A huge scandal involving Economy minister Codrut Seres keeps the front pages of most Romanian newspapers today. President Basescu speaks up on a large array of issues from NATO to the energy security in an interview for one paper, while others quote experts who revive talks about the need and knowledge to “communicate Romania” to the rest of the world.
Economy minister Codrut Seres has been the subject of a wave of revelations in the media for the past several days. He was linked to a key character, Bulgarian businessman Stamen Stancev, now under investigation over alleged abuses in the privatization of Romanian energy companies.
According to Cotidianul, a resolution of the General Prosecutor’s Office ordering a criminal investigation into espionage and treason cases mentions the name of minister Seres four times - the privatization or sale of important stakes at several companies: Electrica Muntenia Sud, Petrom, the Turceni energy complex and Romexterra Bank.
The same newspaper also quotes prosecutors who point Communications minister Zsolt Nagy as one involved in prejudicial deals with the Romanian Mail or Romtelecom that also involve Stamen Stancev.
Evenimentul Zilei goes deeper into things and reports that for years the financial group Credit Suisse First Boston had a monopoly of well-placed contacts to arrange a role in the privatization of Romanian state companies.
And it reports that while the system was enforced under the previous government, current Economy minister Seres has left everything work unchanged for a long time “against the interests of the Romanian state”.
Gandul reports that the Romanian state cannot block higher fuel prices despite defying EU procedures by holding a golden share at Petrom, the country’s biggest oil company.
And Jurnalul National - the newspaper that first launched news of a possible involvement of minister Seres in this scandal - gives Seres an opportunity to tell his side of the story.
Two newspapers opt to interview President Traian Basescu on the matter. For Adevarul, he reveals what happened behind closed doors at last week’s National Defense Counil talks on the security of the Romanian energy market - and says it was not very clear who is in fact controlling the Romanian oil.
He spoke of OMV, the Austrian company that has bought Petrom, and shows that 51% of its stake are listed on various bourses - and nobody knmows who’s holding these shares for the moment.
Evenimentul Zilei also interviews Basescu, who speaks of the role of NATO and the energy security in Europe, but also about oil. He tells the newspaper that “statements that Gazprom is buying OMV shares massively are a reality”.
Meanwhile, the papers try to identify how to “sell Romania”, that is, how to produce an efficient communication scheme to improve its image abroad.
The same Evenimentul Zilei quotes Jeffrey Gitomer, one of the best sales trainer in the US who held a speech in Bucharest last week. According to Gitomer, Romania should not be sold as a country but as a place to travel to, to relax and find a “wonderful culture”.
For its part, Gandul tries to learn from former and current mistakes and quotes Vasile Puscas, the man who negotiated Romania’s EU accession as a representative of the former PSD Government.
According to Puscas, “Romania has an international communication based on propaganda, on leaflets with images of its leader” and that is what contributed to a decision in many EU member states to restrict the access of Romanian workers on their markets.