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Helsinki Commission Releases Letter to Secretary Albright on Romania

WASHINGTON – The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe today released as a public courtesy the full text of a letter with attachment that was sent to Secretary of State Albright on November 10 that allegedly has been quoted in the Romanian media. The letter is being released so an accurate and complete copy is available. The letter was signed by Commissioners Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Ranking Member Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Ranking Member Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), and Reps. James C. Greenwood (R-PA), Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-NY) and Michael P. Forbes (D-NY). Full text follows:

November 10, 1999
The Honorable Madeleine Korbel Albright
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

We write to bring to your attention several matters of concern regarding Romania. We understand that you have stated your support for Romania’s assumption of the Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2001. If Romania is selected at the upcoming summit in Istanbul to Chair the OSCE in 2001, the Government of Romania will become part of the OSCE Troika this January.

We urge you to take Romania’s desire to play a leadership role in OSCE as a unique opportunity to raise a number of human rights matters with Bucharest. Romania has made great strides toward democracy since the fall of the repressive Ceausescu regime. In particular, the conduct of the elections and peaceful transition of power which gave the Democratic Coalition and President Constantinescu control of the government, the inclusion of minority parties in that government, President Constantinescu’s efforts to combat corruption, the expansion of a free media, efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and the struggle to privatize and develop a free market economy in Romania are all commendable.

Nevertheless, several human rights issues remain of concern to the Commission which, if not adequately addressed, would hinder a successful OSCE Chairmanship by the Government of Romania. As you know, Romania is scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in November 2000. If selected as CIO for 2001, Romania will be assuming the Chairmanship approximately six weeks after those elections. Even if the same government is re-elected, there will likely be major cabinet reshuffling and some disarray within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Recent statements by the spokesperson for that Ministry indicate that it currently has a $10 million deficit in its budget and may be forced to cut diplomatic representation by 25-30 percent, leaving only “skeleton staff” at some of its embassies and consulates abroad, causing concern about Romania’s ability to marshal the resources necessary to lead the OSCE.

Additionally, and of greater concern, is the potential composition of the government following the 2000 elections. Current polls indicate that former President Iliescu leads President Constantinescu by a substantial margin. You will recall that during his presidency, Iliescu’s Party of Social Democracy (PDSR) created a ruling coalition with two ultra nationalistic and extremist parties, the Greater Romania Party and the Party of Romanian National Unity. Should Iliescu and the PDSR resume power and form a similar coalition government, we believe the consequences for the Romanian chairmanship of the OSCE would be disastrous.

The attached addendum details our concerns regarding anti-Semitism, freedom of the media, religious liberty, the plight of the Roma minority and property restitution. These are issues about which the Commission has engaged the Government of Romania for many years. Members of the Commission staff discussed these matters at length with Sever Voinescu, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in March, as well as with Ambassador Mircea Geoana and Mrs. Zoe Petre, Special Advisor to President Constantinescu, during her recent visit to Washington.

Madam Secretary, we would greatly appreciate your further review of these issues and your raising them with our friends in Romania as they pursue the Chairmanship of the OSCE. Our fervent hope is for a successful OSCE Chairmanship, should Romania be selected, and for its continued pursuit of integration into the West.

We thank you for your attention to these matters and look forward to your response.


cc: His Excellency Mircea Geoana Ambassador of Romania The Honorable James C. Rosapepe Ambassador of the United States to Romania

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