Cablegate: Ambassador's January 22, 2010 Meeting with New Romanian Foreign Minister Baconschi

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P 271319Z JAN 10 ZDK



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/25/2015



1. (S) Summary: In his introductory call on new Romanian FM Teodor Baconschi, Ambassador previewed the upcoming visit to Romania by U/S Tauscher and expressed U.S. gratitude for the GOR’s January 21 decision to increase its Afghanistan contingent by an additional 600 troops. FM Baconschi noted his government’s eagerness to schedule high-level meetings as soon as possible, including a POTUS meeting for President Basescu in the first half of 2010 and a meeting with Secretary Clinton for Baconschi himself in February or March 2010. He also expressed Romania’s enthusiasm for developing a robust New Strategic Concept for NATO. Other topics of discussion included GTMO detainees, Romanian acquisition of F-16 aircraft and relations with Moldova, Turkey and Iran. End Summary.

Missile Defense

2. (S) Ambassador informed Baconschi that U/S Ellen Tauscher planned to visit Romania on February 4-5 to provide preliminary information on the U.S. concept for missile defense under the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA). Ambassador noted that he had already discussed the visit with President Basescu (ref A) and that Basescu had agreed to meet with Tauscher. Basescu had suggested that Tauscher also meet with the Romanian Chief of the General Staff, Adm. Marin. Ambassador said Tauscher would lay out preliminary U.S. thinking on the timing and options for placement of radar and land-based SM-3 missile systems. He also told Baconschi that Turkey was the preferred site for the radar and that, depending on discussions with Turkey, the missiles could eventually be deployed in Romania, Bulgaria and/or Greece. Ambassador said he personally believed that Romania made the most sense and that Romania enjoyed strong but not unanimous support in Washington. FM Baconschi expressed his pleasure that Romania might be chosen to host another U.S. military facility, and said that there would be no difficulty with domestic public support. He added that individual opponents might attempt to exploit the issue for political gain, but there would be no serious dissent given the strong political consensus in favor of closer ties with the United States.


3. (C) Both Ambassador and Baconschi expressed their satisfaction with the January 21 decision by the Supreme Committee for National Defense (CSAT) to authorize 600 additional troops for the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. Ambassador told Baconschi that he had been invited to join President Basescu on his trip to Afghanistan in February. Ambassador also said that the U.S. was working hard to provide Mine Resistant Armor Protected (MRAP) vehicles to the Romanian Military, but stressed the continuing challenges given that there were still U.S. units in Afghanistan operating without MRAPs. The FM confirmed that he would attend the January 28 Afghanistan Conference in London and took note of U.S. support for the creation of an international trust fund to encourage the reintegration of reformed former insurgents into Afghan society. Baconschi said it was unlikely Romania would be able to contribute to this fund given its current financial woes, but he looked forward to announcing the GOR’s commitment of 600 additional troops at the Conference.

GTMO detainees

4. (C) Ambassador told Baconschi that the U.S. would soon be asking Romania to accept 2-3 detainees currently detained at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. He said that S/GC Amb. Dan Fried was eager to discuss the issue with Baconschi and requested that the MFA indicate when it would be possible to schedule either a meeting or a telephone call between Fried and Baconschi.

Bilateral Visits

5. (C) The FM said the GOR placed high priority on scheduling a meeting between President Basescu and President Obama, preferably in the first half of 2010. Baconschi said he himself would be traveling to Washington in February or March and hoped to meet with Secretary Clinton at that time. Ambassador replied that he was unsure whether a visit in the first half of 2010 would be possible, especially given the many difficult domestic issues facing President Obama at present.

NATO Strategic Concept

6. (C) Baconschi said that a fully developed New Strategic Concept, reaffirming the central role of Article 5 protection, was fundamental for the future of the Alliance. The commitment to collective defense was key to the strong public support for NATO in Romania, and he thought that the Obama Administration had an important and constructive role to play in creating the new concept. Ambassador said that both President Obama and Vice President Biden recognized the importance of Central and Eastern Europe and they understood NATO,s stabilizing role in the region.

Visas and Adoptions

7. (C) The FM said that joining the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) was a major goal for Romania. Ambassador noted that Embassy Bucharest CG and PAO had met with MFA officials to discuss launching a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing "serial denials" of unqualified Romanian applicants. He also said that the USG would work with airlines to implement the necessary changes in entry and exit procedures to allow a return to the 10% refusal threshold for VWP. Ambassador also raised the question of inter-country adoptions, requesting the FM,s assistance in providing updates on the 40 cases still in the pipeline (cases of children Americans intended to adopt when the law changed) and on draft amendments to the adoption law currently awaiting Prime Minister Boc’s review. The FM noted the natural link between the two topics and said that there could be a quid pro quo involved.

Business Forum

8. (C) The FM said that it is important that Romania develop further economic connections with the U.S. especially as the country recovers from the recent crisis. He appeared interested in the idea of using webcasts to connect Romania with potential American investors. The Ambassador offered the assistance of the Commercial Attach and suggested starting a working group to plan future events.


9. (C) Ambassador reported that Vice President Biden met with Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat on January 21 during the latter’s visit to Washington. The FM said Romania viewed the events of 2009 as a positive evolution in Moldova. The GOR was now working to provide supplemental infrastructure assistance to Moldova. Ambassador noted USG support given Moldova,s Milliennium Challenge Account contract.


10.(C) Baconschi sought U.S. assistance in persuading Turkey to be more flexible in its approach to Black Sea regional cooperation. Ambassador agreed energy is a key area for Romanian-Turkish cooperation. Baconschi believes 2010 will be critical for the Nabucco pipeline project.


11. (C) The FM asked about the status of U.S. negotiations with Iran. Ambassador acknowledged the difficulty of trying to normalize relations with Iran but opined that President Obama wanted to pursue the opportunity for negotiations for as long as he could. The Ambassador noted that the Iranian domestic situation complicated things but Special Envoy Amb. Dennis Ross had recently made a convincing argument that continued negotiations could have a positive domestic impact in Iran.


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