Changes of balance in Supreme Defense Council leave President without support

The replacement of the Government formula has a major collateral effect - a changing balance in Romania’s Supreme Defense Council (CSAT), which has many implications on the country’s involvement in international politics, writes Ioana Avadani, head of the Center for Independent Journalism in Bucharest, on her blog at (Ro.).

According to Romanian law, the CSAT is formed of the Defense minister, the Interior minister, the Foreign minister, the Justice minister, the Economy minister, the Finance minister, the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) director, the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) director, the General Chief-of-Staff and the presidential aide on national security issues.

The President of Romania is head of the CSAT, while the prime-minister is his deputy.

The new government formula leaves President Basescu isolated from the strings of Romania’s foreign policies in the CSAT, Avadani writes.

The Foreign Ministry was controlled by his Liberal rivals from the very beginning, but as long as the EU accession was the top priority of Romania’s foreign policy, with support from the full political spectrum, all other issues were left apart. Until now.

The restructured government brings Defense in Liberal PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu’s camp. The SRI is generally seen as controlled by the opposition Social Democrats (PSD), who now support Tariceanu’s new government. And SIE chief Claudiu Saftoiu’s resignation leaves this seat from the presidential camp currently uncovered.

The new government, built on a new political formula, may legitimately change the foreign policy agenda - focused on the priorities of the now dead alliance of Liberals and Basescu’s Democrats, Avadani writes.

And Basescu would from now on reign isolated over a hostile CSAT with at least two major issues to handle: the presence of Romanian troops in Iraq and a stand on the Kosovo issue.

PM Tariceanu has said he wanted the troops out of Iraq by Christmas this year, while the President wants them to stay. And Romania has already joined Russia against the interests of Washington and London in opposing the proposed independence for Kosovo.

With the whole foreign institutional interface out of control and out of presidential loyalties, in terms of foreign policy the “player President” Traian Basescu turns into a president who plays by himself, Avadani writes.