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What the newspapers say: October 16, 2006

Luni, 16 octombrie 2006, 0:00

Two Liberal leaders are troubling the waters of the governing coalition with a move to unify the center-rightist forces in Romania while they themselves have been marginalized in the governing Liberal Party. A sentence to death for a businessman linked to the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists in Iraq last year is confirmed.

A short list of people with make-or-break powers in the Romanian economy is published. And Financial Times provides some advice for foreign investors interested to expand in Romania and Bulgaria. All in Romanian newspapers today.

Two former presidents of the National Liberal Party - Valeriu Stoica, still a member, and Theodor Stolojan, a presidential aide who’s been recently ousted from the party -launched a platform for the unification of the Romanian center-right groups yesterday.

The move comes at the peak of a spiraling conflict between the two main parties of the governing coalition - the Liberals (PNL), run by PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu, and the Democrats (PD) of President Traian Basescu.

“Stolojan and Stoica are re-launching PNL with a rupture”, Cotidianul reports, showing the two opted to make their voice heard in a conference “in exile”, that is in the city of Pitesti, away from Bucharest, before second and third-rank members of the PNL.

They charged incumbent Liberal president Calin Popescu Tariceanu with ruining the party and the governing policies and pushed a new doctrine that calls for the establishment of a “federative party”. It would bring together all the forces of the center-right - PNL, PD and the non-parliamentary Christian-Democratic group the National Peasants’s Party (PNTCD).

Evenimentul Zilei reports that the move comes after a long series of breaks and armistices between various factions of the Liberal movement in Romania over the past 16 years.

Despite the history of the group, Stolojan and Stoica want the new group be built in a short period of several months, “between Chrismas and Easter”, it reports.

And Gandul observes that in the good tradition of Communist-era party events, the organizers of yesterday’s conference brought hundreds of workers from a Bucharest factory owned by a Liberal politician to applaud the ideas put together by the two dissidents.

On a different note, Jurnalul National quotes an analysis of the Stratfor institute, which reports that parties in Romania are already planning early elections next year, despite there are still months to go until the country joins the EU.

And the same Jurnalul National publishes the results of an opinion poll among journalists, which shows most media workers in the country would vote with the D.A. Alliance of Democrats and Liberals in case of elections. Had the journalists been the only ones to vote in such a poll.

The opposition Social-Democrats would be a very small party, and the far-right Greater Romania Party would be insignificant.

Elsewhere in the newspapers, Cotidianul confirms that a Baghdad court sentenced Mohamad Munaf - a “guide” for three Romanian journalists kidnapped and later released in Iraq last year - to death by hanging, as speculated last week.

Munaf is key character involved in a terrorism case focusing on the sponsor of the three journalists’ visit in Iraq last year, Romanian businessman of Arab descent Omar Hayssam.

The newspaper reports that the sentence comes as US and Iraqi authorities have consistently refused any contact between Munaf and Romanian authorities for almost a year.

And while other media speculate that it is little chance Munaf would be hanged eventually, Adevarul reports that Munaf would have been sentenced to only seven years in prison had his case been judged in Romania.

Meanwhile, Cotidianul proposes a short list of people that have huge decision-making powers for Romania’s economy.

The list includes the heads of major companies in Romania, from OMV to Dacia to Lafarge Cement and various investment funds, who control huge flows of money in the commercial, industrial and stock markets and who have taken a lot of authority from the government and state-owned company, who held absolute power ten years ago.

Evenimentul Zilei quotes a Financial Times report that provides a little aid to foreign investors interested in pushing their way into Romania once the country joins the EU next year. The FT lists the judicial traps, the Kafka-like bureaucracy and the culture of indifference among local officials as potential problems for investors.

And it mentions the real estate market as one of the best options for investments.

For its part, Adevarul looks in the courtyard of Hungarians leaving in Romania and quotes Marko Bela, head of the Hungarian Democrats (UDMR, a junior member of the governing coalition), who says Hungarian should be declared an official language for the whole region of Transylvania.

Bela made the statement at a meeting aimed at reconciling various Hungarian movements in Romania but which failed to lure some of the most significant ones.

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