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Romanian President Says Country Unprepared For EU Presidency

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis

President Klaus Iohannis has said Romania isn't ready to take over the European Union's rotating presidency in January and called for the country's prime minister to step down.

"In my opinion, we are not prepared for that," Iohannis said in Bucharest on November 12.

Viorica Dancila, a little-known politician from the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), was appointed prime minister in January, and has since been criticized for being just a figurehead in a government that is actually run by PSD chief Liviu Dragnea, who can't become prime minister because of a conviction for vote-rigging.

"Now it is necessary to replace this accident, the government of Dragnea-Dancila," Iohannis said.

"There's no chance of a good government...or proper involvement in European affairs."

Iohannis, who won the presidency on an opposition ticket, made the comments after EU Affairs Minister Victor Negrescu resigned last week amid turmoil in the government over preparations for the six-month EU presidency.

Last month, EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova voiced concern about Romania potentially being incapable of managing the presidency.

The PSD took power in early 2017 and began decriminalizing several corruption offenses in what some say is a campaign to save Dragnea from going to jail after he was condemned in a separate abuse-of-office case.

Several large anticorruption protests have taken place in Romania, culminating with an August 10 demonstration in Bucharest, which resulted in some 450 protesters being injured by riot police.

The EU on November 13 will issue its latest report on the judicial systems of Romania and Bulgaria.

Romania joined the EU alongside Bulgaria in 2007. Both countries remain under Brussels' monitoring due to concerns over corruption and the rule of law.

With reporting by AP and dpa

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