Small note paves way for coalition downfall

Newsroom 05/09/2007 | 16:47

The president said the prime minister tried to persuade him to meddle with the judiciary for the sake of a fellow party member. In exchange, the PM brought to the table an anonymous intimidating phone message he received after firing the head of the Autonomous Body for the Administration of State Protocol (RAAPPS,) who was a Democrat.

To support his statements, Traian Basescu revealed a private note he received from Calin Popescu Tariceanu roughly two years ago, supposedly suggesting that the president intervene at the prosecutor's office to help Liberal Dinu Patriciu's case.
“Tariceanu proposed a partnership with our interest groups, a few months after he and I together spoke of the Social Democrat group during the electoral campaign,” said the president.
Basescu said he informed Justice Minister Monica Macovei about “the note” now because he did not want to destabilize the coalition and European accession.
Basescu and Tariceanu were the two driving forces that united the Democrat Party (PD) and the Liberal Party (PNL) respectively into a coalition that would secure them a victory against Social Democrats (PSD) in 2004.
The PM said he only wanted the president to be aware of that Patriciu considers that he was not getting a fair trial and his note was merely informative.
Tariceanu said Basescu is waging a political war against him for not agreeing to hold early elections and added that the president's aim is to destroy the Liberal Party. The PM said he had been warned about the president's way of using people to get where he wants and then disposing of them. Tariceanu used the examples of the Conservative Party and the Union of Hungarians (UDMR), which have both been asked to join the coalition in 2004, and were later treated as foes rather than friends. A few months after winning the elections, Basescu called the Conservative Party “the immoral solution” to achieving a parliament majority and refused to promote the passing of the minorities law although that was the ground rule for UDMR's participation in the coalition.
In answer to Basescu's allusion to interest groups, Tariceanu said there are some interest groups around Cotroceni Palace and their control was manifested in the appointment of Elena Udrea and Stana Anghelescu as presidential councilors. Both Udrea and Anghelescu supposedly worked in the interest of controversial businessmen, but Udrea's part in the plot did not stop there.
Udrea sparked things by first mentioning the note in a top TV show. She stepped down from her position at Cotroceni in October last year, but continued to remain a close friend of Basescu's, which led to allegations from other political parties that she acts as an instrument of the president's will.
“Udrea is an instrument and nothing more; a questionable character who is active on various political and economic scenes,” said political analyst and reputed journalist Cornel Nistorescu.
He said the note appeared as part of a long-thought out plan “to dynamite Tariceanu.” “Tariceanu might have sent a flower and the outcome would have been the same. The scandal does not appear to have been provoked by the note, but by a grave discontent. They are two incompatible people with two incompatible interest groups,” said the analyst.
“The story has very grave consequences as it hinders the administration's ability to govern and it damages our image at the European level,” said Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, president of the Romanian Academic Society (SAR).
Mungiu-Pippidi said Tariceanu should resign over the scandal but doubted that would happen. “Claims that the president himself should resign are exaggerated, we can only question his morality,” said the SAR head.
On top of the stir last week, Conservative head Dan Voiculescu publicized another note, that Basescu sent to former Economy minister Codrut Seres asking him to analyze the situation of the Alro Slatina company and “decide in the administration's best interest and in the interest of the national economy, if possible.” Presidential spokeswoman Adriana Saftoiu rejected claims that the note represented an attempt to influence the minister. However, signs that the coalition might be shattering came into sight as the PM dismissed the Democrat head of the National Agency for Fiscal Administration (ANAF) for “misleading the public opinion by political declarations.”
Democrat president Emil Boc responded to the decision by asking Tariceanu not to initiate a political crisis and threatening to leave the administration.

Ana-Maria David

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