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Cablegate: Ambassador's Meeting with New Interior Minister Cristian David

VZCZCXRO0774
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHBM #0452/01 1091504
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 191504Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6489
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BUCHAREST 000452

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - AARON JENSEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/18/2017
TAGS: PGOV KCOR KJUS PREL PINR PTER RO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH NEW INTERIOR MINISTER CRISTIAN DAVID
Classified By: Classified By: Political Counselor Theodore Tanoue for R easons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (SBU) Summary: The Ambassador met with new Interior Minister Cristian David to review and maintain major areas of cooperation. David assured the Ambassador of the government's continued commitment to anti-corruption reforms in Justice and Home Affairs. He also requested additional U.S. assistance on emergency management planning. He deferred discussion of whether his ministry would explore legalization of prostitution under his leadership, an initiative former Minister of Interior Blaga had initially embraced. End summary.

2. (SBU) During an April 17 introductory meeting, new Minister of Administration and Interior Cristian David (PNL) conveyed to the Ambassador, with LegAtt, RSO, and PolOff in attendance, that cooperation with the U.S. on law enforcement was much appreciated and should continue.

3. (SBU) David opened the meeting by noting his preparations for the April 18 Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Brussels where he said everyone was eager "to see how we take over from our predecessors." In response to the Ambassador's hope that the current political turmoil would not affect the government's support for justice reform or the fight against corruption, David assured the Ambassador that "no doubt the current government is ready to go ahead with reforms and not stop the dynamic - not in Justice or Home Affairs."

4. (SBU) After the Ambassador's reviewed our major bilateral assistance and cooperative programs in the law enforcement realm, David described his ministerial responsibility to promote further decentralization within administrative bodies and ensure adequate resources would be given to the local level to equip them for responsibilities devolved. He said that after finalizing the framework for decentralization, ensuring adequate resources was the sensitive and critical issue.

5. (SBU) In the area of law enforcement, David stated there was "not so much to be added, just a need to strengthen" and he expressed Romania's appreciation for the Embassy's training programs. He said he wanted to change the public perception of the police from their past authoritarian role to become more "citizen-friendly," but he added that would be a long-term goal for citizens to realize they are the beneficiaries of the system. David commented that he had just met with the leadership of the police and he noted that his "most important task" was to "avoid overlapping" responsibilities of the national police, gendarmarie, border police, and other structures, including - when a new law creates them under mayoral oversight - the municipal police.

Emergency Planning Assistance?

6. (SBU) David asked the Ambassador specifically for assistance in emergency management planning, saying that inter-agency coordination in the aftermath of a terrorist attack was especially important to him during the government's transition period given Romania's continued deployment of troops abroad. He requested such assistance noting the unfortunate U.S. experience with natural and man-made disasters. He was particularly concerned that various structures including police, fire, and health authorities among others communicate clearly and take decisions efficiently to cope with disaster recovery.

7. (SBU) David said that if a disaster happened in the middle of the government's transition and restructuring, it could be more vulnerable to acting chaotically. He noted that Romania was building a center for emergency situations and welcomed U.S. assistance to develop protocols for first responders and a model for emergency action. He was particularly keen to improve the government's ability to cope with the results of an accident or the social and economic consequences of an attack. The Ambassador suggested a willingness to help on this high priority project.

Legalizing Prostitution?

8. (SBU) The Ambassador asked about the status of former minister Blagas proposed law to legalize prostitution and made several points on the negative consequences for Romania and for victims of trafficking in persons should prostitution be legalized. In response, David said he was not prepared to comment on the subject and that "We can leave that for a later discussion." However, he added obliquely, "Remember, I'm a member of the Liberal Party." (Note: The Liberals do not yet have a formal position on the issue. The initiative came via the Romanian National Police's Organized Crime Brigade, but officials there have told EmbOffs that it is on hold until they understand the position of their new minister. We speculate that there are economic interests, including in the hotel industry, that have been pushing the idea despite the known opposition of the Romanian Orthodox Church. End note.)

9. (SBU) David concluded the meeting by saying there were "no reasons to worry on the line of cooperation with us." He also welcomed the Ambassador's willingness to speak out, saying it "enables us to solve problems directly rather than wonder about the diplomatic meaning."

10.(C) Comment: David appeared comfortable in his new role, but, as always, more ready to nit-pick at precise but inconsequential shades of meaning rather than solely to establish warm camaraderie. However, his tone throughout the meeting was genuinely positive despite several passing comments that distinguished Liberal views from U.S. interests - such as on Romanian troop deployments. David's views on bilateral relations are closely aligned with the more Euro-centric orientation of the PNL. In a prior October 30 meeting with PolOff, David communicated his belief that the CIA was behind Brussel's decision to oppose the Romania's original nominee for European Commissioner, Varujan Vosghanian. He also justified the watering down of the law establishing the National Integrity Agency and appeared to be more committed to fighting the corruption label than in backing measures planned to fight corruption itself. In his recent comments singling out the enhanced role of oligarchs in the new government, President Basescu singled out Iasi baron and PNL deputy Relu Fenechiu for promoting David to the position of Interior Minister, along with the appointment of Fenechiu ally Tudor Chiariu as Justice Minister. End Comment.

11.(SBU) Biographic Note: Cristian David holds the portfolio of interior and administrative reform since April 5, 2007, the date when the reshuffled PNL-UDMR government was sworn in by the President. Cristian David was selected by PM Calin Popescu-Tariceanu and PNL to sit in the government following the parliamentary elections of November 2004. Between December 2004 and April 2007, David held a junior minister,s position, but was in charge of a key portfolio in the context of the negotiations for EU membership in 2005 and 2006. The minister delegate was attached to the Prime minister,s chancery and coordinated the following departments and agencies: the Government,s Authority for Control (ACG), the Anti-Fraud Department (DLAF), the Department for Implementation of Programs and Structural Adjustment (DIPAS). The formal title was: Delegate Minister for the control of the implementation of programs funded from external sources and the supervision of the enforcement of the acquis communautaire.

12.(SBU) Cristian David serves at the same time in the Romanian Parliament: in November 2004, he was elected senator on the lists of the National Liberal Party (PNL) in Vaslui, in eastern Romania. Except for a short period in 1997-1998, when he was a counselor of the liberal Minister of Youth and Sport, David had no significant experience in public office at the time of his selection as a junior minister in 2004. David is a member of the PNL,s top executive body, the Central Political Bureau (BPC): he was elected a simple member of the BPC in charge with training (of the party members) during the party convention in January 2007. David is a PNL member since the party,s reestablishment in 1990. Until 1993, he was the coordinator of the PNL students, organization, then until 1997 the general secretary of the National Liberal Youth Organization (OTNL). Between 1997 and 2004, David chaired the PNL,s International Relations Department.

13.(SBU) Cristian David is an economist by training - he has graduated the Academy of Economic Studies, Faculty of Statistics, Cybernetics and Economic Informatics in 1997 and holds a PhD in economics since 2006. David also attended the courses of the National Defense College in 2004. For almost a decade (1995-2004), David was a private entrepreneur as director of Team International Export-Import SRL, and Team International Consult SRL. Cristian David is 39, and is married since May 2006 with Vanda Vlasov, the daughter of a PNL affiliated lawyer from Iasi, Mihai Vlasov. This family relationship triggered rumors that the PNL local leader in Iasi, deputy Relu Fenechiu, who has been represented by Vlasov in commercial dealings, was instrumental in prompting PM Tariceanu to promote both David and Justice Minister Tudor Chiariu to such senior positions in the government. Cristian David speaks English and French. End Bio Note.

TAUBMAN

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