Cablegate: Romanian President Basescu's Visit Underlines Shift In

Published: Fri 29 Jan 2010 03:34 PM
DE RUEHCH #0052/01 0291534
O 291534Z JAN 10 ZFR ZDS
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SUBJECT: Romanian President Basescu's Visit Underlines Shift in
Bilateral Relations
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a January 27-28 visit to Moldova, Romanian
President Traian Basescu offered 100 Million Euros of assistance for
the country's infrastructure and promised to provide support for the
energy sector. Several agreements were signed, including a joint
declaration of cooperation between the two Interior Ministries and
an agreement on cooperation between the two Justice Ministries.
However, Basescu sent a mixed message on Romania's respect for
Moldova's independence when he also stressed Romania's commitment to
granting Romanian citizenship to Moldovans, and said that Romania
would never sign a border treaty with Moldova. While many Moldovans
welcomed Basescu's visit, the opposition Party of Communists of the
Republic of Moldova (PCRM) blasted the new Government of Moldova
(GOM) for pursuing a pro-Romanian policy. END SUMMARY.
Improved Moldovan-Romanian Relations
2. (U) The January 27-28 visit of Romanian President Traian Basescu
to Moldova was a clear indication of how dramatically Moldova's new
Alliance for European Integration (AIE) government has improved
bilateral relations between the two countries. The Romanian
President arrived with a major delegation, including ten ministers,
and met with Acting President Mihai Ghimpu, Prime Minister Vlad
Filat, Chisinau Mayor Dorin Chirtoaca, AIE leaders, and
parliamentary factions, among others. Basescu also was awarded
Moldova's prestigious Republican Order and participated in diverse
cultural events, including laying flowers at the graves of famous
Moldovans (including Acting President Ghimpu's brother, Gheorghe
Ghimpu) in the Central Cemetery in Chisinau.
Romania to Give 100 Million Euros in Aid
3. (U) Upon his arrival in Chisinau on January 27, Basescu thanked
Moldovans for supporting him in Romania's December presidential
elections. "The votes cast by the Moldovans who hold Romanian
nationality were very important for the outcome of the elections,"
he said. Basescu also announced that Romania would offer Moldova
100 million Euros in non-repayable financial assistance from 2010 to
2013. These funds will be disbursed in four equal yearly
installments of 25 million Euros each. According to Basescu, the
assistance will be used for local community projects, such as
modernizing schools and restoring local infrastructure.
Moldova to Link to Romanian Electric Grid
4. (U) On January 27, Basescu said that one of the major Romanian
projects for Moldova was the Falciu-Gotesti 110 kW power line, which
could become operational by the end of 2010. He stated that Romania
had built 28.3 km of the power line on its territory, and that work
on the Moldovan side would be completed by the end of 2010, at which
time, he said, Moldova's energy system would be connected with the
Romanian electrical system and, implicitly, with the EU. Basescu
also said that a project to connect the gas transportation system
"Drochia-Ungheni-Iasi" would be implemented under the
Moldovan-Romanian neighborhood policy.
Other Deliverables
5. (U) Basescu's visit produced several other deliverables.
Moldovan Minister of Interior Victor Catan and his Romanian
counterpart, Vasile Blaga, signed a joint declaration of cooperation
on combating of trafficking and organized crime. Moldovan Minister
of Justice Alexandru Tanase and his Romanian counterpart, Catalin
Predoiu, also agreed that Romania would help Moldova establish a
system of private bailiffs.
6. (U) On January 28, Basescu also visited the site of the new
Romanian consulate in Cahul, which he said would be opened in two to
three weeks. (Note: Basescu's unfortunate slip of the tongue that
he was going to visit "Kabul" (instead of "Cahul") received quite a
bit of bemused press coverage. End Note.)
Mixed Messages on Citizenship and Independence?
--------------------------------------------- --
7. (SBU) In Chisinau, Basescu also announced that his government
would adopt by the end of the week a regulatory act to speed up the
process of providing Romanian citizenship for Moldovans. Basescu
said that the new Government of Romania (GOR) agency for regaining
Romanian citizenship would open five offices in Romania along the
Moldovan border, where Moldovans could file their application
requests for citizenship. According to the Romanian President,
before 2008, only 2,400 Moldovans had received Romanian citizenship;
however, after new provisions were adopted last year, 20,000
requests had been processed and 14,000 people had already received
Romanian citizenship. Basescu stated that the GOR's new citizenship
agency could process 100,000 to 150,000 requests per year, and
pledged that the Romanian MFA would process all of the unprocessed
applications submitted before the law was amended. (Note: In
previous statements last year, Basescu suggested that Romania had
received between 800,000 and one million passport applications. End
8. (U) While Basescu announced that an agreement on small
cross-border traffic would take effect March 31, he vowed that
Bucharest would never sign a border demarcation treaty with Moldova.
He said that Romania had recognized the borders after the breakup
of the USSR, and therefore, was ready to negotiate on how to
"manage" the border, but not willing to formally demarcate the
border line. "I will never sign a treaty to confirm what Stalin and
Hitler signed", he stated.
9. (U) In addition, some of the several hundred Moldovans who
welcomed Basescu at a ceremony laying flowers at the monument to
Stephan the Great on January 27 chanted or waved placards with
slogans such as, "Union!", "Basescu is with Us!", "Basescu - the
President of Romania and Moldova", "We Want You to Become our
President!", and "Remove the Border at the Prut!".
PCRM Criticizes Romania's Policies
10. (U) The visit, which was covered in a positive manner by the
majority of media, was sharply criticized by the PCRM. Communist
press statements blasted the Romanian authorities for their failure
to recognize "the Moldovan people's right to self-determination",
for refusing to sign a border agreement with Moldova, and for their
alleged belief that Moldova's independence was a temporary
phenomenon. The PCRM also blamed Basescu for supporting the
organizers of and participants in the April 2009 parliamentary
election protests which resulted in violence. For example, PCRM
heavyweight Mark Tkaciuk referred to Basescu as "a criminal who
returns to the scene of the crime". In addition, the PCRM faction
leader was conspicuously absent from a January 27 meeting of
Moldovan parliamentary group leaders with Basescu.
11. (SBU) President Basescu's visit to Moldova demonstrated the
dramatic improvement in the tone of Moldovan-Romanian relations
produced by Moldova's transition from the PCRM-led government of
former President Voronin to the new Alliance-led government. Both
governments see Moldova's governmental transition as providing a new
opportunity for rapprochement and cooperation.
12. (SBU) Support for improved relations with Romania is not
universal in Moldova, however, as the Communists and their
supporters remained critical of Romania and the Romanian President.
Though many Moldovans welcome Basescu's promise to facilitate the
granting of Romanian citizenship (and thus a Romanian passport which
allows travel in the European Union), the Communists attacked
Basescu for facilitating the emigration of Moldovan citizens and for
undermining Moldovan statehood. Basescu's refusal to sign a border
treaty also allows critics to question Romania's recognition of
Moldova's independence. (Note: At a formal January 27 state dinner
- attended by GOM officials and foreign ambassadors - Basescu
emphasized that Romanians and Moldovans shared a common history,
language, and blood, but did twice state that he recognized
Moldova's sovereignty and independence. End Note.)
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