Books on Romania
Update No: 117 - (22/02/07)
The shadow of Ceausescu
Romania had the worst communist dictatorship in Europe under President Ceausescu
and his evil wife, a sort of poor man's Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The Romanians
remain traumatized by the years of Ceausescu tyranny. They dread the thought of
an over strong and blatantly arbitrary presidency.
There is a constitutional crisis right now in Romania, reflecting this fact. The
social democratic opposition are calling for the head of President Trajan
Basescu, which the government is neither in agreement with nor resisting,
waiting on developments.
The following sums the matter up admirably:-
Details of opposition Social Democrats' call for suspension of Romanian
A call for the suspension of Romanian President Traian Basescu, compiled by
Romanian opposition group the Social Democratic Party (PSD), spreads over 25
pages and is structured in six chapters referring to no less than 27
Constitutional articles. HotNews.ro has obtained the document and published it
fully on the Romanian-language version of the website.
Among others the document says President Traian Basescu started his term by
repeatedly manifesting tendencies of authoritarian rule, in breach with
constitutional boundaries. It said the head of state has taunted the civil
society to move against public authorities instead of acting as a mediator.
The document claims the President defied constitutional norms that demanded a
neutral stance and balance towards political parties. It accuses Basescu of
naming the incumbent prime minister without prior consultations with
parliamentary parties and claims he defied the principle of parliamentary
And it says the President's recent statements that MPs have only pushed
"laws for criminals" ignores the thousands of laws promoted by the
Romanian Parliament over the past several years to support Romania's EU
The document also charges the President of trying to become a substitute of the
Government and to subordinate ministries and ministers directly.
The opposition Social Democrats have been threatening a call for the suspension
of President Traian Basescu for weeks. They received the support of the
governing Liberal Party-PNL, which shares power with Basescu's Democrats, for
changes to a law that simplifies referendum rules to suspend the head of state.
The following interview is significant both for what is being said and who is
saying it, the prime mover in the business:-
The Foot Of Romania's President Is Oversized For The Dainty Shoe Of A
The Social Democrat Party, or PSD, in opposition, has filed a request with
the Constitutional Court for the suspension of President Traian Basescu. The PSD
executive president Mircea Geoana explained to Jurnalul national daily, in an
interview, why his party's move has been made.
Jurnalul National: Who is the de facto leader of PSD? Basescu says the honorary
president Ion Iliescu is.
Mircea Geoana: Basescu, as we all know, is spreading a lot of lies and makes
stupid remarks, with the only purpose to cause confusion and conflicts. This may
be the modus operandi he learned while working in The Netherlands, during the
If Basescu stays the de facto leader of the Democrat Party, or PD, in spite of
him leaving the party upon taking the presidential office, this does not mean
that other parties are operating along the same lines.
He makes the same uncomplimentary remarks about the leadership of the National
Liberal Party, or PNL, senior partner in the ruling coalition, along the PD.
Basescu says Dinu Patriciu is running PNL instead of the actual leader Calin
Popescu Tariceanu, and also PM.
As opposed from the PD, the PSD is run by those democratically elected for the
JN: What is it, in fact, what you hold against Basescu?
MG: We have nothing against Basescu as a person, but we hold a lot against him
in his capacity as a president. All he does goes against Romanians' interest to
live in a democratic, European society. He is protecting the most powerful
interest groups which deal in the country's economy and finance; he manipulates
public opinion; he tries to render irrelevant the other pillars of government
and turn the democratic state into an autocratic-populist rule of soviet hue.
He uses the justice system and the intelligence services for control and
intimidation of both political foes and friends.
All the above and many other complaints are listed in the document PSD will file
Monday with the Constitutional Court, to open the suspension procedures.
Basescu is not a president, but a joke of a president.
One should not forget that Basescu fights not only for getting absolute power,
but also to block any future investigation into the now frozen files regarding
his alleged role in selling Romania's commercial fleet, trans.
JN: If Basescu was that dangerous as a political leader, why reacting so late?
MG: Our party made public Basescu's lack of democratic practices after his first
six months in office, after his 12-month in office, and we do it now too, after
two years have passed since he moved into the presidential palace. The most
recent episode, which stirred the public interest, was one which amply showed
that Basescu was willing to cover illegal acts of people holding office, to
later use that knowledge in blackmailing them.
Basescu and the presidency should be separated. He is tarnishing this office
every day, each day, with his performance, or lack there of, on the job. Some
hoped that joining the European Union will make Basescu turn around.
But they were wrong.
The dainty shoe of a European politician does not fit the oversized presidential
There are two main duties a Romanian president should perform: to mediate among
the other pillars of government, and to represent the country internationally.
Basescu fails to fulfil both these duties, and I do not think there is anyone
who can think any differently on that.
His actions inside the country block the working of the institutions, and his
action outside the country isolate Romania internationally.
JN: Your party was accused for attempting to change the rules of the game while
the game was still on any reference to the change in the referendum law, which
will make for an easier suspension of the president.
MG: This is the stance of the people afraid of the voting outcome. When Basescu
was elected, half plus one of the people at the polls were enough to validate
his vote; the same should be valid when the issue of suspending him in a
referendum is posed.
The recent change in the referendum law made for half plus one of the people
taking a vote to validate it, as opposed to the previous provision, which asked
for half plus one of the registered voters to cast valid votes, for the vote to
be valid, trans. When saying that the rules of the game are changed while the
game is still on, Basescu should be reminded that the PD took the lead in making
the ruling coalition change the Senate and House of Deputies organizing rules,
which made possible for them to take the leadership of the House from the PSD.
JN: What are the chances for the suspension procedure to be approved in
parliament, given that the National Liberal Party already stated would vote
against it? Would you still be able to get the votes needed?
MG: With or without the liberals' votes the PSD will forge ahead. This is what
the population wants us to do, and those not supporting us in parliament might
be afraid for having their illegal activities exposed by the anti-corruption
prosecutors and intelligence services which are allegedly controlled by the
president. It would be interesting to see what arguments the liberals would have
to fend off Basescu's future manoeuvring once they voted against our initiative
to suspend the president.
JN: Many pundits say Basescu will come out stronger from the popular vote; that
the referendum will decide in his favour.
MG: Basescu stands to lose no matter the outcome of the vote. You should note
that the Romanians will not take a vote on whether the president is good or bad,
but whether he broke the law or not. Even if a minority of voters - be they 40%,
30% or 20% - vote against him, he is still loosing on a moral level for
breaching the Constitution. Besides, the most recent polls, including those
ordered by the PD, show Basescu plunged at under 50% in his approval rate.
JN: PD leaders, particularly its president Emil Boc, said the parliament should
be dissolved if the president would not be impeached. How do you comment this
MG: As one of the many stupid things Boc might say. This is a political and
constitutional nonsense. Romania's Constitution has no provision to that effect.
When in 1994 PD initiated along the then opposition parties the suspension
procedures against the PSD supported president Ion Iliescu, it did not talk
about the need to dissolve the parliament.
We still abide by the same Constitution, be our names Iliescu, Basescu or Geoana.
The truth of the matter is that Basescu and his people are very much afraid for
loosing their grip on the power and they turn to blackmail and terror to scare
the people into submission.
If the voters will vote against the suspension of Basescu, then that will be it,
with no further consequences for the fate of the parliament.
But I am confident in the outcome of the final vote.
This president deceived the electorate several times now.
And, as we know, one can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all
of the people, all of the time.
Romanian, Hungarian leaders hail bilateral relations
Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu met on February 12th with
the visiting Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom, with whom he discussed bilateral
political and economic relations.
Popescu-Tariceanu underscored that Romania and Hungary's relations are a
positive example for the entire region. "Bilateral relations with Hungary
had a good evolution and we need to continue along the same line, the more so as
our political cooperation relations are a model to be followed by all countries
in our region," said the prime minister.
Laszlo Solyom, who arrived in Bucharest on a two-day visit to Romania,
underscored that Hungary has been a constant supporter of Romania's EU
accession. The president of Hungary said the joint meetings of the two
governments have substantially contributed to strengthening bilateral relations.
He voiced hopes that the relations of the two countries will continue in the
RSF Annual report 2007
Two journalists were investigated for "disclosing legally confidential
material" and a website making fun of the foreign ministry website was shut
down. This was offset by the start of a wide-ranging reform of the criminal
2006 began badly with prosecution of two journalists for allegedly revealing
legally confidential material. Sebastian Oancea and Marian Garleanu, of the
dailies Ziua and Romania Libera, were accused by the defence ministry on 20
February of "possessing and disclosing" a CD of pictures of Romanian
troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, probably from an army source.
They were prosecuted even though the two papers decided not to print the
pictures and on 7 February sent the photos to the national intelligence service.
Garleanu was arrested on 16 February and held for two days. Both journalists
face up to seven years in prison each. Four other journalists - Bogdan Comaroni,
Doru Dragomir, Victor Roncea and Ovidiu Ohanesian - have been summoned to appear
as witnesses in the case.
A website created by two foreign desk journalists on the daily paper Ziua
parodying the foreign ministry website was shut down in June. The ministry asked
the Internet service provider CHL to stop hosting the site and CHL agreed to,
even though the ministry had no right to seek its closure. The provider also
handed over information about the journalists, violating the law protecting
Encouraging progress was made in reforming the criminal code and parliament
approved on 6 June the decriminalisation of defamation and insults, for which
people can no longer be jailed. Justice minister Monica Macovei has begun a
thorough reform of the code.
French Faurecia buys 50% in Euro APS
French auto parts maker Faurecia said in an e-mailed statement on January 23rd
that it had acquired 50 per cent in Romanian auto parts maker Euro Auto Plastic
Systems (Euro APS) for an undisclosed sum. "Faurecia took over the 50 per
cent interest held by Portuguese automotive supplier Simoldes Plasticos in the
share capital of Euro APS, New Europe reported.
"Faurecia and Croatian car components manufacturer AD Plastik now each hold
50 per cent of Euro APS's capital with Faurecia taking full responsibility for
the operational management of the joint venture," Faurecia said in a
Euronext is a cross-border exchange providing international services for
regulated cash markets and derivative markets in Belgium, France, Britain, the
Netherlands and Portugal. The acquisition enables Faurecia to broaden the scope
of its work for the Renault group, particularly for the Romanian no-frills Dacia
Logan model, the statement said.
Euro APS manufactures and delivers instrument panels, door panels, bumper
systems, headliners, carpeting and acoustic trim for the Dacia plant. It employs
680 people. Faurecia specialises in the production of vehicle seats, cockpits,
doors, acoustic modules, front ends and exhaust systems. It operates in 28
countries and employs 60,000.
Possible bid for Daewoo Romania by India's Tata Motors
Tata Motors may bid for Daewoo Automobile Romania, possibly taking on global
giants such as Ford and Renault-Nissan, Indian daily newspaper, Business
Standard, reported, citing unnamed sources.
The Tata group will soon begin examining the company after the Romanian
government recently constituted a commission to devise an expeditious and
transparent auction, the paper said. "A satisfactory examination will lead
the Tata group to place its bid," the paper quoted the source as saying.
Daewoo Romania, which makes a range of vehicles like the Matiz, Cielo, Nubira
and Tacuma, and 1.5 litre petrol engines, was established in 1994 as a joint
venture between South Korea's Daewoo group (51 per cent) and the Romanian
government. Daewoo was bought by General Motors in 1999, but the US giant did
not take over the Romanian venture. Recently, the Romanian government bought out
Daewoo's stake for US$50 million. A Tata Motors spokesperson declined to
comment, the newspaper said.
Moody's upgrades Transelectrica to Baa3
Moody's Investors Service said on January 23rd it has upgraded the corporate
family rating of Romania's state-owned power grid operator Transelectrica to
Baa3 from Ba1, with a stable outlook. "This rating action concludes the
review for possible upgrade initiated on 7th June 2006 and reflects the upgrade
of the local currency rating of the government of Romania to Baa3 from Ba1 on 6
October 2006, which was prompted by continuing improvements in Romania's
economic institutions and a reduction in the government's debt burden,"
Moody's said in a release, New Europe reported.
Transelectrica's rating reflects the combination of the baseline credit
assessment of 13 (on a scale of one to 21, where one represents the lowest
credit risk), the Baa3 local currency rating of the Romanian government, medium
dependence and high support, Moody's said. Transelectrica remains satisfactorily
positioned within its baseline credit assessment of 13, which reflects its
strategic role as owner and operator of the Romanian transmission grid and an
improving financial profile within a fairly benign regulatory environment, the
agency said, adding: "It is nonetheless constrained by a weak liquidity
position resulting from an extensive capital investment programme and limited
committed undrawn debt facilities." There have been no changes to
Transelectrica's dependence or support inputs as a result of this rating action.
Transelectrica, headquartered in the capital Bucharest, had a turnover of 1.7
billion lei in 2005, or about 480 million Euro, Moody's said.
Millennium BCP to invest 40m Euro in Romania
Portuguese bank Millennium BCP said in an e-mailed statement on February 1st
that it will invest 40 million Euro in Romanian operations in 2007, with an
additional investment of 200 to 250 million Euro by 2011. The bank plans to
start off with a network of 40 branches, whose number should rise to 100 by
2011, BCP said in a statement, New Europe reported.
The bank will operate on the corporate and consumer finance segments and expects
to report a 30 million Euro loss in Romania this year, the bank noted.
Millennium BCP failed to buy a majority stake in Romania's largest bank BCR in
2005. The stake went to Austria's Erste Bank, the other finalist in the race.
Millennium BCP, Portugal's largest listed bank, had a consolidated net income of
780 million Euro last year, up by 28 per cent.
EIB agrees to lend 80m Euro to Plus
The European Investment Bank (EIB) said it would lend 80 million Euro to the
Romanian arm of German discount retail chain Plus to help it finance its network
expansion, the bank said on January 30th in an e-mailed statement. The project
calls for the construction and operation of some 70 discount retail outlets in
EU newcomer Romania under the Plus brand name and a regional distribution centre
in the northwestern city of Cluj Napoca, the EIB said in the statement.
The project will create significant new direct and indirect employment and will
support the ongoing modernisation of the Romanian retail sector, which is
lagging behind as compared to other acceding countries in terms of retail
modernisation. Plus recently said it would invest some 300 million Euro in
network expansion in Romania in the next four years. The chain already has 34
stores in the Black Sea country and plans to reach a total of 175 by the end of
2010. It entered the Romanian market in 2005. Plus, part of retail group
Tengelmann, operates in nine European countries and has some 9.3 billion Euro in
annual sales, 4,000 stores and over 42,000 employees, New Europe reported.
MINERALS & METALS
Mechel closes privatisation contract for Romanian steel plant
Mechel has closed the privatisation contract for its Romanian steel plant,
Mechel Targoviste, the fifth Russian steel maker, said on January 17th in a
press release, Interfax News Agency reported.
The Authority of State Assets Recovery of Romania has formally confirmed the
fulfilment of all the investment obligations undertaken by Mechel in purchasing
the Romanian company, Mechel Targoviste, which specialises in manufacturing
commercial quality and special steel long bars, the release said.
The privatisation contract for Mechel Targoviste was concluded in August 2002.
Mechel has met all its investment obligations regarding the four investment
years and fulfilled in advance its obligations regarding the fifth investment
year ending on August 28th 2007, and also resolved all social issues with the
trade union that have accounted for closing the contract nine month earlier than
the date stipulated. Mechel invested in Mechel Targoviste over US$38 million, as
of August 31st 2006, including investments in its technical re-equipment,
environmental protection, repayment of the arrears to the budget and to the gas
and eclectic power suppliers.
The development programme for 2006-2009 envisages US$35 million of investments
in Mechel Targoviste. An upgraded electric furnace was started up as a part of
its implementation early this year, which allowed for significant cost reduction
while increasing its performance. The upgraded continuous caster is planned to
be put into operation early next year with the production capacity of about
500,000 tonnes of billets annually, which will allow the company to put its
operations completely on track of continuous casting technology, the release
The company's steel output amounted to 466,000 thousand tonnes and rolled
products to 385,000 tonnes for 2006. "The earlier closure of Mechel
Targoviste privatisation contract is a very important stage in the company's
activities in Romania. We have demonstrated the ability to fulfil our investment
obligations not only within the stipulated framework but also exceeding them
with the view of the soonest achievement of business success; and the state
rendered us its support in that. The plant, for the first time, earned net
profit in the third quarter of this year.
"Following the start-up of the concaster and implementation of a number of
technical arrangements, we see Mechel Targoviste as a steady operating and
profitable enterprise," the release quoted Mechel's Chief Operating
Officer, Alexey Ivanushkin, as saying. Mechel is currently arranging to file the
documents to close the privatisation contract of its second Romanian company -
Mechel Campia Turzii, the release said.