Hopes of an EU future
European Union (EU) Commissioner for Enlargement Günter Verheugen told a joint session of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate that "The problem is not whether Romania will be an EU member but when this is going to happen." (Mediafax, 26 April 2001)
Verheugen emphasised that the timescale depended on Romania's efforts to achieve integration, but believed Romania was moving in the right direction in its reforms. He continued by demanding progress on several issues including institutionalised children, treatment of ethnic minorities, judicial independence and, particularly, economic development.
Verheugen added that he had already established a good working relationship with the ruling Party for Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), Prime Minister Adrian Năstase and European Integration Minister Hildegard Puwak... "Romania is certainly not the odd man out and certainly has the chance to catch up. The present government has the most favourable environment yet to really turn this country around." (Reuters, 26 April 2001)
The current Chairman-in-Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoană. In presenting a report on OSCE activities in the first four months of his office, Geoană told ambassadors from OSCE member states that "Romania performs an active, dynamic chairmanship which will contribute to our country's accession to Euro-Atlantic structures." (Nine o'clock, 27 April 2001)(Nine o'clock, 27 April 2001)
Bucharest is preparing for the first visit of new Moldovan Republic President Vladimir Voronin. Romanian Foreign Minister Geoană considers the main purpose of the visit to be a discussion of the Transnistria situation, although he said that bilateral issues would also be on the agenda.
Recently, Voronin, also head of the Moldovan Communist Party, said that "Bessarabians have to prove to the entire world that the communist idea has a very sure perspective and that the failure which affected the socialist regimes is nothing but a temporary stage." (Monitorul, 27 April 2001)
Geoană will be in close contact with the OSCE controlling group (currently consisting of the Foreign Ministers of Austria, Portugal and Romania) throughout the talks, given the importance that OSCE places on a settlement in Transnistria and to resolving the case of Ilie Ilaşcu.
Transnistria is a predominantly Russian speaking area of the Moldovan Republic which has made a unilateral declaration of independence and established its own government. Ilie Ilaşcu is a Romanian citizen imprisoned under sentence of death since 1992 by the Transnistrian authorities for his outspoken political comments. He was elected to the Romanian Senate in last year's general election.
Romanian plans to change the agreement by which citizens of the Moldovan Republic only need to present an identity card to enter the country are likely to be on the agenda. From 1 July 2001 anyone from the Moldovan Republic will face passport controls when entering Romania. This action is part of the EU requirements for Romania to improve its border security, passport system and asylum laws.
On 30 June the European Commission is to review the security of Romania's borders-this is a crucial issue linked to visa free movement for Romanian citizens in the EU zone.
Senator Radu F Alexandru of the Democratic Party (PD) has called for the creation of an evacuation plan for citizens of Romania who live in the Moldovan Republic. He believes Romanians could be in danger if the Voronin regime becomes "a fortress of the Russian empire." (RFE, 25 April 2001)
Busy times for the Constitutional Court
President Ion Iliescu has given his assent to the Law of Local Public Administration, and now faces a motion to suspend him as head of state. Leader of the Greater Romania Party (PRM) Corneliu Vadim Tudor believes that the president has exceeded his prerogative and contravened the Constitution. The basis of Tudor's complaint is that Iliescu made his opinion of the bill known while it was still being contested in the Constitutional Court.
Tudor, who is now gathering signatures in support of suspending the President, said "Mr Ion Iliescu betrayed the national interests and is going to pay for that. He should understand that he cannot rule this country as he pleases." (Monitorul, 27 April 2001)
The Constitutional Court has also determined this week the referral made by 53 members of the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the PD concerning the 2001 budget bill. PNL and PD members believe that the bill contains provisions which are unconstitutional; however, the Constitutional Court decided by a majority that the budget bill is safe and rejected the objections.
Securitate list released
The National College for the Study of the Securitate Archives(CNSAS) have released a second list of candidates from the general election who previously had links to the Securitate (the secret police of the communist regime.)
The list included members from the full spectrum of political parties and alliances. Of note was the inclusion of PDSR member of the Chamber of Deputies Ristea Priboi, who resigned from his post as Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission for Control over the Activity of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) last week.
Chairman of CNSAS Gheorghe Onişor has supported Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) Director Radu Timofte at an enquiry into his alleged past links with the Soviet KGB. Onişor insisted that Timofte was a victim of the communist secret services and not a collaborator. He said Timofte "had been a Securitate victim, that he had never cooperated in any way with this institution and, on the contrary, he had been hunted by the Securitate." (Nine o'clock, 27 April 2001)
Former Director of SRI Virgil Măgureanu also supported Timofte telling the investigating parliamentary commission that Timofte had never been suspected of being involved with the KGB.
Prime Minister Adrian Năstase said this week that he would rather have an early general election than enter into an alliance with the PRM. However, the PNL—who have cancelled their protocol of support with the ruling PDSR—believe that this alliance is already in place. Their evidence is based on support that PRM has given to government bills, and on the alliance of the two parties between 1992 and 2000.
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