Prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu’s call for troops withdrawal from Iraq yesterday dominates the front pages of Romanian newspapers on Friday. But most media focus less on the impact of such a move and the way it was announced and opt to turn on the same old story of the confrontation between Tariceanu and President Traian Basescu, now at its peak.
Today’s dailies also report on the Romanian bling in Bulgaria, irregularities in the work of Bucharest’s top lawyer and the expected acquisition of a major newspaper by a still to be formed media group.
Liberal PM Tariceanu announced yesterday that his Defense minister Teodor Atanasiu would call the Supreme Defense Council to support a plan for the withdrawal of Romanian troops from Iraq.
The announcement came with no prior discussions with Romania’s main allies and its major partners in the Iraqi operations - the US and Britain, which sparked harsh words from the ambassadors of the two countries in Bucharest.
A Romanian military withdrawal from Iraq would mean the US-led coalition would lose an impressive human effort from a country with little to no war tradition, Evenimentul Zilei reports.
According to the newspaper, the Romanian forces in the Gulf country include 21 commanders, 20 military medical staff, over 500 infantry, 100 military police, over 80 demining experts and 56 intelligence officers.
But this is not what counts most for the newspaper regarding the political tremor produced by the Liberal’s withdrawal request yesterday. Evenimentul Zilei is focusing on the fact that the issue prompted a new, unprecedentedly fierce clash between the PM and President Basescu on TV yesterday.
While Basescu charged Tariceanu with a sort of irresponsibility that affects the national interests of Romania, while Tariceanu replied by attacking the President over his pressure to organized early elections, the newspaper reports.
And, Evenimentul Zilei points out, Foreign minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu was caught in the middle. Ungureanu, who had not informed about the planned push for troops withdrawal, suggested he might resign from the government because of the situation.
Meanwhile, Cotidianul points out that the whole conflict started with the planning for yesterday moves at a Liberal meeting in a restaurant on Wednesday night.
The newspaper quotes Liberal Party sources according to which the idea was first proposed at the party by Defense minister Teodor Atanasiu, as a means to catch President Basescu off guard.
Basescu and Tariceanu are well known for their public rivalry despite being behind the two major parties of the current governing coalition.
And while Jurnalul national calls the TV confrontation last night a ”TV Kombat” at the highest levels of Romanian politics, Adevarul says goes into details of the planning and quotes minister Atanasiu, according to whom one of the main reasons for a withdrawal is the saving of 90 million USD in 2006 alone.
Elsewhere in the newspapers, Gandul reports that the Dean of the Bucharest Bar, Cristian Iordanescu, is suspected of irregularities by being the legal representatives of a woman who died three years before. According to the newspaper, Iordanescu was hired in 2000 by Ms Solomonescu Mihaela Roxanda to represent her in a case.
But the woman had died in 1997 - which did not prevent her from „signing” official documents for the top lawyer in Bucharest, whose interest in the affair would be a huge villa he allegedly planned to inherit.
Meanwhile, the eyes of Evenimentul Zilei reporters are caught by the bling of Romanian tourists visiting Bulgarian resorts this year. According to the newspaper, there is no much difference between the deserted resorts of the Romanian seaside and those of Bulgaria, where many Romanians have moved to spend their summer holidays.
One common view for the two is the „style” of Romanian tourists, who may be seen parking their limousines and threatening hotel staff that they would call President Basescu unless they get a good room.
Another point of interest in today’s newspaper is the expected acquisition of newspaper Adevarul by a group of investors led by Rompetrol head Dinu Patriciu.
According to Jurnalul national, Adevarul - once the flagship of Romania’s broadsheet press, which has been left behind in the process of consolidation of the media market in the country - might be bought along with several other publications and TV stations.
The reason for the confirmed negotiations with the Patriciu-led group might be that the four buyers are all having trouble with the law, the newspaper comments.