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President Iohannis says Romania not ready for EU presidency, urges govt to resign

President Iohannis says Romania not ready for EU presidency, urges govt to resign Romania's president Klaus Iohannis

BUCHAREST (Romania), November 12 (SeeNews) - Romanian president Klaus Iohannis said on Monday that the country is unprepared to take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union from the start of next year and called on the government to step down.

"You know that from January 1, 2019, Romania will take over the presidency of the Council of the European Union, an extremely important position, an extremely honorable position, a very demanding position, especially for the government. My opinion is that we are not ready for this," Iohannis said during a speech delivered at the Association of Romanian Municipalities, referring to the resignation of the country's EU affairs minister, Victor Negrescu.

"A few weeks ago, I was asked by journalists and I said that we would be able to do it reasonably, but the fact is that in the meantime things have gone mad.  It is not clear anymore who is responsible for what at the government and people who have to deal with European matters are leaving or being dismissed, and this is how we wake up at the last minute, totally unprepared."

The government said in a press release on Monday that Negrescu has resigned and a replacement will be nominated shortly. It gave no reasons for the resignation.

The ministry of EU affairs is primarily responsible for ensuring Romania's successful EU presidency in the first half of 2019.

"Unfortunately, even today I believe in the political need of replacing this accident of the Romanian democracy that is the Dragnea-Dancila government. There is no prospect of good governance. There is no prospect of good involvement in European affairs," Iohannis added.

Liviu Dragnea is leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), whom many see as the real decision-maker in the government.

Iohannis has repeatedly asked for the resignation of prime minister Viorica Dancila, mostly over excessive loyalty to PSD, which in his opinion makes her unfit for the office.

According to Romania's constitution, the president cannot force the government to resign. The only institution which can do so is the parliament, through a non-confidence vote.

The cabinet led by Dancila was voted into office on January 29. It is the third cabinet of PSD and their junior partner centre-right Liberal-Democrat Alliance (ALDE) since December 2016 election.