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Democrat Frunzaverde takes over seat

Defence Minister Atanasiu resigns on Army Day

Miercuri, 25 octombrie 2006, 0:00

Romania’s suspended Defence minister Teodor Atanasiu announced his resignation as the country celebrates the Army Day on Wednesday. He said in a press statement that “the wisest gives in” and that his move was aimed at ending a crisis that has hit the Defence ministry over the past several months.

His seat will be taken by a Democrat, Sorin Frunzaverde. Talks between the leadership of the two main parties in the governing coalition early on Wednesday decided that the seat held so far by Liberal Atanasiu would be passed to a Democrat.

PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu's Liberal Party obtains instead the nomination for the seat of Romania's future Commissioner - who later on Wednesday was announced to be Liberal Senator Varujan Vosganian.

Atanasiu accused President Traian Basescu of not bringing him back to office despite Justice has proven his innocence in two cases opened against him for abuse in office.

President Basescu suspended the minister on September 12 following two abuse in office-related criminal complaints against Atanasiu by presidential aide Adriana Saftoiu and from deputy Eugen Bejinariu.

On October 6, military prosecutors decided not to open a criminal inquiry against Atanasiu, but President Basescu said that he would only let the minister take back his office when Saftoiu and Bejinariu would have had their chance to appeal against the verdict.

Meanwhile, former General Chief of Staff Eugen Badalan submitted another criminal complaint against Atanasiu at the Supreme Court, also for abuse in office.

According to the resigned official, the Army suffers most from the political fight, “which I find very dangerous”.

It is the fourth time Frunzaverde holds a portfolio in the Bucharest government. He had served as Defense minister in March-April 2000; as Environment minister in December 1997-February 1998; and as Tourism minister in April-December 1999.

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