80544 10/3/2006 16:40 06BUCHAREST1540 Embassy Bucharest CONFIDENTIAL 06BUCHAREST1499 VZCZCXRO8290 PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR DE RUEHBM #1540 2761640 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 031640Z OCT 06 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5296 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE C O N F I D E N T I A L BUCHAREST 001540
DEPT FOR EUR/NCE AARON JENSEN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/02/2016 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PINR, RO SUBJECT: NOMINEES TO HEAD ROMANIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES PASS FIRST HURDLE
REF: BUCHAREST 1499
Classified By: DCM Mark Taplin for Reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).
1. (C) During hearings October 3, President Traian Basescu's nominees to head the Romanian Domestic Intelligence Service (SRI) and the foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), George Maior and Claudiu Saftioiu, received the endorsement of their respective parliamentary committees. The votes cast for/against Maior were 7 yeas (3 PSD, 1 PD, 1 UDMR) and 2 nays (both PNL) and the votes for/against Saftoiu were 3 yeas (2 PSD, one PD) and 2 nays (one PNL, one PRM). The nomination now moves to a joint parliamentary session October 4 for approval.
2. (C) As noted reftel, Basescu's nomination of Maior, a Senator from the opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD), has discomfited his erstwhile coalition partners in the Liberal party (PNL). PNL leaders including Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu and House Speaker Bogdan Olteanu accused Basescu of pursuing a "secret deal" aimed at replacing the PNL with the PSD in a new coalition government. The PNL leaders also accused Maior of complicity in a corruption scandal involving the acquisition of second-hand British frigates for the Romanian navy under the previous government, when Maior was a Ministry of Defense state secretary. However, press reports suggest that the PNL may
SIPDIS be willing to trade support for Saftoiu as foreign intelligence chief slot if Basescu accepts the PNL version of a draft National Security Law currently under debate in Parliament. The PNL draft includes provisions for dismantling two existing security services (the SPP, responsible for protection of dignitaries and the SDS, the special telecommunications services); increasing parliamentary oversight of intelligence matters; and weakening Presidential control over the remaining intelligence services.
3. (C) Meanwhile, some PSD voices have also criticized the Maior nomination as a poisoned chalice, arguing that it will lead to the emasculation of the PSD's role as the main opposition party. Several prominent PSD figures have also openly faulted PSD President Mircea Geoana for accepting Basescu's offer without consulting his own party leadership. They have complained that the nomination may be only the tip of the iceberg of a "secret understanding" between Basecu and the so-called "Cluj group" of the PSD, which was instrumental in securing Geoana's victory as party President in April 2005. Old guard PSD members including General Secretary Miron Mitrea and PSD Deputy Viorel Hrebenciuc reportedly believe that the Maior nomination will provide an opportunity for the Cluj group to eventually assume full control of the party.
4. (C) Comment: The votes today clearly broke along party lines. Maior and Saftoiu need a simple majority of parliamentary votes (e.g., 235 out of 469 votes) to be confirmed to the intelligence chief positions. PD and PSD deputies together control 218 votes and intense horse-trading is reportedly taking place with other parties to win and keep their support in the plenary vote tomorrow. The UDMR has announced that they will support the vote if it is given a deputy chief position in the domestic intelligence service, which in light of sensitivities over continuing Magyar calls for more local autonomy in Transylvania may be a bridge too far. The PC has been silent in recent days, which might suggest tacit support. The votes of some 24 independent MPs could also come into play, including those of leading former PNL deputies like Mona Musca who were recently forced out of the Liberal nest. Geoana acknowledged to us privately that his allies in Parliament had also engaged the right nationalist Greater Romania Party, which controls over ten percent of Parliamentary seats. Finally, party discipline (especially within the fractious PSD caucus) will also be put to the test since the vote will be by secret ballot. End Comment. Taubman