situation created by conflict in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, created instability, a fear for those who invest and the purpose of my visit was just that, to show that Romania is stable, is predictable and that all these investments are guaranteed and, in fact, they help countries in the region to depend as little as ..., to be the least vulnerable to Russian pressure.

Reporter: The shale gas is campaign theme; there is already a candidate talking about it, saying he is against the exploitation of shale gas in Romania.

Victor Ponta: Here, my position is one that you know and that I will not change, because I think that is a position in favor of Romania, that all environmental standards, both European and international have to be met. Moreover, recently the United States Department of Energy has completed a new study from this point of view. So, all environmental standards need to be met, but at the same time, observing environmental standards, one need to use their resources. United States this year, are already the largest gas producer in the world. You realize what this means for the American economy, what that means for their safety. So, Romania and Poland, as well as Lithuania, the countries closest to Russia, are those who best understood that if you have a resource, you have to use it, obviously preserving and respecting the environment.

Reporter: These talks in Houston were practically the last stage of this official visit to America. How would you characterize this visit, starting from the meeting with Obama and up to discussions with these companies?

Victor Ponta: Firstly, I am glad that Romania is visible again. After 2005, no Romanian President has attended the UN General Assembly, there where there is never time of official meetings, but there is the best opportunity to have very concrete pragmatic discussions, with very many heads of state and government that you hardly meet in other occasions. Therefore, I am glad that Romania is visible again, that the message I conveyed in the General Assembly was a very – very clear one, on the political position of Romania, the refusal to accept what the Russian Federation obtained infringing international right, and also the very clear message of stability and courage for US companies investing in energy. We attained all points we aimed at through this visit, and we return home, as there are many things to do there. Next week, we have budget rectification, and everything we obtained these days politically and economically should be capitalized over the next period.

Reporter: Romania has a similar stand as the US, and we joined the coalition that wants to annihilate the ISIS Group.

Victor Ponta: Yes, the Islamic State, yes.

Reporter: The Islamic State. In Bulgaria, there has been already announced that there are members of the group trying to recruit other people as well. Can you tell me whether in Romania, there are such problems, if the secret services raised the security alert?

Victor Ponta: We do not want to stir panic. I want to tell you obviously that since the rise in terrorist acts against European citizens, our intelligence services do their duty and monitor any threat against Romania. I have confidence that they do their job well, that are unfortunately affected by the political dispute and all the firecrackers that were thrown into public discussion - as, ultimately, decisions on the legislation- somehow affected the intelligence’s work, but at the same time I think Romania is a safe country and they will have all necessary financial and logistical support from the Government to make sure that every citizen of Romania is safe.

Reporter DNA requires prosecution of nine former ministers, for selling Microsoft licenses. How do you comment and ...?

Victor Ponta: I cannot comment because it's not about any of my Cabinet Ministers. The only information that I have are the one I have just presented publicly , found by the Control Unit of the Prime Minister, on the serious irregularities and illegalities committed by former Ministers Funeriu and Vreme ,I do not know and I cannot comment other things.

Reporter: Ms Andronescu is on the list of DNA in this file ...

Victor Ponta: I do not have information in this regard. I have said what ... information to which I had access, was from 2010.

Reporter: They are members of the first Cabinet led by you ...

Victor Ponta: Judiciary must do its duty!

Reporter: It's a big American corporation and the question is if you were asked by American corporations present here today, about corruption in Romania.

Victor Ponta: For the time being, no, they have not asked me.

Reporter: If you were asked about corruption, if there is any concern about corruption in Romania. It's an obstacle for business?

Reporter: Corruption or the rule of law?

Victor Ponta: Yes. Honestly, no one asked me about that, because they know very well that we are a European country, we are a reliable partner and that we are a society where justice is independent. I think it's more an issue at home, for discussions. And I say this: on the one hand, that judiciary should do its duty, a very good thing. On the other hand, we should avoid the self – flagellation, alleging how bad we are home, it's something that no country does, it's silly, it affects our image and interests. Romania is a democratic country, a country with an independent judiciary. I think this issue if we use it politically, it is against Romania. If we use only the judiciary to do their job, it's very good.


Reporter: You were talking earlier about an organization, a very large company, about to invest in Romania. In what area and what company is it?

Victor Ponta: Yes. Minister Nicolescu, give them the exact information about the company, the amount they invest and the field. Thank you!

Reporter: It seems you received a cowboy hat. From whom have you received it?

Victor Ponta: It is not a cowboy hat, but a Texan hat. I got it from the organizers, and I am expected to return, to receive the boots too. Thank you.

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