05BUCHAREST476 / 2005-02-25 15:05:00
Embassy Bucharest
                C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BUCHAREST 000476 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/25/2015 
Classified By: Political Section Chief Robert S. Gilchrist for Reasons 
1.4 B and D 
1. (C) Summary.  Romanian President Traian Basescu will 
likely seek to focus on solid support in Iraq and the Global 
War on Terror, Black Sea Security, and Moldova during his 
March 8-9 trip to Washington.  He has defined a strong 
strategic relationship with the U.S. as the central component 
of his new center-right government's emerging foreign policy. 
 Initial bilateral visits to Moscow, London, and Chisinau 
provide an indication of these and other priorities - and 
demonstrate that he intends to be actively engaged in the 
formulation and articulation of Romania's foreign policy. 
Although Washington will not be Basescu's first trip as 
president, he clearly views it as the most important.  End 
2. (C) In the two months since his inauguration, center-right 
President Traian Basescu has sought to demonstrate a strong 
and active international role for Romania and for his 
presidency.  He has repeatedly asserted the importance of a 
close strategic relationship with the U.S. and U.K. ("a 
Bucharest-London-Washington axis").  However, this is coupled 
with another Romanian foreign policy priority of EU accession 
in January 2007.  Our GOR contacts have tried to obscure 
potential incongruities in those two priorities by flagging 
the strategic nature of the first set of relationships and 
the largely economic content of the second. (Comment: 
Reality is a little more complicated.)  The new Government 
has also increased focus on Romania's eastern frontier, 
seeking more direct engagement in Moldova; and coordination 
with the U.S. and NATO for a regional strategy for the Black 
Sea (Ref).  These themes were evident during Basescu's first 
three bilateral visits abroad -- to Chisinau, London, and 
Moscow.  They will also be raised when Basescu travels to 
Washington in March. 
3. (C) At the same time, Basescu's direct and highly personal 
approach has, in the words of our MFA interlocutors, 
"refreshed and revived" Romania's foreign policy on many 
levels.  Regarding Basescu's recent Moscow trip, FM Ungureanu 
told Ambassador Crouch that an initially taciturn President 
Putin quickly warmed to Basescu.  The latter was reportedly 
frank and focused on the future, declining to revisit 
historical issues -- such as disappearance of the Romanian 
national treasure that came under Bolshevik control in WWI -- 
that were irritating constants on the bilateral agenda in 
recent years.  The UK Embassy in Bucharest reports that PM 
Blair found Basescu "easy to talk to" and "credible" in his 
commitment to fight corruption.  Local media remarked that 
Basescu's warm reception by Moldovan President Voronin 
contrasted sharply with the typically strained meetings 
between Voronin and former President Ion Iliescu.  Basescu 
has stressed his belief privately and publicly that Romania 
and Moldova are "two nations, one people." 
4. (C) FM Ungureanu told assembled NATO and EU Diplomats that 
Basescu's February 14-15 trip to Moscow focused on three 
central issues -- Moldova and Transnistria, Black Sea 
stability and security, and the potential for increased 
commerce between the two countries.  On Moldova/Transnistria, 
Basescu proposed bluntly to Putin an enlargement of the 
five-party negotiating format to include Romania.  Basescu 
told Putin Romania belonged at the table, if only because 
Transnistria threatens regional stability and serves as a 
haven for organized crime that filters into Romania.  The 
Romanian government, according to Ungureanu, believes 
expansion of the five-party talks would add "energy and 
momentum" to the stalled dialogue.  On upcoming Moldovan 
elections, Basescu underscored to Putin that Romania seeks a 
fair process "free of political intervention." 
5. (C) Basescu also raised with Putin his vision of Black Sea 
regional cooperation, stressing concerns with trafficking of 
humans, weapons, narcotics and other contraband in the Black 
sea basin.  Ungureanu told Ambassador Crouch that Putin 
proposed, apparently spontaneously, a "common naval unit" 
comprised of vessels under national flags that would work in 
coordination against organized crime using the Black Sea for 
transiting.  The Romanians were non-committal (and GOR 
interlocutors have told us separately that the GOR opposes a 
"constabulary" expansion of BLACKSEAFOR, preferring a 
NATO-led security presence in the Black Sea).  Basescu raised 
the possibility of a permanent U.S. military basing presence 
in Romania, emphasizing that they should not be interpreted 
as a sign of hostility to Russia.  Putin answered that the 
transfer of U.S. bases eastward from Germany has "no 
political reason" but has potentially "unpleasant 
6. (C) With regard to commercial relations, Basescu proposed 
the possibility of up to six new Romanian Consulates General 
throughout Russia to help Romanian firms identify export 
opportunities at a local level.  Both Basescu and Putin 
acknowledged the pronounced trade disequalibrium between the 
two countries, with Russian energy flowing to Romania and 
"not much" returning to Russia.  Ungureanu stressed that 
Basescu and Putin met in Moscow for a total of three hours, 
both a message that Basescu and Putin had enjoyed a 
substantive exchange and a clear hint that the Romanians want 
as much time as possible for Basescu's meeting at the White 
7.  (C) During the Ambassador's farewell call on Basescu 
February 17, the latter related that it appeared that Putin 
was desirous of an improved relationship with Romania, 
possibly, he speculated, as a result of recent events in 
Ukraine and Georgia.  Regarding Moldova/Transnistria, Basescu 
confirmed that Putin had not responded explicitly to the 
Romanian request for inclusion in the multiparty negotiating 
format.  Shifting the focus of that part of the discussion, 
Putin responded that Transnistria's Smirnov is obstructing 
movement of munitions out of depots there.  This answer, 
according to Basescu, "is a joke." 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
8. (C) The British Embassy has told us that HMG made "every 
effort possible" to ensure London was Basescu's first 
bilateral visit to a Western capital, a gesture they made 
with some haste after the Romanians quietly passed word that 
a French invitation was already on the table and that they 
preferred not to take it up as the first major Western visit 
for the new President.  This lay in the emerging close 
relations between the two governments -- the GOR, even under 
the previous center-left government, frequently looked to the 
UK as a model of an EU country with strong transatlantic 
ties.  Basescu has been outspoken in asserting that the UK 
will be the "first" among Romania's European allies.  The 
British DCM noted that HMG views Romania as a future "ally" 
among EU countries. 
9. (C) Basescu's January 31 meeting with PM Blair focused on 
the continuation of Romania's troop presence in Iraq, 
UK-Romanian cooperation on the UN Security Council, the 
fundamental importance of fighting corruption (which Basescu 
has identified as a "national security priority"), and issues 
surrounding Romania's EU accession.  Basescu pledged to keep 
Romanian troops in Iraq "until they are no longer needed." 
He also raised repeatedly Romania's strong hope for a 
regional approach toward the Black Sea, to include EU and 
especially NATO involvement.  He told Blair that over the 
past 15 years Romania had found that it could "rely most" on 
the U.S. and UK among the Western governments to be 
"straightforward" and "truly supportive" of Romania's efforts 
towards integration with the West. Basescu's new emphasis on 
this trilateral relationship, which he has repeatedly 
characterized as the "Washington-London-Bucharest axis" was 
based as much on common strategic interests as it was on 
"common values and a common vision."  Blair committed to 
examine ways the UK could work with Romania on a Black Sea 
regional policy, including within the framework of the 
European Security and Defense Policy. 
10. (C) MFA interlocutors including the FM stressed to post 
that Basescu's January 21 visit to Moldova signaled a new 
"proactive approach" to Romanian-Moldovan relations, to 
include "a more direct role" in breaking the impasse in the 
frozen conflict in Transnistria.  The GOR is "surprised and 
pleased" with what it views as "a positive attitude" by 
Voronin, which may be partially driven by Moldova's upcoming 
elections but which they also see as indicating a more 
fundamental shift in Moldova's foreign policy.  GOR officials 
affirm that Romania -- and Basescu -- are eager to use this 
opening to pull Moldova towards Europe and the West. 
11.  (C) Ungureanu told Ambassador that Basescu stressed that 
Romania offered the "only opportunity" for Moldova to move 
closer to the EU.  Basescu underscored to Voronin that 
"Romania will advocate for Moldova in Brussels."  Ungureanu 
said Voronin "switched off" when Basescu asserted that 
Romania could also advocate for Moldova with NATO.  Ungureanu 
agreed that this might be a red line Voronin is unable to 
cross at present, with Russian troops still in Transnistria. 
Basescu pledged to Voronin to share Romania's European 
integration experiences through formalized consultations 
between GOR and GOM officials.  He affirmed Romania's support 
for Voronin's proposed draft document on Stability and 
Security in Moldova, and said Romania would be in a better 
position to advocate for EU agreement to the document after 
the finalization of Romania's EU accession agreement in 
April.  Our MFA interlocutors note that the substance of much 
of Romania's Moldova policy tracks largely with that of the 
previous government.  However, in the same breath they note 
that Basescu's level of interest, commitment to encouraging 
resolution for the Transnistria frozen conflict, and emerging 
good relationship with Voronin indicate Romania seeks to be 
much more involved than in previous years. 
12. (C) Presidential advisors have told us Basescu "greatly 
looks forward" to his March 9 trip to Washington, given the 
central importance he ascribed to strong transatlantic 
relations throughout his campaign and in the early days of 
his presidency.  His staff is working assiduously to try to 
diminish potential sore points during the trip.  While a 
proposed international commission to resolve pending 
inter-country adoption cases is still under consideration, 
one key presidential expressed hope for an announcement 
within the next week of a process to strip extreme 
nationalist Corneliu Vadim Tudor of a prominent award given 
by the previous government.  In addition, Basescu will no 
doubt wish to discuss in Washington the prospects of a 
permanent U.S. military basing presence in Romania.  The 
issue continues to receive broad public attention - and 
support.  Post will send an update on Romania's EU accession 
bid septel.  And finally, all interlocutors from the 
President on down note that the extradition and Romanian 
trial for the Marine Corps Staff Sergeant involved in the 
December automobile accident killing a well-known Romanian 
musician will be put on the table. 
13. (U) Amembassy Bucharest's reporting telegrams are 
available on the Bucharest SIPRNet website: 

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