36309 7/11/2005 14:17 05BUCHAREST1529 Embassy Bucharest CONFIDENTIAL 05BUCHAREST1521 This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 001529
STATE DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - WILLIAM SILKWORTH
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/11/2015 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, ECON, KDEM, SOCI, RO, Election, adoption, military cooperation SUBJECT: PRESIDENT BASESCU ON ELECTIONS, SECURITY RELATIONSHIP, ADOPTIONS
REF: A. A) BUCHAREST 1521
B. B) BUCHAREST 1511 C. C) BUCHAREST 1433
Classified By: POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF ROBERT GILCHRIST FOR REASONS 1.4 B AND D
1. (C) Summary: President Traian Basescu told Charge July 11 that snap elections are not a given, as there is a chance he will mediate a solution to avoid an early return to the polls. He acknowledged that earlier he had expressed support for new elections and that his Liberal-Democratic (PNL-PD) Alliance would likely do well. However, he questioned the wisdom of the cabinet's July 7 resignation just months before an important EU report on Romania. Basescu reaffirmed the central importance of Romania's strategic relationship with the U.S., seeing no incompatibility with Romania's EU aspirations. On international adoptions, Basescu expressed hope that Romania could find a unilateral solution that would not cause problems with the EU. End Summary.
2. (C) Incoming Charge d'Affaires Mark Taplin paid an introductory call July 11 on President Traian Basescu. Reiterating the importance of a frank and open dialogue with the U.S., Basescu focused on projected early elections, strategic ties to the U.S., and pending international adoptions. Following the meeting, Charge also met as a group with Presidential Advisors Renate Weber, Claudiu Saftoiu, Teodor Stolojan, and Adriana Saftoiu; and State Counselors Constantin Degeratu and Anca Ilinoiu. PolChief also participated in the meetings.
Elections? Maybe not....
3. (C) In response to Charge's question about early elections, Basescu said that he was "honestly caught by surprise" by the announced resignation of Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu and his government with the goal of holding early elections. He acknowledged that he himself had sought elections throughout the spring. However, he said that only a week before the announcement of Tariceanu's resignation, he had expressed publicly his view that it was "too late" given that the EU will be releasing a key report in September on Romania's progress towards implementing EU requirements. He said because of his doubts on the wisdom of elections at this time, he had made no public statement yet. He said he had met with the PM early after the decision by the cabinet. During that meeting he acknowledged his earlier support for elections, but said he had doubts the governing Liberal-Democratic (PNL-PD) alliance could reliably secure the necessary majority in the parliament to force new elections. At the same time, he acknowledged that in the event of early elections, the PNL-PD would "clearly improve" its representation in the Parliament, where the government's majority remains narrow.
4. (C) Basescu added that he had engaged that very morning in a dialogue with the Constitutional Court to determine if it could revise its decision (on the judicial reform package) that sparked the cabinet's resignation. He said he was obligated to "try to find a solution" regardless of whether the European Union was reconciled to early elections. He added that if he could get an acceptable agreement from the Constitutional Court, he might encourage the cabinet to stay in place. He labeled "speculation by some journalists" that he was behind the cabinet resignation "completely false."
5. (C) Note: In a subsequent conversation with key presidential advisors, Pol Chief asked again whether or not there would be elections. The initial response was an incredulous "of course!", particularly from Advisor for Judicial Issues Renate Weber. Mid-way through Weber's response, however, Foreign Affairs advisor Anca Ilenoiu whispered within our earshot that Basescu had just told Charge the outcome remains unclear. At that point, Weber and others fell silent, stating simply that only President Basescu knew the real odds of an early poll. End Note.
The Security Relationship
6. (C) Basescu reiterated that one of the primary objectives of his presidency is to strengthen Romania's relationship with the U.S. He viewed this relationship not only as important for national security but also as a reflection of our two countries' "honest partnership" in Afghanistan and Iraq. He underscored that Romania sought to be not simply a "consumer" but also a "provider" of security. He expressed appreciation for the substantial military assistance the U.S. had provided over the years and emphasized that Romania was committed to transforming its military in the near future. Basescu said a Black Sea security strategy involving Romania's partners remains a central focus for his government. Romania would "never accept" having to choose between the U.S. and Europe, and Basescu noted that he had worked to convince EU member states that strong transatlantic ties were not incompatible with EU membership. Europe "cannot provide for its own security" and that "even a united EU" cannot stand up to future competition with China and India.
7. (C) Charge underscored the importance with which the U.S. views the security relationship with Romania. He noted that Ambassador Richard Jones would be leading a team to Bucharest on July 21 for a frank dialogue with Romania on the Coalition in Iraq and requested that Basescu meet with the team. Basescu responded positively. Charge also acknowledged the request from Romania over the weekend for access to detained Romanian-American dual national Munaf Mohammad for an interview in the Romanian Embassy in Baghdad. Charge said the U.S. did not yet have a response, but remained committed to work with Romania as constructively as possible on this sensitive issue.
8. (C) After Charge asked for Basescu's support in positively resolving adoptions issue, Basescu noted that two weeks ago he had raised again with EU Enlargement Commissioner Ollie Rehn the issue of resolving pending international adoptions. He said he had also discussed the issue with EU Parliament "Shadow Rapporteur for Romania" Baroness Nicholson, President Chirac, Chancellor Schroeder, and President Zapatero. He underscored that the U.S. was not alone on the issue -- France, Germany, Spain, and Israel had also come under domestic pressure to resolve international adoption cases registered before Romania implemented its de facto ban on international adoptions. He noted that Romania had recently developed a plan for reviewing pending adoptions, to include the organization of a special working group on the issue. At the same time he expressed hope that Romania could do "something unilateral" that would "not cause trouble" with the next EU report on Romania in September. He also talked about the need to communicate with prospective families about the steps Romania is taking to resolve the issue. He lamented that the entire problem had been caused by the previous government, which oversaw the "massive export of children." This led to a strong response from the EU, which forced the inclusion of the de facto ban in Romania's adoption law.
9. (C) Comment: The fact that Basescu's closest advisors were out of sync with his latest views on elections demonstrates again his strong tendency to make key decisions alone. Basescu may be concerned that the PNL-PD will not succeed in obtaining a clear parliamentary majority required to force new elections as required by the constitution (refs). He may also be seeking to deflect criticism for producing potential political instability or jeopardizing Romania's EU accession in January 2007. His comments on security underscore his unflagging support for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and a committment to a close partnership with the U.S. His statements on adoption offer some hope that he may seek a unilateral solution to the problem, although his advisors in our subsequent discussion lamented the fact the issue had been raised to the "political level" rather then handled as a "technical matter." In coming days, we will follow up with key GOR interlocutors on this sensitive issue. End Comment.
10. (U) Amembassy Bucharest,s reporting telegrams are available on the Bucharest SIPRNET Website: www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/bucharest TAPLIN