Books on Romania
Update No: 121 - (27/06/07)
Romania under Ceaucescu suffered from a harsh dictatorial
regime, which had a glacial stability about it. Romanians are perhaps somewhat
relieved to have weak governments, which by and large they have had since the
1989 Revolution. They certainly have one now.
Romania lacks a stable government. It stays on sufferance for want of an
alternative. None of the possible alliances designed to form a parliamentarian
majority seem plausible any more.
The Social Democrats (PSD), the main Opposition party, have had no success in
negotiating with President Traian Basescu and his Democrat Party (PD), or with
Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu and his Liberals (PNL). The Social Democrats, the
home of former communists, seem to be excluded from any government formula.
Under these circumstances the Tariceanu cabinet may survive simply because all
the negotiations to supersede it have until now proved to be impossible. A
cabinet formed by Democrats (PD), Liberals (PNL) and Liberal-Democrats (PLD) in
a centre-right coalition is an attractive idea for many, but it is unfortunately
a utopian pipe-dream and wouldn't even have a firm parliamentarian majority. The
Liberals won't give up PM Tariceanu in order to cease the war between the
presidency and the government.
Early elections, the obvious solution, to be held in case a PSD
anti-governmental motion proves successful, may be hard to organize before June
2008, far too late.
The views of the mayor
In an interview for Jurnalul National, Adriean Videanu, Bucharest mayor and an
increasingly influential member of the Democrat Party, sees the former Interior
Minister Vasile Blaga (PD) as the most fit for the Prime Minister seat.
"The most legitimate prime minister for the moment should be a
Democrat", says Videanu.
"Not because of the Parliament's configuration, but because of the public
opinion expressed at the referendum (see below)," he says. "The ideal
solution would be early elections, because there is no way for a new and stable
government to be formed for the moment. PD doesn't want an alliance with PSD for
the time being."
So, it's settled: nothing changes, and the stalemate continues.
Poland, Romania hosted CIA jails: says Swiss Senator Marty, of the Cof E
An embarrassing scandal is breaking in Romania at a difficult time for a
fractured polity and a beleaguered president, who has fallen out with parliament
and the government. A European investigator says he has proof Poland and Romania
hosted secret CIA prisons under a post-9/11 pact to hunt down and interrogate
"high value" terrorist suspects wanted by the US. Swiss senator Dick
Marty said Poland housed some of the CIA's most sensitive prisoners, including
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who says he masterminded the September 11, 2001, attacks
on the US that killed almost 3,000 people.
"There is now enough evidence to state that secret detention facilities run
by the CIA did exist in Europe from 2003 to 2005, in particular in Poland and
Romania," Marty says in a report for the Council of Europe (C of E) human
Marty accused the former Polish president and the current and former presidents
of Romania of having known and approved of the secret CIA operations on their
soil. In a preliminary report last year, Marty said 20 mostly European countries
colluded in a "global spider's web" of secret CIA jails and flight
transfers of terrorist suspects stretching from Asia to Guantanamo Bay.
EU members Poland and Romania have repeatedly denied the existence of secret
prisons on their territory.
But innumerable reports indicate that the CIA used what could be described
as a 'lying curtain' to conceal from the world their interrogation and extra
judicial abductions of suspected al-Qaeda militants in secret prisons in Poland
and Romania. Official denials of its existence are grist to its mill.
The Agency enlisted top officials in those countries to create and conceal the
facilities. Current and former intelligence officials in Europe and the United
States told the Council of Europe that the interrogation facilities were hubs of
a global anti-terror campaign that used torture, clandestine flights and extra
judicial abductions known as extraordinary rendition, according to a report by
the council, which is based in Strasbourg, France, the LA Times has reported.
Although many of the allegations have been made by human rights groups, former
prisoners and the news media, the report provided new details about how
America's Polish and Romanian allies allegedly set up heavily fortified,
top-secret outposts where U.S. agents subjected "high-value" prisoners
to abusive interrogations between 2003 and 2005. "Poland and Romania agreed
to provide the premises in which these facilities were established, the highest
degrees of physical security and secrecy and steadfast guarantees of
non-interference," said Dick Marty, the Swiss senator leading the probe.
Romanian president survives
Nevertheless, President Traian Basescu survived a vote on his possible
impeachment in a referendum on May 20th. He called for dialogue with his
opponents in an effort to end the country's political crisis.
According to partial referendum results published, based on 91% of ballots cast,
74.3% of Romanians voted against the bid to impeach the president. The
referendum was however blemished by the lowest voter-turnout registered in
Romania since 1990, with only 43.9% of eligible voters turning up at the polls,
according to the partial results.
While Basescu's team said it was disappointed by the low turnout the president
nonetheless insisted the results reinforced the legitimacy of his mandate and of
his planned reforms, especially in the area of the judiciary.
The president, who was suspended in April after parliament rebuked him for his
"authoritarian tendencies," said he would "invite the politicians
to a dialogue on renewing the political class."
Basescu, who will have to wait for Romania's constitutional court and parliament
to confirm the referendum results before returning to office, has said he wants
to make broad changes, including revising the constitution, to "cut the
links between the oligarchs and the politicians" and "clean" the
political stage of the remaining relics of communism.
His call for dialogue was met with wariness by his opponents.
"We are prepared to discuss with the president, but only within the
framework of the constitution," said Mircea Geoana of the opposition Social
Democrats who led the campaign to impeach Basescu.
"While the electorate did not give Mr Basescu a red card, it did not give
him a free hand either," he added.
Prime Minister Tariceanu, a former ally of the president turned adversary,
agreed, insisting that "Traian Basescu must understand that the Romanians
have given him a second chance to begin acting like a responsible
"I respect this (referendum) decision and I will act in the spirit of
collaboration to benefit Romania," added Tariceanu, who is also head of the
National Liberal Party (PNL).
Observers meanwhile said the chances of bringing Romania's political crisis to
an end would depend on Basescu's attitude, pointing out that his powers were
limited and his reforms would result in little without parliamentary support.
"Basescu will continue his mandate with reinforced legitimacy, but the
hardest part has just begun," according to an editorial in the Cotidianul
Traian Ungureanu newspaper, which insisted the president had to start responding
to the expectations of the Romanian people.
The Gandul daily's editorialist Bogdan Chireac meanwhile wrote that "things
must also change at the heart of the government and in parliament" if the
ties with the president are to be repaired.
The following is a tour-d'horizon of foreign affairs from an insider source:-
Breakdown assistance to a fractured administration and a fragmenting
neighbourhood will be a hard test for incoming Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Adrian Cioroianu, as he talks to Ana Maria Nitoi
Every politician wants the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs. It has the
best opportunities for travel, the most interesting people to meet, the smartest
cars and gives a minister the role of an ambassador for a small country playing
on all international stages.
But no one envies Adrian Cioroianu as he takes up this new role.
Relations between key neighbours such as the Republic of Moldova, Serbia and
Russia are not at their best and there is trouble at home. Bridging the gulf
between President Basescu and Prime Minister Tariceanu will be hard to
accomplish with non-violent means.
The country's relationship with the Republic of Moldova has worsened in the last
Chisinau has decided not to allow Romania to open two more consulates to resolve
the 100,000s of Moldovan requests for Romanian visas. This is a deliberate
attempt to make it difficult for Moldovans to access the EU through Romania.
"We understand that, for now, there are different views on the
matter," says the new Minister. "That is why we hope that the
relationship between us will not become the prisoner of statements made in the
heat of the moment."
Cioroianu pledged, by the time we went to press, to travel to Chisinau and talk
with his counterpart to attempt to resolve the deadlock. This will be the first
big test of his diplomatic skills.
"We are a firm supporter of Moldova's European [Union] aspirations,"
says Cioroianu. "Any sincere attempt by Chisinau in this direction will
have our unconditional support."
Kosovo will be a major issue for Cioroianu. In the past, Romania has, on
balance, taken a more pro-Serbian line on the question of Kosovan independence
than many of its EU colleagues. The current UN proposal is for the
Muslim-majority province to be given an "everything but sovereignty"
status. This is a potential overture to full independence, a position rejected
The new Minister believes the best solution for the conflict is a UN strategy
negotiated and accepted by both Serbs and Kosovans. "In this delicate
period of defining Kosovo's status, maintaining the province's security is
extremely important," he says. "It is vital for the UN Administration
and the governing authorities to prove firmness and stop any attempt to raise
But Romania's position as a serious partner in negotiations deteriorated in
February, when several Romanian officers under a UN mandate killed two Albanian
protesters in a demonstration in Pristina.
The future status of Kosovo must not affect the current borders of the region,
says Cioroianu, guarantee the multi-ethnic character of the province, reduce and
eliminate organised crime, ensure economic development and not lead to ideas of
The Black Sea region needs more security, prosperity and democracy, but
Romania's effort last year to lead a Forum for the Black Sea saw little
enthusiasm from Turkey and Russia. The Minister salutes the recent European
Commission's statement to outline an EU policy in the Black Sea region, which it
will soon present.
What to do with Russia
Romania and Russia have a tricky relationship. During the campaign for
overturning his impeachment, Basescu invoked the ghost of Russophobia by
claiming that Romania should not rely upon energy resources from their Slavic
acquaintances. Regarding Bucharest's relationship with the Kremlin, Cioroianu
says: "We shouldn't forget the fact that Russia is the biggest of our
neighbours, a country with which we share a long common history marked by
important and sometimes dramatic moments."
The Liberal expresses "satisfaction" over his meeting in Belgrade with
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov. It is the economic dimension
of the relationship between Romania and Russia that is most developed, with
energy and metal firms such as Lukoil, Gazprom, TMK, Mechel, RAO EES and Ruskii
Aliumini's interest to invest in Romania.
Russia has been a long-term beneficiary of the trade relationship between the
two countries - with its exports to Romania putting to shame its imports. But
Cioroianu argues that there is a movement towards balance and his nation's
exports towards Russia grew in the last year by 60 per cent.
It is time, says the new Minister, for Romania to stop talking about being
an EU member state and start acting like one. Romania's qualified work force,
very well educated young people and continuously growing economy are its best
advantages, argues the Minister. Using these resources, he says, will help
Romania become the European Union's seventh state not only in population and
surface area, but economically as well.
But the Liberal does not subscribe to the concept of a Europe of two speeds,
with different development strategies for the pre-2004 member states and the 12
that since joined. He considers this dangerous for Romania.
At the same time, the Minister agrees with the idea of 'groupings' of countries,
where some are more economically developed than others.
"Differences exist and have always existed between the member states as
much as it exists in one country," he says.
"But I believe that these differences shouldn't lead to exclusions of
groups that have different views on the Union's future development. For us it is
essential to benefit, just like the other members did, from the wide range of
instruments and mechanisms that will allow us to catch up to the European
A seasoned observer of Romania's political horseplay, the 40-year-old
lecturer at the Bucharest University began his political career late, when he
joined the National Liberal Party (PNL) in 2002.
He started as a counsellor for then Liberal President, Theodor Stolojan.
Elected a senator in 2004, he was an observer of the European Parliament and
was, since 1 January 2007, one of its members.
He also chose to stay in the PNL, even when his mentor Stolojan and the pro-Basescu
wing left in 2006 to create the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD).
Sticking with the National Liberals paid off, as Cioroianu was rewarded with the
crown jewel of Government portfolios, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
However, this was not going to happen.
At the beginning of this year, the Prime Minister asked his party colleague,
Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, to resign from the Ministry because he failed to inform
the head of cabinet that two Romanians in Iraq had been imprisoned by the US
army on allegations of spying. Tariceanu then proposed Cioroianu for the
But President Basescu refused to appoint the historian due to his lack of
experience - he has never been a diplomat and has only five years in politics.
With only months spent as a member of the European Parliament, Cioroianu was
seen as a watcher and not a doer.
Many assume that there was another reason behind the President's obstruction.
Asked if he knows the real reason for the president's decision, Cioroianu says:
"No matter what it is, I am convinced it will come out sooner or
Now Cioroianu is viewed by some, including himself, as the future intermediary
between Basescu and Tariceanu, who hate each other.
He is the man the two leaders must talk through at summits, cabinet meetings and
across the dinner table.
This may be a tougher call than resolving Transnistria or Kosovo.
Radacini Motors' net turnover at 30.3m Euro
Radacini Motors recently reported a net turnover of 106.9 million leu (30.3
million Euro). This is a six-fold increase from the 2005 16.96 million leu seen
in 2005, according to the company's annual financial report, Ziarul Financier
Radacini Motors is the dealer for Opel, Chevrolet and Daewoo brands.
The company's profit reached 6.4 million leu (1.81 million Euro), an almost
11-fold increase on the 597,899 leu posted in 2005, it was reported. Set up in
1991, the company has been a Daewoo dealer since 1995, becoming a distributor of
the Opel and Chevrolet brands at the end of 2005. However, the company ceased
operating as a general importer for the Subaru brand at the beginning of last
year, the paper said. The company sold around 2,300 Daewoo cars last year,
compared with 3,000 units in 2005, 1,000 Chevrolet units and 1,400 Opel units.
The Radacini group consists of Radacini Motors, Radacini Leasing and Imex Braila.
Alro Slatina may take over thermal or hydropower plant
Romanian aluminium producer Alro Slatina is interested in taking part in the
privatisation of a power complex, so as to take over a thermal or hydropower
plant, while not ruling out the option of building an electricity production
facility in a green-field project in a neighbouring country, Nine o'clock
reported, cited by Reporter.gr.
Alro is the largest electricity consumer in Romania, accounting for eight
percent of the national consumption.
In order to ensure the necessary electricity, the company is considering three
options. The first is for regulatory authorities to modify the current billing
system, to distinguish between smaller and larger consumers. The second
alternative is to take over a power complex, a thermal power plant or hydropower
plant, which should be rehabilitated and upgraded. The third option is the
construction of a thermal power plant of up to 1,000 megawatts of installed
power, for which the feasibility study has already been initiated.
According to the study, the thermal power plant would use coal as a raw
material, which might be imported from Russia, Ukraine, New Zealand or
Australia, it was reported. Construction works should take two years, after a
financing source had been identified. "All companies interested in the
privatisation of the power complexes have asked us whether we want to buy energy
from them," Alro Board Deputy Chairman Marian Nastase was quoted as saying.
EMS acquisition by Enel approved
The privatisation of electricity supplier Electrica Muntenia Sud (EMS) by
Italian power company Enel has been approved by the Romanian government,
Romanian newspapers reported on May 31st, cited by Interfax News Agency.
The company is planning to invest more in the energy sector in the country, the
Enel was selected the winner of a majority stake in the most valuable Romanian
electricity distribution and supply company, Electrica Muntenia Sud, in
mid-2006. Enel paid 820 million Euro for a 67.5 per cent stake in the company.
State-owned electricity supplier Electrica operates with national coverage in
eight areas of Romania through eight different units, with EMS supplying
electrical power to the capital city Bucharest.
Electrica's portfolio has three distributors left for privatisation: Electrica
Muntenia Nord, Electrica Transylvania Sud and Electrica Transylvania Nord.
Enel announced that after the acquisition of EMS, the company plans to make
other investments in the region by participating in other ongoing and
Such tenders include thermoelectric power plants in the Southeastern Romanian
cities of Braila and Doicesti, as well as the nuclear power plant in Cernavoda
in Southeast Romania. Enel also intends to invest in the renewable energy sector
in Romania's through acquiring wind farms. The company is planning to invest two
billion Euro in Romania's distribution sector over the next 15 years, with one
billion Euro used to modernise EMS's network and to improving its customer
Rompetrol plans to list majority stake on London bourse
Rompetrol Chairman and CEO, Dinu Patriciu, was recently cited by the Bursa news
site as saying that the company plans to list a minority stake on the London
Stock Exchange in the next two to three years, Interfax News Agency reported.
The CEO also announced that the company has invested some US$600 million in
modernising its Petromidia refinery in the Black Sea town of Navodari in 2006,
"in order to bring it up to European standards." The Petromidia
refinery provides around 28 per cent of Rompetrol's revenues, the news site
Patriciu said the company also plans to acquire another refinery in Europe,
adding that there are currently seven refineries on sale on the continent.
Rompetrol's long-term goal is to be present in all countries in the Central
European region, through acquiring more filling stations. The oil firm currently
operates some 440 filling stations.
Rompetrol group reported revenues of US$5.6 billion in 2006, double the 2005
figure, after the purchase of French petroleum-products distributor Dyneff, it
was reported. The Rompetrol group expects US$7.5 billion in revenues in 2007 and
an operating profit of US$250-270 million. The main businesses of Rompetrol
include refining, exploration, distribution, industrial services, logistic and
Energy suppliers to bid for 1.65m MWh of electricity
Romanian energy suppliers will bid to acquire a total of 1.65 million MWh
(megawatt hours) of electricity put on the Romanian Centralised Market for
Bilateral Contracts (PCCB), which is administered by the Romanian Power Market
Operator (OPCOM), Romanian news site Bursa reported on May 30th.
The auction will take place on June 5th and 6th, while deliveries will be
conducted in the period of October 1, 2007 through December 31, 2008, it was
reported. Bids launched by Romanian energy suppliers include that of Romanian
power distributor Elcomex, which intends to acquire 330 MWh with a maximum offer
of 144 leu per MWh; ICPE Electrocond Technologies, which is planning to buy some
219 MWh at a maximum price of 148 leu per MWh; Green Energy, bidding for 219 MWh
with a 144.5 leu offer and Buzman Industries, which has plans to acquire two
packages of 440 MWh each at a maximum price of 145 leu.
FOOD & DRINK
Halewood Romania Q1 sales reach more than 2m Euro
Halewood Romania group, one of the leading wine producers on the local market,
has posted sales of over two million Euro in the first quarter of 2007, up 26
per cent on the same time last year, Ziarul Financier reported on June 4th.
"The sales increase was largely the result of effective distribution, which
was assisted by the restructuring of our sales department, in a new approach to
the market, as well as by our marketing operations," Halewood Romania
Marketing Manager Delora Panga was quoted as saying. She specified that the
results were in line with the expected growth rate, and did not generate any
significant changes in the estimates for the year ahead. Halewood is one of the
biggest wine importers on the local market, with exports accounting for 35 per
cent of the company's turnover in the first quarter of the year. In the long run
they are expected to account for 60 per cent of the turnover. "For the end
of this year, our objective is to double our market share and we intend our red
wines with appellation of origin to hold a six percent market share. In the wake
of this first quarter, we have met 30 per cent of our objectives,"
specified Delora Panga.
EBRD approves 50m Euro loan for modernisation
The management of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
approved a loan worth 50 million Euro (163.5 million leu) in co-financing,
alongside other banks, of the programme for the modernisation of the Romanian
Post infrastructure. The project, worth an aggregate of 60 million Euro (196
million leu), includes the construction and commissioning of the first automatic
sorting centre in Bucharest and the modernisation of the existing one in Cluj
Napoca. The EBRD will finance over 80 percent of the total cost of the project
that will enable the Post to increase its processing capacity with a significant
improvement of the quality of its services, New Europe reported.
UPC Romania to invest 40m Euro in 2007
UPC Romania will invest 40 million Euro this year to upgrade its communication
network and introduce a unique invoicing system at the national level, declared
the general manager of the cable-TV operator, Richard Anderson, Reporter.gr
"The upgrading of the network will allow furnishing TV, land telephony and
Internet services in all the medium and big size localities from Romania where
the company is present, until the end of 2007," Anderson was quoted as
saying. UPC Romania representatives announced that as of June 1, the subscribers
of the operator may make unlimited calls to any national land telephony network.
Thus, they launched two subscriptions, with values of 50 leu and 80 leu, which
include also the access to the Internet. By the end of 2008, UPC Romania will
close the re-branding operation, for which two million Euro was allotted.
Anderson also added that UPC Romania is interested to participate to the auction
for the acquisition of a WiMAX license. The networks of the operator provide
services to over 1.4 million clients from around 200 cities. Since it has
entered Romania, in 1992, UPC invested over US$500 million. UPC Romania is
affiliated to Liberty Global, a US company. UPC Romania reported revenues of 140
million Euro in 2006.
Nokia to invest 60m Euro in Tetarom unit
By the end of 2008, Nokia is due to commence the production of mobile phones in
its factory located in Tetarom III Industrial Park, Reporter.gr said.
Nokia plans to invest some 60 million Euro in this unit, and need a total of
some 3,500 employees for the production. Some 10 component providers are
expected to join this project and contribute around 200 million Euro for the
completion of the investment. In order to install utilities on the 159 hectares
plot of land, 33 million Euro is needed, of which 10 million Euro are set to be
covered by the local and county authorities and the remainder from governmental
funds, it was reported.
Orange Romania's 3G+ services coming soon
Orange Romania will launch 3G+ services in 10 cities on June 25th, increasing
thus the speed of transfer of the mobile data for the current clients of the
services 3G/EDGE, without increasing tariffs, Nine o'clock reported, cited by
The announcement was made by Orange Commercial Manager Thierry Millet as the
company celebrates 10 years of activity on the Romanian market. The clients of
the company currently using 3G/EDGE services will receive the 3G+ services at
the same tariffs as for 3G. The 3G service of Orange Romania has now 400,000
clients. The company intends to double the number of 3G clients until the end of
the year, according to Millet. By the end of the first quarter this year, Orange
Romania had income of 283.3 million Euro with at 8.2 million clients. The
company forecasts a boost of income to 1.1 billion Euro and of clients to nine
million this year. The mobile telephony reported over 8.2 million clients in the
first quarter of 2007. Orange is a member of the group France Telecom, one of
the biggest communication companies in the world, with almost 160 million
clients on five continents.