Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!


Holy moley guacamole!

Somehow the website HotNews.ro got ahold of some new Wikileaks documents concerning Romania and there are some doozies in there.

First, however, a note of caution. I’ve searched through all of the public databases on released Wikileaks documents and not seen any of the ones mentioned by HotNews. I’ve also searched through other Romanian media and it seems that HotNews is the sole source for all of these.

Furthermore, I haven’t seen these pop up in the English-language media yet. Therefore I’ll do a quick and partial translation below. As always, all errors are mine and mine alone.

A brief background on the players:

Traian Basescu – President of Romania since 2004. In 2007 he was briefly suspended from office but was reinstated by a public referendum. He was re-elected for a second 5-year term in 2009.

Mircea Geoana – Head of the PSD party and effectively the leading opposition politician to Basescu. Ran for president in 2009 but lost to Basescu.

Calin Popescu-Tariceanu – Prime minister of Romania from 2004-2008.

Nicholas Taubman – American Ambassador to Romania from 2005-2008. Appointed by George Bush.

All of these leaked cables are all from the American Embassy during this period.

All links go to Romanian-language articles, which have been translated from the original English.

From here:

Geoana tells American ambassador: “I am number one in Romania today”

The ambassador, accompanied by Polcouns, met the leader of the PSD, Mircea Geoana, on April 20 [2007]. He said he had exerted every effort to avoid the suspension of president Basescu in a confidential telegram from 2007. Geoana told the Americans that he had twice met Basescu in secret at great personal risk, and that members of his [Geoana's] party “would kill” him if he found out about the meetings. The subject of the telegram: “PSD leader Mircea Geoana concerning the suspension of the president: I am number one today in Romania!”

Basically Geoana lets Taubman know he’s Bush’s boy 100% and if they need anything, why then he’s just the man to help Washington out.

And lastly, in the telegram it says, “Geoana remarked that Romania should not be considered a “naughty boy”, adding, “I am number one in Romania today and it is my right to use that power.” In another telegram, sent in 2009, after a meeting between Mircea Geoana and two representatives of the American embassy in Bucharest, Mircea Geoana bragged thusly: “My vision is bigger than Basescu’s.”

Nice!

From here:

American Embassy: Tariceanu is pressuring suspended President Basescu to withdraw troops from Iraq

A confidential telegram from 2007 was entitled: “Concerning Romania’s participation in the Coalition in Iraq”

“The commitment of Romania’s government to continue participating in the coalition in Iraq has been severely weakened after the formation of the “ultra-minority” government of Calin Popescu-Tariceanu” it said in the telegram…

…”For more than a year, President Basescu has blocked Tariceanu from calling on Romania to withdraw from Iraq”…

Essentially, Basescu got suspended, Tariceanu began making his move to withdraw troops, and the American Embassy flipped out about it. Predictable!

From here:

Hrebenciuc told the Americans in 2007 that they have “in mind” a dark horse candidate to run against Basescu: Titus Corlatean

…the subject of the [2007] telegram: “Deputy Hrebenciuc: We have the votes to suspend [Basescu] but I don’t want to do it.”

…In the telegram, American officials observed “Hrebenciuc’s enthusiasm to launch a “dark horse candidate”, the PSD’s secretary general, Titus Corleatean, to be the PSD’s candidate for presidential elections seems to be a typical situation which requires you to find a solution.”

Hrebenciuc was a high-ranking member of the PSD and a long-time political foe of Basescu (although oddly enough, his son once dated Basescu’s daughter). He’s clearly trying to trade not voting for Basescu’s suspension for an increase in the PSD’s power, essentially “warning” the Americans that they’ll run Corlatean in the next election (instead of Geoana, who is obviously a good American lapdog). Hilarious!

From here:

In 2007, Geoana tells the American ambassador that he will be the “future prime minister” and said he had come to a 6-year agreement with Basescu. A month later: “I need a silver bullet”.

…[At the June 5, 2007 meeting] Geoana stated that it was his understanding that the PSD would lead the next government. Geoana said that his party would give a formal statement the following Friday but it was “a done deal” that the PSD would take over from the PNL”…

According to the telegram, “Geoana added that he believes he will be the next Prime Minister”…

…According to the telegram, the American ambassador met the president on June 5, the first meeting after Basescu was returned to power following the May 19 referendum. “Basescu stated that he will insist that Geoana take real steps in controlling the PSD. There will be no cooperation, he emphasized, if Geoana continues to base, for example, the PSD’s political strategy on Deputy Viorel Hrebenciuc, considered by many to be the brain behind the operation to suspend Basescu”…

…”Unfortunately,” said the president, “Geoana remains “under the thumb” of energy and media magnet Sorin Ovidiu Vantu”…

…A month later, on July 9, 2007, Geoana had a new meeting with the American ambassador at Geoana’s insistence. The subject of the telegram: “I need a silver bullet”. According to the American officials, “Geoana stated that he would be pleased if PSD wins 25% of the seats for the European Parliament. Geoana evasively suggested that he plans to provoke “a small political shock” inside his own party”…

Sheesh, this is almost like high school!

From here:

American ambassador: The energy sector is one of the most manipulated and traditional sectors of the Romanian economy, highly vulnerable to corruption.

…While the government regulates the [energy] market for captive consumers (individual consumers and small businesses), OMV/Petrom has exercised its right to sell [natural] gas on the open market, despite objections from the government…

…Under pressure from the EU and IMF, the government agreed to liberalize the [energy] market to large consumers, who compose 75% of the market…

…In the telegram, American officials noted: “Romanians special interest business groups have long attempted to control local energy resources so that it benefits many industrial dinosaurs (including chemical and fertilizer production factories) which are competitive only thanks to cheap energy.”

Yeeehaw! Jeez, I wonder who these dinosaurs might be? Hmm…

From here:

American ambassador: Dinu Patriciu on KazMunaiGaz, “It’s a state company dominated by a dictator”.

…In a telegram that described a meeting between Dinu Patriciu and an economic advisor of the American Embassy – “Patriciu related an incident that happened at the first meeting of the joint board meeting of Rompetrol and KMG (Kazakhstan state gas company), where one of the elderly directors addressed those present as “comrades”…

…Patriciu expressed the hope that Rompetrol’s corporatist culture would have a positive effect on KMG. The company is working together with KMG to improve and modernize their internal operations. And Patriciu has sent a team of senior managers to teach KMG managers the methods by which Rompetrol modernized their own operations,” said the American telegram.

The telegram also stated that Dinu Patriciu was in agreement with the takeover of the Serbian state petroleum company NIS by Gazprom, NIS being at the moment of interest to Rompetrol. “…Patriciu stated that he’s in contact with his “buddies” in Serbia, and intimated that the preliminary agreement with Gazprom was not a sure thing. “The game is not over, especially if Tadic wins the Serbian presidential elections,” he said. Patriciu stated that his contacts in Gazprom and his corporate ears in the Moscow business community indicated that even the Russians weren’t completely confident about the deal. Patriciu stated that he is on very good terms with Gazprom officials after years of Rompetrol doing business in Russia, stated the telegram.

Wheeling and dealing!

From here:

In 2007, the American ambassador composed a list of the Top 5 Oligarchs and Top 3 Barons [in Romania]. “Money and politics, who really runs Romania?”

“While dozens of local barons appeared after 1989, a small group of extremely influential people continue to wield significant influence on the politics of Romania. Many of them maintain hidden connections to the former Securitate [secret police] in Romania or with people in the intelligence community, promoting their personal interests through the mass media they control,” states a confidential telegram from 2007…

Meet your oligarchs!

[The top 5 oligarchs] are: Dinu Patriciu, Dan Voiculescu, Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, Ioan Niculae, Gigi Becali and Attila Verestoy [not in order in the photo above].

The report was signed by Taplin. At the time of this report, Mark Taplin was the adjunct American ambassador. Taplin mentions that the report was compiled by a graduate of Indiana University, Jeremy Stewart, who was an intern at the time in the Political Section of the Embassy.

“Top 5 Oligarchs:

Dan Costache “Dinu” Patriciu: Patriciu is the president and majority stockholder of the Rompetrol Group and a pre-eminent member of the PNL [political party]. He is extremely close to Prime Minister Tariceanu. Patriciu has almost complete control of the PNL…

…Patriciu is a member of a group of parliamentary representatives who resigned in 2003 because of “incompatible laws” which restricted the mixing of public and private interests…

Dan Voiculescu: Senator Voiculescu is the head of the Conservative Party (PC). He is the majority stockholder in the Grivco business group and controls Intact Media Group, which controls three important television networks, the second most popular [in terms of copies sold] national newspaper, Jurnalul National, the weekly Saptamana Financiara [a business newspaper] and others. In June 2006, he was officially declared a Securitate collaborator with the code name “Felix”…

Sorin Ovidiu Vantu: Although he states he has rightwing political tendencies, Sorin Ovidiu Vantu has no direct ties to any single political party, opting instead to influence all of them…

…His business practices have been controversial, if not actually criminal. In 2000, the largest mutual fund in Romania, a pyramid scheme orchestrated by Vantu, collapsed, defrauding approximately 300 thousand investors of approximately 400 million dollars…

…During the spring of 2007 when there was pressure to suspend Basescu, Vantu took an active role in guiding Geoana’s political and media strategies…

Ioan Niculae: It is said that Niculae maintains good relations with all of the large parties of the former government, although in the past he was a major supporter of the PSD. Before 1989, Niculae would’ve been an officer in the Securitate. Now he is occupied with the largest company in the agricultural sector of Romania, InterAgro Group, as well as one of the top insurance companies (ASIROM)…

It seems Niculae maintains relations with high level officers of the SRI [Romanian intelligence agency] and is currently involved in a scandal involving intelligence officers in Prahova who were involved in the illegal and untaxed sale of gasoline to a network of dealers…

George “Gigi” Becali: …It seems that the source of Becali’s income could be from sheep trading done by his father or from the black market, gaining benefits from the security agents responsible for monitoring him when he was in exile because of his association with the Iron Guard. In an interview conducted before the 2004 elections, Becali recognized that he had received approximately 150 thousand dollars from his family when the Ceausescu regime collapsed….

…Ironically, Becali likewise has a close relationship with PSD leader Viorel Hrebenciuc…

Ahhh…. it never ends, does it? BTW it looks like the American Embassy is confused about Becali’s sheep trading business, referring to it as “shipping”.

From here:

Statement attributed to Basescu about the criminal case against [former President Adrian] Nastase: “Don’t ask me to do anything on this case. All of the criminal complaints against Nastae are from members of your party.”

Geoana and other members of the PSD had complained that the Nastase case is political. Basescu replied tersely, “Don’t ask me to do anything public concerning this case – all of the criminal complaints against Nastase are from members of your party, not mine,” it states in a telegram from the American diplomatic mission in Romania in 2009…

From here:

American officials in a 2006 telegram that after a meeting with the director of the FBI, Basescu stated that he’d like to see an FBI presence in Romania as robust as that of the CIA

In a 2006 telegram classified “Secret”, representatives of the American embassy described a visit by FBI Director Robert Muller in Romania. “Basescu commented that he feels the relationship could be expanded. And he emphasized that he’d like to see an FBI presence in Romania as equally robust as that of the CIA”…

…”Muller spoke about the importance of cooperation in a bilateral way and that this is the best method to improve relations in the field of law enforcement. Basescu assured the FBI director that the level of corruption in Romanian politics had lessened and that the Americans should have faith in their Romanian counterparts”…

…In paragraph three of the telegram is a section about the meeting between the FBI director and Prime Minister Tariceanu. The telegram notes that Tariceanu was surprised to learn from the FBI director that 90% of fraud on E-bay is Romanian in origin…

Wheee… geniuses. Now I know why all those websites (especially Paypal) hate me when I log on from Romania.

And certainly Romania needs more FBI agents crawling around, eh? Jesus.

From here:

Train Basescu rules out buying fighter jets from Europe

…In a “confidential” telegram from the American embassy concerning a meeting between Traian Basescu and Nicholas Taubman on June 5, 2007, Basescu stated, “As long as I’m president, we will never buy any European fighter jets”…

Basically Tariceanu (and others) wanted to expand the fleet of Romanian fighter jets by buying some European ones (probably the Eurofighter). Basescu insisted on F-16′s. In 2011, ironically, Romania still wants to buy these F-16s but is too poor to afford them.

From here:

Georgian Pop (PSD) quoted by Americans: Geoana is for the F-16 fighter planes.

…Geoana is in fact in favor of buying the American F-16 fighter jets but wants to gain some political points by opposing Basescu on the purchase of military equipment during this time of financial crisis…

Ahhh…. politics!

From here:

Tariceanu to the Americans: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Prime Minister Tariceanu told the [American] Ambassador that he personally was disappointed in the evolution of the internal political crisis in Romania. He stated that he had received a vote of confidence from the European Commission president [Jose Manuel] Barroso. Tariceanu expressed concern that there is information showing that the United States government had been “less than prudent” in its relationship with the Romanian government during the period of Basescu’s suspension, states a telegram from 2007.

…Tariceanu stated that these reports [of the American government's "less than prudent" relationship with Romania during Basescu's suspension] were “very strange” and that it was an “unpleasant surprise” to learn of this. Tariceanu laughed sardonically and said sarcastically, “We can consider this meeting to be off the record, if you’d prefer that”…

Guess it wasn’t off the record ultimately, eh? Good old Wikileaks :)

And last but not least, from here:

Ambassador Taubman, worried that the suspension of the pro-American Traian Basescu could weaken American influence in the region.

“The political evolution in the next few weeks and months will have a direct impact and will determine whether Bucharest will remain a model partner of the United States in Europe – including in the “New NATO” – or whether they will concentrate solely on short-term economic issues and become a mediocre member of the European Union with reduced geopolitical aspirations”…

…The telegram is signed by the American Ambassador to Bucharest at that time, Nicholas Taubman, and is addressed to the adjunct Secretary of State of European Affairs, Daniel Fried, who had an upcoming official visit to Romania. The telegram was clearly written by Ambassador Nicholas Taubman:

“When you [Fried] get here next week, Romania will be in the middle of an unprecedented 30-day suspension of President Basescu. A national referendum which will determine his fate will be held on on March 19 and could bring new twists to this soap opera. There is a great chance that he will return to power, possibly even with a large majority…

…While Prime Minister Tariceanu and Geoana, the leader of the opposition, along with their allies in the post-communist old guard are scurrying in this suspension period to grab the president’s powers, our interests may also be affected. There are signs that indicate that the influence of Russian oligarchs is increasing over energy issues, causing setbacks in the fight against corruption…

…There are three risks to our key interests, including the future purchase by Romania of next-generation fighter jets and the privatization of some important automobile manufacturing facilities that two American firms are bidding on,” said Taubman in his telegram…

…”Tariceanu’s new team seems to be on the verge of reversing many of the former administration’s decisions. For example, Defense Minister Melescanu stated that he is weighing “all the possibilities” to replace their MiG-21 fighter jets. Earlier, President Basescu and others told us that there would be a single choice – and that is to sign an agreement to buy Lockheed-Martin F-16′s and F-35′s, which would help cement in the decades to come, a future interoperability between the Romanian and American military,” added Taubman…

…”That being said, it is worrisome to see the large influence of oligarchs in Romania and their alignment with Russian interests. Another sign of Russia’s increasing ambitions includes the sale of the Daewoo factory in Craiova. Two American companies, Ford and GM, are interested in buying the factory. The incompetent, bureaucratic government has slowed down the privatization process,” wrote Taubman…

…”The decision to suspend Geoana’s visit to the United States has gotten his attention and the attention of other people. We must continue to find the necessary balance between assuring our interlocutors that we are serious about a long-term partnership [with Romania] that goes beyond any particular political personalities and telling them directly where they have erred and have not succeeded or have put in danger our common interests…

…Politics in Romania must not undermine our strategic interests. Romania must play by democratic rules if they want to be our close partner. Romania cannot stagnate or take steps backwards in their fight against corruption and in their efforts to strengthen the law.”

Whew, that’s quite a lot! But wait there’s even more, if you’re interested.

“Basescu’s re-election is in trouble” (from 2009) – here

“Will Captain Basescu save the ship?” (from 2009) – here

“What the American Ambassador thinks about PNL” (from 2009) – here

“Romanian president offers Egypt nuclear expertise” (from 2007) – here

“American Vice President Joe Biden implores Basescu to do something about international adoptions” (from 2009) – here

“Romania + Moldova = Romanova” (from 2007) – here (about Transnistria)

Obviously I’m translating backwards, as these documents were all written in English then translated into Romanian and now I’m translating them back into English, so expect a lot of errors. When the original English versions can be found online, I’ll link to them.

The above is one heck of a lot of information and I look forward to lots of infighting, accusations, slander, arguing, debating and finger wagging in the Romanian media in the days and weeks to come :)

UPDATE: Well, well, well. Looks like the shifty weasels at CRJI (whom I wrote about earlier) somehow gained exclusive access to all Romanian-related Wikileaks cables. Nice to know! Wish I knew how it is that THEY got access and not someone else.

Thanks to a reader, I see it looks like Kamikaze is going to publish them in their entirety, unredacted. At the moment they’ve got about four there on their website. Seems like even the leaking of leaks cannot be done in a straightforward manner in Romania!

About these ads

Tagged as: , , , , , ,

9 Responses »

  1. Yup, Hotnews Santa came very early this year.
    So far, I have not seen the sources neither, but I haven’ heard any denials either as of yet. And besides, Hotnews deserves the credit, just like other media partners to whom sifting through the leaks were entrusted (think NY Times, and adjusting for Romania’s dimensions and reach).

    And now you know… what to read from now on ;)

  2. …for english press here! :-)

  3. That American intern was really stupid if he thinks Becali is one of the top5 oligarchs… I have doubts about the other 4 too… Also…it seems he has problems understanding the word oligarch… there are no oligarchs in Romania.
    I admire Tariceanu even more now…

  4. Sam, it seems that you missed the one about the “presidential paramour” :)

  5. Mircea Geoana is not anymore the head of PSD. He has even been suspended from the party for several months. There is a coalition against Basescu now, between the socialists and the liberals. The head of the liberals is Crin Antonescu. There are some “leaks” about him, too. Anyways, he hopes he will be the next president of Romania. He is also working on a bill to ban Romanians who live in other countries to vote. That’s because, at the last presidential race, the votes of Romanians who live overseas decided the reelection of Basescu. His best argument against those votes is that “during the American revolution, those who lived in the colonies used to say “no taxation without representation.” And I say today “no representation without taxation.””
    I must say that Antonescu is a history teacher and it doesn’t matter for him that the right to vote is fundamental, it is written in the Constitution, and nobody can take it from you, unless a court decides so, after a trial.
    http://www.hotnews.ro/stiri-politic-8445358-crin-antonescu-gandim-sistem-prin-care-romanii-din-strainatate-voteze-numai-daca-platesc-impozit-tara.htm

  6. I wouldn’t trust Taubman much. His sources are at least disputable and never really understood the system of power in Romania. At that time Băsescu was the one protecting Russian interests at ALRO. The main issue here is that most economic power in Romania comes from dominating the political, not the other way around, as in the US. Voiculescu’s security file is bullshit, and Becali is a small fry. He came rich from the Ceaușescu Regime as all shepherds. They usually inherited 500,000+ Lei back then, because they weren’t regulated and didn’t pay taxes.

    The cables have been published by Jurnalul Național too. Hotnews selected which ones to publish based on interests until now.

  7. Nothing truly new if you were watching Romanian politics, but it’s kind of nice to have some confirmation of what was really happening

Trackbacks

  1. Criminal Minds – Bloodline « I'm More Romanian Than You!
  2. Codependency | Eye on Romania | Ochiul pe România

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: