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What the newspapers say: August 30, 2007

Joi, 30 august 2007, 0:00

The "deal of the year" by which Kazakh company KazMunayGaz took over 755 of Rompetrol Group, Romania's second biggest oil group, continues to make waves in the media on Thursday.

The papers also show interest in the presence of US troops on the Kogalniceanu military base in SE Romania, in obscure dealings surrounding the country's Health minister, and in a controversial move to reform key exams in schools.

Romania libera interviews Ariel Cohen, a Heritage Foundation expert in energy and ex-Soviet policies, who comments on the deal announced this week by which Kazakh state-controlled company KazMunayGaz took over 75% of Romanian oil group Rompetrol.

Ariel Cohen wonders why control over Rompetrol had to be sold but says it is obvious Kazakhstan would modernize a key Rompetrol refinery in order to boost its exports on EU markets.

Cohen says Kazakhstan remains a much more friendly country towards the business environment than any other Central Asian country despite staying between the Russian hammer and the Chinese anvil. He says Kazakh ambitions to enter the European market were not at all too ambitious.

Meanwhile, Cotidianul deals with controversies that emerged after the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) claimed it was not informed about the Rompetrol-KMG deal in due time on Monday, the day of the official announcement.

Trading with shares in several Rompetrol subsidiaries continued on Monday for almost two hours after the deal was announced in the media, before trading was halted.

Rompetrol claims it informed the BVB, but the Stock Exchange says the company did not comply with the procedures, raising questions about possible market manipulation, Cotidianul reports.

Elsewhere in the papers, Gandul publishes a feature on the presence of US troops at the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase near the Romanian port city of Constanta.

While any news of the American military presence there fuels the imagination of many - be it about the effects on local economy or the simple sight of GIs - the life of US troops at the base is far from spectacular, the report suggest. It is based on a joint military exercise involving Romanian and US troops on the Kogalniceanu base.

Evenimentul Zilei focuses on the extraordinary interest paid by Romanian politicians in the canonization of a deeply respected late leader of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Varlaam.

The canonization ceremony took place at a monastery in the deep end of Romanian mountains, but that did not prevent top political leaders - including President Basescu, PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu and others - to attend it.

The newspaper reads it as proof that an electoral autumn is drawing near, with Romania preparing for its first European elections.

The same Evenimentul Zilei reports that a wave of changes in the Romanian education system is about to turn into a legislative chaos as the current Education minister, Cristian Adomnitei - a construction engineer - has decided to drop exams for high school admission.

National tests that replaced high school admission exams not long ago will be dropped in favor of some sort of other tests in a manner that would not encourage performance, the paper writes.

Last but not least, Cotidianul points its fingers to Health minister Eugen Nicolaescu, whom it accuses of association with a "clan" that not only controls the decision-making within the ministry, but also runs privileged businesses with it.

It all sums up to a kind of "family boutique" controlled by Nicolaescu within the Health Ministry, according to the newspaper.

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