Valerian Stan
Credo ergo sum
"Mândria împiedică dragostea." 

Romania: deep fog (I)

If the Brussels’s agenda will remain the one that was announced at the end of the last year, until the Report of the European Commission is more than three months. The same, if the things settled will firmly remain the same, we will also know if, through the spring Monitoring Report, the European Commission will recommend or not, to the European Council, the one year delay of Romania’s adhesion to the European Union.

I was referring, some time ago, to the secrecy of the European Commission’s "Warning Letter" addressed to the Government of Romania, in the last autumn. At that time, I was regretting the arrangement between the politicians from Brussels and the ones from Bucharest, arrangement that was against the principles of transparency in governance and of free access to public information. Reminding the things that happened at that time, I kept asking myself if the decisions are not already taken, "behind the scenes", including the ones concerning the Report from May and Romania’s adhesion on the prescribed date. I am thinking about this, especially because of the almost unlikely conviction that, and I give only two examples, the President Basescu and the prime-minister Tariceanu use when they talk about the Romania’s "in-time" adhesion. [11] 

And yet, assuming that there is nothing pre-established "behind the scenes", I think is extremely necessary to take a look through the deep fog, in which a few important themes for our adhesion are still missing. Moreover, due to the fact that, the Safeguarding Clause, applicable only to Romania, through which it can be, decided the one year delay of the adhesion, can be adopted with qualified majority (the majority of the states from the European Council - 72.27% of votes, representing at least 62% of the Union’s population). Different from the Safeguarding Clause applicable to both Romania and Bulgaria (through which also it can be decided the one year delay of the two countries), which cannot be activated unless all states if the EU want this thing.

It is known the fact that Romania concluded the adhesion negotiations at the middle of December 2004. The Treaty of Adhesion, subsequently signed, included several stipulations concerning the safeguarding clauses. Romania’s specific clause stipulated 11 conditions under which it could be activated, leading to the one year delay of the adhesion. Four of the specified conditions, were concerned about the "Competition chapter" and the rest of them were concerned about the "Justice and Home Affaires" chapter.

During the period that followed the establishment of these conditions, most of the Brussels’s warnings aimed at the second chapter. And here, the weakest points were considered to be "the fight against the corruption at high level" and the enforcement of the Strategy and Action Plan for the reform of the Juridical System. The fact, that these are the main problems, was obvious enough from the repeated statements of the European officials [12], but also from the Report concerning Romania, adopted by the European Parliament in the middle of last December. The Report was mentioning the fact that several progresses have been made, but also the fact that, still the important weak points remain the reform of the justice and fighting against corruption. 

In the context, it is not very hard to guess that the "Warning Letter" from the autumn had drawn some alarm signals towards the two directions. (The fact that, based on this important document one cannot make anything else but only suppositions, I repeat, seems unacceptable to me.)But, let’s speak about corruption and about the whole "fast" Romania makes around its integration together with Bulgaria. The "Communiqué" through which, in the last October, Transparency International launched the Report on 2005, was remarking Bulgaria for "the significant decrease, during the last decade, of the perception on corruption". In the same time, the only statement referring to Romania was made in the "classification" of the Corruption Perceptions Index for 2005, were Romania is situated with no less than 29 positions (countries) behind Bulgaria [13]. When T.I. made public its Report, I wanted to see if the press and the non-governmental organizations would speak about all these things. Not a sole word. Neither did the T.I.’s Romanian branch.

I will try, next week, to make several more precise references to the problems of justice and of the "fight against corruption". Until then, I would notify a phenomena that seems to me a surprisingly step behind, the extension of the public institutions’ theory of not responding to the petitions and notifications that are addressed to them- especially to the sensitive ones. For the purpose of gathering evidence for different analyses, for different reports made together with several non-governmental organizations, or for press articles, I found myself, more than once, without an answer to my requests. I have waited, many months, for such answers but I did not receive them. These answers should have come from important institutions such as: The Presidential Administration, the Government, and the Ministries for the European Integration, for Home Affaires, for Economics, the National Institute for the Memory of the Romanian Exile etc. The representatives of other organizations confirmed the existence of many other similar cases, fact that suggests we are dealing with widespread phenomena. If, during the past years, the institutions were refusing to take into consideration some requests and petitions- but, despite this, they were still giving an answer that in most cases was motivated, nowadays, it seems that the rule is of "entire silence". In the same way act the Prosecutor Offices-speaking about the "Reform of Justice". Exactly one year ago, I sent a notification to the General Prosecutor’s Office regarding several major frauds at the level of the National Company "Romanian Lottery". The General Prosecutor’s Office answered that the notification has been sent to the Bucharest Court of Appeal, this one has sent it to the one from the Bucharest Tribunal (Law Court)- and it stopped right here. The same thing happened with the notification I have sent to the Section of Military Prosecutor Offices, when I was asking to check the circumstances under which have disappeared around 100.000 files, from the Security’s archive. In September 2005, the heads of the Romanian Information Service have made, with no concern, this announcement, that has not been followed by any other official reaction (this plot, between the structures and the Security’s agents, that after 1989 managed to control all society’s levels, has made to Romania the biggest harm ever).

But, the lack of transparency is beyond imagination, in the cases of the privatization, cession and public acquisitions contracts. I have recently referred to this matter and I will not insist on it. Due to a lacunary legislation, but also to a more reserved and less professional "civil society", such contracts are declared as "secrets". This kind of a thing is a well spread practice in Romania, despite the fact that we are talking about sums of billiards of euro that are public money.

Finally, a theme that I have already talked about in several occasions, is the one of the retrocession of the properties abusively confiscated by the communist system. The problems continue to be, practically, the same. This thing has been showed, without any ambiguity, by the latest public attitudes and by the surveys of the most important owners’ organizations: the Association of the Owners Abusively Dispossessed by the State (APDAS), the Committee for Private Ownership (CPP), and the French Association for Defending the Property Right in Romania (AFADPR). After the latest elections, enough owners thought that the things would change. Some of the owners of the nationalized houses seemed unconfident (in order to agree with me now) when I told them that the chances that they should be treated in terms of justice are still very low, as long as, even now, the high state’s dignitaries and their families- the president Basescu, the prime-minister, the minister of justice, etc. - live themselves in nationalized houses, "bought" not once, at a misery price. If, in this matter, there is still a chance, that chance exclusively depends of Brussels’s attitude. The European officials assured the owners’ organizations that they continue to watch very close the way the Government would resolve the problem of the properties. This thing is extremely necessary as long as, not only the laws are extremely poor, but also their enforcement. An example, among many other I can offer, is the entirely illegal and abusive way in which the Government, through the prefectures, intervenes in the enforcement of the law concerning the lands. The prefects have given written disposals to the local Commissions for establishing the private property right over lands, so that, for solving the requests formulated by the owners "not to be taken into consideration the property acts before 1948" [14]. This thing is, in an obvious way, abusive and against the law, in none of the legal stipulations concerning this matter there is such a time limitation of the acts regarding the property right. (New York Magazin, January 18, 2006)

[11] The prime-minister Calin Popescu -Tariceanu: "I reiterate in front of you my promise as a politic person: Romania will join the European Union on the 1st of January 2007", The speech of the prime-minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu with the occasion of presenting, in front of The Reunited Chambers of Parliament, the Report: The Preparation for Romania’s adhesion to the European Union, Speeches, Declarations, Messages-20th of December 2005; With the occasion of The New Year’s show, on the 31st of December 2005, from the "University Square" , the president Traian Basescu invited the Romanians "to celebrate together, at the same place, over one year, Romania’s Integration to the European Union".
[12] For example, there are the statements of the of the European Commissary for enlargement , Olli Rehn, and of the President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, made with the occasion of their visit to Bucharest from March, 2005.
[13] Transparency International, "Corruption Perceptions Index 2005", on
[14] At the Prefecture of Mehedinti County, for example, the above mentioned Order has the number 10590/2005.

Romania: deep fog (I), articol publicat in anul 2006