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Traian Băsescu
Traian Băsescu


Incumbent
Assumed office 
23 May 2007
Prime Minister Eugen Bejinariu
Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu
Preceded by Nicolae Văcăroiu
In office
20 December 2004 – 20 April 2007
Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu
Preceded by Ion Iliescu
Succeeded by Nicolae Văcăroiu

Mayor of Bucharest
In office
2000 – 20 December 2004
Preceded by Viorel Lis
Succeeded by Adriean Videanu

In office
28 June 1990 – 2000
Prime Minister Petre Roman
Theodor Stolojan
Victor Ciorbea
Radu Vasile
Mugur Isărescu
Preceded by Aurel Novac
Anton Ionescu
Succeeded by Aurel Novac
Anton Ionescu
Anca Boagiu

Born 4 November 1951 (1951-11-04) (age 66)
Murfatlar, Constanţa, Romania
Political party Independent
Spouse Maria Băsescu
Profession Merchant navy
Religion Romanian Orthodox

Traian Băsescu (born November 4 1951) is a Romanian politician and former Merchant Navy officer. He is the current President of Romania, inaugurated on December 20 2004. He won the office in the 2004 presidential election. Prior to becoming President, he was the Mayor of Bucharest from June 2000 until December 2004.

On April 19, 2007 the Romanian Parliament suspended Băsescu.[1] As the Constitutional Court of Romania acknowledged the Parliament's vote on 20 April 2007,[2] Băsescu remained suspended as president until a referendum which took place on May 19, 2007 confirmed that the impeachment should not stand. Băsescu is the first president in the history of Romania who has been officially suspended.

Family backgroundEdit

Băsescu was born in Murfatlar, a village (later a small town) near Constanţa, the largest Romanian port on the Black Sea. Băsescu's father was an army officer named Dumitru (d. 2002); his mother is Elena (b. 1928). He has a brother, Mircea (b. 1953). He and his wife Maria have two daughters, Ioana and Elena. Ioana has a son named Andrei.

CareerEdit

Commercial ship captainEdit

Băsescu graduated from the Naval Institute of Constanţa in 1976 and became a Merchant Marine Officer at Navrom, the Romanian state-owned shipping company. Between 1981 and 1987 he worked as Captain on Romanian commercial ships, and in 1984 he was promoted to Captain of the oil tanker Biruinţa, the largest ship of the Romanian fleet. In 1989, he moved to Belgium to head the Navrom Agency in Antwerp.

Political careerEdit

Băsescu was a member of the pre-1989 Communist Party (PCR). After the downfall of Communism, he claimed that he joined the PCR in order to promote his career in the merchant marine.

Traian Băsescu entered politics after the 1989 Romanian Revolution, as a member of the large National Salvation Front (FSN) party. In April 1991, he became Minister of Transport in Petre Roman's Cabinet, and continued to hold this position during Theodor Stolojan's "Cabinet of technocrats" in September 1991 - November 1992. In 1992, after the FSN split in two factions—the Social Democratic Party of Romania (PDSR, later PSD), led by Ion Iliescu, and the Democratic Party (PD), led by Petre Roman, Băsescu joined the PD faction. In 1992, he was elected to the lower house of the Romanian Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, and re-elected for the 1996-2000 term.

Concurrently with his second term in Parliament, from November 1996 to June 2000, Băsescu also served as Minister of Transport in the center-right governments of Victor Ciorbea, Radu Vasile, and Mugur Isărescu.

In December 1997, he gave an interview to Claudiu Săftoiu (who was later to be appointed director of the Romanian Foreign Intelligence Service by Băsescu)[3] of the newspaper Evenimentul Zilei, in which he accused Victor Ciorbea (prime minister at that time) of not implementing enough reforms, although Ciorbea was accused by the opposition of being excessively reformist. It would be the first episode in an open dispute within the ruling coalition, a dispute that eventually led to Democratic Party ministers, including Băsescu, resigning from the cabinet, which, in turn, led to Ciorbea's resignation. Subsequently (1998), Băsescu resumed his previous ministerial position in the new cabinet headed by Radu Vasile.

In 2001, he was elected president of the PD, defeating Petre Roman, who had previously led the party for nine years. In 2003, Băsescu negotiated an electoral alliance for the PD with the National Liberal Party (PNL) in order to create a cohesive mainstream center-right political opposition against the then-ruling PSD. The new pact, called the Justice and Truth Alliance (Alianţa DA), ran common candidates in local and national elections, and agreed to vote as a bloc in Parliament. As president of PD, he became co-chairman of the DA alliance alongside the then PNL president Theodor Stolojan. In 2003 Stolojan, who was the Justice and Truth candidate for president in 2004, stepped down as PNL president and DA co-chairman, being replaced by Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu. Although Stolojan claimed to have withdrawn because of health concerns, Băsescu denounced to the press that the reason behind this decision was blackmail from political opponents.[4] During these events, Traian Băsescu appeared to stand as a firm supporter of Stolojan, and replaced him as Justice and Truth's presidential candidate.

Mayor of BucharestEdit

In 2000, Băsescu was elected Mayor of Bucharest, winning the run-off against PDSR candidate Sorin Oprescu by a very slim margin (50.69% to 49.31%), despite trailing 24% behind him in the first round. As Mayor, he was credited with a reduction in the number of stray dogs (although he sometimes used very drastic measures such as large-scale euthanasia) roaming freely through the streets of the city from approximately 200,000–300,000 in 2000 to 25,000 in 2004, and thus in the number of dog bite injuries from 1500/month to under 200/month.[5]

Despite the fact that some Romanian and foreign animal protection activists protested large-scale euthanasia, the inhabitants of the city generally welcomed the measure, since the atmosphere in the city became more secure, and cases of child attacks by stray dogs dwindled.[original research?] This campaign was at any rate controversial, as many animal lovers opposed dog euthanasia,[6] to which at one time Băsescu answered:
"We will not take any dog's life!"[7] Băsescu was also accused of sometimes just moving the dogs from the center to the periphery.[8] On the other hand, there were also numerous cases of people asking the authorities to take the stray dogs away, but after this was done, their neighbors, who had been feeding the dogs, would show up at the shelter to take them back to their neighborhoods.[9] In 2004, Băsescu presented the situation as a success. On January 29, 2006, a Japanese tourist was killed by a stray dog.[10]

Băsescu also presented as successful the improvements to the water and lighting systems, which prior to that were in a very bad state;[11] as well as the modernisation of public transportation in the city. His tenure was however marked by constant conflicts with the governing PSD-controlled institutions. Citing the need for decentralisation, the central government led by Adrian Năstase passed several ordinances transferring powers from the city Mayor to city sectors and to the city council. Băsescu accused council members of corruption and obstruction; he also successfully challenged several council resolutions in Administrative Courts. As a consequence, on 10 January 2002, the central government decided to dissolve the council, yet it annulled that decision later on. These conflicts led to the blocking or delay of several infrastructure loans, financed by BEI, for municipal heating and road networks, and generally for blocking city's ability to borrow and finance reconstruction.[original research?]

In 2004, Băsescu was elected for a second term in office, winning 54.9% of the votes directly in the first round; the runner-up, Mircea Geoană of the PSD, at that time the Foreign Minister of Romania, received 29.7%. Băsescu resigned as Mayor later that year, after winning the presidency of Romania.

President of RomaniaEdit

Băsescu won the Presidential election by using anti-communist and anti-corruption rhetoric. In the live TV debate with Adrian Năstase before the 2004 run-off presidential election, Băsescu caught his opponent off-guard with a rhetorical remark:

You know what Romania's greatest curse is right now? It's that Romanians have to choose between two former Communist Party members.

Following Theodor Stolojan's surprise withdrawal from the 2004 presidential elections, Băsescu entered the presidential race on behalf of the Justice and Truth Alliance. His main opponent was then Prime Minister and PSD president Adrian Năstase. Like Băsescu, Năstase was a former Communist Party member. Although Năstase came out ahead in the first round by 7%, Băsescu achieved a surprise comeback and won the December 12 run-off election by a 2.46% margin, receiving 51.23% of the vote.

Running on a strong reform and anti-corruption platform, Băsescu's victory was characterized in the media as Romania's "Orange Revolution", in reference to the reformists' perceived victory in neighboring Ukraine during the same period. It was also a reference to the orange color used by the winning Justice and Truth Alliance.[12] In line with an agreement between the PD and PNL, he appointed PNL leader Popescu-Tăriceanu as Prime Minister. In order to form a majority, PNL and PD formed a coalition with the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania and the Humanist Party, which later changed its name to the Conservative Party (PC). While the platform of the former has been generally in line with that of the Justice and Truth Alliance, the latter (PC) was needed in the coalition in order to obtain more than 50% of the seats in Parliament, due to the fact that apart from the opposition Social-Democrat Party, many seats were held also by the ultra-nationalist Greater Romania Party.

In late 2006, the PC withdrew from the cabinet, a move at least partially related to conflicts between Băsescu and PC leader Dan Voiculescu. The withdrawal of the PC left the coalition without a majority in Parliament.

Conflict with the Prime MinisterEdit

Băsescu has remained very popular, due to his open style and hands-on approach. In his electoral campaign, Băsescu promised to be a "player-president" (in Romanian, preşedinte jucător), in contrast to a more withdrawn president who would be just a mediator among political forces. After he became president, as legally required, he resigned from the Democratic Party. However, he remained very involved in day-to-day politics, often being accused by other political leaders of overstepping constitutional boundaries on the role of the President. During the course of his presidency, his relations with Popescu-Tăriceanu gradually soured, particularly following the Prime Minister's reversal of course in July 2005 after announcing he would resign and prompt early parliamentary elections,[13] which due to its increased popularity rate could have allowed the Justice and Truth Alliance to govern alone.[original research?] The ensuing poor relations between the President and the Prime Minister have become one of the primary themes of Băsescu's presidency and of Romanian post-2004 politics,[14] with many unrelated disputes converging to this dichotomy, somewhat similar to the Iraq War debate in USA.[original research?] Under the Romanian Constitution, the president appoints the prime minister, but does not have the authority to dismiss him.

Foreign policyEdit

Fișier:Basescu with bush.jpg
Fișier:Basescu Tadic.jpg

Băsescu repeatedly stated that Romania's accession to the European Union remained a top priority, and he was president when the country acceded on January 1, 2007. Both the president and the government of Prime Minister Popescu-Tăriceanu focused on Romania's planned accession to the EU, which remained a central component in Romania's foreign policy.

In addition, Băsescu has focused on a strong strategic partnership with the United States, a relationship which during the 2004 presidential campaign he called the "Bucharest-London-Washington axis". In real terms, this meant a continued commitment to maintain Romanian troops in Afghanistan and a smaller contingent in Iraq; and an agreement signed in December 2005 between Romania and the U.S. to allow U.S. troops to use a Romanian military facility (Mihail Kogălniceanu military airport). Băsescu made strong ties with the President of the United States, who in return called him a friend: "The President and I are friends. Romania and the United States are friends, and we're allies".

In June 2006, Băsescu came into open conflict with Popescu-Tăriceanu after the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister announced that they and the PNL sought to withdraw Romania's troops from Iraq. However, the troops stayed in Iraq, after Băsescu called a meeting of the Supreme Defense Council, which voted that the troops should stay.[15]

Băsescu has been vocal in calling for a regional approach to security in the Black Sea basin, which he noted remained susceptible to transborder security threats such as drug and human trafficking. Băsescu alleged "that Russia might have been involved in his suspension", citing his pro-Western foreign policy as a reason.[16]

Băsescu has tried to improve Romania's relations with Moldova, with which Romania shares a common language and culture. Furthermore, he has expressed several times his belief in the future unification of the two countries, either politically or in the framework of the European Union. His player attitude has brought both practical success,[original research?] as well as an increase in anti-Romanian rhetoric from the Communist government of Moldova, led by Vladimir Voronin. A divisive issue remains the opening of two Romanian consulates outside the capital of Moldova, as well as 900,000 Moldovans applying for Romanian citizenship. In both cases, Băsescu strongly supported moves at strengthening relations with Moldova, while the Moldovan leadership sought to cool down Băsescu's energy.

Băsescu stated that Romania favors Kosovo to be an integral part of Serbia as an outcome of Kosovo status process and that Romania will not recognize any any unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo.[17][18]

Domestic policyEdit

In domestic politics, Băsescu has concentrated on the fight against high-level corruption. In spring 2005, Romania successfully resolved a hostage crisis in Iraq involving three Romanian journalists and their guide. In 2005, he also focused on pressing the government to provide relief to thousands of Romanians left homeless by widespread flooding throughout the spring and summer.

On 18 December 2006, Băsescu delivered a speech to Parliament in which he condemned Romania's pre-1989 communist regime. Members of the opposition Social Democratic Party[citation needed] and Greater Romania Party tried to disturb the speech. Particularly vocal was the ultra-nationalist PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor, a former writer of political propaganda and of denigrations of dissidents during the pre-1989 Ceauşescu regime.[original research?]

Impeachment vote by the ParliamentEdit

In early 2007, Băsescu was proposed for impeachment by the members of the opposition parties for allegedly unconstitutional conduct.[19] One of the major issues in the confrontation was the activity of Justice Minister Monica Macovei, who forced prosecutors to follow up on cases of corruption, especially those involving politically connected individuals. Among the main reasons given in the proposal to suspend Băsescu were:

  • Infringing upon and "substituting the authority" of the Government, the judicial system and the Parliament.</li>
  • Committing acts of "political partisanship" with direct reference to the Democratic Party, abuse of power and acting more like a "judge of the other public authorities" than a "collaborator", thus "abandoning his role of impartial mediator required by the Romanian Constitution."</li>
  • Manipulating and "instigating public opinion against other state institutions" such as the Parliament and the Government.</li> Băsescu and his supporters denied the accusations, stating that his actions and statements were ways of fighting against corruption in the political and judicial systems and against "circles of business interests" with unlawful purposes. The Constitutional Court of Romania found no clear evidence of his breach of the Constitution in the sense required by the fundamental law.[20] However, the court ruling was only consultative and the two chambers of the Romanian Parliament voted in favor of Băsescu's impeachment on April 19, 2007, with 322 votes for the impeachment proposal, 108 against and 8 abstentions (the minimum number of votes needed was 233).[21] Băsescu contested the decision but the Constitutional Court rejected his appeal as inadmissible and upheld the vote. In the meantime, Macovei and several other reformist ministers were dismissed by Prime Minister Popescu-Tăriceanu, while the European election has been postponed until at least the fall of 2007. Some in the media have characterized the anti-Băsescu coalition as the "black alliance".[22]

    Impeachment referendumEdit

    As a result of the impeachment vote by the Parliament, Băsescu was suspended from his function as president,[1] and a national referendum was held on May 19, 2007[23][24] to decide whether to dismiss the President by popular vote. According to the electoral law, an absolute majority of all Romanians with the right to vote is required for a positive result in a dismissal referendum, which means that almost 9 million people would have had to vote against Băsescu.[25] After the impeachment vote, several public rallies to support Băsescu in the referendum and protest against his suspension were organized by PD and PLD both in Romania (Bucharest, Iaşi, etc.), as well as abroad (e.g. in Madrid).

    On April 17, Băsescu stated that if Parliament voted for his impeachment, he would resign "five minutes" after the vote, avoiding a referendum for dismissal and triggering early presidential elections. However, on April 20 he decided not to resign, claiming he wished to limit the period of political instability.[26][27]

    Băsescu and his supporters in the Democratic Party also suggested that his political opponents would try to modify the electoral law in order to obstruct a previously suspended president to run in the elections again,[28] following a Rolandas Paksas scenario. While no proof for these allegations was presented, the parties that participated in the vote for impeachment made statements dismissing the scenario, which did not materialize.

    On April 25, the Constitutional Court approved the modifications brought by parliament to the Referendum Law. The new article 10 (regarding the presidential impeachment process) considers that the impeachment process "will be approved through the majority of votes for the participants at the referendum, and art.5(2) does not apply to this type of referendum". Since article 5(2) is the one that follows the validity of a referendum, the 19 May referendum remains valid. [3] As only a minority of voters voted in the affirmative, Băsescu regained full prerogatives on May 24, after the referendum results were confirmed.

    CriticismEdit

    Success for PandreaEdit

    Băsescu presided over the first half of the conference of CSM (Superior Council of Magistracy) at which the President of CSM was to be elected. Before the candidacies were announced, Băsescu said to Anton Pandrea:

    "I heard you have announced your candidacy, Mr. Pandrea. I wish you great success"
    (Romanian)"Am auzit că v-aţi depus candidatura, domnule Pandrea. Vă urez mult succes"

    His former counsellor Renate Weber said that according to her information, if President Băsescu hadn’t said that, it would have been another candidacy, if not another President.

    Băsescu responded to critics: “I did wrong, I did wrong”[29]

    Refused to accept the nomination of CioroianuEdit

    After Foreign Minister Mihai-Răzvan Ungureanu resigned, President Băsescu refused to accept the nomination of Adrian Cioroianu as Minister of Foreign Affairs, claiming that Cioroianu did not have enough experience. On April 5, 2007, the Constitutional Court decided that "The Romanian President's refusal to name a member of Government at the proposal of Prime Minister started a juridical conflict of a constitutional nature.[...] The Romanian President doesn't have veto power, but, if he observes that the proposed person does not correspond to the legal conditions required to be a member of Government, he can ask the Prime Minister to renounce his proposal".[30] The same day, Cioroianu assumed office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, two months after Ungureanu announced his resignation and 17 days after Ungureanu's resignation was accepted by Băsescu.

    Intimidating papersEdit

    During the presidential campaign, before a TV interview with PSD candidate Adrian Năstase, he gave him a paper and told him: “Put it in your pocket and read it alone!”[31]

    At the oath-taking ceremony, Băsescu gave a paper as a gift to Radu Stroe, the new secretary general of the Government. Stroe went pale and refused to make it public, although Băsescu said it was not classified.[32]

    Both Adrian Năstase and Radu Stroe were involved in corruption scandals.[citation needed][33]

    Racial slursEdit

    On the day of the suspension referendum (May 19, 2007), Traian Băsescu forcibly took the mobile phone used by Antena 1 journalist Andreea Pană to film him while he was shopping in a mall. Forgetting to turn it off, he was recorded while calling the journalist stinking gypsy (ţigancă împuţită) in a private discussion with his wife while in his car.[34][35] The discussion was made public by the media institution the journalist was working for, after the phone was returned to the journalist the next day. After public outcry, Băsescu's spokesman expressed regret over the fact that an inappropriate expression in a private discussion became public.[36] Băsescu also received a warning for his comments from the National Council for Combating Discrimination, Romania's equality watchdog.

    ReferencesEdit

    1. 1,0 1,1 "Romania's MPs suspend president" "BBC News, April 19, 2007
    2. "Romanian Constitutional Court confirms suspension of president from post", Xinhua, April 20, 2007
    3. Cotidianul:FSN preia Serviciile Secrete
    4. BBC interview
    5. source : The Administration for Animal Control (ASA) of the Mayor's Office of Bucharest, 2003
    6. Formula-As,Scrisori adresate primarului general al Capitalei ("Letters Addressed to the General Mayor of Bucharest")
    7. Formula-As, Traian Băsescu: De la nivelul Primăriei nu se va da niciodata dispoziţie să se omoare cainii ("The City Hall Will Never Have the Stray Dogs Killed")
    8. Formula-As,Traian Băsescu: De la nivelul Primăriei nu se va da niciodata dispoziţie să se omoare cainii ("The City Hall Will Never Have the Stray Dogs Killed")
    9. Observator, [1], January 20, 2004
    10. Gardianul, Un japonez a murit în capitală muşcat de un câine vagabond ("A Japanese Died in Bucharest after Being Bitten by a Stray Dog"), January 30, 2006
    11. Bucharest's Mayor's Office - Improvement of water and light
    12. Vivid Election 2004 February 2005
    13. Romania's Tariceanu Reverses Decision on Resignation (SETimes.com)
    14. http://english.hotnews.ro/Romanian-President-in-open-conflict-with-prime-minister-articol_44137.htm
    15. DefenseNews.com
    16. Clej, Petru. "Romanian politics mired in abuse", BBC News. 
    17. Bucharest favors Kosovo within Serbia B92
    18. Romania opposes Kosovo independence Armenian News
    19. http://www.hotnews.ro/arhiva_avt/3542.pdf
    20. http://www.hotnews.ro/arhiva_avt/3796.pdf
    21. "Romanian Parliament Suspends President", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, April 19, 2007.
    22. Cotidianul - Comentarii - Care „popor“?
    23. [2] (Hotnews.ro article)
    24. HotNews.ro - Referendumul pentru demiterea lui Băsescu poate avea loc pe 19 mai - Arhiva noiembrie 2007
    25. Pentru demitere sunt necesare circa 9 milioane de voturi - Realitatea TV - Politică
    26. Preşedintele României
    27. HotNews.ro - Anghelescu era deprimat - Arhiva noiembrie 2007
    28. HotNews.ro - Finantare guvernamentala pentru programul Marco Polo - Arhiva noiembrie 2007
    29. Evenimentul Zilei:[ http://evz.ro/article.php?artid= Băsescu stia dinainte cine va fi seful CSM]
      Romania Libera:[ http://www.romanialibera.ro/a83921/presedintele-criticat-de-renate-weber.html Presedintele, criticat de Renate Weber]
      Gandul:[ http://www.gandul.info/articol_26794/basescu_se_scoate_iar_cu__quot_am_gresit_o__am_gresit_o_quot_.html Băsescu se scoate iar cu "am gresit-o, am gresit-o"]
    30. "Romania's PM decides to be ad interim FM", Xinhua (People's Daily Online), March 22, 2007.
      Antena 3: Comunicat de presa al Curṭii constituṭionale
    31. Realitatea TV: 100% cu Robert Turcescu invitat Adrian Năstase
    32. (Romanian) Cristian Oprea, "Băsescu l-a defectat pe Stroe cu o hirtiuţă", Cotidianul, June 2 2006
    33. Dan Badea, Micile secrete ale lui ... Radu Stroe
    34. (Romanian) Băsescu insults an Antena 3 journalist
    35. "Basescu chided for 'gypsy' remark", BBC News, 23 May 2007
    36. (Romanian) Traian Băsescu apologises to the Antena 1 reporter

    Other referencesEdit

    </div>

    External linksEdit

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    Political offices
    Preceded by
    Ion Iliescu
    President of Romania
    2004 – 2007
    Suspended
    Succeeded by
    Nicolae Văcăroiu
    Acting
    Preceded by
    Nicolae Văcăroiu
    Acting
    President of Romania
    2007 – present
    Incumbent
    Preceded by
    Viorel Lis
    Mayor of Bucharest
    2000 – 2004
    Succeeded by
    Adriean Videanu
    </tr>
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