79903 9/27/2006 15:50 06BUCHAREST1509 Embassy Bucharest UNCLASSIFIED VZCZCXRO2039 RR RUEHAST DE RUEHBM #1509 2701550 ZNR UUUUU ZZH R 271550Z SEP 06 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5258 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE UNCLAS BUCHAREST 001509
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/NCE AND EUR/ERA
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV, PREL, EU, RO SUBJECT: QUIET PRIDE AND FLEETING COMITY AFTER EC MONITORING REPORT CONFIRMS ROMANIAN EU MEMBERSHIP IN 2007
1. (SBU) In a rare display of comity between increasingly fractious coalition partners, President Traian Basescu and Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu abandoned earlier plans for separate press events, opting instead for a joint press appearance at Cotroceni Palace to announce a positive EC Monitoring Report on Romanian EU entry in 2007. (In fact, Basescu made the extraordinary protocol gesture of offering the Prime Minister the floor first at their press conference.) In his comments, President Basescu declared that the report heralded the accomplishment of one of his main goals since taking office. He said there was consensus between his office and the Government that there would be no fundamental changes immediately after accession. Basescu warned that membership in the EU would not automatically produce prosperity, but rather the prospect of prosperity. He urged Romanian authorities not to unduly raise hopes for immediate improvement in national well-being. Noting the 27 "yellow flags" in the EC Monitoring report, Basescu said there were many areas where the government's performance remained mediocre. Finally, Basescu acknowledged the contributions of the current and previous governments in gaining entry into NATO and the EU, adding that these objectives were met because Bucharest had consistently remained oriented towards the West.
2. (SBU) Prime Minister Tariceanu underscored that Romanians should be proud of their accomplishment, as the country was joining the EU on the strength of its own merits rather than the political backing of others. Tariceanu echoed President Basescu in warning that while the EC report represented the fulfillment of the drive to join the EU in 2007, it would be a mistake to believe that all of Romania's problems would be solved on January 1. He also underscored that Romania would be treated the same as other EU members after accession. Tariceanu insisted that there were no unique safeguard clauses that applied only to Romania, but rather a mechanism for cooperation and verification that was consonant with the European Commission's role as custodian of the treaties. Tariceanu said that necessary reforms included decentralizing public administration, developing public infrastructure and the educational and health systems, and enhancing the government's ability to absorb EU funds, which he said could amount to over Euros 30 billion over the next five years. In closing, PM Tariceanu underscored the need for continued political, economic, and social stability in order to carry out reforms, noting that EU integration was not the exclusive monopoly of the government, or of any political party or public institution.
3. (SBU) Opposition reactions were generally muted. PSD president Mircea Geoana for his part welcomed the EC monitoring report, which he said was the successful outcome of the past decade's "long march" in the direction of Brussels, initiated by his party when it was in power. In a dig at the ruling PD-PNL alliance, Geoana added that he believed that the it was no longer a functional "engine," adding that the PSD was now prepared to retake the reins of power and put forward a concrete post-accession strategy for Romania. True to form, right-wing PRM President CV Tudor described the EC report as a "farce", marking Romania's new status as a colony of the EU's "sublime porte."
4. (SBU) Comment: Local political parties generally reacted with equal measures of equanimity and quiet pride to the September 27 EC report, as a green light for Romania, however caveated by continuing safeguards, had long been expected. While earlier reports suggested that the Presidential and Prime Ministerial offices were vying for separate prime-time slots to announce the EC decision, it appears that cooler heads ultimately prevailed in presenting a united front at the press conference. In a more celebratory mood than usual, the Democrats and the Liberals had the magnanimity to acknowledge the contributions of preceding Romanian governments in gaining entry to the EU, most notably the Iliescu/Nastase Social Democratic administration. While the Bucharest political elites are already jostling and scratching for position in what will be Romania's first year as a full-fledged EU member, it was encouraging to see that for at least one day, the hatchets could be buried. Alas, they will not be in the ground for long. End Comment.