172874 10/7/2008 14:43 08BUCHAREST786 Embassy Bucharest UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 08STATE100093 VZCZCXRO0344 PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV DE RUEHBM #0786 2811443 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 071443Z OCT 08 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8770 RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 0229 RUEHUP/AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST PRIORITY 1310 UNCLAS BUCHAREST 000786
STATE FOR EUR/CE - ASCHEIBE, EUR/ACE BUDAPEST FOR USAID - MBARRETT
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: EAID, EFIN, KCRS, KMCA, EUN, PREL, GG, RO SUBJECT: ROMANIA: ASSISTANCE TO GEORGIA
REF: STATE 100093
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.
1. (SBU) EconCouns met October 3 with Anamaria Almasan, Acting Director for EU External Relations and Development Assistance at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), to convey reftel information on U.S. aid to Georgia and to inquire about Romanian plans for both bilateral and EU-coordinated assistance. Almasan explained that Georgia is one of three "priority targets" (along with Moldova and Serbia) for Romania's own nascent bilateral ODA program, in line with overall foreign policy priorities. The Government of Romania (GOR) has been in frequent contact with the Georgians, and immediately after the conflict provided humanitarian supplies worth 1.3 million euros which were delivered personally by President Traian Basescu when he visited Tbilisi on August 21. This represented a substantial sum for Romania and was meant as a geopolitical, not merely charitable, gesture, Almasan said; the supplies were paid for with emergency funds from the Ministry of Health.
2. (SBU) Regarding additional aid, Almasan noted that the GOR remains somewhat hamstrung by current laws which allow Romania to provide financial assistance only through donations to multilateral organizations like the UN, but not through direct bilateral transfers. MFA is pushing to have the law changed, but in the meantime is tentatively planning a donation of 100,000 euros to UNHCR for assistance to displaced persons in Georgia, as well as 50,000 euros to the World Food Program (WFP). Additional amounts may still be identified, but these two donations will likely form the core of Romania's intended pledge at the EU-hosted donor's conference in Brussels on October 22. Romania will also be actively looking for reconstruction and rehabilitation projects, such as under EU or UN auspices, to which it can contribute advisers.
3. (SBU) Almasan observed that there is active questioning among EU Member States about where the 500 million euros will come from which were announced for Georgia by EU Foreign Ministers on September 15. It is still unclear whether the funds will be taken from the Commission's foreign aid or external relations budgets or from Member State contributions, though Almasan noted with a smile that Romania would clearly prefer having the Commission pay instead of asking for more money from Member States. Romania, along with other EU members, is also concerned about Georgia's absorption capacity, noting that aid packages announced by the EU and U.S. alone total nearly USD $2 billion. Almasan urged the U.S. to coordinate its assistance plans very closely with the EU and other donors to avoid overlap and misuse of funds. Romania is also supportive of the idea, floated by the UK and others, that the EU should undertake a more comprehensive post-conflict needs assessment in Georgia before disbursing large amounts of money. The GOR would gladly contribute experts to such a mission, Almasan said.