Emil Constantinescu in Ohrid , Macedonia

February 26, 2009

Macedonia National Information Agency reports about Mr. Emil Constantinescu, President of Romania speech:

Ohrid, February 20 (MIA) – There are moments in history, crucial for the future of a country when politicians should reach decisions that are of high state interest stated Romania’s former president Emil Constantinescu Friday at the sidelines of an international conference “Macedonia on the Road to EU and NATO, held in Ohrid.

He pointed out some of his personal experiences before reporters, saying they might benefit Macedonia in its efforts to join EU and NATO.

– Politicians should bear the responsibility and reach decisions that will settle existing problems. To prove that these claims are not only theoretical, I will point out the fact that on the first day of my presidential mandate I decided not to run for a second term only to have my hands not tied in terms of reaching decisions throughout my presidency, Constantinescu said.

He added that Romania in order to join the European family at first had to demonstrate readiness for reaching decisions that were not entirely in compliance with some of its historical interests.

– I personally signed the accord with Ukraine under which Romania was practically ceding the Bukovina province that historically belonged to Romania, stated Constantinescu.

Commenting the ongoing Skopje-Athens relations, the former Romanian president said there was a lack of political dialogue, which “results in a frozen dispute that is harmful for everyone, the Balkans and Europe”.

– The relations between Romania and Moldavia would be interesting for you. Romania is comprised of three provinces – Transylvania, Muntenia and Moldova. The forth part, which was known as Bessarabia in the past, nowadays is the Republic of Moldova. There is also a region called Moldova in Romania, but Romania didn’t block Moldova in its efforts to Euro-Atlantic integration, said Constantinescu referring to Greece’s remarks regarding the constitutional name of Macedonia.

In his opinion, the Balkans’ Euro-integrations was an inevitable process and one of the priorities of the European Union. He stated that Romania prior the Bucharest NATO Summit, during and after it had been constantly supporting Macedonia’s prompt integration to EU and NATO
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2009 the year of Economic crisis in Romania

February 9, 2009

Economic Crisis in RomaniaROMANIA IN 2009- YEAR OF THE CRISIS.

 

2009 will be the year of crisis for Romania. In this 12 month Romania will have to cope with the effects of the powerful   economic crisis that grips the European Union, will have to go by two electoral process (European parliament elections in June 2009 and presidential election in November 2009), will have to accommodate a governmental coalition of two major parties and to cope also with political turmoil in this two major parties (Social Democrat Party and Democrat Liberal). 2009 will be a very interesting year for Romanian, the year when the political class will have to give his maturity exam in front of the most fear teacher in the world: the economic crisis.

 

2009- The year of economic crisis.

At the end of 2008 already the signs of economic crisis started to be present in the Romanian economy. In last two months of the year the Romanian National Bank (B.N.R.) loosed more than 1 billion euro string to support the national currency in front of the euro. Unfortunately this reduced the BNR reserved from 25 billion euro to 24 billion euro but with no effect, the Romanian national currency is at this moment at the lowest point in front of the euro from the last four years. Also the Romania national debt increased by 10 percent, in just two months, suffocating the economy. The internal debt also increased by 12% percent and the extern al trade balance also gets worsened. The growth of the economy projections were reduced from 6% to 4, 5% but other experts consider that the Romanian economy will be shrinking by 1% minus this year. Also the budget for 2009 is made on unrealistically projections as 10 billion foreign investments (from this 10 billions 1.5 billion are investments projected by Ford company, investments that will no longer come), also the collection of taxes already decreased severely cutting the governmental projections.

Real estate and banking –the worst hit.

In 2009 the worst heat will be real estate sectors. The decrease in home value and real estate property was 20% in 2008 and will be more than 40% (moderate projections) in 2009. Already in 2007 the square meter constructed in Bucharest was 2.000 euro, in 2008 decreased to .1500 and will further decrease to 900 in 2009 ( for new buildings) and under 400euros in old buildings. These sharp decrees will cost the real estate industry more the 5 billion loses in 2009 and projects of investments of more the 3 billion will be stopped in waiting of better times.     The crisis in real estate will hit hard construction company and construction material industry (they already announced a sharp cut in the prices by 50% from 1 January 2009). The banking sector will soon feel the hit, already two major Romanian banks requested aid from the Romanian government, all the banks that invested in real estate in booming years or opened special banks for real estate credits are suffering losses in there actives of more than 50% percent by the end of 2008 and the loose will worsen in 2009. The Romanian banking  system is very vulnerable to the crisis , is  depending by support of major European banks that are in major deficit this year , are confronted by a reducing market in Romanian and the rate of insolvability is rapidly increasing in 2009. This year we will surely see some major banks failing for bankruptcy in Romania.

Political crisis.

The end of 2008 has seen the birth of an unholy alliance, Democrat Liberals and Social Democrats after 4 years of name calling and suburban accusations of fraud and corruptions and dictatorial behaviors has decided for a governmental alliance. The only reason is transparent, access to governmental founds in time of economic crisis. But no one in this party is really satisfied. Social Democratic Party it is very large , with many interests in the economy and with a strong support from the local industrial key figures who are expecting a large part of the state help to bust there business in this harsh period. Social Democrats hoped that there electoral score will enabled them to govern alone. After  30 November elections they found them self’s having to share a squeezing budget with Democrat Liberals another strong economic party and the division of the budget in 2009 will make the life in the coalition more difficult then expected.    The new Emil Boc government is build by low politician figures, in-experience ministers that are disposable. Theodor Stolojan, the first named prime-minister, understood that this is an experimental cabinet for 9 months that will use only minor personalities and erode their political image for good. The Boc cabinet will be  responsible for unpopular measures ( frozen of governmental posts, reducing investments, bank bankruptcy, investors collapse, unemployment, surging inflations etc.) and all the members will found there political career compromised.   Mr. Theodor Stolojan will remained the secret weapon of the president for worsening economic crisis, to lead a cabinet of tehnitions and specialist to confront at the end of 2009 the economic crisis and help president Basescu  to win the elections. The first moment of difficult will be the June 2009 European Parliament elections on which the Democrat Liberals and Social Democrat will have to confront one another and still be in the same governmental coalition. Everybody will watch the electoral scores of National Liberal Party-PNL (main opposition) and if the P.N.L. will score well in this election, the coalition will collapse, because no party will like to pay for the damage of the economic crisis.  

So 2009 will see at least a change in the governmental formula, depending on the economic crisis, and two much contested elections.

Presidential contest.

The main event that all the political class in watching closely is the effort by President Traian Basescu to secure another mandate in November 2009 elections. The president makes the entire necessary step to have no serious opposition to this election. Because of the economic crisis and the hostility of the main mass media towards him the president has a special strategy for 2009 elections:  to eliminate all serious competition. To this aim the president makes the governmental alliance with Social Democrat Party to be sure that the main party will not put a serious contender in the presidential elections. Also the President put in the new government some Democrat Liberals with high profiles that could challenge his rule inside the party (Radu Berceanu, Vasile Blaga); this nominations will compromised them and removed them from serious competitor lists.   Also in 2007 the civic society launched the bid for presidency of Mr. Klaus Johannis, the mayor of Sibiu. Mr. Klaus Johannis is a very competent, honest and apolitical figure that will have real chances for a presidential candidature. But President Basescu suppressed this potential danger by offering Mr. Johannis a position in his Liberal Democratic Party and neutralized him. Another important contender is Mr. Sorin Oprescu, the highly popular, efficient and influential mayor of Bucharest. Mr. Oprescu is supported by civil society, by Social democrats and Liberals and democrat Liberals alike and also enjoys the support of Ion Iliescu former president of Romania. Until now President Basescu could not assure for him by any offer the neutralization of Mr. Sorin Oprescu candidature.  All the polls suggest that a race between Basescu and Oprescu is a draw one with no clear winner. A new danger is the rise of PNL leader, former Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu. A highly unpopular figure a few months ago becomes very rapid the key figures of Parliamentary opposition and as economic crisis and failures of Emil Boc cabinet are increasing he becomes more popular by the day. Enjoying high support in the financial world, foreign investors and key mass media owner Mr. Tariceanu becomes day by day an important challenge to President Basescu grip on power.     The victory of 30 November election and building a pro-Presidential cabinet in time of severe economic turmoil could cost President Basescu his new term in office. 

So Romania is heading to a very difficult year with no clear economic agenda, no budget (first time in the last 8 years that the country does not have a budget), no experienced ministers and a highly degree of miss trust in political class. Harsh times are a head.

 

Professor Anton Caragea PhD,MA,FINS 


Deciphering Barack Obama

February 9, 2009

President Barack Obama gets the worldDeciphering Obama

                       

Today, after three weeks from the presidential take over ceremony in United States every body is trying to decipher what will be the next policy of Washington under the President elect Barack Obama.

Even at a glimpse the international agenda left behind by President Bush is a difficult one: war in Iraq and Afghanistan, crisis in Pakistan, tension relation with Russia, frictions with Europe, problems in Africa , every one will see that the next president is going to have his hands full with this agenda.

But what are Baracks Obama one interests in this international agenda. What is making the man tick on international issues?

We have a lot of information on what the new presidents intentions are by his foreign policy interviews, articles, and speeches and already established interest points on his agenda.

 

A new image for U.S.

 

The new president is highly concerned with the drop of America’s popularity all around the world. This is a major issue the Obama wants to tackle by dismantling Guantanamo Bay Prison, by releasing the inmates that have being proven innocent and transferring to civil courts in US the cases already build by US prosecution , instead on judging the offenders on military courts as Bush administration wanted to do. Also the new administration will ban the Executive Orders of President Bush that allowed US troops to attack any country and any position around the world suspected of helping, financing, training or supporting terrorist activities.

Also, Obama administration announced very clearly that will renounced at Bush doctrine of preempting strike and going alone doctrine that give to US the right to  act without his allies as in Iraq offensive case.

The preemptive strike will not be completely abolished; by will require under the new administration the approval of NATO members and key allies before being applied.

 

U.S. relation with Europe.

 

Relation with Europe, badly damage after the US invasion of Iraq is also high on President elect Obama`s agenda. US will be once more a strong supporter of the European Union construction and enlargement. Barack Obama is ready to restore to UE the role of consultant and key decision maker in Europe and Africa region. In Berlin speech Obama offered to E.U. a partnership in expansion of democratic values and free market economy in Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe. While G. Bush favored the military expansion in Eastern Europe ( by promoting Baltic States in NATO, supporting Ukraine and Georgia bid to NATO and building the missile Shield in Poland  ) the  new president is preferring using E.U. membership option and E.U. cooperation plans to promote softer relation in Eastern Europe.   Also on Europe chapter president elect Barack Obama is favoring a detente in relation with Russia: suspending military aid to Georgia, stopping NATO presence on the Black Sea , redrawing support for Ukraine and Georgia bid to join NATO and renouncing at the plans to build the Missile Shield in Eastern Europe every thing announced a new era of Russia-US relationship .

 

Obama and the U.S. military complex.

 

 Is Barack Obama a pacifist? Not a bit, he is a realist on the line of Woodrow Wilson theory of a concert of free nation that will prevail against any threats (This theory marked the US involvement in First World War and in building the League of Nations- the predecessor of today United Nation). 

Obama is determined to increase the military budget (already doubled in size from the Clinton era) by 25% in his first term in office. He already advocated this increase by saying that US are involved in two major military actions and needs to increase and modernize his military apparatus. The retreat from Iraq will only include military combat troops, technicians, private contractors, private army (as Black water troops and US air strike capability will be left in place to support the Iraqi government). On Iran agenda all thou that Barack Obama is not an advocate of ground invasion (as J. McCain was) his stands on Iran will still be a harsh one. A nuclear Iran is unacceptable, he pointed out. As a paradox: the redrew from Iraq will offer Obama the free hand to deal with Iran, even by air strikes without fearing on repercussions to US troops on the ground. So a coalition against Iran is still one the president agenda and with new relations with Russia and E.U he could be even better position then G. Bush to make strong pressure on Teheran. Also the decision to redraw from Iraq will be a good one for Afghanistan where lack of troops and financial aid make the country a safe haven for Al Qaeda and Taliban’s.  

 

Obama and China.

 

If the new US president is keen on cooperating with Europe, ease tensions with Russia; redraw from Iraq then why such a military build up is still necessary?

Obama`s see the danger for the US coming from China. Every line of foreign policy speech is a reflection of his willingness for a stronger attitude towards China. Only in the last 6 month he declared that: US market is threatened by the import from China, by the trade deficit with China, by piracy on electronic products from China. In his best seller: The Audacity of hope, Barack Obama states clearly that:  “In the XXI century the major challenge from military and economic point of view to US is from China…. and for this we have to be prepared” (p.313).

In recent weeks after the election also declared that is inadmissible that U.S. currency is tied to China and that US deficit is supported by Chinese loans.

This is not mean that Obama is determined to have a stand off with China but is determine not to allow China to challenge US supremacy in Asia-Pacific region.

 

New down.

 

At the new down of Barack Obama administration the president seems decided to change the world: a new military doctrine, a shift in focus to Asia-Pacific region, controls over Middle East, better relations with Russia an E.U. and a new image for United States in the world. Bush and Obama could not be more different on foreign policy aspects. What will mean Obama legacy to the world? Let’s wait and see. Change has definitely come to White House.               

 

                      

Professor Anton Caragea PhD, M.A., FINS.