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Romania PM 'has learnt lessons' after row with EU: interview

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(BUCHAREST) - Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said Monday he had "learnt all the lessons" after the European Union harshly criticised his government over moves to impeach President Traian Basescu.

"I have learnt all the lessons from this period", Ponta said in an interview in Bucharest with five foreign media including AFP.

The EU executive earlier this month demanded further proof of Romania's commitment to democratic values and the rule of law, saying recent actions by its centre-left government, in power since May, "have shaken our trust."

"There were a lot of things to be criticised" in the impeachment procedure, Ponta acknowledged, but claimed that the international community had been "misinformed by Basescu's staff."

He said that Sunday's referendum on impeaching the president, invalidated due to low turnout, had allowed Romanians "to send a strong political message about who they support and who they don't".

But "Romania's international image has been tainted" in the process, he admitted.

He alo pledged not to seek a new confrontation with Basescu, saying that "everyone is going to lose if we are continuing to fight."

Official results showed Monday that 87.55 percent of those who took part in Sunday's referendum had voted in favour of Basescu's impeachment, while only 11.12 percent of voters had rallied to the president's cause.

But, according to the returns from more than 97 percent of polling stations, turnout reached 46.13 percent -- short of the 50 percent threshold needed for the result to be validated by the constitutional court.

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