231100 10/23/2009 14:13 09BUCHAREST716 Embassy Bucharest CONFIDENTIAL 09BUCHAREST691 VZCZCXRO8408 OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR DE RUEHBM #0716/01 2961413 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 231413Z OCT 09 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0002 RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 000716
STATE FOR EUR/CE ASCHIEBE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/23/2019 TAGS: PGOV, RO SUBJECT: VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN MEETS WITH PRIME MINISTER BOC
REF: BUCHAREST 691
Classified By: Ambassador Mark A. Gitenstein for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d ).
1. (C) SUMMARY. Vice President Joseph Biden met with Interim Prime Minister Emil Boc on October 22, 2009. The Romanian Prime Minister and the Vice President discussed the motivations for the Vice President's trip to Europe and the reasons why Romania was chosen as the location for the trip's major policy speech. They also discussed the current political situation in Romania, Romanian contributions in Afghanistan, the visa waiver program, international adoptions and the status of the Romanian Property Fund. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) On October 22, Vice President Biden met with Interim Prime Minister Boc at the Prime Minister's office. Biden's delegation consisted of Ambassador Mark Gitenstein, National Security Advisor Antony Blinken, Senior Director for European Affairs, National Security Council Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Senior Director for Defense Policy and Strategy, National Security Council Barry Pavel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Pamela Quanrud, and Special Advisor for Europe and Russia, Office of the Vice President Sumona Guha. Boc was joined by the minister of Defense Mihai Stanisoara, Minister of Economy and Acting Minister of Health Adriean Videanu, Minister of Justice and Acting Foreign Minister Catalin Predoiu, the Romanian Ambassador to the U.S., Adrian Vierita State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu and State Secretary, Ministry of the Interior Dan Valentin Fatuloiu.
U.S. Commitment to Europe
3. (C) The Vice President began the discussion by explaining that he had chosen Romania as the platform for sending a message to all of Central and Eastern Europe: to emphasize that the U.S. remains strongly engaged in the region. He stated that he and President Obama understood that attempts to "reset" relations with Russia, changes in the missile defense plan for Europe, and increasing American commitments to hot spots in the world have led many to question America's commitment to Central Europe. However, he categorically denied that the U.S. has taken its eyes off Europe. Biden stressed that the decision to change the missile defense plan was not taken to appease Russia, but rather, to create a more effective system and counteract more immediate threats. Biden reiterated red lines for Russian behavior: the U.S. opposes the notion of spheres of influence and firmly supports each nation,s right to join the alliances and organizations it chooses, without a Russian veto. The Vice President recognized that Romania has not been vocal in questioning U.S. commitment to the region and noted that he chose to give his speech in Bucharest to show that countries do not have to complain to get attention as well as to recognize the efforts of Romania's armed forces in the Balkans and Afghanistan.
Romanian Contributions to NATO
4. (C) In response to Boc's comment that Romanians are proud to say that American soldiers are serving under Romanian command, Biden congratulated Romanian forces and pointed out that in previous operations in Bosnia, the idea that American troops might serve under foreign command had become a domestic political issue. He stated that it is a testament to the quality and reputation of the Romanian Armed Forces that no one objected to U.S. troops serving under a Romanian commander. Biden said that he believes that Romanian troops are "real warriors, people you can trust to cover your back" and that Romania's contributions serve as a force multiplier because Romania, by punching above its weight, shows larger allies that they could do more in Afghanistan.
Romanian Political/Economic Situation
5. (C) Boc assured the Vice President that, in spite of the current political situation (reftel), the Romanian Government is stable and that his cabinet would continue to carry out its constitutional duties until a new cabinet is approved by the Parliament. He admitted that there had been domestic political disagreements, but underscored that all Romanian political parties are united in their support of NATO and the mission in Afghanistan. Biden turned to the economic situation and asked Boc, point blank, how Romania was going to be able to meet its IMF obligations. The Prime Minister replied that this would be difficult, but said that
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the required reforms have been needed for years. In this sense, pressure from the IMF and European Union might actually make it easier to build the political consensus necessary to pass reforms through the Parliament. Despite this optimism, Boc did not understate the challenges and noted that his cabinet fell on a no-confidence vote after trying to push through IMF-mandated reforms to the pension system.
6. (C) The Prime Minister stated that Romania would like U.S. support in attracting additional American investment, proposing that a Romanian-American Business Forum be held in 2010. Biden and Ambassador Gitenstein both supported the idea of a forum but stated that a lack of transparency and predictability were the main obstacles to increased investment in Romania. The Ambassador stated that any potential investors would speak to firms currently operating in Romania and that Romania could help to attract more investment by successfully ending disputes with companies already invested in the country.
7. (C) Boc asked what the GOR could do to help achieve the goal of admittance into the visa waiver program. Biden said that he would love to see Romania admitted to the program and suggested that the most effective way to lower the refusal rate is to educate the population and discourage people from continuing to reapply after being previously denied. Gitenstein stated that while the refusal rate is 26%, at least 10% of the overall refusals are from applicants who repeatedly reapply in the hope of finding a consular officer who has a different interpretation of the legal requirements. State Secretary Aurescu raised the possibility that the U.S. might consider changing the requirement from the percentage of refused applications to the percentage of refused individual applicants but said that the Government would work to better educate the applicant pool.
8. (C) The Prime Minister told the Vice President that the Government has drafted legislation that would allow for more flexibility on future international adoptions from Romania but that the legislation could not be moved forward due to the current political turmoil. Biden thanked the Prime Minister for any movement toward reopening inter-adoptions but stressed that the U.S. is most concerned about the roughly 200 cases that were left pending when Romania suspended international adoptions five years ago. Biden underscored the U.S. interest in these cases and requested status updates on the children involved. Biden said that the Americans who had applied to adopt the children still viewed them as their children and were anxious to discover if they had been adopted by other families or if they remained in orphanages. Boc did not reply to this request.
9. (C) Gitenstein asked Boc about the status of the Property Fund, especially on the reason for the delay in appointing a new fund manager. Gitenstein complemented the Romanian Government for having run a fair and transparent tendering process, but expressed worry that the contract appointing the Fund's manager had not yet been signed. Boc responded that the process had been interrupted by the no-confidence vote and the recent resignation of Enache Jiru, as the head of the selection commission, but assured the U.S. delegation that the appointment would move forward once a new government is in place. Gitenstein asked for Boc's personal assurance that this delay would not allow for the dilution of the Fund's shareholdings, which Boc readily gave, adding that the Romanian Embassy in Washington would be willing to send a letter to American shareholders on this point.
10. (U) The Vice President did not have the opportunity to clear this cable. GITENSTEIN