Cablegate: Romania: Biographical Data On Key Figures in the National Liberal-Democratic Party Alliance
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 BUCHAREST 003479
STATE DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - WILLIAM SILKWORTH
STATE DEPT ALSO FOR INR/B
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/17/2014
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR KDEM SOCI ECON PHUM RO
SUBJECT: ROMANIA: BIOGRAPHICAL DATA ON KEY FIGURES IN THE NATIONAL LIBERAL-DEMOCRATIC PARTY ALLIANCE
Classified By: Political Section Chief Robert S. Gilchrist for Reasons 1.4 B and D
1. (SBU) Summary. In the wake of President-elect Traian Basescu,s upset victory over PM Adrian Nastase December 12,key members of the center-right National Liberal Party-Democratic Party (PNL-PD) Alliance, which Basescu heads, have moved to the center of Romania,s political stage. While it is too early to determine precisely what roles these key players will assume in a Basescu presidency, post presents below brief bios of essential political figures within the Alliance, as well as two prominent independents with foreign policy credentials. End Summary.
Who,s Who in the Liberal Party
2. (C) The Alliance,s likely PM designate is respected businessman Calin Popescu Tariceanu, a PNL stalwart and leading party figure since the early 1990,s. Within the party, Tariceanu is widely viewed as a conciliatory force, managing to avoid being too closely identified with any of the party,s factions. Tariceanu has been acting PNL President - and co-leader of the PNL-PD Alliance - since Theodore Stolojan,s unexpected resignation from the presidential campaign and PNL leadership October 2. Tariceanu was Minister of Commerce and Industry from 1996 to 1997. His political adversaries cried foul during his ministerial tenure when one of his companies struck a deal with the national telecommunications company, RomTeleCom. His polished, urbane style coupled with a certain gravitas made him a logical pick for PNL-PD Alliance spokesman in 2003. Although he lacked the national name recognition of the center-left Social Democratic Party (PSD) PM designee FM Mircea Geoana, Tariceanu,s calm and collected style distinguishes him in a political atmosphere often characterized by hyperbole and florid rhetoric. He is a good foil for rough-hewn President-elect Basescu. One criticism occasionally aimed at Tariceanu by PNL insiders is that his relatively laid back style is perhaps a smidgen too relaxed for the hurly-burly of partisan politics; during the campaign, for example, Tariceanu reportedly insisted on regular rest days. Tariceanu also is proud of his success as a "self made man," having amassed a personal fortune through holding an exclusive franchise for Citroen sales in Romania. A respected and accessible interlocutor, Tariceanu met regularly with PolChief and other Embassy Officers before and throughout the campaign. He speaks excellent English, is married and has two children.
3. (C) Theodor Stolojan remains a key player within the PNL despite his official resignation from the presidential campaign and party politics this fall for undisclosed health reasons. On December 16, media reports indicated that Basescu had selected Stolojan to be Economic Counselor to the President. Respected even by his political foes, including President Iliescu, he, like Tariceanu, is known for his bridge building ability in a party (and a nation) often notorious for its fractious infighting. Indeed, Stolojan played a central role in reorganizing the PNL following the center-right,s electoral debacle in the 2000 general elections. Many within the party felt, however, that the urbane, soft-spoken Stolojan lacked sufficient street fighting skills to tangle with the powerful PSD machine during the 2004 presidential contest. Some Alliance members secretly greeted his withdrawal from the campaign in favor of the tough talking Basescu with sighs of relief. At the very least, Stolojan will be a trusted adviser to the new President. His role may be limited by bona fide health problems; some sources cite longstanding kidney ailments as the source of his woes. Prior to his withdrawal from the campaign, many observers remarked on his waxen complexion, dark circles under his eyes and generally haggard demeanor. The Embassy maintains a close relationship with Stolojan and he met regularly with the Ambassador prior to his decision to pull out of the presidential race. We expect those good relations will continue. Stolojan was prime minister from 1991-1992. He also served as Finance Minister from 1990-1991. From 1992-1998 he worked as a Senior Economist at the World Bank. In 2000, he was the PNL candidate in the first round of presidential elections.
4. (C) Energy mogul Dinu Patriciu, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Rompetrol, is one of the PNL,s most controversial figures. A vocal critic of Stolojan,s leadership and the PNL,s alliance with PD, Patriciu nevertheless provided essential financial support to the Alliance during the campaign. In September 2004, Patriciu and fellow PNL member Valeriu Stoica publicly aired the PNL,s dirty linen when they demanded more effective party leadership. Although their complaints had little resonance among PNL,s rank and file, many observers touted their move as an example of the center-right,s historic lack of unity. The National Anti-Corruption Prosecutor,s Office opened an investigation against him in summer 2004, but it remains unclear whether this was simply politically motivated. Following the PSD,s successful showing in the first round of presidential and parliamentary elections, Patriciu and his confidantes were frequently cited as possible allies in a PSD-led government. Patriciu did nothing to dampen this speculation.
5. (C) Former PNL President and Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica is widely credited as a mastermind behind the formation of the PNL-PD Alliance. However, Stoica was forced to resign from PNL,s leadership in 2002 following his failure to boost the party,s public opinion ratings. In the wake of the center-right,s 2000 electoral debacle, he skirmished constantly with Patriciu over PNL leadership, eventually bruiting Stolojan as a compromise candidate. This summer, he again courted controversy by proposing a &swift merger8 between PNL and PD ) a step farther than most party members are willing to take. His critics acknowledge his brilliant intellect, but observe that he lacks charisma. Although Stoica holds no formal position within the party, he continues to wield significant political clout and could return as Minister of Justice in a future alliance government. The Embassy knows Stoica well, and PolChief and others have met with him regularly.
6. (C) Mona Musca is PNL,s best-known female deputy and, together with Basescu and Stolojan, among the Alliance,s most popular figures. A leading critic of corruption and widely respected for her own probity, she has proposed several bills protecting media freedom and favoring civil society. Her commitment to clean government has earned her the nickname of the &First Lady8 of the PNL. She petitioned the PNA to investigate an allegedly corrupt real estate transaction involving PM Nastase. Musca, a valued Embassy interlocutor, has been bruited as a possible Culture Minister or Labor Minister in an Alliance-led government.
7. (C) Ionut Popescu took over the position of PNL-PD Alliance spokesman following Tariceanu's step up from Alliance spokesman to Alliance PM pick. The former editor-in-chief of &Capital8 magazine and a well-known economic analyst and commentator, Popescu entered politics after PNL leader Theodor Stolojan asked him to become his personal adviser for economic issues. Not surprisingly, Popescu is a strong advocate of a market economy and economic reform. He was second on the Alliance Senate slate for Bucharest.
8. (C) Senator and ethnic Armenian Varujan Vosganian first entered parliament in 1990 as a representative of the Armenian minority. In 1996, he was a cofounder of the Romanian Alternative Party (PAR), joining the PNL after the PAR-PNL merger in 2003. He has served on the PNL Executive Bureau since the merger. Vosganian is one of the authors -if not the principal author - of the Alliance's economic program. He is a mathematician and economist by training.
9. (C) Soft spoken PNL Senator Gheorge Flutur, one of the party's leading electoral strategists and an agricultural specialist tops the list of likely choices for Agriculture Minister. Flutur is a &Vice Leader8 of the PNL Parliamentary Group. According to press reports, Flutur (along with Mona Musca) is one of the Alliance's top negotiators with UDMR and PUR, as PNL-PD aims to entice those parties to join a PNL-PD-led government.
10.(C) Controversial businessman Viorel Catarama has been linked to a series of business scandals, including investigations of the &SAFI8 investment fund and a furniture factory. Catarama entered politics in 1990 and joined the PNL Youth Wing, that also included Dinu Patriciu and Calin Popescu Tariceanu. He was a Deputy State Secretary in the Commerce Ministry in the early 1990,s. Elected as a PNL Senator in 1996, he quit the party in 1999 and ran as an independent for Bucharest,s mayor, losing to Basescu. Catarama later became Chairman of the Romanian National Party (a party subsequently chaired by former Romanian Intelligence Agency (SRI) Director Virgil Magureanu) before leaving that party and joining the Alliance for Romania (APR) party in 2000. He returned in the PNL fold following the PNL-APR merger in January 2002.
11.(C) PNL Senator and Vice President Teodor Melescanu was a diplomat from 1966 to 1996, capping his foreign policy career as Foreign Minister from 1992 to 1996. He entered politics as an ally of Ion Iliescu, but broke with Iliescu to form the Alliance for Romania (APR) party in 1997. Following his unsuccessful bid for president in 2000 and the PNL-APR merger, Melescanu became a PNL Vice President.
Three Young PNL Voices
12.(C) Three up and coming PNL Members - and valued Embassy interlocutors - are new Senator Christian David, Deputy Christian Boureanu and Deputy Bogdan Olteanu. David is Director of the PNL,s Department of External Relations and was a close advisor to Tariceanu prior to and during the campaign. He remains near the inner-circle of PNL-PD, including to Basescu, and is a close and reliable contact for the Embassy. David is a businessman and an economist by training.
13.(C) Deputy Boureanu is a staunch advocate of market reform. A regular Embassy interlocutor, he has complained about &old thinking8 among PNL leadership and also lamented that members of Romania,s intelligence services engage in partisan politics. The telegenic and articulate Boureanu was a ®ular8 on television talk shows during the electoral campaign. He speaks fluent, idiomatic English. He is a graduate of Romania's prestigious National Defense College.
14.(C) Deputy Bogdan Olteanu is very close to Alliance PM designate Tarticeanu, is chair of the PNL Honor and Mediation Council (an intraparty rules and ethics body) and has been bruited for a likely high position at a sub-ministerial level in a PNL-PD government. Olteanu is one of two persons the PNL-PD has reportedly charged with drafting a "protocol of cooperation" if the Alliance can strike a deal with the ethnic Hungarian party (UDMR) and Humanist Party (PUR). A lawyer by training and a PNL activist since the early 90's, he is former President of the PNL Youth Wing.
Democratic Party Stars
15. (C) Cluj Mayor Emil Boc is the best-known PD politician after President-elect Basescu. He is number two in the PD hierarchy, after Basescu, holding the title of Executive President. When Basescu is sworn in as President of Romania, Boc will take over as PD Acting President until the party convention in May 2005. Boc is a canny politician, respected attorney and political science professor who helped establish the Political Science and Public Administration Department at Babes Bolyai University in Cluj. Never one to skirt controversy, Boc is known for his outspokenness but leavens his idealism with pragmatism. Boc's public performance can be uncontrollably garrulous, even erratic, leading one Cluj resident to remark that on occasion "he speaks too fast, too long and too loud." In the June 2004 municipal elections, Boc defeated both the incumbent mayor, a notoriously xenophobic member of Corneliu Vadim Tudor,s extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party (PRM), and the popular ex-PSD Interior Minister Ion Rus. As a parliamentarian, Boc was a moving force behind drafting Romania,s revised Constitution in 2003 and anti-corruption legislation. He enjoys good personal and professional relations with Basescu.
The President-elect is reportedly the godfather of one of Boc,s children, and Basescu recently stated that he would like more &Bocs8 in the Alliance. Boc is a longstanding Embassy contact, appreciated for his candor and accessibility. He speaks excellent English.
16. (C) A likely Alliance vice premier pick, Adrian Videanu is one of PD's richest politicians and currently heads the Romanian-American investment fund. Videanu is one of the few parliamentarians to voluntarily leave office in accordance with new conflict of interest legislation. His discretion and managerial skills are widely respected across PD-PNL ranks. Videanu is widely regarded as president-elect's right hand man and returned to the public spotlight during the campaign among Basescu's inner circle of advisors.
Additionally, Videanu is widely regarded as a source of cash ) and economic credibility ) for the Alliance.
17.(C) Former Industry Minister Radu Berceanu has been tarred by corruption scandals, most notably allegations involving his involvement with petrochemical company Sunoil. The Prosecutor General,s office investigated Berceanu on allegations that during his tenure as Industry Minister he bled millions of dollars from state-owned petrochemical concerns while profits flowed into the coffers of Sunoil. Berceanu and three other PD officials denied the allegations and the results of the investigation were inconclusive. Berceanu is PD Vice Chairman and an influential figure within the PD, perhaps because he is a source of funding for the Alliance.
18.(C) Former Minister of Defense (March-December 2000) Sorin Frunzaverde often heads the list of names most-frequently mentioned as a Defense Minister in an Alliance government. Frunzaverde is a PD Vice Chairman and member of the Chamber of Deputies, Defense and Intelligence oversight committees. Many analysts describe his brief tenure as Defense Minister as less than stellar. Moreover, Basescu stated during the campaign that he did not want members of the 1996-2000 failed center-right government to hold ministerial portfolios. Frunzaverde holds pro-American views and is an Embassy interlocutor.
19.(C) PD Vice-President Vasile Blaga is widely bruited as under consideration for Minister of Administration and Interior in a PNL-PD government or as Chief of Presidential Administration. Blaga, a Basescu confidant, is a former prefect with an insider's perspective on Romanian local administration. He played a key role in Basescu's successful presidential campaign.
20.(C) Deputy Cosmin Gusa, like Vasile Blaga and Adrian Videanu, is a key member of Basescu's inner circle and a trusted adviser. He is a member of the party's National Standing Bureau, was coordinator of the PD's local elections campaign in June 2004 and one of the key coordinators for the PNL-PD of this year's parliamentary and presidential campaigns. Gusa is, literally, Basescu's right hand man, accompanying him virtually everywhere. He is leader of PD MPs in the Chamber of Deputies. Gusa began his professional career working in broadcasting for media magnate and PUR leader Dan Voiculescu. Not surprisingly, he began his political career with PUR, but defected to the PSD where he rose quickly to prominence. PM Nastase selected him as the PSD's Executive Secretary, which meant he was in charge of the party's day-to-day activities. His defection to PD in 2003 was a blow to the PSD, as Gusa departed with intricate knowledge of the PSD's inner workings. Since joining the PD, Gusa has become a key dealmaker for the Alliance. He recently told post that he would likely remain in the parliament for the time being, rather than entering the government, as he expected the lack of a clear majority for either major party would lead to "turf warfare" between PNL-PD and PSD heavyweights bitter they are out of government. Gusa speaks fluent English and spent four months in the U.S. in the mid-1990's on a program sponsored by U.S. NGO Freedom House. He meets regularly with PolChief and other Embassy interlocutors, as well diplomats from other countries.
A Husband-Wife Team
21.(C) Journalists and married couple Adriana and Claudiu Saftoiu, both in their thirties, are trusted Basescu counselors who have worked for the President-elect for the past several years and are almost certain to play pivotal roles in a Basescu administration. According to press reports, Adriana Saftoiu will likely be the Presidency,s spokesperson ) a logical choice since she was the press officer for Basescu,s winning 2004 mayoral and presidential bids and served as government spokesperson in 1999 under the center right government. To be spokesperson, she will need to resign her position as a newly elected deputy. Press reports state that Claudiu Saftoiu will probably be the Presidency,s political counselor. Mr. Saftoiu is director of Capital Promotion, a political consulting firm, and author of a book about the relationship between politicians and the mass media. The Saftoius both helped conceive and execute Basescu,s unconventional but successful media messages, whose eye catching advertisements during the 2004 mayoral campaign, for example, included sepia tinted &retro8 photographs of Basescu and his team and the image of a red hot chili pepper to symbolize Basescu,s outspokenness.
One Young PD Leader
22.(C) In a party known for its relative youth, one young PD leader and valued Embassy contact is new Deputy Roberta Alma Anastase. Anastase is Executive Secretary of the PD National Board and Secretary of the PD,s Parliamentary Group in the Chamber of Deputies. She is widely recognized as one of PD,s up and coming politicians.
Independent Foreign Policy Experts
23.(C) In support of the alliance's pro-U.S. and pro-EU foreign policy, Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, an independent, is rumored to be among the Alliance,s top choices for Foreign Minister. A former MFA State Secretary, he is a respected historian who did postgraduate studies at Oxford. He distinguished himself as one of Romania's top young civil servants during his tenure as MFA State Secretary from 1998 to 2001. He followed his MFA State Secretary mandate by serving as the Special Envoy for the South-East Europe Stability Pact Coordinator. Ungureanu has published numerous scholarly articles as well as three historical books. The 36-year-old Ungureanu is fluent in English, French, German, Italian and Hungarian.
24. (C) Another pro-American independent who may figure prominently in Basescu,s administration is former Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu. According to press reports, Plesu is a likely choice for the Presidency,s Foreign Policy Counselor and a senior PD adviser recently confirmed to PolChief that Plesu would be an important figure in Basescu,s administration. Although not a member of the PD and widely viewed as independent, Plesu was something of a protg of former PD leader and ex-PM Petre Roman. Plesu, a dissident in the 1980s, was Culture Minister for almost two years in the early 1990,s. As Foreign Minister from 1997-1999, Plesu strongly supported Romania,s efforts to accede to NATO and took the unpopular position of supporting the NATO-led intervention in the former Yugoslavia. In 1994, he founded the New Europe College; Mihai Razvan Ungureanu has been among its fellows. Plesu recently resigned from the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives when the Council implausibly cleared extreme nationalist and &court poet8 of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, of charges that he collaborated with the communist-era Securitate secret police.
25. (U) Amembassy Bucharest,s reporting telegrams are available on the Bucharest SIPRNET Website: www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/bucharest.