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Cablegate: Basescu Begins Second Term with Calls For

VZCZCXRO2975
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHBM #0857 3561341
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221341Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0198
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BUCHAREST 000857

SIPDIS

STATE EUR/CE FOR ASCHEIBE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL RO
SUBJECT: BASESCU BEGINS SECOND TERM WITH CALLS FOR
COOPERATION AND MODERNIZATION

REF: BUCHAREST 840 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) SUMMARY. On December 21, 2009, Traian Basescu was
sworn in for his second five-year term as the President of
Romania. In his inaugural address he reaffirmed Romania's
strategic alliance with the U.S. as the essential pillar of
Romania's foreign policy and called for deeper integration
with the European Union. Basescu pledged to remain a tough
advocate for reform and modernization of the state while
calling for reconciliation among the political parties. The
opposition parties remain skeptical of Basescu's newfound
spirit of cooperation. The leaders of the Social Democratic
(PSD) and National Liberal (PNL) parties have promised to
vote against Basescu's prime minister nominee and his
proposed cabinet when they come before Parliament on December
23. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) After a hard-fought campaign and narrow electoral
victory, Traian Basescu was sworn in for a second five-year
term as president on December 21. In his inaugural address,
Basescu said that the suspicion and mistrust bred by the
vicious election campaign should be put aside, and he urged
all political parties, the church, unions, and the Romanian
Diaspora to participate in the effort to modernize the
country. Basescu said that his priorities are to continue
judicial reforms and fight corruption, reform education,
modernize agriculture and build infrastructure, and implement
the November 22 referendum which called for a unicameral
Parliament and a reduction in the number of Parliamentarians
to under 300. Basescu recognized that implementing the
non-binding referendum would be unpopular in Parliament but
noted that Romanians, irrespective of party affiliation,
support it, adding that Parliament must implement reforms as
soon as possible, or risk "political and moral
disqualification." (Note: In the November 22 referendum, 77
percent voted for a one-chamber Parliament and 88 percent for
not more than 300 MPs. End Note.)

3. (U) Turning to foreign policy, Basescu declared that "the
strategic partnership with the United States remains an
essential pillar of Romania's foreign policy," adding that
"our attachment to this partnership with America also flows
from the admiration for a country that has defended, defends
and symbolizes democracy. A close relationship with America
brings us stability and safety." Basescu also called for
further integration with the European Union and spoke of the
need for an increasingly strong relationship with France.
(Note: France was reportedly instrumental in securing Romania
the consequential Agriculture Commissioner portfolio in the
new European Commission. End Note). Finally, Basescu
reiterated the importance of Moldova and said that Romania
must create the foundation for Moldova's integration into the
European Union.

4. (U) Despite Basescu's calls for cooperation, the
opposition remains doubtful that Basescu can leave behind the
divisive strategies that marked his first term. The PSD and
PNL were quick to point out that Basescu has again tapped his
loyal side-kick, Emil Boc, as Prime Minister despite the
no-confidence motion that brought down the previous Boc
Cabinet on 22 October. They also note that Boc's proposed
Cabinet is filled with Basescu loyalists such as Elena Udrea
and Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) heavyweights like Vasile
Blaga and Adriean Videanu. The leaders of both the PSD and
the PNL have promised to vote against the proposed Cabinet.
Nonetheless, with nine of the 16 ministries filled by members
of the ethnic Hungarian party (UDMR) and by nominal
independents, the Boc Cabinet is likely to garner the
necessary support when it goes before Parliament on 23
December.
GITENSTEIN

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