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A HotNews.ro exclusive

What Romania Social Democratic leader, presidential candidate Mircea Geoana discussed during his trip to Moscow

de Dan Tapalaga, transl. V.O.     HotNews.ro
Joi, 12 noiembrie 2009, 19:47 English | Top News

The talks held by Mircea Geoana, the leader of Romania's Social Democratic Party (PSD) and a candidate in presidential elections later this month, with a Kremlin aide during the secret visit he paid to Moscow on April 27, 2009 lasted more than two hours focused on the privatization of Romgaz and energy-related issues, political sources have told HotNews.ro The PSD leader informed HotNews.ro, through his presidential campaign staff, that he refused to discussed details of the visit as it was "a private visit" which "did not discussed the Romgaz privatization". According to his message, [Democratic-Liberal minister of Economy] "Adriean Videanu was warranted by [Romania President and presidential candidate] Traian Basescu to discuss the issue". Two days ago, HotNews.ro published information exclusively about Geoana's visit to Moscow.

A day after Mircea Geoana's visit to Moscow, the PSD leader attended a meeting of Romania's Supreme Defense Council. A point on the meeting agenda related to Romania's energy strategy for the period of 2007-2020 and measures to organize state-controlled economic operators in the energy sector.

The visit was allegedly mediated by Boris Golovin, a businessman with interest in the Romanian energy sector about whom the media has reported to have been a former officer of the Russian army intelligence GRU. Golovin had allegedly told Geoana he would be able to arrange a meeting with Vladimir Putin, but the PSD leader only met during his trip to Moscow one of the Russian PM's aides.

Contacted by HotNews.ro, Golovin denied any link with the PSD and with the Moscow visit. The visit was confirmed later on Tuesday that Geoana paid such a visit to Moscow on April 27, but would not provide details about it.

Incumbent President Traian Basescu, who runs for a new term in office in presidential elections later this month, referred to the privatization of Romanian company Romgaz during the electoral campaign. On October 24, Basescu said Romanian business and media people Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, Dinu Patriciu and Dan Voiculescu developed their businesses when former Social-Democratic leader Ion Iliescu served as President and were now looking for a new period of "quietness" so that they be able to take control of companies such as the Romanian Mail, Romgaz, Transgaz, Conpet or Oil Terminal.

In February 2008, Dinu Patriciu, a businessman who supports National Liberal Party (PNL) leader Crin Antonescu for president in the ongoing presidential campaign, was calling for the privatization of 200 licenses held by Romgaz, a state-managed company. Patriciu was claiming the state was a poor manager and that Romgaz should be disbanded.

In reply, Romgaz officials said Dinu Patriciu was interested that the 200 licenses Romgaz was operating on be taken under the principle of nationalization. Lucian Stancu, deputy head of Romgaz, explained in a talk-show with BBC-HotNews.ro - the Romanian version - that Romgaz held 30-year contracts for 130 licenses. Patriciu had said he had no personal interest in the natural gas market, but Romgaz claims the businessman showed interest in a deposit at Margineni, Eastern Romania.

The privatization of Romgaz has been on the agenda of the Supreme Defense Council since 2006. At the time, President Basescu announced he demanded Economy minister Adriean Videanu that the privatisation procedures for companies in the energy sector, especially Romgaz, not be hurried at least until after the results of the Petrom privatization had been analyzed. At the same time, the Government was announcing a possible three-year postponement of the Romgaz privatization. That is, until 2009.
 
Following a visit to Moscow, minister Videanu announced in June 2009 the signing of a memorandum with Gazprom - the first memorandum of direct collaboration after 1989, with a feasibility study on the future collaboration due to be concluded by the end of this year. Videanu said at the time a Romgaz-Gazprom joint company was due to be formed and that would include the exploitation of the Margineni natural gas deposit. Neither the company, not the feasibility study saw the light of day so far.


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