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Ex-EU negotiator to replace senator as Romania's European commissioner nominee

Luni, 30 octombrie 2006, 0:00

Leonard Orban

Leonard Orban, a state secretary at the Romanian EU Integration Ministry who had a key role in accession negotiations over the past several years, is the second nominee the Romanian government will push to represent the country in the European Commission, according to official sources quoted by the NewsIn press agency and other media.

Orban replaces Senator Varujan Vosganian, who this weekend has asked for the withdrawal of his candidacy after a series of revelations about him.

Orban was chosen after Foreign minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu was also courted for the job afte Vosganian’s withdrawal, but refused the offer.

A technocrat, Orban was chosen at a meeting between PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu and President Traian Basescu on Sunday morning.

Varujan Vosganian, whose nomination was first announced early last week, was forced to step aside after a former officer of the Securitate, the dreaded intelligence service in communist Romania, who is now established in the US, revealed to Romanian media that Vosganian was involved in political police under the Ceausescu regime.

Vosganian rejected the accusations immediately and the main body studying the archives of the Securitate announced it had not yet found any evidence to confirm the allegation. But the media also revealed that Vosganian had received electoral contributions from a controversial businessman, Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, in 2000.

He decided to ask PM Tariceanu to withdraw his nomination eventually, saying that his move was one of responsibility as he did not want to bring any prejudice to the country.

Leonard Orban has been deeply involved in EU issues since 1993, when he became a parliamentary counselor for European affairs. Between May 2001-December 2004, he also serves as Romania’s deputy chief negotiator with the EU, and then chief negotiator until April 2005.

In an interview published by the Jurnalul National newspaper on Monday, President Traian Basescu says Vosganian’s nomination was a failure that proved his involvement in the nomination of a new commissioner was necessary.

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