Romanian President Traian Basescu used a series of opportunities over the weekend to speak up his mind on a long span of issues from the country’s EU accession to relations with Russia and the domestic political troubles.

Among others, he used a meeting with foreign journalists in Bucharest to insist that Romania would be a pleasant surprise for the European Union once it joins it in January 2007.

“Romania will be a pleasant surprise for the EU, considering its formidable development potential”, he said during the meeting with foreign reporters, in an effort to alleviate European fears regarding a possible major flow of Romanian workers westward.

He was quotes by AFP as saying that Romania reported an average economic growth of 5.5-6% over the past five years and hopes to conclude 2006 with a GDP growth of 7.2%. That comes as the level of foreign investments has continuously grown from 5.2 billion euro in 2005 to 7 billion in the first ten months of 2006.

And he defended the performance of the country in terms of combating corruption by saying that important progress has been reported in this regard despite the most recent Transparency International report on the country says graft remains an important obstacle for investments.

He criticized the “discriminating” decision by Britain and Ireland to impose restrictions for Romanian and Bulgarian workers after the EU accession. He said he did not find the same level of determination in the attitude of the two countries when it came to Romanian troops fighting together with theirs in Iraq.

Warning on Russian gas

Also this weekend, President Traian Basescu warned the European Union should not remain dependent on Russian natural gas and try to avoid the risk of Russian giant Gazprom transforming into a “means of political pressure”. He warned that there was a risk that one day Gazprom would say: “unless you’re smart, we’ll feed China exclusively”.

Basescu said the EU should find an alternative solution to Russian gas and gave Romania as an example: as works at its nuclear plant in Cernavoda have accelerated, Romania “will be freed” both politically and energetically.

Early elections would be best

Meanwhile, he was also quoted by Reuters as saying that he considered early elections as the best solution for Romania to overcome the current tensions on the domestic political stage. But he said such a poll would be almost impossible to occur because many governmental officials would lose their seats in a new Parliament.

The current four-party governing coalition - Reuters notes - has implemented a series of major reforms since coming to power in 2004, but heated disputes within have also affected a multitude of important projects.