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Vol 3, No 17
14 May 2001
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News from Romania News from

All the important news
since 5 May 2001

Catherine and
David Lovatt


Ilaşcu released

Greater Romania Party (PRM) Senator Ilie Ilaşcu has met President Ion Iliescu at the Controceni Palace after his Transnistrian authorities since 1992. Following his release, Ilaşcu was protected by the Moldovan security services before being passed into the charge of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) at the border crossing.

However, PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor was furious that Iliescu had met the released Bacău County Senator before his party had welcomed him back to Romania. He said that Iliescu had "hijacked Ilaşcu just as he has hijacked the [1989] Romanian Revolution." (RFE, 9 May 2001)

The controversy was forgotten when Ilaşcu entered the Romanian Parliament where he was welcomed by members of all parties. He was feted as a national hero by speakers from PRM and the ruling Party for Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR).

Ilaşcu thanked Parliament saying that their support was, "not just for myself, but for all Romanians in Bessarabia and in the Transdniester." (RFE, 10 May 2001) Subsequently, the Senate elected Ilaşcu President of the Senate Health Commission.


News from Government

Prime Minister Adrian Năstase has promised that the government will take action to improve the economy. He intends to speed up the process of privatisation and remove incompetent managers from state owned companies. Năstase is also to take action over company debts.

Commenting on the way debts have been dealt with by previous administrations, the Prime Minister said, "Many of the re-scheduling operations were based on political and subjective criteria." (Curentul, 9 May 2001) He is demanding that the Finance Ministry prepare and use objective criteria which do not benefit companies seen as political friends.

President Iliescu told a conference that investing in Romania was an act of wisdom. He told the Economist Conference that, "We wish to accelerate the reforms, to remove the barriers and obstacles in the way of economic activities, to fight corruption and bureaucracy in the central and local administration and to create a stable legislative framework." (Rompres, 8 May 2001)

Labour and Social Solidarity Minister Marian Sârbu has announced that both private and state owned companies will be allowed to repay their current debts to the welfare budget over five years. However, last year, similar arrangements put the welfare benefits of the unemployed and pensions at risk.

The minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Ilie Sârbu, has confirmed that this year's wheat crop will weigh in at seven million tonnes. Sârbu said, "The spring farming campaign is going very well, and we can hope to have the best crop in the past 5-6 years if weather permits." (EvZ, 8 May 2001)

Head of the Parliamentary Commission which oversees the work of the SRI Ion Stan has demanded that the SRI carry out an investigation into who ordered the fabrication of documents that could be used to compromise certain people in the public eye. Apparently, many such documents were discovered during the investigation into the allegations made about the role of SRI head Radu Timofte in the security services prior to 1989.


Action against corruption

Corruption allegations have hit prosecutors and judges linked to the Bucharest Court and Court of Appeal. On Monday, a prosecutor and a judge were arrested on accusations of corruption. Two other judges have been accused of taking a bribe and have been forbidden to leave Bucharest.

The accusations are linked to a case brought against Shimon Naor for illegal arms trading. Naor was arrested in 1999 and, according to information released by the Ministry of Public Information, bribes were passed to prolong the court case. Judges subsequently released Naor on bail and he left the country for Israel. He has failed to return to appear in court.

The Iaşi County Military Prosecutor's Office has announced an investigation into the actions of two SRI officers. A complaint that the officers had been given money by the owner of a security company in return for information about company mangers in need of his services led to the investigations.

Officers of the General Police Inspectorate (IGP) are questioning four former directors of the State Ownership Fund (FPS) following allegations of abuse of office. It is alleged that they sold the Bucharest based company CICO for an unrealistic price.

Two of the directors still hold senior positions in the Authority for Privatization and Administration of State Participations (APAPS), which was established in 2001 by the PDSR government to replace the FPS.


King Mihai offered residence in Romania

Minister of Public Administration Octav Cozmâncă has announced that former King Mihai of Romania will be offered the Elisabeta Palace as his residence in the country. Cozmâncă added that this would be done under a bill which has already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies and is currently proceeding through the Senate. This bill gives particular rights to former Heads of State, including the right to a salary set at 50 per cent of that currently drawn by the President.

May 9 is celebrated as Romanian Independence Day and Europe Day. In a Presidential message, Ion Iliescu praised former King Mihai for his role in the fall of Ion Antonescu in 1944. His message unexpectedly referred to the former monarch, who is due to make an official visit to Romania, as "His Majesty"; at the time of writing, the visit was scheduled for 18 May and was to include a meeting with President Iliescu.


Rights for Hungarians in Romania

The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) has announced a huge increase in membership, which they believe will continue to grow. This appears to be linked to consideration in the Hungarian Parliament of a bill giving rights to Hungarians living outside the country. Social, cultural and educational rights will be bestowed on ethnic Hungarians who receive support from Hungarian organisations in their home country. One clause in the bill would allocate USD 80 each year to ethnic Hungarians whose children study in Hungarian educational institutions.

Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the PRM, said that his party would introduce a bill in the Romanian Parliament which would make such Hungarian proposals inoperable in Romania.


NATO problem?

An article by Sorin Moisa in Monitorul commented on a potential problem relating to Romania's drive for membership of NATO. In discussions with officials in Washington, USA, Moisa says "Between 1996 and 2000 PDSR was neutral as far as the support given to NATO was concerned." (Monitorul, 10 May 2001)

He goes on to explain that PDSR showed its neutrality by abstaining in the Parliamentary vote to allow NATO to have access to Romanian airspace during the Kosovo war. He also suggests that the US could interpret this neutrality as making Romania unreliable—would a PDSR led Romania put country before alliance in a crisis situation?

Catherine Lovatt and David Lovatt,
11 May 2001

Moving on:


Evenimentul zilei/EvZ online
Agence France-Presse
Associated Press
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