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Iâll Balance My Way to the Parliament on a Bicycle
INTERVIEW - November 8th 2004Businessman George Copos, a recent member of the Romanian Humanist Party (RHP), will run for the Senate on the lists for Arges County of the coalition paring the ruling Social Democrat Party (SDP) with the RHP.
by GABRIELA ANTONIUCopos explained in an interview with Jurnalul National what prompted him take this step and what his plans for the future are in case he wins the elections:
JN: You recently applied for RHP membership. Why this one, of all parties?
Copos: I am one of the people who became a businessman in 1990. I started with a small capital, of only 500 dollars, but I with a lot of good luck too. One the one hand, the Romanian market was almost void of any products, especially electrical appliances and electronic ones. On the other hand, I always liked to work, to be creative. I succeeded in crating added value and currently my companies have assets worth 170 million euros, while I was not involved in active politics sto influence themt. I think though that the time has come for businessmen to engage in active politics. Letâs not forget that there are only some two years left till Romania will enter the European Union, hence this is the right time for the people who succeeded in business and demonstrated real managerial qualities to take the chance on deciding about the future of Romania. You should know that I was close to the sRHPt President Dan Voiculescu since 1994. We built together two very strong associations of entrepreneurs: the Association of Businessmen and the Confederation of Ownersâ Associations in Romania. As for the doctrine promoted by the RHP, this is very close to my heart, as social-liberalism places the human being at its center. This is the main reason why I decided to join the RHP.
JN: How much of your decision was influenced by your friendship with Voiculescu and how much of it was due to the partyâs doctrine?
Copos: They were both very important to me.
JN: What did your wife say when you told her you are turning to politics?
Copos: She was not very enthusiastic; she said that my first responsibility stays with the companies in the ANA Group and their employees. I hope to convince her that I also hold responsibilities towards Romania as a whole. Here is what I think: I think that we, the businessmen, will be able to promote slegislationt that will make the Romanian economy perform better, and turn it into a strong market-economy, in which the state has less and less of a say. I also think that the state should be actively promoting the social protection because Romania, unfortunately, still has a lot of poor people. Maybe more than 20% of our population lives under the poverty line and it is natural for these people to get help in order to reach decent living conditions.
JN: This was the argument that you gave syour wifet?
Copos: This was one of those that I presented her: I told her that Iâve got to get involved in politics to contribute to the general improvement of life in Romania.
JN: Did you condition your joining the party with getting an seligiblet place on the lists for parliamentary elections?
Copos: Not at all. Maybe this was not the right time to get that high up into politics, and frankly I was preparing myself for taking on such a task in 2008.
JN: So, it was a proposal coming from the party leadership?
Copos: Yes, the RHP leadership proposed me for an eligible place on the lists for the Arges County. Why Arges County? Because in that county there are a lot of important investors. Letâs not forget that my companies in Arges County export some 50 million euros worth per year, employing over 7,000 people. This is why the decision for me to run for Senate on Arges Country lists was taken.
JN: Did you start campaigning? How much do you think it will cost this campaign?
Copos: I started to campaign. Money is a secondary issue when you believe something will be accomplished. Anyways, it is not such a large amount of money.
JN: How does the rich man Copos feel among the poor people?
Copos: I do not think of myself as a rich person, but as an accomplished individual, who managed to fulfill a lot of things. My real wealth stays in the human capital I have in the companies making the ANA Group, where over 4,500 very valuable people work. This is my accomplishment.
JN: What is your answer to those who will criticize your decision to run for office saying that you are seeking to both protect and advance your business interests?
Copos: Did you ever hear in the past 14 years of any illegal business deal conducted by any of the companies making the ANA Group? Or did you hear of any business deal sof minet that was reached with political support?
JN: I asked what your answer would be to those who will still doubt your reasons are candid.
Copos: I have past experience to speak for me. The deals of my companies were always transparent. This is one of the reasons I decided to get into politics in 2004: that I successfully conducted business with no help from politicians.
JN: Who will take care of your businesses once you will get elected?
Copos: There are clear legal provisions in place and we all are called to respect the rules of the game. Obviously, once elected I will resign from all Councils of Administration of the companies in the ANA Group. I will leave the business into good hands, to a new president and Council of Administration.
JN: What do you know about the work in the Senate?
Copos: The Senate approves the drafts of law. Also, the Senate has wide control prerogatives over the Executive. It is also engaged in parliamentary diplomacy, which is very important since there are a lot of things to accomplish internationally in the future, and the tasks will not be easy.
JN: If elected, what parliamentary committee would you like to be in?
Copos: That will not be up to me.
JN: But there are parliamentary committees dealing with foreign affairs, or with the industry, or â¦
Copos: Sure, I would be more interested in working in a committee dealing with the businesses, since there I could bring an important contribution. I would very much like to be part of such a committee.
JN: Would you refrain from debating a law which will benefit your businesses?
Copos: I believe that the parliament should adopt laws favoring the whole business community. Itâs impossible to pass laws that will benefit the businesses of one person only. Whatâs important now in Romania is to arrive at a stable, healthy and predictable business environment, to lower taxation on income and on capital returns. So, Iâd have a lot to contribute to the Senate. Senators should take part in the debates no matter the topic. These are at least two of the reasons why I should not refrain myself from taking part in any debate.
JN: You have a favorite theme: the beauty of life. Do you have an electoral slogan or would you design one in which to use it?
Copos: This expression I used for the Rapid soccer team. I know what lies ahead, I can accomplish what people want me to and I am ready for the task. Here: "I know, I can and I will" could stand for a slogan.
JN: Will you use the image of Rapid soccer team for campaigning?
JN: But have you thought that it could bring in votes for you?
Copos: Maybe this will be feasible in 2008, when I plan to take the team to the Champions League; for the time being this is not doable since Rapid did not do its best and I did some mistakes too when deciding on the roster of Rapid. But I think the team will be competitive by 2008, and by then my political targets could change too.
JN: If elected, you will go to work, at the Parliament building, by chopper?
Copos: I do not own a chopper. I will ride a bicycle or an umbrella if need be.
JN: And you will leave your latest model BMW under a thick layer of dust in your garage?
Copos: I will use it to go see the people who trusted me with their vote. I will take the opinions of the people in the Arges County to the Senate. I will definitely use my own cars and not depend on those provided by the Senate.
JN: What would you do then if your peers will comment on you using the latest model of cars?
Copos: We are in the third millennium already, when most cars have similar characteristics.
JN: But many of them will ride locally produced Dacias, of the Logan model, at best.
Copos: I think that one should keep the balance in everything one is doing. I was a decent man all my life and I will always live up to this standard.
Translation : ANCA PADURARU
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