04 September 2011

Geoană assured US: Romania's fundamentally pro-US orientation "safe" for at least two more generations

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BUCHAREST1665 2006-10-31 16:38 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bucharest

DE RUEHBM #1665/01 3041638
O 311638Z OCT 06

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/30/2016 
Classified By: Amb. Nicholas Taubman for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
1. (C) Summary: At a meeting with DNI Negroponte and the 
Ambassador, opposition PSD head Mircea Geoana evinced concern 
about a posssible post-EU accession malaise in Romanian 
politics, with weak and divided governance for the next 
several years.  Geoana was skeptical about prospects for 
early elections and favored creation of a "grand coalition" 
of leading moderate parties on the German model.  On 
attitudes towards the U.S., Geoana said some "rebalancing" 
between Romania's "transatlanticist" and "European" 
orientations might take place, but geopolitics assured that 
Romania's fundamentally transatlanticist orientation was 
"safe" for at least two more generations. Geoana argued for a 
regional solution to the Kosovo issue, noting that the 
international community could move relatively fast on Kosovar 
independence if it was linked to a renewed commitment to the 
Balkan region as a whole.  With EU entry for many Balkan 
nations unlikely, NATO had to pick up the slack as default 
"mentor" in the region.  Geoana argued that Romania was 
wasting an opportunity to work with new Eastern European 
members of the EU in creating a new "Vilnius Group" 
encompassing the Baltics to the Black Sea.  On intelligence 
matters, Geoana encouraged new links between Romanian 
parliamentary committees overseeing the intelligence 
community and their US counterparts.  End Summary. 
2.  (C) Opposition PSD President Mircea Geoana met with 
Director of National Intelligence Negroponte and Ambassador 
Taubman October 29.  Geoana prefaced the meeting by comparing 
Romania's political scene to an ice skating competition; 
Romania had performed superbly in the obligatory routines 
needed for acceptance into all of the right clubs--WTO, NATO, 
and now the European Union--but it was uncertain whether it 
could do as well in the "freestyle" segment now that the 
constraints of candidacy were lifted.  He said Romanian 
politics exemplified the lack of an overall strategic vision 
among Romania's political leaders as well as a vicious 
political culture that stressed the "total demolition" of 
one's political enemies. 
3.  (C) Geoana was skeptical about prospects for early 
elections, noting that elections for the European Parliament 
would likely occur in May 2007, with municipal elections in 
June 2008 and a Presidential election taking place in 2009. 
President Basescu was alone in pushing for early elections, 
hoping to capitalize on his current high popularity ratings. 
Basescu also feared that a weak PD showing in future 
municipal elections could erode his prospects in the 
Presidential contest.  Geoana opined that a reshuffle among 
coalition partners was possible depending on how long Prime 
Minister Tariceanu survived.  Tariceanu was weakened, but 
still fighting for his political life.  Geoana warned that if 
Tariceanu goes, Romania could return to the "piranha 
politics" of the 1990s, with Basescu installing a more 
compliant puppet as Prime Minister. 
4.  (C) Regarding future coalition combinations, Geoana said 
that anything was possible, including continuation of the 
PD/PNL alliance; a strong PD combined with satellite parties; 
a PD/PSD alliance, or even a PSD/PNL government.  Two likely 
options included a "new majority" centered around Basescu, or 
some sort of "grand coalition" akin to Germany.  The latter 
option (which he preferred) would use as a pretext the need 
for mainstream Romanian parties to collectively meet the 
challenges of EU membership.  A PD/PNL merger was unlikely 
given the liberals' pride in their 100-year history and 
traditions.  Geoana anticipated that the next two and half 
years could prove an extraordinarily "unconstructive" time 
for Romanian politics, with political paralysis and loss of 
momentum after the January 1 EU accession.  Romania risked 
following in Poland's footsteps in mismanaging the first few 
years after EU entry, providing an opening for extremist and 
populist voices to dominate Romanian politics in the future. 
5.  (C) On attitudes towards the United States, Geoana said 
that Romania was currently so pro-American that one had to 
anticipate a future rebalancing between its 
"transatlanticist" and "European" orientations. Geography 
would never allow Romania to "relax" and hence the current 
security construction with the United States was safe for at 
least two more generations.  He added that the U.S. shouldn't 
take Romania's future pro-US orientation for granted or 
assume that it would be automatic. Geoana added that while he 
didn't like the President, he had to admit that Basecsu was 
"solid" with regards to his transatlanticist inclinations. 
Geoana also noted the need to develop new institutions to 
anchor US-Romanian ties after USAID pulled out.  These might 
include the Black Sea Trust Fund, the Aspen Institute, even 
the Harvard Club.  He added that it was not a question of USG 
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funding, since there was now a huge network of influential 
Romanians who knew and loved the United States, including 
many corporate leaders. 
6.  (C) On Kosovo, Geoana said that Kosovar independence must 
be linked to a "package" of measures for the Balkan region as 
a whole.  Bringing Croatia into the EU and NATO without 
accounting for the rest of the Balkans was the wrong 
strategy.  With the right "package", the international 
community could move relatively fast in terms of fostering 
Kosovo's independence, but changing the status quo in Kosovo 
must be backed by a renewed commitment to the Balkan region 
on the part of NATO and the EU.  Geoana was doubtful that 
Macedonia or Alabania were capable of qualifying for EU 
accession, thus handing NATO the default role of "mentor" to 
these states.  Geoana argued for a strategy other than just 
"punishing" the Serbs, noting that the Serbian military 
understood what had to be done, but the Serbian public was 
still "intoxicated" with the idea of retaining Kosovo. 
Geoana added that the upcoming German EU Presidency was an 
opportunity for the United States to work closely with 
Chancellor Merkel on Kosovo.  The relative weakness or lame 
duck status of other European leaders gave Merkel the 
opportunity to demonstrate that she could be a "global 
leader" on this and other issues.  Geoana suggested that with 
the right preparation, Merkel would be receptive to working 
in tandem with President Bush on a renewed Kosovo strategy as 
part of Germany's bid for a successful EU presidency. 
7.  (C) Comparing Russia to "an athlete on steroids" Geoana 
said that he saw both Ukraine and Moldova slowly bending to 
growing Russian pressure, with Georgia increasingly isolated 
through Russian energy politics and other "booby traps" from 
Moscow.  Geoana also accused President Basescu of harboring 
plans to trade Moldovan unification with Romania for tacit 
acquiescence to allowing Transnistria to become a Russian-run 
"Kaliningrad" to the east. Geoana said Romania was wasting an 
opportunity to work with new Eastern European members of the 
EU in creating a "new European neighborhood policy" from the 
Baltics to the Black Sea, acting as a Vilnius Group writ 
large that could influence EU policy towards the East. 
8.  (C) On intelligence matters, Geoana said that the PSD had 
agreed to Senator Maior becoming the head of Romania's 
internal service.  He said that it was "refreshing" to see a 
new generation take over the intelligence services given the 
need to remove the taint of the Ceaucescu-era Securitate, but 
both Maior and SRI Director Saftoiu were inexperienced and 
"needed help."  He said that he was trying to institute a 
"new rule" in Romanian politics that the domestic 
intelligence directorship always go to an opposition 
politician, adding that this was a "precondition" for sending 
"one of our best young guys" for the post.  Geoana also 
encouraged the DNI to promote contacts between Romanian 
parliamentary committees overseeing intelligence matters with 
their counterparts in the United States, as this would be an 
investment in a more democratic Romania and a better 
respected intelligence service. 
9. (C) Comment: Mircea Geoana's views carrry some weight as 
he is the heir presumptive in any future coalition government 
involving the PSD.  His views on many issues--including his 
fundamentally transatlanticist orientation, his comments on 
Kosovo, and remarks on the desirability of creating an 
Eastern European bloc within the EU--track closely with those 
shared by many of his ruling coalition counterparts, 
underscoring that what separates the PSD from the ruling PD 
and PNL are frequently matters involving personalities, 
parties, and political nuance, not ideology or policy. 
Geoana's skepticism regarding the likelihood of early 
elections, on the other hand, reflects the fact that the 
PSD's prospects are not encouraging if President Basescu 
succeeds in getting an early election contest.  End Comment. 

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