Books on Romania
Update No: 116 - (25/01/07)
EU accession euphoria leaves room for gloomy days in
Moody winter days took reign in Romania over the last month as the country and
its southern neighbour, Bulgaria, are coming to terms with EU accession
following huge celebrations to mark boosting the Union to 27 members on January
1, 2007. Impressive fireworks lit the skies of Bucharest, Sofia and other cities
across Romania and Bulgaria on a mild New Year's Eve.
But they did not last long - with the exception of the Romanian city of Sibiu,
which has the honour of representing the European Cultural Capital for 2007.
The accession of Romania and Bulgaria means the EU will now have some 30 million
more citizens, although not all of them will have all the related privileges.
That was enough to lure throngs of hundreds of thousands in downtown Bucharest
and Sofia to celebrate the event, with national and international performers,
local authorities and European officials as important as EU Commissioner for
Enlargement Olli Rehn as gifted masters of ceremony.
In Bucharest, it was the TV that helped President Traian Basescu spread his
message hailing the success of EU membership. "It was hard, but we reached
the end of the road - the road of our future, the road of our joy," he said
during celebrations in Bucharest.
"You are not alone. The EU is with you," sounded the message of
Commissioner Rehn, EU Parliament president Josep Borrell and other EU officials
visiting Sofia, Bucharest and Sibiu, the 2007 Cultural Capital of Europe.
The EU accession fulfils a dream both countries have pursued since applying for
membership in 1995, six years after they threw off their communist regimes. They
started the negotiations in 2000 and, on the back of impressive economic growth
over the past several years, concluded them in 2004, but kept a long series of
problems still to be solved in the first years since accession.
The European Commission finally agreed to let them in in September this year
despite some members' concerns about the lack of substantial progress in
tackling corruption and reforming the state institutions in Romania and
PSD Asks Prosecutors To Investigate Romania's President and PM
Romania is notorious for two things - corruption and Dracula. Actually a
there is a third -Vlad the Impaler. It is impaled at the moment by a running
scandal involving corruption.
National Executive Committee of the Social Democratic Party, or PSD, met on
January 20th in order to decide on initiating a possible censure motion and to
talk about starting the procedure on suspending Romania's President from his
PSD head Mircea Geoana said the social-democrats would meet for "dismissing
two actors guilty of the present political crisis." Geoana requested the
resignation of Romania's PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu and announced the party he
leads would start procedures for suspending President Traian Basescu from his
At the end of the meeting, Geoana said PSD would request the anticorruption
prosecutors to investigate the corruption accusations brought to each other by
Basescu and Tariceanu.
Geoana said PSD would "immediately" notify the prosecutors and ask
them to start a criminal investigation if the Prosecutors' Office within the
High Court of Cassation and Justice and the National Anticorruption Department
will not start the investigation by themselves.
Dracula Castle Too Expensive For Romania
EU membership seals one thing for certain - Hungary will never get back
Transylvania, wrested from it in the First World War and vested in it by the
Treaty of Trianon in 1919. Its most notorious denizen is of course Dracula.
Romania's culture minister said he won't pay US$78 million for the Hapsburg
royal family's so-called "Dracula's castle," Mediafax reported on
Culture Minister, Mircea Iorgulescu, said the ministry will give up its option
to buy the Bran castle, one of Romania's top tourist sights in central
Transylvania, Mediafax said.
Iorgulescu said if Dominic von Hapsburg, a US architect and son of Princess
Ileana of Romania who inherited the 14th century fortress, wanted to sell the
Bran castle, the government -- as the owner -- would take its furnishings and
AEGON and Banca Transilvania to Form Partnership in Romania
Business deals are another matter. With full government approval, the Dutch
firm, AEGON, and Banca Transilvania have signed a memorandum of understanding to
jointly develop and operate a mandatory pension company in Romania. The 50-50
joint venture company will be established during the summer of 2007 in
anticipation of the mandatory pension system, which is expected to be
operational in Romania by early 2008. In addition, AEGON will establish a life
insurance company in Romania that will enter into a distribution agreement with
Banca Transilvania to sell co-branded products through the bank's extensive
network of 340 branches. The pension company will be based in Cluj-Napoca,
capital of Transylvania, Romania.
Donald J. Shepard, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Executive Board
of AEGON N.V. stated, "We are delighted to fulfil our intention to enter
Romania with such a strong and respected partner as Banca Transilvania. This new
partnership continues our focus on developing AEGON's presence throughout the
Central and Eastern European region where we believe we can achieve above
average growth over the next several years. With the introduction of a mandatory
pension system in the coming year, AEGON looks forward to providing customers in
the region with life insurance and pension solutions that will meet their
The following is self-explanatory:-
Bulgaria and Romania, two former communist states have joined the European Union
as of January 1. What will be their role in the formation of common European
policy? How will their accession impact the region?
A view from Poland
Former communist states, Bulgaria and Romania celebrated on New Year's Day
their accession to the European Union, raising the blue and gold flags in Sofia
and Bucharest, as international commentators wondered about the role that the
new members will play in the enlarged bloc.
Adam Burakowski, expert on Romanian and Bulgarian issues from the Institute for
Political Studies of Polish Academy of Sciences:
'The significance of the accession for both countries is colossal. Both
governments point out that the EU is now joined by the oldest country on the
continent, since the beginnings of Bulgaria date back to AD 681 and also Romania
deems itself the oldest country though its existence has not continued
uninterrupted. The elites as well as society consider the accession a fulfilment
of a historical process of welcoming these two well-deserved countries and
nations into the European family.'
Burakowski looks at practical consequences of the enlargement for all interested
'EU citizenship allows for free travel and employment in many countries,
including Poland. The EU itself both benefits and loses, though I think the
benefits exceed the losses. The access to the Black Sea is of great importance,
as well as the developing markets. Part of real estate investments have shifted
from Poland to Romania and Bulgaria, especially in both capitals and the
Bulgarian Black Sea coast. That leads to the development of those countries, as
they will aim to use the European subsidies for less developed regions, which
might in fact be unfavourable to Poland, as we also would like to use these
funds. Most definitely security in the region will improve. New possibilities
for free flow of capital and people will be created.'
According to Burakowski, Poland's cooperation with new EU states might be
helpful in solving the embargo conflict with Russia.
'The embargo on meat from those countries to Russia was a way of punishment for
two former States for joining the EU. I hope that Poland will manage to start
cooperation in this area with Bulgaria and Romania, though I think that this
will be easier to do with Romania. Let's see what the expected visit of Polish
president Kaczynski in Bucharest will bring.'
Stejarel Olaru is the National Security Advisor to the Romanian Government. He
would like to see the Black Sea region perceived as more important, with Romania
and Bulgaria as leaders:
'I think Romania should improve its position in Europe. Now, since we are EU
members, we must be more careful with our partners in order to show all EU
countries that the Black Sea region is a very important region and Romania as
well as Bulgaria should be more involved in this region, as leaders of course.
On the other hand, I'm sure that Romania will have a very strong position and a
very powerful voice as a partner in the EU. I'm not talking only about the Black
Sea region. I'm talking about the Balkans and the Central and Eastern European
George Gotev, editor in chief of the "Bulgaria in the EU" press centre,
sees his country's role as an important factor in further integration of the
'I think Bulgaria has a lot of knowledge of its region which was called the
Balkans before, now it's the Western Balkans. Bulgaria has avoided conflicts on
its territory while the former Yugoslavia has conducted five wars.
I think Bulgaria has a good example to give to other countries from the region
who also have the perspective of membership in the European Union and I think
that if Bulgaria is successful with its accession, it will help the region
greatly. Bulgaria is not happy to have its Western neighbours, Serbia and
Macedonia, outside the European Union, because in order to go to Vienna, we have
to leave the European Union, that is the Bulgarian territory, enter Serbia and
then re-enter the European territory in Hungary. We would prefer not to have any
borders between Sofia and Vienna. That is why we are very much in favour of
further enlargement and hopefully we will be a good example which could speed up
the process for these countries'
Contrary to common fears, Poland is not threatened by a sudden influx of cheap
workforce from Bulgaria and Romania, says Adam Burakowski from the Institute of
Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences:
'Living conditions in Bulgaria and Romania are not that bad to make people
immigrate to Poland. And other countries of the old EU have not opened their job
markets. Perhaps after the attractive job markets in the old EU countries are
opened, we may witness massive emigration. So far, Romanian and Bulgarian
citizens have for years been emigrating to the West, especially to Italy and
Spain. It is estimated that out of 22 million citizens of Romania, about 2
million have left their country to work both legally and illegally in EU
Meanwhile, early on Monday, January 1, Bulgarians and Romanians flocked to the
only bridge between the two countries to see the dismantling of border post
148.8m Euro injected into CEC
Romania's Finance Ministry has injected 148.8 million Euro (500 million lei) in
the capital of savings bank Casa de Economii si Conesemnatiuni (CEC) to raise
the bank's share capital to 649.7 million lei, the bank said on January 3rd in
an e-mailed statement. The ministry transferred 500 million lei into CEC's
account on December 29th in the first financial injection to the bank since
1989, CEC said in a statement, New Europe reported.
Romania's cabinet said a week earlier that it will raise CEC's share capital by
150 million Euro following its decision to cancel the sale of a 69.9 per cent
stake in the bank. The government decided to cancel the privatisation attempt
after it received just one bid for CEC - from the National Bank of Greece (NBG).
Romania's Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu said on December 22nd that CEC
will undergo changes to improve the bank's management and the privatisation of
CEC will not be restarted in the next two years. CEC ranked eighth among
Romanian banks in terms of assets at the end of September, with a market share
of four per cent.
OTP Bank Romania buys 105 ATM's
OTP Bank Romania, the Romanian subsidiary of OTP Bank Hungary, has ordered 105
new NCR Personas automated teller machines (ATMs) in a drive to expand the
self-service areas at its branch offices, the company said in an e-mailed
statement, New Europe reported.
OTP Bank Hungary, one of Central and Eastern Europe's top-five banking
institutions, uses NCR exclusively for its self-service solutions. The purchase
includes NCR's leading APTRA™ software, including APTRA Advance NDC and APTRA
Promote for on-screen product promotions and advertising.
Agreement to step up cooperation with Japan
Japan and Romania agreed to step up cooperation in foreign affairs, their
foreign ministers, Taro Aso, and Mihai Razvan Ungereanu, said on January 10th
during a visit by the former to Bucharest, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)
Romania, Aso said, was an important element in Japanese foreign policy now that
it was a member of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
The aim was for Tokyo to create a region of "freedom and prosperity"
based on similar values and positions in international questions, he added. Aso
is also visiting Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia during a swing through Eastern
European nations ending January 15th. Romanian President, Traian Basescu, also
met with Aso.
MINERALS & METALS
Cuprom to acquire Serbian firm
Cuprom Romania made the highest bid of US$400 million to acquire copper
maker Rudarsko Topionicarski Bazen Bor of Serbia.
The Serbian government had set the price for its RTB Bor as low as US$266.65
million for three core divisions. Cuprom Romania announced to invest US$150-200
million in Bor over the next five years to restructure the company and buy new
equipment. Cuprom President Horia Simu said that all 4,200 current employees of
Bor will be kept intact. He added the company wants to cooperate with the locals
in Bor, Majdanpek and other towns in the region over a long period of time. The
Serbian privatisation agency confirmed the highest bidding of Cuprom.
Drug maker Actavis bids eyes Antibiotice Iasi
Icelandic drug maker, Actavis, was among the 22 potential bidders to submit a
letter of interest in the Romanian government's 53 per cent stake in Antibiotice
Iasi, company CEO, Robert Wessman, announced. Actavis Group is seeking new
targets after Barr Pharmaceutical stumped it for Pliva in September 2006 to
become the world's third-largest generics maker, behind Israel's Teva and the
Swiss Novartis, New Europe reported.
According to Nomura Code, Antibiotice controls about nine per cent of the
market. Actavis already has a share of eight per cent in Romania's generic
medicine market. With Antibiotice, Actavis could raise its market share to about
17 per cent, challenging Czech drug maker Zentiva. Antiobiotice's market value
is some US$300 million. Actavis would like to use its production facilities.
Since Actavis was created through the merger of two Icelandic drug companies in
2002, Wessman has spent more than US$1.8 billion in buying pharmaceutical
makers, boosting the company's total debt to nearly US$1.5 billion, website
Actavis is not planning new acquisitions in Russia, Europe's second-biggest
market for generic drugs behind Germany, Wessman said. The company last month
announced it had purchased 51 per cent of ZiO Zdorovje, a manufacturer based
near Moscow, for US$30 million. According to BBJ.hu the global market for copies
of branded medicines is expected to rise to US$100 billion by 2010 as
governments and insurers seek to save money on brand-name medications. Among the
other companies interested in Antibiotice are Biofarm, investment funds, and
Plans to build 200km of motorway in 2008-2018
Romanian Minister of Transportation, Construction and Tourism, Radu Berceanu,
said on January 3rd that the government plans to open 200 kilometres of motorway
per year during 2008-2018 to upgrade Romania's transportation system, website
Currently, funding for Romania's motorways construction has primarily come from
state budget or from European funds. For the new motorways, "we also need
to use funds coming from other sources, such as commercial credits and a
public-private partnership system," Berceanu said in an interview published
by the local daily Gandul. Berceanu said that the government is also considering
leasing as an option to raise funds, which will allow a high level of technical
maintenance of the motorway. The lease period may be 20-25 years. Meanwhile,
Romania is struggling to hasten all required procedures for motorway
construction from European funds, either non-repayable ones or credits from the
European financial institutions, Berceanu added. According to Berceanu, some 10
billion Euro will be needed for road construction and around eight billion Euro
for the railways.