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Cablegate: Quiet Pride and Fleeting Comity After Ec

DE RUEHBM #1509 2701550
R 271550Z SEP 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) In a rare display of comity between increasingly
fractious coalition partners, President Traian Basescu and
Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu abandoned earlier
plans for separate press events, opting instead for a joint
press appearance at Cotroceni Palace to announce a positive
EC Monitoring Report on Romanian EU entry in 2007. (In fact,
Basescu made the extraordinary protocol gesture of offering
the Prime Minister the floor first at their press
conference.) In his comments, President Basescu declared
that the report heralded the accomplishment of one of his
main goals since taking office. He said there was consensus
between his office and the Government that there would be no
fundamental changes immediately after accession. Basescu
warned that membership in the EU would not automatically
produce prosperity, but rather the prospect of prosperity.
He urged Romanian authorities not to unduly raise hopes for
immediate improvement in national well-being. Noting the 27
"yellow flags" in the EC Monitoring report, Basescu said
there were many areas where the government's performance
remained mediocre. Finally, Basescu acknowledged the
contributions of the current and previous governments in
gaining entry into NATO and the EU, adding that these
objectives were met because Bucharest had consistently
remained oriented towards the West.

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2. (SBU) Prime Minister Tariceanu underscored that Romanians
should be proud of their accomplishment, as the country was
joining the EU on the strength of its own merits rather than
the political backing of others. Tariceanu echoed President
Basescu in warning that while the EC report represented the
fulfillment of the drive to join the EU in 2007, it would be
a mistake to believe that all of Romania's problems would be
solved on January 1. He also underscored that Romania would
be treated the same as other EU members after accession.
Tariceanu insisted that there were no unique safeguard
clauses that applied only to Romania, but rather a mechanism
for cooperation and verification that was consonant with the
European Commission's role as custodian of the treaties.
Tariceanu said that necessary reforms included decentralizing
public administration, developing public infrastructure and
the educational and health systems, and enhancing the
government's ability to absorb EU funds, which he said could
amount to over Euros 30 billion over the next five years.
In closing, PM Tariceanu underscored the need for continued
political, economic, and social stability in order to carry
out reforms, noting that EU integration was not the exclusive
monopoly of the government, or of any political party or
public institution.

3. (SBU) Opposition reactions were generally muted. PSD
president Mircea Geoana for his part welcomed the EC
monitoring report, which he said was the successful outcome
of the past decade's "long march" in the direction of
Brussels, initiated by his party when it was in power. In a
dig at the ruling PD-PNL alliance, Geoana added that he
believed that the it was no longer a functional "engine,"
adding that the PSD was now prepared to retake the reins of
power and put forward a concrete post-accession strategy for
Romania. True to form, right-wing PRM President CV Tudor
described the EC report as a "farce", marking Romania's new
status as a colony of the EU's "sublime porte."

4. (SBU) Comment: Local political parties generally reacted
with equal measures of equanimity and quiet pride to the
September 27 EC report, as a green light for Romania, however
caveated by continuing safeguards, had long been expected.
While earlier reports suggested that the Presidential and
Prime Ministerial offices were vying for separate prime-time
slots to announce the EC decision, it appears that cooler
heads ultimately prevailed in presenting a united front at
the press conference. In a more celebratory mood than usual,
the Democrats and the Liberals had the magnanimity to
acknowledge the contributions of preceding Romanian
governments in gaining entry to the EU, most notably the
Iliescu/Nastase Social Democratic administration. While the
Bucharest political elites are already jostling and
scratching for position in what will be Romania's first year
as a full-fledged EU member, it was encouraging to see that
for at least one day, the hatchets could be buried. Alas,
they will not be in the ground for long. End Comment.


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