The International Monetary Fund (IMF) conference in Prague has given Romania the opportunity to continue discussions about the postponement of their second tranche of the stand-by loan. Key areas of concern for the IMF are wage levels and company debt arrears, particularly in the public utilities sector.
Acting Governor of the Romanian Central Bank Emil Iota Ghizari contended that the IMF should take greater account of Romanian achievements and not focus solely on missed targets: "Unfortunately, structural issues are resurfacing. They cannot be addressed overnight. There are immediate political and social consequences, especially in an electoral year." (Reuters, 28 September 2000)
Prime Minister Mugur Isârescu emphasised that the government had already made budget revisions required by the IMF. He also reported that 60 per cent of companies had achieved a reduction in their level of arrears. The IMF is to make a decision on the release of the next phase of the loan in October. A positive decision is important for Romania because the loan is linked to obtaining other funding from the World Bank and the European Union.
The European Union (EU) Ministerial Council for Domestic and Justice Affairs moved towards granting visa exempt status to Romania this week. Romania and Bulgaria are the only two EU candidate nations whose citizens still require visas for travel within the European Union. A series of conditions to prevent illegal immigration into the EU was set out. Romania will have to meet these criteria to ensure that they become a visa exempt country.
Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea, Romanian chief negotiator with the EU has said that Romania will need to amend its Constitution before becoming a member of the EU. One of the amendments concerns land ownership so that EU citizens will have the right to purchase land in Romania. To approve any changes to the Constitution a referendum will be required.
Leader of the Party for Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) and former President Ion Iliescu has let it be known that he is committed to pursuing membership of the EU and NATO. Iliescu and his party continue to have a substantial lead in pre-election opinion polls. The presidential and municipal elections are scheduled for 26 November.
Iliescu, in Brussels for a series of meetings with EU and NATO representatives, commented: "My mission is to transmit this message, to both the EU and NATO concerning the continuity of the progress in our country. We hope to make it better because our integration is a precondition for the economic potential of the country." (Reuters, 27 September 2000) Some still believe that Iliescu's past links with Communism will drive the focus of his policies away from integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions.
Fondul Naţional de Investiţii collapse—the report.
The debate on the findings of the Parliamentary Commission investigation into Fondul Naţional de Investiţii (FNI) began on Wednesday. The report, presented by Chairman of the Commission Alexandru Sassu of the Democratic Party (PD), was criticised as it particularly linked members of the National Christian Democratic Peasant Party (PNŢCD) and the National Liberal Party (PNL) to the scandal. PNŢCD senators accused the report of "inadmissible political and electoral attacks" and "groundless and dishonest accusations." (EvZ, 27 September 2000)
The debate ended with parliament adopting a resolution which placed the onus on the Government to find a means of compensating the investors of FNI within 15 days of the publication of the resolution in the Official Journal. This could have considerable significance for the Government as the solution will be required to be made known during the election campaign proper.
The Minister of Education, Andrei Marga, and the National Council for Academic Assessment and Accreditation (CNEAA) suspended the rectors of the Bucharest Ecology University and Iaşi's "GT Popa" University of Medicine and Pharmacy on Tuesday for allegedly issuing fake diplomas. Investigations into the granting of forged diplomas to 60 Italian citizens, which allowed them to practice as pharmacists or doctors, led to the suspensions.
Wednesday saw the suspension turn into conflict. The senate of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Iaşi (UMF) unanimously decided to allow the rector to stay at his post and to take legal action against the Minister of Education and his Secretary of State. UMF stated the grounds for the action as being, "serious prejudice to the Iaşi educational establishment by unfounded and denigrating accusations." (Nine o'clock, 29 September 2000) Support for the University has come from the League of the Romanian Private Universities (LUPR) and from the Alma Mater Federation of the Romanian University Trade Unions (FSUR) with accusations of malpractice being leveled at the Ministry of Education.
Rights for ethnic Hungarians
Hungary will be asked to grant economic and social rights to Romanian citizens who are of Hungarian extraction. The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) is careful to point out that granting Hungarian citizenship to Hungarians who live outside Hungary should be seen in terms of individual and not of collective rights.
The proposals are to give individuals the right to education, employment and business opportunities in Hungary but not the right to vote or stand for offices of state. In the move, initiated by the Hungarian Union of the Free Romanians, proposals along with signatures of support are to be sent to the Hungarian Government for discussion in Parliament.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) took action against gymnast and gold medal winner Andreea Raducan on Tuesday for taking the banned substance pseudo-ephedrine. This had been a constituent of the medicine prescribed by the team doctor to alleviate Raducan's cold symptoms. An appeal against the decision was made unsuccessfully. Despair and anger has been reported from across the country with the nation fully supporting Raducan.
President of the Romanian Olympic Committee, Ion Tiriac has declared the decision of the IOC as ridiculous. He later announced that he would resign from his Olympic posts. The Executive Committee of Romanian Olympic Committee accepted a proposal from Tiriac last year which suspended for life any athlete who was found to have been taking banned drugs in competition. Tiriac refuses to contemplate banning Raducan.
Raducan has been given the support of Prime Minister Isârescu and Foreign Minister Petre Roman. Isârescu has awarded Raducan USD 30,000 from the Prime Ministerial fund while Roman has said that would use diplomatic channels to protest against a decision which was unjust and do everything possible to have the judgement reversed.
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