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Cablegate: Romanian President, Prime Minister, and Parliament

VZCZCXRO1479
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBM #0130/01 0501555
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191555Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7923
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 000130

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/NCE, EUR/SCE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL RO KV
SUBJECT: ROMANIAN PRESIDENT, PRIME MINISTER, AND PARLIAMENT
AGREE: NO TO RECOGNIZING KOSOVO INDEPENDENCE

1. (SBU) Summary: In a rare display of political unanimity,
President Traian Basescu, Prime Minister Tariceanu, and
Parliament met in joint session February 18 declare formally
that Romania will not recognize Kosovo's independence. Almost
all parties--with the exception of the ethnic Hungarian
UDMR--also issued public statements endorsing Romania,s
official position. Right-extremist and mainstream parties
alike have urged PM Tariceanu to expel the UDMR from the
current coalition government. The episode underscores that
persuading Romanian authorities to change their
"non-recognition" position will be an uphill battle,
especially in the run-up to the election campaign later this
year. End summary.

2. (SBU) In a joint session February 18, parliament approved
a resolution declaring that Romania will not recognize Kosovo
independence. The resolution passed with the support of all
parliamentary parties with the exception of the ethnic
Hungarian Democratic Union of Hungarians from Romania (UDMR).
The declaration also expresses "deep concern" over the
"unilateral proclamation" of the independence of the Kosovo
province and stresses that the decision in Pristina and the
potential recognition by other states of the unilaterally
declared independence must not set a precedent for other
areas.

3. (SBU) In a speech before Parliament, PM Calin
Popescu-Tariceanu insisted that the decision of the Kosovar
authorities should not be seen as implying that international
law somehow provides collective rights for national
minorities or any rights to self-determination and secession.
Tariceanu also noted that EU continues to back the UN
Charter and the Helsinki final act, which enshrines the
principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. The
Prime Minister also noted that his government, the parliament
and the President shared a common position on this issue,
demonstrating the "solid functioning" of Romanian democracy
and its institutions.

4. (SBU) President Traian Basescu in a press conference after
his meeting with leaders of parliamentary parties outlined
the reasons why Romania will not recognize Kosovo's
independence, including, inter alia: the absence of a UNSC
resolution on the status of Kosovo; absence of an agreement
between Serbs and Kosovars on this issue; Romania's
principled objection to the granting of "collective rights"
to ethnic minorities; and the international community's
"infringement" of Serbia's sovereignty and territorial
integrity. Basescu stressed that Romania's position on
Kosovo was well known since 2005, and that he had reiterated
these points publicly during two visits to the United States.
In this context, he said, the existence of a strategic
partnership with the United States should not prevent Romania
from adopting contrary positions when the country is obliged
to defend its national interest. Basescu also announced that
the Foreign Ministry will cease all activities of its office
in Pristina.

5. (SBU) The only mainstream political party that welcomed
the decision of the Kosovar authorities was the ethnic
Hungarian UDMR, which urged Romanian authorities to recognize
Kosovo,s independence. In a press release February 17, the
UDMR noted that Kosovo,s declaration of independence was a
natural consequence of the restructuring process that had
taken place over the past decade in Central Europe and
Western Balkans. The UDMR noted that two World Wars broke
out in Europe because of unresolved ethnic and national
tensions, and urged authorities not to delay the recognition
of the newly formed state. The UDMR statement also stressed
that the European countries' search for solutions in Kosovo
had "created a precedent.8 Other Romanian parties disavowed
the UDMR position and urged the Prime Minister to eject the
UDMR from his government. (Note: Removing the UDMR from the
current Tariceanu cabinet is unlikely, since it would lead
automatically to a vote of confidence and probably to
election of a new Prime Minister.)

6. (SBU) Mainstream press comments also evinced criticism of
Kosovo's proclamation of independence, with a headline in the
independent centrist daily "Ziua" reading "Kosovo is Born;
the UN is Dead." The article noted that in the final
analysis, both the international legal framework and the UN
counted less than the support of "powerful" countries, and
predicted that the Republic of Kosovo will not be an end, but
an unhappy prelude. Similarly, the independent daily
"Cotidianul" in a headline reading "A Kosovo in Transylvania"
evinced concerns that Kosovo could become a precedent for
separatist solutions in Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh, and even
Transylvania.

BUCHAREST 00000130 002 OF 002

7. (SBU) Comment: Opposition to Kosovo's independence is a
touchstone for most mainstream (and right-extremist)
political parties. Given the upcoming electoral campaign,
the nationalist stance of most of the mainstream Romanian
parties is not unexpected, as political parties seek to
appeal to a nationalist electorate that has perennially
confronted the ghost of ethnic Hungarian secessionism. The
near-unanimity of all mainstream political actors on this
issue underscores that getting Romania to move from its
non-recognition stance regarding an independent Kosovo will
be an uphill challenge. End Comment.
TAUBMAN

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