Valerian Stan
Credo ergo sum
„Nu vă temeţi de cei ce ucid trupul, dar sufletul nu pot să-l ucidă!”

Corruption in Romania - Romanian Grey (I)

The second day after the French had rejected, through the Referendum, the European Constitution, the public radio channel invited the prime- minister Tariceanu, to a discussion about "the impact of the vote of France on the Romania’s integration process". Visibly disturbed of the straight question of the producer of the broadcast, Mr. Tariceanu answered: "I am surprised, in a negative way, of the whole fuss that is made around this subject. It is certain the fact that the French Referendum can be a real subject for the press, but if this subject is presented in a manner that creates worries for the Romanians, I think that more responsibility is needed. The answer to the question that you addressed me is clear: the French Referendum has no impact on the Romania’s Integration Process".

I do not know if the gentlemen from the Radio had interviewed the prime-minister after the Dutch, with almost two thirds of the electors participating at the vote, rejected the European Constitution. At the same time, I do not know if somebody asked Mr. Tariceanu about two days ago regarding the failure of the EU Summit from Brussels. After all these events, in Bucharest, the politicians seem to be very optimists. From my point of view, I think that, this time, the situation should be treated with all the required responsibleness.

The statesmen, but unfortunately not only them, are used to judge the issues exclusively after the criteria used by the Brussels` officials. Of course that, principially speaking, this is how it should be done. The respective criterions are not only compulsory for the EU integration, but are also pretty adequate for evaluating a "democratic" society. And I also think that, at least our "democracy’s autochthonous guardians" would do a better job if they watch closer than anyone, the things that happen.

A much more formal democracy

For several years, it is a cliché in the European Commission’s Reports saying that "Romania is fulfilling the Copenhagen political criteria". Are really the things like this?

Especially in the last years, there has not been an "electing process" without accusations of major frauds. Two examples are the last elections in November- December 2004 and the Referendum for the Constitution revision in the autumn of 2003. In the first case, 15 of the most important non-governmental organizations had claimed serious infringements of the election process, requiring its suspension until the clarification of the circumstances that produced them (the request has been entirely ignored, as if nothing had happened). The "incorrectness of the elections", as it has been presented in the Communicate of the 2nd of December 2004 of the 15 non-governmental organizations [1] "is not only referring to the day of the elections, but it is also referring to an entirely wrong electing legislation, to its "bad faith" implementation and to the state’s empowered institutions refuse in ensuring the correctness of the election process".  As what the Referendum from October 2004 concerns, I will reproduce only a part from an analysis published by the Presidency of the Foundation for an Open Society: "The Referendum had proved in an equal measure the Romanian authorities contempt  towards the Law and the fragility till the inexistence of the State of Law. Not only had it been an inexplicably number of severe irregularities, but it also had been an important infringement of the law, greater than in any other elections/ referendum organized after December 1989" [2]. In Romania there is a pretty large perception that the words used by the communists leaders, when speaking about the democracy and elections, are not only a quip: "It doesn’t matter who and whom he votes with, what matters is who counts the votes". There is even the impression that the parties resulted from the National Salvation Fund (FSN) (the second echelon of the Communist Party) are collaborating in the succession at the Power of the State. This impression is strengthen by the fact that two of the three historical parties had been already destroied, after several years of constant undermining and after their marginalization from the system controlled by the parties resulted from Romanian Communist Party (PCR).

But the Romania’s Democratic Process is seriously damaged by the lack of the independence of the institutions of public opinion testing, and by the fact that the mass-media is far away from being free. The correctness of the tests of opinion has been constantly under a big "question mark", due to the serious suspicions- and even more than that – due to the fact that many of them have been "poisoned" through manipulating the electing options of the people. In the first period after December 1989, the politicians that had taken over the power (the second echelon of the Communist Party sustained by the Securitatea) had used in a massive and very efficient way the public Television Channel and the Specialized Institution of the State - IRSOP. When this institution had been irremediably compromised, its place was taken by the "private" institutions. The activity and the studies of the most important of them - IMAS, CURS and Metro Media Transylvania - had constantly raised many problems of credibility [3]. There have permanently been the doubts that these institutions are lead by persons having a status that did not ensure them the required independence and objectivity. What has only been a suspicion, in the last two or three years has become a certain fact. After "mandates" of several years at the leading of IMAS and MMT, Alin Teodorescu and Vasile Dancu have been rewarded by Social Democratic Party (PSD) with "seats" in the Government and in the Parliament. Under any doubt is the fact that another reward for the services provided to the political people, is the exemption of the IMAS (actually the PSD deputy Alin Teodorescu) from the payment of some big debts to the State’s budget, in amount of 24 billions of ROL- almost 1 million of USD [4]. There are enough signs that the "heads" of the sociological institutions discussed above have been made dependent of the political persons and of their interests including due to their past- especially as a consequence of their hidden collaboration with the communist political police. Almost two years ago, it has been found out that two of the well-known sociologists, very much implied in realizing the public opinion questionnaires, were the Securitatea’s informers: Dorel Abraham and Dumitru Sandu (the first, the ex-General Director of CURS and the second worked with CURS and collaborated with MMT) - [5]. Suspicions regarding the collaboration with the Securitatea are even in the case of the ex-General Director of IMAS, Alin Teodorescu. [In 2006, he acknowledged that it provided about 150 pages of notes Securitatea.]

The greater amounts of money and their hidden /doubtable source, money that reach the politics is an explanation of the Romania’s nowadays situation. A great number of studies/researches of the internal non-governmental organizations have showed the illegal usage of the public resources in financing the activity of the parties and their electoral campaigns. At the same time, it is already a generalized practice that the parties and the politicians to be financed by the business people having big problems with the law. The economic "success" of these people mentioned above, is due, at least in great part, to the fact that they were generously "entitled" through the privatization process and to the fact that they carry out privileged businesses with the state. Not only in the past few months, it has been discovered that three of the parties that are ruling presently, but also the main opposition party, had been financed, in the last fall elections, by firms having big debts at the state’s budget [6]. On the other hand, about this state of facts, are not avoiding to speak even the political persons and some of the high governmental leaders. An example is the ex-minister of Justice and president of the National Liberal Party, Valeriu Stoica, which declared that "almost 80% of the funds of the parties are obtained in an illegal way" [7].

The lack of freedom of the mass-media is affecting more and more the democratic evolutions. The public channels of radio and television are politicized at the highest level. Practically all changes of governments have brought, automatically, the changing of the persons leading those institutions- before finishing the mandate through which, by law, they were elected by the Parliament. The main mass-media corporations had and have big debts to the budget. The economic dependency towards the government is automatically changing into a political dependency. In addition, especially in the absence of some suitable legal stipulations, the politicians, the Government and enough of the "heads" of local public administration, are paying great amounts from the public money, as"publicity", in order to "captivate the goodwill" of the mass-media institutions. Practically, all the four most important private television channels [8] (and enough of the important publications) are in at least one of the following situations: are owned by ex-Security agents, have huge debts to the public budget or there are signs showing that they are financed by "business people" that are investigated for severe illegalities (or by their associates) [9]. The distortions that these states of facts are producing in informing the public, and the manipulation of the public for political purposes, are very serious.

In order to discuss only to the "political criteria" of the Romania’s Integration to the European Union, it is obvious that they should also be concerned about the return of the properties abusively confiscated by the Romanian State. Here, the situation is also extremely bad. In the latest Country Report of the European Commission, for the year 2004, it is specified the fact that there have been solved 15.000 cases only, from the 210.000 requests for the return of buildings that had been abusively confiscated (this represents only 7% of the total). Unfortunately, the European Commission chose that after this announcement of great importance, to simply close this chapter. And, in this way, to ignore a problem, that of the right to property, without which, even the western civilization would be unconceivable. The present Government, lead by a liberal prime-minister, has made a big fuss about amending of this specific legislation "finally solving, in an equitable way, the problem of the restitution of the properties".

But the law, recently passed through the Parliament, at the Government’s initiative, has proved to be a new deception, due to the fact that the owners were refused the right to regain the properties abusively confiscated. Through the new "liberal" law, it is validated the fact that, before and after 1989, these peoples’ houses have been "sold" in an abusive way and in exchange of nothing to the "transition’s profiteers": securitatea officers, magistrates, dignitaries and political people, the last ones coming from all the political parties. It is important that, even the president of the country and the prime-minister had used their public positions and "bought" nationalized houses. (New York Magazin, June 22, 2005)

[1] "The civil society is asking for suspending the electing process until resolving all contestations", at http://www.apd.ro/files/2dec2004.pdf
[2] Renate Weber, "The Constitution’s Revision: a process having negative consequences", Revista română de drepturile omului no.27/2003
[3] Three examples: "Metro Media announces big productions... at percents", the daily Curentul, 14th of October 2003; "IMAS-ul <Cancelarului> Teodorescu, de rasul curcilor" , the daily Ziua, the 1st of March 2004; Gabriel Andreescu, "The Case of IMAS: there are or there are not poisoned tests of opinion?", the daily Ziua , the 6th of March 2004
[4] "19 parlamentaries of the Social Democratic Party owe to the state 238 billions ROL", the daily Realitatea Romaneasca , the 13th of June 2005
[5] Radu Ioanid, "The Anatomy of Deletion", Observator Cultural, no.139, 22nd-28th of October 2002
[6] The daily Curentul: "Illegal donations in the yard of the liberal arrow", the 7th of April 2005; "Donations with perfume of budgetary debts at UDMR and at the German Forum", 8th of April 2005; "Closely watched by the Romanian Services of Information (SRI) and by the police, Omar Hayssam left behind huge debts at the State Budget", 16th of April 2005. The Institute for The Public Politics (www.ipp.rp), "50% of the value of the donations collected by the PUR in 2004 are suspected for being illegal", 15th of March 2005
[7] Valeriu Stoica: "80% of the parties’ funds are obtained in an illegal way", the daily Ziua, 28th of October 2000
[8] Antena 1, Realitatea TV, Pro TV and B1 TV
[9]  Four of the names frequently associated with the last category are: Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, Dinu Patriciu, Liviu Luca and Sorin Marin (the first one is the artisan from the FNI, "the investment fund" which prejudiced several hundreds thousands of people with almost 3 billions of dollars and Dinu Patriciu and Sorin Marin are investigated in the Petromidia/Rompetrol file, and the prejudice is estimated to several hundreds millions of dollars. 


Corruption in Romania - Romanian Grey (I), articol publicat in anul 2005