Central Europe Review Call forpolicy proposals...
Vol 3, No 22
18 June 2001
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News from Romania News from

All the important news
since 9 June 2001

Catherine and
David Lovatt


Appeal to national unity

An historic appeal has been made to the Romanian people by President Ion Iliescu, Patriarch Teoctist of the Romanian Orthodox Church and former monarch King Mihai I. They have jointly called on all citizens to work together for the benefit of the nation. Importantly, the appeal asks all Romanians to support those in society that are less fortunate. "We, all the Romanians, no matter if living at home or abroad, have the duty to think about the destiny of the Romanian nation... Romanian society is undergoing great changes and is facing many economic, social and political hardships. We are calling on you all to join in this effort. Let us show the whole world that we care about the orphans and the lonely old people. Let us show solidarity and attachment to general human values." (Rompres, 12 June 2001)


Rescue brings both relief and criticism

When two year old Alina Pascaru fell into a well in the village of Pipera near Bucharest, little did the villagers suspect that they would become the centre of media attention. The six hour effort to rescue the child was broadcast live on television as teams attempted to extricate her from a 30cm diameter well. Eventually, slim 18 year old Oana Furnica was lowered head first into the well and managed to grab the hand of the trapped child. She was acclaimed a heroine.

The rescue services have subsequently come in for considerable criticism from the media for their inability to meet the challenge of such a rescue. A representative of the Bucharest Fire Service explained that they did not have the proper equipment to carry out a rescue from such a narrow well.

An EvZ editorial on Wednesday added their criticism of the western media saying: "The images showed by the Romanian TV stations made the headlines in the West, though so far the West has said no word about the Appeal to all Romanians in the country and abroad launched by president Ion Iliescu, King Michael I and Patriarch Teoctist. But what can we do?" (EvZ, 13 June 2001)


Irish vote has little effect

The referendum in which the Irish people rejected the Treaty of Nice, which set out the criteria for the expansion of the EU, has received little comment in the Romanian media. It also seems to have little effect on Romanian aspirations to join the EU. The Ministry for European Integration (MIE) said in a statement that, "Romania is currently deploying all its efforts to meet the admission criteria, and the Government in Bucharest has assumed the mission to accelerate sustainable economic growth at home." (Rompres, 12 June 2001)

Although senior Romanian politicians and negotiators give the impression that the referendum result will have little or no effect on the move towards EU membership, an editorial in Monitorul gives a warning.

Using a comment from the Polish journal Gazeta Wyborcza, it cautions: "The Irish are opposed to our access to Europe. The result, unpleasant for us, is also a lesson of democracy for the whole Europe. You cannot promote big political projects without the people understanding them. You have to talk to them." (Monitorul, 13 June 2001)


A mixture of problems and hope

Romania has been assured of the support of Finland and Germany as it continues to seek membership of the European Union. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder told Adevărul that, "The new Government in Bucharest must be encouraged to continue the reforms it successfully started, I underline: successfully." (Rompres, 11 June 2001) He went on to emphasise the contribution made to Romania by German companies and said that the continued economic development of the country would encourage more investment.

Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Adrian Năstase was assured by the director-general of the Federation of British Industry that they were in favour of the expansion of the EU with Romania becoming a member of the institution.

European Union (EU) Commissioner for Enlargement Günter Verheugen met with Romanian Chief Negotiator Vasile Puşcas on Tuesday. Verheugen commented, "the state of negotiations with Romania clearly mirrors the state of affairs in the country itself—a lot of problems, a lot of weaknesses, but also some progress and a lot of hope." (RFE, 13 June 2001)

The Romanian papers on Wednesday concentrated again on the Baroness Nicholson Report. Adevărul reports that Foreign Minister Mircea Geoană was told during a meeting with European Parliament rapporteur Nicholson that the text she had presented to the European Commission "may have not been correctly translated." (Rompres, 13 June 2001) The journal continues by reporting that the intention of the Nicholson document was not only to recommend close monitoring of the situation concerning institutionalised children but also to spur the Romanian government to take action.

This weekend sees the EU summit meeting in Gothenburg, where a key agenda element will be the eastward expansion of the union. The Swedish presidency of the EU is determined to move forward on the enlargement issue during the summit and believes that the Irish referendum result will prove to be a spur to progress and not a stumbling block. Swedish Secretary of State Lars Danielsson said, "The most important task for the summit in Gothenburg is to establish, once and for all, that the enlargement process is irrevocable." (Nine o'clock, 15 June 2001)


Financial Boost

The Standard and Poor credit agency's country risk rating for Romania has been increased from B minus to B. Prime Minister Năstase has welcomed the decision at this crucial time in the stand-by loan negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Năstase was quick to point out that the improvement was due to his government's actions to control and improve Romania's economy.

He added that the speeding up of the privatisation of state owned industries and the negotiations with the World Bank on the PSAL II programme were factors which had been in Romania's favour. The Prime Minister said, "The talks with the IMF are carried along in three directions: steady economic growth, deflation and financial discipline. The S&P communiqué gives us the confirmation that our efforts and achievements are acknowledged." (Nine o'clock, 10 June 2001)

The latest figures from the National Statistics Board (CNS) add to the positive economic picture. The inflation rate for May 2001 is at the lowest level since the beginning of the year, standing at 1.7 per cent.

Catherine Lovatt and David Lovatt,
15 June 2001

Moving on:


Evenimentul zilei/EvZ online
Agence France-Presse
Associated Press
Nine O'Clock



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Sow and Reap

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Shedding the Balkan Skin

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Czech Historical Amnesia

Dejan Anastasijević (ed)
Out of Time

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Hungarian Oil Scandal

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After the Rain

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