Securitate files opened
On Wednesday it was possible, for the first time, for Romanians to see what information was held about them in the files of the Communist secret police, the Securitate. It has been suggested that files are held on almost two million Romanians with records showing that up to 700,000 citizens acted as informants.
The daughter of the poet Lucian Blaga stated that she had looked at their files. Dorli Blaga said, "I could not read the whole record. There are hundreds of pages of informative notes, recordings of telephone calls, or talks which took place in our house. Which means that we had microphones placed in all the rooms. Everything is written in the record: when we woke up, when we ate, when we wrote. They were spying on us even in the most intimate moments." (Nine o'clock, 29 March 2001)
National College for the Study of the Securitate Archives (CNSAS) head Gheorghe Onişoru said, "We have got to come to terms with our 45 years of communist past with its light and shadows. That is why it's important for Romanians to see their file." (Agence France Presse, 29 March 2001) However, the Security Minister from 1963 to 1973, Ion Stănescu, said that the Securitate was a necessary evil. He added that public access to the secret police files was a bad thing as it created the antithesis to national reconciliation.
Evenimentul zilei illustrated the extent that the Securitate infiltrated society by printing an interview with a priest, Eugen Jurca. Jurca revealed that he was an informer for the secret police. When a student, he wrote reports on foreign visitors and on his colleagues for the Securitate. Subsequently he reported colleagues' opinions about foreign visitors and the political views of his peers.
Reports have appeared during the week that the National College for the Study of the Securitate Archives (CNSAS) file on the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, His Sanctity Teoctist, reveals things about his past. It is alleged that he was a member of the fascist Iron Guard in 1940 and subsequently an informant for the Securitate during the Communist regime. The reports also make allegations as to the Patriarch's sexuality. President Iliescu criticised the reports saying, "A 87 year old man deserves more consideration and respect from everyone. It is a lack of decency from some who attack the heads of the Romanian Orthodox Church." (EvZ, 24 march 2001)
Minister for European Union Integration Hildegard Puwak has suggested that here is no need to set a target date for admission into the European Union (EU). She believes that it is more important to meet the requirements of the European Commission than to set a time scale. Puwak said, "The decision depends on provable progress. It is more important to do something about the criticism written in the European Commission report for the year 2000 than to set a date." (Nine o'clock, 27 March 2001)
In the week that Puwak begun to prepare the next four chapters of negotiations on energy, social policy, employment and taxation she was faced with stern comments from the EU permanent representative in Romania, Fokion Fotiadis. Although Romania is moving towards political compliance for entry into the EU it still has to meet the challenge of the market economy. According to Fotiadis, "At the end of the day joining the EU will be less influenced by closing all chapters in the aquis communautaire and more by the evaluation of economic performance." (RFE, 28 March 2001)
He continued by setting out the key elements of economic development that need to be addressed. These include bringing down the rate of inflation, making the process for inward investment more simplistic and continuing progress towards macroeconomic reform.
The leader of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to Romania, Neven Mates, said that he expected the 2001 budget to concentrate on producing lower inflation with the support of a stable system of taxation. He called for a greater degree of fiscal discipline from the state run companies particularly with regard to arrears.
The IMF team have expressed their displeasure with the government's proposals to give what they refer to as "disguised subsidies" to state businesses which are in difficulties. Prime Minister Adrian Năstase said, "I hope, during April and May to finalize negotiations with the Fund on a new stand-by agreement." (Reuters, 23 march 2001)
The draft budget was approved by the Government at the end of last week and now goes to Parliament for debate. Năstase has called on Parliament to finalise the budget by 15 April even though it will mean both Saturday and Sunday sittings for members of both chambers. Already the budget is under fire from the constructive opposition parties and from ministers who believe that it does not give enough to their departments.
The strongest criticism has come from National Liberal Party (PNL) Vice-President Călin Popescu Tăriceanu, who has accused Prime Minister Năstase of showing a lack of seriousness in his negotiations with the IMF. He believes that the talks have already failed and this will jeopardise the whole budget.
Ovidiu Tiberiu Muşetescu, the minister for the Privatization Authority, suggested the possibility of using the secret services to supply additional material on companies involved in shadowy privatisation deals.
However, Finance Minister Mihai Tănăsescu rejected the call saying that interference by the security services in the privatisation process would not be seen in a good light by international financiers. Tănăsescu also suggested that archives concerning any privatisation that has been found to have illegal elements should remain classified for 50 years. The Minister felt that revealing these things would damage the political structure of the country.
Details have emerged about the privatisation of the State Savings Bank (CEC). The Minister of Finance has reached an agreement with the World Bank that the privatisation of the CEC will be spread in stages over the next eighteen months. However, over this time there will be 7000 redundancies as a result of restructuring.
President Ion Iliescu told an international conference in Bucharest that Romania had, "managed to maintain and consolidate a climate of ethnic harmony and tolerance. We can no longer accept speeches ... whose anti-Semitic and xenophobic behaviour harmed Romania so much in the past." (Nine o'clock, 27 March 2001) Iliescu, who refused to be drawn on the views of the extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM), added that Romania had signed up to international human rights legislation and ensured, through its Constitution, that minorities had a right to be represented in parliament.
He went on to suggest that education and the media had an important role to play in promoting the values of Romanian society. He gave as examples diversity in ethnicity and religion, tolerance, democracy and pluralism as values which have been an integral aspect of society since the fall of Communism.
According to the Cluj daily Szabadság, at least 800,000 Hungarians who live in Transylvania are to apply for papers establishing their ethnicity. The papers, which could lead to an entitlement to privileges from Hungary, should only be granted using objective criteria said Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) leader Béla Markó. Hungary's proposed Status Law gives an annual grant of EUR 82 to Hungarian families who have two children attending ethnic Hungarian schools but who live outside the state's borders. Markó says that this alone could be the main factor for poor families applying for documents to establish their ethnicity.
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