Earlier this week Romanian President Klaus Iohannis – reacting to the resignation of minister without portfolio in charge of EU affairs Victor Negrescu – said Romania is “totally unprepared” to assume the EU’s revolving presidency on January 1st, 2019.
Klaus Iohannis said “things have gone off the rails” and there is a “political necessity to replace the government” which he called an “accident of democracy”. But with the country embroiled in political infighting, Iohannis said the Romanian government should step down instead.
“It’s the 12th hour [and] we are totally unprepared,” Iohannis said. “There’s no chance of a good government… or proper involvement in European affairs.”
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis
Romania has a semi-presidential system where the head of the state has a relatively strong mandate. Iohannis – an ethnic Saxon from Transylvania and the first ethnic minority president of the country – won the 2014 presidential elections on an anti-corruption ticket.
While his initial cooperation with the ruling Social Democrats (PSD) has been widely lauded in the country, he called for then Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s resignation after Ponta faced criminal prosecution for 22 alleged corruption charges.
The country still has a PSD-government led by Viorica Dăncilă, but most agree that the real power behind her is party president Liviu Dragnea, who cannot hold office because of his previous convictions for fraud and election rigging.
In response to the Finnish offer, the Romanian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that Romania is ready to assume the EU presidency and does not wish for Finland to step in.