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March - 2005

News Review

Four-party Coalition agrees to consolidate, on paper

The ruling coalition hopes to consolidate its position by signing a cooperation protocol for the current Government mandate. This aims to harmonise coalition activity at national and local level, while a National Coalition Council will decide issues regarding the proportion of the political parties in county institutions. Representatives of the coalition partners will have weekly discussions and, in extraordinary circumstances, any one of the parties can initiate discussions. PNL leader Tariceanu, UDMR leader Bela Marko, interim President of the PD Emil Boc and President of the Romanian Humanist Party (PUR) Dan Voiculescu all signed the document.

Early election possibility fading

Prime Minister Tariceanu believes early elections could only be taken in the case of a political crisis. This is not likely before 1 January 2007, he said, and even less likely before the EU treaty is signed on 25 April this year. Earlier this year President Basescu had voiced that he would prefer to have early elections in order to remove the “immoral” situation of having to cohabit the Government with the Romanian Humanist Party (PUR). Such a vote could give the DA Alliance a majority of seats in power, according to recent opinion polls.

Military service could end well before EU accession date

Tariceanu will end compulsory military service for men, in a move that may occur this year. He called this a “political decision” and said it would fit in with Romania commitments to NATO. At eighteen, Romanian men have to take part in military service for one year. University students go for six months, following graduation. But a significant number of men evade the duty through administrative loopholes and extended stays at college.

Amateur spies anger Nicholson

Former Rapporteur for Romania MEP Emma Nicholson has accused the previous Government of wasting the taxpayers' money by putting her under surveillance. Baroness Nicholson considered her stalking by the Romanian secret service as “amateurish” and as a “pathetic way of wasting money when there are more important needs to be solved, such as health, education and public services,” as reported in Evenimentul Zilei. “This monitoring is a Ceausescu-regime practice and is not appropriate in a democratic society.”

Basescu goes cold on gold

After his visit to 10 Downing Street this year, President Basescu seems to be in two minds on whether the Rosia Montana gold-mining project should continue. If during the electoral campaign Basescu did not hide his support for the exploitation, now the president has softened his tone. He has declared that if studies prove that further exploitation will have a negative impact on the environment, the project will be suspended. The Rosia Montana region carries the biggest deposits of gold and silver in Europe. Romanian state secretary Constantin Popescu has said the excavation is one of the four major threats for Romania's environment.

Getting closer to the east

Romania will not allow Republic of Moldova to be blackmailed on the issue of electrical supplies by Transnistria, promised President Basescu, during his visit to Chisinau at the beginning of this year. His declaration of support follows his intention of establishing a “privileged relationship” with Moldova, where he signed, with President Voronin, a declaration of cooperation in their common EU integration aims. Foreign minister Ungureanu also told Brussels that Romania would help open Moldova to the gates of the European Union. Basescu has informed Vladimir Putin, on his visit to Russia, that Romania wants to join the negotiating team of Moldova, Transnistria, Russia, Ukraine and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in ending the Transnistria conflict.

Romanian takes Canadian adoptive couple to court

Alexandra Austin, 22, is suing a Canadian couple who adopted her as a nine-year-old and then sent her back to Romania, where she lived in poor conditions for 13 years. She has asked for two million dollars in damages from her legal father, a prominent heart surgeon and his ex-wife, as well as the Canadian and Ontario governments. This follows the broadcast on Canadian television of a film 'Return to Sender' that highlighted her story.

Romania ♥ the EU

Romanians trust the EU more than other European nations, according to research conducted by the Delegation of the European Commission in Romania. Almost 75 per cent of Romanians have faith in the community they hope to join in 2007. Other strong believers are the Lithuanians, with 68 per cent and the Hungarians, with 64 per cent compared to the suspicious northern European nations such as the UK (36 per cent) and Sweden (33 per cent).

Direct Iliescu link to Kremlin under inquiry

A reported direct phone line between Cotroceni and the Kremlin during 1990-1996 by then president Iliescu will be further investigated by the Defence Committee in the Senate, senator Ioan Talpes said live on TV. "This affair, meant then to discredit Ion Iliescu, was the result of some interests in Moscow and St Petersburg," said Talpes, a former security counsellor in the Iliescu administration.

Presidential home could change for security reasons

A 500-square meter mansion, called Vila Lac Trei, will become the President's new official residence after important refurbishment, sources in the Protection and Guard Service (SPP) told Romania Libera. The SPP suggested he should move from his current residence for security reasons. The other option offered to Basescu was a villa in Emil Pangratti nr. 20, inhabited by Emil Constantinescu when president.