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No political criterion – No EU accession

The countdown has begun. In the current state of affairs, every second running out looks fatal to the notable PSD representatives in the Government and in the Parliament, in Bucharest and throughout the country. Two months to go to the local administration elections, six months to the release of the European Commission country report (essential document confirming if Romania joins the European Union in 2007) and eight months to the parliamentary and presidential elections. But how the PSD leaders act in this given conditions? They disregard flagrantly everyone, reject all domestic or foreign criticism on the “scandalous public administration corruption” generated by their manoeuvring, and decline any proposal of redressing the situation, threatening the press, the civil society and even the European Parliamentarians that openly penalised the Government.

There is fish in the swamp …

The Romanian citizens, the journalists, the EU and US officials, the IMF and World Bank representatives heavily complained about the institutionalised suffocating corruption generated and nourished by the state authorities (represented by the PSD officials), corruption that caused the impoverishment of a large number of the population. The corruption, we are warned in all languages of international use, plummets into political and social instability after destroying the rule of law, a sine-qua-non condition for Romania’s accession into EU.

The patriarchal chain of commands can be accurately established. “The fishes”, as symbolically EU Commissioner Gunther Verheugen named the selective clientele of the National Anti-Corruption Program (PNA), can be split in various categories according to the size of frauds set up in the last three years: the “little fishes” who profit from robberies and bribes in the range of tens of thousands of euros or dollars, the “middle-size fishes”, whose illegal affairs amount to millions of euros or dollars, and finally the “big fishes” that swing in affairs of hundreds of millions of euros or dollars. “Get the Big Fish and bring it to Justice”, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement requested, the day when the European Parliament voted the Nicholson Report and made public the “reorientation” of the EU negotiations plans with Romania.

The report states conclusively that “Romania does not meet the accession criteria”. And even if for the Foreign Affairs Minister this statement constitutes the final victory of an intensive lobby in Brussels, in his attempt to sell domestic magic fairy-tales, for us, the Romanians interested in a rapid integration in the EU, the statement means that Romania does not meet any of the integration criteria, not even the political one. To begin with, until the present year, in the Country Reports the following line was consistently repeated: “Romania meets the political criteria”.

In fact, the whole stake of the European Parliament Report converges towards forcing the European Commission to pay attention primarily to the political criterion, namely the respect for the rule of law in Romania. The European MPs decisively reached the conclusion that the Commissioners, too much preoccupied with Romania’s economic performances, have missed out numerous abuses of the Government in Bucharest, in relation to the obstruction of the judiciary’s independence, the corrupt and politicised public administration, the censorship of the press and the simulation of the fight against corruption.

“Romania’s problem is corruption, corruption, corruption” summarized sharply the Raporteur for Romania, Emma Nicholson, especially arrived in Bucharest to translate to Romanians the message communicated by the European Parliament to the European Commission and to the Nastase Government.

Consequently, the crisis between Bucharest and Brussels has intensified. In April, the European Commission will present to the European Parliament the measures to undertake the effort to rebring the Nastase Government with the feet on the ground anyhow until September, when the Country Report will be published. A series of officials from the PSD Government, aware of the gravity of the EU critics, recognised behind close doors that the chances that Romania receives a positive Report are getting lower and lower. Equally, the EU Ambassador in Bucharest, Jonathan Scheele, stated publicly that he will recommend the European Commission to notify that in Romania the press freedom (area included in the political criteria) is not observed by the present political power. Moreover, the World Bank officials warned that the second instalment of the PSAL II Program will not be granted if the Government does not privatise, until June 2004, Petrom, Distrigaz Sud and Nord, Electrica Banat and Electrica Dobrogea, delayed three years from being privatised as “to feed” with their public money, PSD officials and clients as Corneliu Iacobov, Razvan Temesan & Co. “The solution for wiping out the corruption should come from domestic policies and not imposed by the World Bank. If it would be a universal cure to fight corruption we will bring it over” Owaise Saadat, the World Bank Director for Romania rallied to the critics stated by the EU.

“We accept revision! But without changes”

What the PSD leaders did in front of the sudden storm of critics rolling over the Government? The Prime Minister Adrian Nastase went to Brussels to hand over to the EU officials a new list of Government paper-embedded promises. Bad luck! According to the officials accompanying the Prime Minister in Brussels, the EU diplomats presented a list of persons considered undesirable, persons that should be surrendered to justice for serious corruption. The Prime Minister turned furious: the list contained big names of the PSD, and certainly from the Government. Back in the country, the PSD leaders embarked on an intensive campaign of deliberately misinforming the population, a campaign that President Ion Iliescu followed on, so in a common voice they declared the western accusations are not what they look like but instead are “optimistic messages”. Yet, the PSD representatives found who is responsible for the punch received from the international institutions: the leaders of the PNL-PD Alliance, the principal counter-candidates of PSD for this year elections, and the journalists who are every day “with the corruption in their mouth” so to quote the refined intellectual Prime Minister Nastase.

Consequently, the PSD leaders deployed the whole masquerade of governmental reshuffle, event specially directed towards diverting the public eye from the disaster rising in Brussels.Again, very bad luck. The whole theatre of removing the contested Justice Minister, Rodica Stanoiu went out of control and slipped into sorrowful scenes. Rodica Stanoiu, far from presenting his honourable demission, glued to the Ministry’s chair and demanded support from Ion Iliescu. With an undisguised pleasure, the latter decided firmly over the head of Prime Minister: the review is accepted with no changes, respectively Rodica is taken from Palace- and, in exchange, Ioan Talpes shifts back from Palace- to The European diplomats assisted speechlessly at the rebuffing of their recommendation by the governing party. Instead of cutting down the number of Ministers, the Nastase Cabinet multiplied it, instead of fighting with the corruption, they help theirs allies running the country, like the very famous local PSD “baron” of Bacau, Corneliu Iacobov, who scammed the state under the tacit endorsement of the Government, according to the press with more than 300 million euros. And he is only ONE “Big Fish”.

The PSD leaders, skilled spin doctors and aware that the elections will be tougher than expected, being under pressure from all sides to sacrifice the “big fish”, decided to sacrifice only some “small fishes”: the mayor of the 5th Sector of Bucharest, Marian Vanghelie (who accumulated a fortune estimated by himself at three million dollars) and the expired PSD “baron” of Ilfov, Bebe Ivanovici. In parallel, PSD embarked on a violent campaign of accusing the PNL and PD leaders for the fact that allegedly they would be the real “barons” and has asked the PNA to investigate liberal and democrat politicians. Being asked why he is not demanding in the same prompt way investigations of PSD “barons” like Corneliu Iacobov, Culita Tarâta, Marian Oprisan, Şerban Mihailescu, Viorel Hrebenciuc, Radu Mazare etc., the General Secretary of the governing party, Dan Matei Agathon, offered an answer contradicting all logic:”Because PSD can not ask this to PNA, this implying an influence on the judiciary”.

Relaxed in the hope that his accusations will paralyse the PNL-PD Alliance, the Government continues with abuses: against the banking regulations he forced CEC, the national savings bank managed by the PSD leader Constantin Teculescu,to foster with public money one of the unaccomplished party programs: building houses and sports halls. Therefore, is expected that, following this attempt of hijacking the last public bank, the reactions of IMF and World Bank officials will be more severe than those of the EU representatives.

Does PSD want indeed to integrate Romania in the EU? We hear more and more often that “not really”, because the fragile PSD businesses could become vulnerable to criminal investigation and won’t be able to compete with the solid, and honest EU businesses. The hope of PSD leaders of winning a new mandate is questioned by the Romanian realities: at least on million Romanians working in EU states and their families (a voting population of about 3-4 million out of the total 10 million) are asking themselves why there they have a better life by working, whereas in our country it can happen only by robbery?

Failing at all exams, PSD is hiding behind President Ion Iliescu who is expected to deliver a last miracle at the elections in autumn.(Translated by Anton Comanescu)

Publicat în : English  de la numărul 13
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