132122 11/29/2007 16:14 07BUCHAREST1319 Embassy Bucharest CONFIDENTIAL VZCZCXYZ0002 OO RUEHWEB DE RUEHBM #1319 3331614 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 291614Z NOV 07 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7665 RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE INFO RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE C O N F I D E N T I A L BUCHAREST 001319
STATE FOR EUR/FO, EUR/NCE, NSC FOR ADAM STERLING AND JUDITH AINSLEY
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/29/2017 TAGS: PREL, MARR, PGOV, RO SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR ON TEO PETER CASE IMPLICATIONS
Classified By: Ambassador Nicholas Taubman for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) Ambassador was called to the Presidential Palace 11/29 for an "urgent" meeting with Senior Foreign Policy Advisor Anca Ilinoiu; no further information about the topic was provided in advance. After pleasantries, Ilinoiu cut straight to the chase: the President's office was aware that a "final USG offer" to Teo Peter's survivors was imminent, and that the amount of compensation could be in the low six-figure range. She said that while any monetary compensation in this tragic case was inadequate, the amount reportedly being contemplated was clearly an "inadequate sum." She urged U.S. authorities to consider the entire circumstances surrounding the case, including not only the manner and mode of the accident, but also the impact that the case might have in terms of the overall strategic and security partnership between Romania and the United States.
2. (C) Ilinoiu said that all developments in the Teo Peter case would be the subject of intense public interest. She also reminded the Ambassador that all aspects of our strategic partnership ultimately rested on the strong support that the relationship received from the Romanian public. Even during the worst period of the so-called "battle of the palaces" between President Basescu and Prime Minister Tariceanu, the overwhelmingly positive perception of the United States with the public had remained unchanged and was the bedrock of the relationship. How we managed the Teo Peter case could prove to be a watershed moment in bilateral relations: the public will naturally feel a sense of compassion and empathy with the Peter family, and would see the small sums being offered as an injustice and an insult to the Romanian people. She warned, too, that not all Romanian politicians shared the same positive view of our bilateral equities, and that "certain decisionmakers" might use the event as a "trump card" to damage our common project. She concluded that this was the kind of issue that will resonate, and will not go away in a week or two.
3. (C) Ilinoiu commented that the sums that she had heard being considered would scarcely cover the amount expended by the GOR in this case (which she estimated at around USD $80K). Asked by the Ambassador what sort of figure the GOR had in mind, Ilinoiu did not respond directly, but said that in a previous conversation between President Basescu and former U.S. Ambassador Rosapepe, Basescu had offered to secretly provide the sum of USD $1 million to the Pentagon in
SIPDIS order to ensure that the amount of money being provided to Peters' survivors was adequate. (Note: Ilinoiu did not specify the circumstances or the timing of this discussion.) She concluded that it was not the precise sums that were problematic, but the message being conveyed to the public. She said she knew that militaries frequently "operated the same way worldwide," but evinced the hope that a "higher democratic authority" would come to the right decision in the end.
4. (C) Ilinoiu reiterated that the handling of the Peter case had wide-ranging implications for the bilateral relationship. The pending departure of MFA State Secretary Deputy Adrian Vierita as Romania's new Ambassador to the United States had created a "big hole" in the lineup of senior MFA officials with a strong pro-U.S. alignment. With Romania's accession to the EU last January, many colleagues were becoming fledgling "born again" Europeans in their outlook, and the Peter case could easily accelerate this process. Ilinoiu also underscored President Basescu's strong pro-U.S. orientation, but said that even the President had to be in tune with the mood of the Romanian public. Ilinoiu also noted the possible implications for the NATO summit in April. Unlike the strong welcome accorded to President Bush during his last visit, the public's image of the United States could well change from the overwhelming positive image of the past to that of a nation that was "above the law." In closing, Ilinoiu urged the Ambassador exert "every effort not to lose the support of the Romanian people." TAUBMAN