U.S. ambassador to Romania issues warning

The U.S. Ambassador to Romania has warned political feuding could harm the country's chances of attracting investment.

Source: AP
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"Romania's many friends are prepared to help it continue to strengthen its democratic institutions -- but we need to be realistic and recognize recent political turmoil has raised doubts beyond Romania's borders" regarding whether the country is a good place to invest, said Nicholas F. Taubman in remarks to the American Chamber of Commerce in Romania.

It is the first time that the U.S. ambassador, who arrived in 2005, has publicly criticized the government and his remarks come after weeks of political bickering between President Traian Basescu and Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu.

The prime minister said Monday that relations between the two main parties in the ruling coalition had broken down, and he accused Basescu's Democratic Party of making life impossible for his Liberal Party.

Tariceanu's party has threatened to remove their coalition allies from the government.

On Thursday, Basescu called on Tariceanu to make a quick decision on his Cabinet to end the political bickering in the coalition.

Romania no longer has a foreign minister after Basescu blocked the appointment of Tariceanu's nominee for the job, saying he did not have enough experience.

On Thursday, Basescu's spokeswoman and key adviser Adriana Saftoiu resigned, citing personal reasons. Saftoiu had worked with Basescu for seven years, including for five years when he was in opposition. Media reported that the two disagreed over the continued use of former adviser Elena Udrea to deliver public messages on Basescu's behalf even after she stopped working for the president.

In further turmoil, Mihai Razvan Ungureanu resigned last month as foreign minister at Tariceanu's request after he failed to inform the premier that two Romanians had been arrested in Iraq by U.S. troops.

"People in private industry and in government are asking a lot of questions about Romania, trying to understand where the country is headed," Taubman said. "It is very important for Romania to continue to make progress on key areas like justice reform and in fighting corruption."

Romania joined the EU on Jan. 1 and officials in Brussels are watching the situation because the country is expected to carry out major reforms to stamp out corruption and bring its economy in line with richer Western neighbors.

"Losing traction on these reforms would not send the right signal to Romania's partners. We can only hope that things settle down, sooner rather than later," he said.

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