The State Budget bill was passed by Parliament on 12 April, with the government Party for Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) being supported by the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) and the Greater Romania Party (PRM). Around 300 amendments had been posted to the draft bill, but, of these, only three of the 50 accepted came from opposition amendments.
The National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Democratic Party (PD) voted against the budget bill. Subsequently, they referred the budget bill to the Constitutional Court. 53 members of the Chamber of Deputies believe that the bill, which was adopted by Parliament earlier this week, contains provisions which are unconstitutional. They are also challenging the bill on the basis of a breach in procedure.
Prime Minister Adrian Năstase criticised the PNL and PD as irresponsible for taking their case to the Constitutional Court. He said, "When PDSR was in the opposition, it showed wisdom by abstaining from this type of action." (Nine o'clock, 18 April 2001) The budget bill will now be delayed for at least two weeks. The PNL and PD have also suggested that the voting pattern of Parliament indicates that there is now a new governing coalition in Romania comprised of the PDSR, UDMR and PRM. UDMR leaders have denied this saying that their vote for the budget bill was based entirely on its merits.
The budget has also been challenged in the Constitutional Court by the Romanian Supreme Court, who argue that the budget is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court believes that it has been discriminated against as a result of Parliament failing to consider the Court's specific budget during the debate. The Romanian Constitution requires that the Supreme Court has a separate budget to conform to the principle of separation of government and judiciary. The Supreme Court establishes and passes its own budget while taking advice from the Finance Ministry. This is then confirmed as part of the state budget by Parliament.
PDSR-PNL protocol at an end?
PNL Chairman Valeriu Stoica has confirmed that the party's Central Standing Bureau (BPC) have unanimously approved a proposal to abandon the protocol that was entered into with the government party—PDSR. The proposal will now go to the party's Delegation of the National Representatives for a final decision.
The protocol between the two parties set out common goals which were agreed to be in the national interest. As a result, the PNL agreed not to propose motions of censure against the Government during 2001 providing the government party did not depart from the agreed principles. Stoica said, "PDSR has never been willing to abide by the commitments to continue the economic reform, to speed up the privatization and to restructure the State-owned enterprises, to cut taxes, revise the Constitution in order to guarantee property and reform of the political system." (Mediafax, 18 April 2001)
Stoica added that the PNL would continue to work politically towards achieving the objectives set out in the protocol.
The Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission for Control over the Activity of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), Ristea Priboi, has resigned. He said, "I'm aware that following months will be extremely important for a favorable decision at the NATO summit and I do not want to be an obstacle." (Reuters, 20 April 2001) The appointment of PDSR Member of the Chamber of Deputies Priboi to this sensitive post was met with much criticism from both politicians and representatives of the civil society. Under former Communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, Priboi had been a member of the intelligence services.
The resignation has been met with approval from across the political spectrum. Both the PNL and PD have supported the decision, while President Iliescu believes Priboi's action showed sagacity. Iliescu said that the media could "no longer turn Priboi into a crucial issue for Romanian policy. The case has been solved." (Nine o'clock, 20 April 2001) Priboi refused to comment on whether his resignation had been brought about by political pressure.
Priboi's resignation came the day before the Supreme Defence Council (CSAT) meeting to consider the future of the intelligence services in Romania. It appears that CSAT has to take account of two conflicting arguments. Prime Minister Năstase believes that all the intelligence services should be combined under one authority, while President Iliescu believes that separate organisations will deliver better results.
Corporal Fritz Schröder's grave
It is believed that the grave of German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's father has been found in Romania. Corporal Fritz Schröder served with the German army in Romania during the Second World War and was killed while on active service in October 1944. Chancellor Schröder's sister has been searching for the place where their father was buried for some time. She finally discovered the grave close to the Orthodox church at Ceanu Mare, where he was buried along with several comrades. Chancellor Schröder told the German daily Bild, "I am glad and nervous at the same time to finally find out where my father's grave is. I shall go there as soon as possible." (Monitorul, 20 April 2001)
President Ion Iliescu has offered the Schröder family all the help and assistance required to confirm the information and to make a private visit to Romania to visit the grave. Presidential spokesperson Corina Creţu said that Iliescu wanted such a visit by Chancellor Schröder to be respected as "a profoundly personal action, which should not be approached in a sensational manner or turned into a media show." (Nine o'clock, 18 April 2001)
Who let the dogs out?
The cull of Bucharest's estimated 200,000 stray dogs was due to begin on Wednesday of this week; however, officials found the dog pounds empty. It appears that animal rights activists have been adopting strays from the kennels but at least half of these have been released back onto the streets. Mayor of Bucharest Traian Băsescu has now called a halt to all adoptions and instructed that the cull should go ahead. Bãsescu said, "The killing of dogs has started, but no details on the number of animals put down will be made public." (Agence France Presse, 19 April 2001)
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