As Friday progressed and the position in Yugoslavia became clearer, President Emil Constantinescu welcomed Vojislav Koštunica as the new president of Yugoslavia. Constantinescu said, "Just as the Ceauşescu regime fell, any regime that defies its own people will also fall. The Milošević regime is over." (Reuters—6 October 2000)
Two faces of Petre Roman—statesman...
In a television broadcast on Thursday evening Foreign Minister Petre Roman appealed to the Yugoslavian army not to shoot at its own people. Roman was commenting on the demonstrations in Belgrade and across Yugoslavia, where enormous crowds took to the streets to demand an end to Milošević and his regime.
In likening the events in Yugoslavia to the Romanian revolution of 1989 when dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu was deposed, Roman said, "The military who might stay with Milošević must know they have no one to defend any more. It is so obvious that democracy can no longer be stopped and that there are no more reasons to defend Milošević." (Reuters—6 October 2000)
...and political candidate
Throughout the week, Petre Roman of the Democratic Party (PD) has been the consummate politician enjoying the cut and thrust of electioneering. He has criticised his opponents in the presidential contest and has likened all except Ion Iliescu as also-rans. He set the blame of the Fondul Naţional de Investiţii collapse firmly at the door of Prime Minister Mugur Isârescu, referring to the time when he was President of the National Bank.
He then set about attacking the man he believes to be his only worthy challenger, Ion Iliescu. Roman said that Iliescu was only seeking office for self-interest. He went on to say that the miners' violent action, the rise of corruption and growth of the gap between rich and poor were all markers of Iliescu's last presidency. He was in no doubt it would all happen again as Iliescu was no democrat, and neither did he support the concept of a market economy.
The opinion polls
The two latest opinion polls show that the Party for Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) and their presidential candidate Ion Iliescu maintain the lead in both parliamentary and presidential contests. A poll carried out by the Social Research Bureau (BCS) in late September showed 35 per cent of the sample favoured Iliescu as president while 38.2 per cent said that they would vote for PDSR candidates in the parliamentary elections. A poll carried out by the Romania Institute for the Sounding of Public Opinion (IRSOP) on behalf of the PDSR in early September also gave Iliescu and the PDSR the lead.
The nearest political group to the PDSR is CDR-2000, a newly constituted alliance which has replaced the Democratic Convention (CDR), chosen by 12 per cent of the sample. CDR-2000 only obtained official recognition as a political group during the week. The closest challenger in the presidential contest is current Prime Minister Mugur Isârescu who is preferred in the first ballot by only 18 per cent of the sample. He is followed closely by Theodor Stolojan, of the National Liberal Party (PNL), who was the choice of 12 per cent of those questioned.
The BCS poll also focussed, unusually, on the social standing of those questioned. It revealed that those with limited education, women and people over 60 years old preferred the PDSR. In contrast, those with higher levels of education, men, the young and people living in Bucharest and Transylvania preferred CDR-2000. Those who chose the PD tended to be young single people, especially those who had received a higher education, and people from the cities of Southern Romania, while those who chose the PRM fell within the 40 to 50 age group, were high school graduates and were divorced.
In equal third place appeared leader of the Greater Romania Party (PRM) Corneliu Vadim Tudor. How Tudor, whose electoral slogan is "To the polls or to arms," will fare in the elections could be influenced by the extreme opinion of some of his supporters.
On Tuesday, Senator Florea Preda of PRM demanded that Parliament take action to "reconsider Ceausescu's record, separate the good from the bad, the light from the darkness." (Agence France Presse—4 October 2000) He spoke in glowing terms of former president and dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, focussing on his qualities, vision and courage as a leader and statesman.
...while Iliescu faces distraint
Adrian Costea, the businessman at the centre of investigations by French magistrates into criminal activities which caused a major scandal in Romanian political circles earlier this year, has himself sought legal redress.
With the Romanian parliamentary and presidential elections rapidly approaching, Costea has asked that the Paris High Court to issue a distraint order against both the Party for Social Democracy in Romania and its leader Ion Iliescu. The order is to recover USD 1.25 million for the publication and delivery of election materials to the PDSR and Iliescu prior to the 1996 national elections. Iliescu and the PDSR have been summoned to appear in court in Paris on 2 November—three weeks before election day.
Human rights abused...
Although the Chamber of Deputies accepted that homosexuality was not a criminal offence over three months ago, the Senate has still to take that step. Homosexuality remains a criminal offence until this decision has been taken, punishable by five years imprisonment. Amnesty International has warned Romania that unless this human rights issue is dealt with quickly it could have a detrimental effect on entry into the EU.
A statement from the human rights organisation said, "Failing to do so in this last sitting before parliamentary elections would represent a broken commitment to the people of Romania to ensure that their rights and freedoms are effectively protected in the domestic legislation." (Agence France Presse—3 October 2000)
Ilie Ilascu, the Moldovan who advocates the reuniting of Moldova with Romania, has been given Romanian citizenship. Ilascu has been held prisoner in the breakaway Moldovan province of Dnestre under death sentence since 1992. Romania has consistently called for the release of Ilascu by the Dnestre regime.
Lawyer Lucian Bolcas who represents Ilascu said that he intended to demand the repatriation of his client to Romania. He continued, "In case they oppose, the issue will be presented to all international bodies dealing with human rights." (Reuters—5 October 2000) Molovan sources have expressed surprise at Romania's move, indicating that the action could affect Ilascu's standing as a member of the Moldovan parliament. He has twice been elected an MP since his imprisonment in Dnestre.
The Romanian ability to improvise
Monitorul Online reported on 4 October that a Romanian prisoner escaped from a German jail along with eight others last weekend. German police said that the prisoner used a spoon to excavate a hole in the prison wall, which was then enlarged using a chair leg. The escapee then drove off in the car of a prison officer.
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