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Cablegate: Romania: Assistance to Georgia

VZCZCXRO0344
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHBM #0786 2811443
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 071443Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8770
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 0229
RUEHUP/AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST PRIORITY 1310

UNCLAS BUCHAREST 000786

STATE FOR EUR/CE - ASCHEIBE, EUR/ACE
BUDAPEST FOR USAID - MBARRETT

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EFIN KCRS KMCA EUN PREL GG RO
SUBJECT: ROMANIA: ASSISTANCE TO GEORGIA

REF: STATE 100093

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) EconCouns met October 3 with Anamaria Almasan, Acting
Director for EU External Relations and Development Assistance at the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), to convey reftel information on
U.S. aid to Georgia and to inquire about Romanian plans for both
bilateral and EU-coordinated assistance. Almasan explained that
Georgia is one of three "priority targets" (along with Moldova and
Serbia) for Romania's own nascent bilateral ODA program, in line
with overall foreign policy priorities. The Government of Romania
(GOR) has been in frequent contact with the Georgians, and
immediately after the conflict provided humanitarian supplies worth
1.3 million euros which were delivered personally by President
Traian Basescu when he visited Tbilisi on August 21. This
represented a substantial sum for Romania and was meant as a
geopolitical, not merely charitable, gesture, Almasan said; the
supplies were paid for with emergency funds from the Ministry of
Health.

2. (SBU) Regarding additional aid, Almasan noted that the GOR
remains somewhat hamstrung by current laws which allow Romania to
provide financial assistance only through donations to multilateral
organizations like the UN, but not through direct bilateral
transfers. MFA is pushing to have the law changed, but in the
meantime is tentatively planning a donation of 100,000 euros to
UNHCR for assistance to displaced persons in Georgia, as well as
50,000 euros to the World Food Program (WFP). Additional amounts
may still be identified, but these two donations will likely form
the core of Romania's intended pledge at the EU-hosted donor's
conference in Brussels on October 22. Romania will also be actively
looking for reconstruction and rehabilitation projects, such as
under EU or UN auspices, to which it can contribute advisers.

3. (SBU) Almasan observed that there is active questioning among EU
Member States about where the 500 million euros will come from which
were announced for Georgia by EU Foreign Ministers on September 15.
It is still unclear whether the funds will be taken from the
Commission's foreign aid or external relations budgets or from
Member State contributions, though Almasan noted with a smile that
Romania would clearly prefer having the Commission pay instead of
asking for more money from Member States. Romania, along with other
EU members, is also concerned about Georgia's absorption capacity,
noting that aid packages announced by the EU and U.S. alone total
nearly USD $2 billion. Almasan urged the U.S. to coordinate its
assistance plans very closely with the EU and other donors to avoid
overlap and misuse of funds. Romania is also supportive of the
idea, floated by the UK and others, that the EU should undertake a
more comprehensive post-conflict needs assessment in Georgia before
disbursing large amounts of money. The GOR would gladly contribute
experts to such a mission, Almasan said.

TAUBMAN

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