Representatives of 14 Central and Southeast European states—including the Presidents of Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Slovakia and Ukraine—met in Bucharest for The Summit on Environment and Sustainable Development in the Carpathian and Danube Region. The conference, which was organised by the Romanian government and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and co-chaired by President Ion Iliescu and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, prepared a six-point declaration. This set out a protocol of governmental cooperation in the Carpathian and Danube region so that it could develop as an economic and ecological resource.
WWF President Prince Philip said, "The purpose of the summit and of the declaration is to proclaim the commitment of the participating governments to the protection of the Danube-Carpathian region, and I think it is a remarkable political achievement." (RFE, 2 May 2001)
The Bucharest declaration is seen by some commentators as being the turning point for the environmental decline that began in the period of Soviet supremacy in the region and continued as a result of the economic impoverishment of the nations in transit. Daily newspaper Adevărul commented on the summit in an editorial: "Greening up industrial processes requires huge amounts of money, which many of the countries in the region are lacking. A grinding halt to industrial activities will mean aggravating unemployment and poverty, and an automatic risk of destabilisation." (Adevărul, 2 May 2001)
The article went on to report a call to the West for financial help from Albanian President Rexhep Meidani, pointing out that "it is more inexpensive to prevent ecological disasters than to erase their negative results." (Adevarul, 2 May 2001) Representatives of the European Union, World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the United Nations gave assurances that they were ready to support sustainable development programmes in the region.
The deputy coordinator of the Southeast European Stability Pact, Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu, opened the organisation's office in Bucharest this week. Ungureanu, the special emissary for southeast Europe, is responsible for monitoring funds for development projects in Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey and Yugoslavia. The daily paper Evenimentul Zilei commented, "The existence of such an office in Bucharest and the fact the Bodo Hombach's envoy is a Romanian can be of advantage for Romania in its relations with the European Union and NATO." (Evenimentul Zilei, 1 May 2001)
Romania has so far received Euro 360 million in funding for development projects from the Pact.
Minister of Finance Nicolae Tănăsescu and World Bank director Andrew Vorkink have signed an agricultural funding agreement. USD 80 million is to be made available to enable funding for rural development enterprises. Tănăsescu said, "This accord will facilitate access to rural funding and will become an active instrument to complete resources for SAPARD (Special Accession Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development) implementation." (Nine o'clock, 2 May 2001) A SAPARD National Agency and monitoring commission are to be established in Romania by June 2001.
NATO deputy Secretary General Klaus-Peter Kleiber told Prime Minister Năstase that the present Romanian government provides a more acceptable partner for NATO. He added that Romania's chairmanship of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and its leadership in regional cooperation were positive points towards acceptance into NATO.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mircea Geoană said that even if Romania was not offered membership at the Prague summit in 2002, they would keep trying. He said, "Romania hopes to be invited to join the North Atlantic Alliance in 2002, but if this doesn't happen we will not change our option." (EvZ, 3 May 2001)
The Moldovan Republic, passports and visas
The president of the Moldovan Republic, Vladimir Voronin, met with President Ion Iliescu, Prime Minister Adrian Năstase and other senior politicians during his official visit to Romania. Iliescu said that the two countries had agreed to improve economic links between them and to enter into joint development programmes. The President said, "Beyond the natural ideological and political differences between us, we want to stress our pragmatic relationship." (Nine o'clock, 2 May 2001)
The requirement that citizens of the Moldovan Republic would now need passports to enter Romania also proved a major discussion point. Iliescu said, "Moldova has a difficult situation with the Transdnestr area, which has become a centre of military and drug trafficking, and, because of this, we must ensure security measures for the migratory tide coming from this area and also the Middle East." (Rompres, 2 May 2001) Romania has to impose tighter border controls if it is to be seen as a serious candidate for accession into the European Union.
The cost of passports would prove to be prohibitive for the people who live in the Moldovan Republic. Romania and the Southeast Europe Stability Pact are looking at the possibility of sharing the cost estimated at USD 2.5 million.
Romania is the only candidate country seeking accession to the European Union whose citizens have to have visas for travel within the EU zone. However, Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne, the European Parliament's vice-president, told a European Students' Association conference in Cluj-Napoca that she had confidence that the present Romanian government would meet the EU requirements for visa free travel. "Romania will have to apply the same visa policy as the European Union. As far as I have seen, I think Romanian citizens will be able to travel free to Europe this year" said Baroness Nicholson. (EvZ, 3 May 2001)
Hot water supplies cut
More than 20 Romanian towns including Iaşi and Braşov have had their hot water suppliers terminated by the primary energy supplier Termoelectrica. The local energy supply companies are heavily in debt to Termoelectrica and were threatened that unless ten per cent of the debt was paid by 1 May they would lose their supply.
Debts of USD two billion are owed to the primary supplier—some of which go back to April 2000. Bucharest managed to stave off a cut to supplies when the local supplier RADET repaid a portion of their debt by the end of April.
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