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Cablegate: Ambassador Visits Iasi for Observance of 65th

VZCZCXRO2049
RR RUEHAST
DE RUEHBM #1149/01 1991330
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181330Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4834
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 001149

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - WILLIAM SILKWORTH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI EAID RO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR VISITS IASI FOR OBSERVANCE OF 65TH
ANNIVERSARY OF IASI POGROM


BUCHAREST 00001149 001.2 OF 002


1. Summary. On June 27-29 Romania solemnly commemorated
June 27-29 the 65th anniversary of the Iasi Pogrom, one of
the worst events of the Holocaust in Romania. The
commemoration was sponsored by the Romanian government,
through the new "Elie Wiesel" Institute for the Study of the
Holocaust in Romania and the Romanian Jewish Federation. The
Ambassador participated along with Foreign Minister Mihai
Razvan Ungureanu, the Israeli Ambassador, and other notable
figures. Speakers highlighted the important progress the
Romanian government has made in recent years in instituting
programs to teach the true history of the Holocaust, but
expressed concern about persistent anti-Semitism and extreme
nationalism in some corners of Romanian society. On the
margins of the commemoration, the Ambassador met with the
prefect and mayor, and announced a donation of medical
equipment by USAID. End Summary.

2. The Ambassador attended commemorative events for the 65th
anniversary of the Iasi Pogrom, one of the most violent
pogroms in Jewish history. Perpetrated by Romanian security
forces under the leadership of wartime dictator Ion
Antonescu, the Pogrom resulted in the mass murder of at least
13,266 Jews by Romanian security forces and armed civilians.
The three-day observance of the 1941 Iasi Pogrom was the
largest remembrance of the event to date and was financially
supported almost entirely by the Romanian government.

3. At the opening ceremony at Ion Cuza University in Iasi, FM
Ungureanu noted the progress Romania has made recently in
recognizing the true history of this tragic period. At the
same time, he expressed concern about increased anti-Semitism
throughout Europe. He said it was necessary to take the
initiative at high levels of government to eradicate this
unacceptable phenomenon. In her remarks, Israeli Ambassador
Rodica Gordon saluted Romanians' desire to create a society
that is well-informed and open to democracy. However, she
warned against resurgent anti-Semitism and xenophobia. She
took note of the prevalence of racist slogans spouted by fans
in Romanian soccer stadiums and the use of fascist symbols by
extreme nationalist groups, including a gay rights march in
early June. The Ambassador similarly commended Romania for
making progress in recognizing the true history of the
Holocaust in the country, but lamented the persistence of
extreme nationalist and anti-Semitic views espoused by some
politicians. (Note: The entire text of the Ambassador's
remarks can be seen on the Embassy website at
www.usembassy.ro. End Note.)

4. Additional events at the Iasi observance included a
wreath laying at a monument to victims of the pogrom, and a
solemn march past the mass grave where victims of the pogrom
were buried. After the opening ceremony, the Ambassador also
gave awards to the winners of an essay competition for high
school students, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy and the Elie
Wiesel Institute. The top 3 winners were given cash awards
and a copy of Elie Wiesels &Night,8 which had been
translated and published into Romanian with USG funding.


Prefect Discusses Investment, Roma, Bureaucracy
--------------------------------------------- --
5. While In Iasi, the Ambassador also met with the prefect
Radu Priscaru, the youngest in Romania. Priscaru was
optimistic about prospects for the local economy, which he
expected would benefit from an influx of EU investment and
funding after EU accession. Priscaru also highlighted his
efforts to address the pervasive poverty of ethnic Roma in or
near Iasi. He cited a program to encourage Roma children to
remain in school and the recent appointment by his office of
a Roma coordinator for the county. He noted continued
problems in the registration of Roma for birth certificates
and inclusion in the census because of their historic fear of
local officials and police. "The Roma don,t want the
government to know who they are or where they are," he
asserted.

6. Priscaru welcomed the fact that the emphasis of the new
law on prefectures was decentralization. Although the law
was an improvement, prefectures still had difficulty with
Ministry of Interior officials who opposed devolving power
and budgetary authority to local entities. Still, Priscaru
felt the situation was improving and Minister of the Interior
Blaga was a supporter of greater authority and control being
given to the local authorities. Priscaru advocated more
training and exposure to local government institutions in
Europe and the U.S.

Mayor Aims to Create New Jobs

BUCHAREST 00001149 002.2 OF 002


--------------------------------------------- -------
7. Opposition Social Democratic Party mayor Gheorghe Nichita
told the Ambassador that he sought to create new jobs through
direct investment from within Romania and from abroad. He
expressed disappointment that one international firm had
decided against opening a new assembly sector factory in
Iasi, but noted that Siemens had located an automobile parts
testing facility in Iasi after the city had provided space.
The Ambassador mentioned that Iasi needed to expand its
airport if it hoped to attract increased business investment.
The mayor informed the ambassador that a feasibility study
was planned for a 200 million Euro airport improvement
project. The Ambassador also noted that the poor highway
infrastructure to Iasi also inhibited growth. Mayor Nichita
replied that this was a problem in all of Romania, but
expressed his hope the situation would improve after EU
accession.

8. The Ambassador also met with medical staff and students
at the Infectious Disease Hospital, &Sfanta Parascheva8
(built in 1892). At an event organized by USAID, he announced
the donation of a real-time PCR, specific test kits, and
other equipment to quickly and accurately detect the H5N1
virus in humans. In addition, The Ambassador announced the
donation of 4000 sets of personal protective equipment to
Romania to respond to avian influenza.
TAUBMAN

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