63500 5/10/2006 14:48 06BUCHAREST761 Embassy Bucharest CONFIDENTIAL VZCZCXRO9829 OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR DE RUEHBM #0761 1301448 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 101448Z MAY 06 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4358 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC C O N F I D E N T I A L BUCHAREST 000761
STATE DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - WILLIAM SILKWORTH
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/10/2016 TAGS: MARR, MOPS, NATO, PGOV, PREL, RO SUBJECT: SENATE DEFENSE COMMITTEE GREENLIGHTS U.S. - ROMANIAN DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENT
Classified By: Ambassador Nicholas Taubman for Reasons 1.4 (a), (b) and (d)
1. (C) George-Cristian Maior, Senate Defense Committee Chairman and a leading member of the opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD), confirmed to PolMilOff that the Defense Committee voted 8 to 1 on May 10 in favor of the U.S.-Romanian Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) and would send a favorable report to the Senate. The lone dissenter was a senator from the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party (PRM). Maior underscored that the Defense Committee's vote is "dispositive." He predicted that the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee would issue a favorable "avis" (opinion) soon, but underscored that the Foreign Affairs Committee's decision would be, in essence, an advisory opinion only and that the "important" vote was the May 10 thumbs up from the Defense Committee. He stated that the draft law allowing ratification of the DCA could be ready for plenary debate on the Senate floor within the next few weeks.
2. (C) MFA Director General for Strategic Policy Cristian Istrate (Protect) told PolMilOff in a separate conversation May 10 that the May 9 joint Senate Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee hearings on the DCA, the prequel to the May 10 Defense Committee hearing, "did not go very well." He stated that some questions had focused on "technical language of the agreement, as would be expected," including subjects such as status of forces and CFE issues, but that other questions "centered around the Bulgarian agreement." He expressed consternation at the statement during the hearing by Senate Foreign Affairs Committee President and PSD President Mircea Geoana that he had read the U.S.-Bulgarian DCA, having obtained the same from the U.S. Embassy Sofia website. Istrate insisted that MFA officials had searched the website and not been able to locate the agreement.
3. (C) A May 10 MFA press release titled "Ministry of Foreign Affairs Expresses Surprise at the Statements of Senator Mircea Geoana" states that the U.S.-Bulgarian DCA is not available on the U.S. Embassy Sofia website and criticizes Geoana for making an "unjustified" attack on the professionalism of the MFA during his questioning of FM Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu. One analyst observed privately to Embassy officers that FM Ungureanu was caught "speechless" during the May 9 hearing by Geoana's assertion that the U.S.-Bulgaria agreement was available online -- and that the MFA's public riposte the following day reflected anger at Geoana's comments during the hearing.
4. (C) Comment. Geoana, during his tenure as FM under the PSD-led government, was a strong supporter of a DCA and he has told us, since entering the opposition, that he supports the agreement. His remarks during the May 9 hearing were probably aimed at embarrassing Ungureanu (and the GOR), but should not be interpreted as reflecting opposition to the DCA. Senator Maior, one of the PSD's most senior officials and an advisor to Geoana, has consistently predicted Senate ratification -- and in post's view ratification is not in jeopardy. End Comment.
5. (U) AmEmbassy Bucharest's reporting telegrams are available on the Bucharest SIPRNet website: www.state.sgov.gov/eur/ TAUBMAN