Prime Minister of Romania

Speech made to the Assembly

Tuesday, 29 January 1991

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I am truly very honoured to be here with you. I thank you heartily for offering me this excellent opportunity not only to discuss the economic reform and general situation of my country but also to hear excellent reports which will be of great help to us in the future.

In December 1989, Romania put a clean end to half a century of oppression. From the royal dictatorship of 1938, followed by the fascist one of 1940 and the military one of the second world war, to the nadir of the communist one set up after the war, my country has known nothing else but totalitarianism throughout two generations of its history.

When it refused the totalitarian system, Romania did it more explosively than the rest of Eastern Europe; it was there that all the bitterness and the anger which had been brewing during decades of suffering and humiliation boiled over.

The great advantage is that our society can re-create everything ab initio. The risk lies in over-sudden political decompression. Today, a year and a month after the revolution of December 1989,1 think I can affirm that the advantage I just mentioned has begun to gain the upper hand over the risk.

Certainly, it would be dishonest on this occasion to dodge the problem of distrust and doubt that exist both within and beyond the frontiers of our country as to whether our fundamental option for democracy and the values of the free world might never be reversed. I declare, from this rostrum at the Council of Europe, that Romania’s option for democracy and a life of freedom as a worthy nation, among the other nations of the European continent, is final, as is its break with its totalitarian past.

After the elections on 20 May, the search for – and rediscovery of – its own rhythm has produced a whole series of essential changes in society. Adversity begins to take on the forms of free competition, yet without rending the cultural fabric of our society.

In this regard, it is primordial for the reform in Romania to aim at reorganising society and moving towards a market economy, while at the same time giving a prominent place to the moral reform of our society, to take into account European values and their moral criteria in order to accede to the complex availability of Romania vis-à-vis Europe and Europe vis-à-vis Romania.

There is no doubt that the desire for European economic integration is important and healthy. But it is also necessary to consider lucidly whether it can be achieved immediately or in a very short time.

We doubt whether economies weakened by the prolonged practice of the communist model in the Eastern European countries can really co-operate and compete with the already balanced economies of the Western European countries without involving almost insurmountable expenditure for both sides.

That is why we are concerned to find a solution to approach progressively the goal of creating a true European common market, to establishing a free-trade area in Central and Eastern Europe allowing, on the one hand, beneficial competition between economic agents of comparable power and, on the other, the general development of the economic systems of that area towads progressive homogeneity with the European market as a whole.

As a Danube country, we are also interested in setting up a special co-operation system between the riparian countries, including possible links from the Danube to the Main and the Rhine, offering special facilities to the landlocked countries of the continent. By such means of co-operation we should like to eliminate a whole series of sources of tension which undermine peace and perturb certain countries which achieved independence and sovereignty on the break-up of the old Habsburg empire.

We are a country with great natural wealth, with great potential for developing agriculture, trade, tourism and industry. In Romania, there are human resources endowed with quite remarkable creative talents and a desire to work.

We are clearly aware of the great difficulties and dangers in the period of transition towards a market economy, and of its economic and social cost – a cost which, unfortunately, we shall have to pay, since there is no formula in this domain for ensuring success, only hypotheses and more-or-less tested procedures.

Our present task is to maintain overall social stability in a dynamic environment imposed by the reform.

With regard to the reform process of the Romanian economy, in the space of only a few months the greater part of the new legislative and institutional framework has been planned and even created.

We have changed the bases of the concept of ownership. The State has ceased to be the single owner and manager of production capacity. But we must modify radically the type of management, both for the economy and at macroeconomic level.

On the question of competition, we have adopted legislation based on European Community regulations. Similarly, we have introduced regulations aimed at the liberalisation of exports and imports, based on GATT rules.

We have also introduced a system aimed at swingeing reductions in State subsidies which henceforth can be granted only in specific cases having social and economic justification and for a period of four years only – the maximum duration, with compulsory annual reductions in the amount of subsidy.

On 1 November last, we began a price liberalisation process and have just now begun a process of salary liberalisation. Finally, during the first six months of this year, we intend to start the process of moving, stage by stage, towards convertibility of the Romanian currency.

The consequence of decades of lack of management of the economy is that its structures are incompatible with the economic machinery we are creating. In addition, these structures are condemned to meet a stumbling-block because they are characterised by the acute imbalance between resources and capacity, paralleled by another imbalance, just as acute, between the structure of industrial supply and the structure of market demand. That is how Romania is in the paradoxical situation of being subject simultaneously to a crisis of under-production and a crisis of over-production. On the one hand, a large number of essential goods are lacking and, on the other, we have enormous, unsaleable stocks. This imposes a readjustment of the Romananian economy.

Any reform is useless without such restructuring.

Today, we are experiencing the effects of technological progress. This progress appears as a constant in the evolution of society. It is often considered paradoxical, and even marvellous, in its uninterrupted continuity. The accelerated accumulation of new processes and technological objects remains, at bottom, poorly understood, but accepted as the inevitable partner of our daily lives. Moreover, the desire for greater protection of nature is a permanent feature in the shape of a social current spreading fear at technological progress. This cohabitation should go hand in hand.

In fact, the past twenty years have been of enormous importance in the general reorientation of Western society towards an economic environment dominated by the service sector. This new topography of economic life in the developed societies based on virtually unlimited access to various forms of usable energy is the result of a huge concentration on processed matter. The concept of the inexpugnable inertia of amorphous matter is no longer valid. From this source, arises the gulf between the developed countries and the others. That difference is likely to become as vast as the ocean.

The exceptional accumulation of energy in tiny particles of matter, themselves carriers of perfectly defined and specified functions, is a true revolution for the conservation of energy.

Today, Romania could live comfortably with its own energy sources if it had the technological level of Germany.

But restructuring itself cannot be effected in the absence of financial flows earmarked for investment in structural adjustment, which is our absolute priority in the investment area. These flows must go alongside direct investment in Romania by foreign companies and, at the same time, financing of social welfare programmes of a type to gain the support of the people.

We must stress that our restructuring programmes envisage not only the reorganisation of a certain existing production capacity but also the constitution of a new production sector consisting of small and medium-sized firms capable of job creation and flexibility vis-à-vis the consumer.

The minimum level of Romania’s external debt, the existence of a highly qualified labour force, the advantageous geographical location of the country and certain of its natural resources – oil, coal and natural gas – are advantages we have in hand from which foreign investors could also benefit.

The Romanian nation has first had to wage the battle against neglect: the neglect to which the dictatorship had succeeded in relegating it in the conscience of the democratic world. It has won this battle at a superb and single blow. Today, it must wage a new battle, against the refusal to be heard. There is a Romanian proverb which says: “I believe your sorrows but I only hear my own”. So Romania is ready for this battle.

The life of a nation, like that of a man, is not a game: it is a combat. Wherever the blows come from, you have to be prepared to receive them without tiring. Malraux said that he did not know what dignity was but that he knew perfectly what the lack of dignity was. I have the conviction that the dignity of a nation is not a subject for debate. Those who wish to make their relationship with Romania a passionate affair, a love affair, are in danger of ending up, as in the famous song, everlastingly sad.

We want to build a relationship and, for this, to have a firm basis: bringing together all the elements of a system of values common to the whole of Europe. When we achieve this, we can become full partners.

After all this, one thing is clear: while it is true that Romania cannot exist outside its European vocation, it is equally true that Europe cannot be created without Romania.


Thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister, for the frankness with which you have described your problems, and for the openness with which you described your European path. I can assure you that your country was in receipt of much sympathy when you finally got rid of the totalitarian regime under which you suffered for so many years.

Many questions have been tabled for you to answer. Twenty-one members have expressed a wish to put questions to you. I hope that they will put questions and not make statements, and that you will be prepared to answer them briefly, in order to allow all twenty-one members who wish to ask questions to do so.

I call Mr Atkinson.

Mr ATKINSON (United Kingdom)

Mr Prime Minister, you have been commendably frank about the violence that took place in your country last year. What consideration is your government giving to the responsibilities that it will have to fulfil in accepting the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights, including its implementation into your national laws?

Secondly, do you accept that, in view of the violence that took place last year, we in the Council of Europe will be closely following the personal safety of those who courageously advocate the implementation of human rights in your country?

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania

The European Convention on Human Rights has largely been implemented into Romanian law. We have still to achieve the moment when all the rules of this Convention are implemented in our laws. I stress the fact that in only six months the Romanian Parliament approved more than fifty laws, the majority of them being laws concerning civil rights, human rights, civil procedure, penal procedure, and so on.

Those who fought are considered in our country with great appreciation and esteem.

Mr Roman, Sir Russell Johnston, Mrs Bjerregaard, Mr Sarkijarvi According to a law that we are proposing, we shall found an institute for human rights in Romania. I am sure that the Romanian Parliament agrees with this idea.

Sir Russell JOHNSTON (United Kingdom)

I want to ask the Prime Minister two short questions. First, is he completely satisfied that there is full press freedom in Romania, and that newspapers critical of his government are not subject to any pressure whatever, or denied access to newsprint?

Secondly, is he completely satisfied that the substantial Hungarian minority in Romania suffer no economic or cultural disadvantages?

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania

It is easy to answer those questions. We are satisfied that we have full press freedom. All the minorities in Romania have full rights and are given equal facilities in education, culture and politics – rights equal to those of all the other Romanians. Today we have more than 1 500 newspapers and reviews in Romania. Before the revolution, we had fewer than 100. Unfortunately – as is the case in a democracy – the majority of them are critical of the government.

After the revolution there was a clear step towards meeting the rights of all minorities in Romania. After the free elections in May, the second party in the parliament – the party after the National Salvation Front – is the Hungarian Party. It has forty-two members in the Lower Chamber and ten in the Upper Chamber.


This question follows the other questions, because I have been looking at the little book Europe: the roads to democracy. It is said in here by Mrs Doïna Cornéa that a new law on the press is being prepared by the Romanian Minister of Justice. This law would curb journalistic freedom in the sense that the press will be under the complete control of the Romanian Government. Is the answer that the law was never passed, or what is the answer?

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania

There is no law about the press now in Romania, and practically all the political forces ask for press freedom. The first draft, which was made up by the journalists, was blocked by some other part of the journalists. There are two associations of journalists in Romania. I had a meeting with them at which the discussions were open, and we stopped the first draft.

The second draft, which is now before parliament, is, I am sure, a democratic law and is similar to what obtains in other democratic countries. It is not the government who pushed for the press law. Many political forces, including the opposition, asked for this law.


One of the key figures in the outbreak of the Romanian revolution was a priest, Laszlo Tokes, who is now the Bishop of Oradea. As a result of his work for human rights he has been accused of espionage and of activities against the state and the people of Romania. He has also been harassed, as have his friends and relatives. In some instances they have been physically attacked, and his house and church have been damaged.

Why is it not yet safe to be in opposition in Romania, to speak out against the government? Why is it that prominent members of the National Salvation Front, not only ultra-nationalists, speak and preach hate against the Hungarian minority in your country?

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania

It is not fair to say that the bishop was accused. Accused by whom? To insinuate that the accusation was made by somebody in the government, or by somebody who had political power, is absolutely false. He was accused by the press, by some newspapers, by some political groups, and not, for instance, the majority in the National Salvation Front. He was accused because of some of his statements outside Romania which were considered to be statements about Transylvania belonging to Romania.

I knew Laszlo Tokes in the first days after the victory of the revolution, and my impression was that he was excellent. After that there was a clear differentiation of Laszlo Tokes with regard to the National Salvation Front. He was a member of the council in the first moments after the revolution because of his actions during the revolution. I have never personally accused Laszlo Tokes.

You spoke of physical attacks. I think that it is too much to say such things. His car accident occurred in Hungary. He was visited in hospital there by our ambassador, and when he returned to Romania he asked for and was immediately given full protection by the police and the army. I think that it is a problem that does not exist in this form.

You said that those who criticised the government appeared to be harassed in one way or another. I have to ask for facts. It is probable that you cannot find such facts.

Mr ROMÀN (Spain) (interpretation)

said that he sympathised with Romania’s struggle towards democracy, and asked, first, whether trade union freedom was guaranteed in Romania and, secondly, what had happened to the former members of the political police.

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania (interpretation)

said that there were no official state-run unions in Romania, but there was much trade union activity. The unions had played a prominent part in achieving a more stable social order in Romania, and a joint committee of government and trade union representatives discussed laws which affected the unions. A new union law had been passed, which was in full compliance with the standards of the International Labour Organisation.

After the revolution, the Securitate had been integrated into the army and then dissolved. Former Securitate members who had worked in the political sphere had been dismissed. Some of its officers were in gaol awaiting trial. Some technical experts had been absorbed into the police force. He emphasised that no organisation was left with any power to act against individual citizens in Romania, although the social psyche had been scarred by years of Securitate activity.

Mr PROBST (Austria) (translation)

Mr Prime Minister, Mr President, we are talking about majorities and minorities. A question I ask myself is whether those of you who have not read our excellent report about our visit to Romania, which is as convenient to consult as the Bible or any work of reference, are a majority or a minority in this Chamber. If you have not read it, you should have done so.

I am worried about the small minority in Romania, not the large one which can look after itself. It is represented in parliament. The small minority, represented in your country for the past 800 years is dying out; I refer to the German minority.

In view of the tragic fate of this minority and the great contribution it has made to your country – in culture, history, the crafts and industry – may I ask whether you see any likelihood of your future constitution enshrining the principle of protection for minorities?

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania (translation)

I assure you that the decrease in the German minority in Romania is a painful process for the whole of the Romanian nation. We said so clearly from the beginning.

The Romanian revolution has opened wide the doors of freedom for this minority and their language but many Romanians of German extraction had already made their choice during the dictatorship by planning, in their thoughts of the future, for the day they could return to Germany. Of the 200 000 Romanians of German origin who were still there at the time of the Romanian revolution, rather fewer than 100 000 remain. The others have gone to Germany.

I think that this process is painful because the German minority played a very special role in Romanian society; it made for balance. We did our best to make them understand that Romania is their homeland too because they have lived there for five centuries. We even said that we would do everything possible so that those who had already left could return in proper conditions.

But Romania is at a difficult point in its existence; it is economically weak and a great deal of courage is needed to stay, to reconstruct, while there is the possibility of a much better life elsewhere. Nevertheless, I confirm that this minority, like the Hungarian minority, has every chance of living in a democratic society and prospering in the near future.

Mr AHRENS (Germany) (translation)

My question follows on from that of my colleague, Mr Probst. I too am interested in the situation of minorities in your country, as is every one of us. At home we all – or nearly all – live with minorities. We know all about the problems, but we also know about the chances of multicultural nations.

Hence my question: I have repeatedly had occasion in recent months to talk with Romanians of Hungarian or German origin, and to feel – especially among those of German origin – the fear that is driving them to leave the country. It is not so much on account of the economic difficulties afflicting your country for understandable reasons, as out of sheer fear, that people are leaving your country despite the fact that it has been home for them and their families for hundreds of years. What, Mr Prime Minister, can you do to rid people of their fear and provide them with guarantees and confidence in the stability of a freedom-loving and democratic Romania?

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania (translation)

Fear!... I myself am afraid of this sudden transformation of our society. That is how I feel, too.

The only possible protection, the one you would give yourselves, is to build a democratic society.

We must build a society of trust, a structure which provides a bulwark against fear. I think that this is the only thing to do.

As I have shown, we are living at a time of explosive change in our society and if our action is not yet sufficiently encouraging for some of our compatriots, it is because we are often overwhelmed by a task which sometimes seems impossible.

I say to them, quite simply, that at a time when we are fighting to remake Romania, to make Romania return to democratic Europe, it is better to have them among the ranks of the participants rather than with the observers. Perhaps the best way of combating fear is to fight.

Mr CUCO (Spain) (interpretation)

said he hoped that Romania would soon be represented at the Council of Europe. He asked what role minorities would now play in Romanian society, and what was the situation in the orphanages housing abandoned children.

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania (interpretation)

said that the position of minorities was protected by statute. The fraternal feelings inspired by the revolution meant that all had a common objective in the search for equality.

The problems of the orphanages were now rather exaggerated since much had been done in the last six months to alleviate the position. The EEC had provided useful aid, and recently the President of the Community had written to say that much work had been done. Army volunteers had lent their support to the operation which was masterminded by a technical team headed by the Prime Minister himself. Whilst physical conditions were improving all the time, the lasting problems were psychological; the people’s mentality had been dominated by fear. Care and affection for orphans or handicapped men and women could not be imported.

Lord NEWALL (United Kingdom)

I ask the Prime Minister whether he will examine the responsibilities of the different ministries that are responsible for the care of children in state institutions. The Ministries of Health and Education and the ministry that is responsible for the disabled are rather partial to shuffling paper between one another – in other words, passing the buck. This makes it almost impossible to find out who is responsible for the children and in charge. The confusion is detrimental to the interests of the children and to the efforts that are being made to improve their lives.

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania

It is true that the situation described by Lord Newall existed in the first month after the revolution, and probably existed until the new government was formed. In September, however, we formed a new post – Secretary of State for Disabled People. Now that we have clearly established how to deal with the problem, I think that matters have improved greatly. I should be grateful if all those who have so kindly involved themselves in assisting and supporting Romania in dealing with the tragedy of abandoned and handicapped children would tell us when irregularities in the administration occur.

Mr MOTA TORRES (Portugal) (interpretation)

said he was sure that Romania would shortly be given special guest status, a courtesy already granted to Poland, Hungary and Yugoslavia. He asked whether conditions in Romania were now such that the law could function normally, and he wondered what were the main legal and institutional mechanisms which would allow this to take place.

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania (translation)

The principle of separation of powers was introduced on 22 December, the first day of the Romanian revolution, and it works too well, I would say, jesting a little.

This adjustment machinery which exists everywhere between the executive power and the legislative power is, quite obviously, in its infancy. So the result is that there is a certain jealousy on both sides. Far from being an irregular mixture, the principle is very well established. Perhaps it is not yet ready to function in a balanced way but – I repeat – the principle is properly established.

Furthermore, it is enshrined in our draft constitution.

The legal machinery is the same as in any democratic country and I have nothing to add on this score. It is already well on the way to being instituted.

My Minister for Foreign Affairs reminds me that I already informed the two committees this morning that a document on human rights in Romania sets out all the legal provisions already enacted in our country since the revolution. If you have the time and so wish, I invite you to read it because it shows how far we have come since then.

Mr NIEGEL (Germany) (translation)

Mr Prime Minister, what concrete measures do you propose to take in order to revive the economy and improve energy supplies so that they can be assured in the coming winter?

I now wish to ask you two questions relating to human rights. Can you guarantee that there will be no repetition in the future of incidents such as that involving the use of miners in the university square?

In connection with press freedom, may I ask what the position is regarding the allocation or non-allocation of newsprint to opposition papers?

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania (translation)

It is true that in the framework of economic measures to be taken, the energy sector has an essential role. Last year, and this year again, Germany has given valuable help in electric power. In particular, we have a programme to reconstruct the thermo-electric powerstations which were in a pitiable moral and physical state at the time of the revolution.

This topic has become very important in the context of economic restructuring. It has the support of the World Bank, for example, and was approved in principle during my meeting with Chancellor Kohl.

I think that we have made a good start towards making the energy sector in Romania work better now.

If events similar to those in June occur again, that would mean we had not succeeded in building a democracy. In other words, if we believe in democracy, we must definitely avoid such events occurring again.

Regarding allocation of paper to the press, I have to admit that, unfortunately, there is none. The result is a drop in production, which is tragic; this includes cultural subjects and even textbooks.

Despite everything, the only newspaper in Romania which produces eight pages is the main opposition paper!

Mr FOURRÉ (France) (translation)

Mr Prime Minister, first I should like to say how delightful it is to have you among us today at the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, in France, a country you appreciate and to which you are particularly attached.

Indeed, we are at the very heart of an essential debate for your country, as you saw this morning in committee. In fact, everyone realises what has been achieved in a year and will doubtless compare it with what remains to be done, which is just as important.

The question I asked you this morning seems to me to be the very crux of the parliamentary debate since it concerns the possibility that the Council of Europe might refuse to grant special guest status to your country. We would then be applying a double standard, since we granted this status to Hungary, Poland, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia in June 1989.

Mr Prime Minister, you said that Europe could not be built without Romania. We agree entirely with you. But what do you think will be the reaction of the Romanian people in the face of a refusal by the Council of Europe to support the efforts made – despite some errors – towards democracy which must, quite obviously, continue?

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania (translation)

I can only reply as I did this morning because, quite obviously, nothing has changed since then except that perhaps I now have a slightly stronger feeling that this will not happen; or else I am terribly mistaken.

This morning I said that, in the international political environment – I am thinking particularly of the East and not of the South, and so of the events in the Soviet Union – the Romanian people, faced with the rigid attitude or quite simply delays as to its admissibility to special guest status might have the feeling that their country is being in some way abandonned, weakened, in a position which, geographically, is what it is.

I am sure that you were right in June 1989. It was then much wiser to open the doors than to be distrustful, because it would not be possible to lie to you for long before you realised it. On the other hand, a refusal to receive us would have been a refusal to hear and to understand, which would have resulted in it being impossible to build Europe.

You were right then and, by God, you could be right again. (Smiles)

Mr de PUIG (Spain) (interpretation)

pointed out that some people within the Assembly still mistrusted Mr Roman’s government and asked when he thought Romania would be ready to become a full member of the Council of Europe.

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania (interpretation)

replied that his country would be ready when that mistrust no longer existed.


As a Turkish parliamentarian, may I say that it is a pleasure to have you here, Mr Roman, for the first time addressing this Assembly of democratic nations. Following further democratic reforms in your country, I am confident that in the near future Romania will join this Organisation.

I should like to know your country’s position vis-à-vis the conflict in the Gulf and your views on the eventual effects or repercussions of that conflict on the economy of Romania.

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania

I shall start by answering the last part of the question. The effects against us are dramatic. There is a debt of 1,7 thousand million dollars owed by Iraq to Romania. In addition, 8 000 people who worked there building different industrial projects have now stopped work. When that activity stopped, obviously the money also stopped. The price of oil was quite high after the crisis. The minimum estimate of Romanian losses due to the Gulf crisis is 3 thousand million dollars, which is quite high in our present situation.

From the first moment, we joined the international community’s commitment against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. I think that, by chance, the President of the United Nations Security Council at the moment of the invasion was a Romanian, and there was a clear statement by the other countries that the activity of that President was so fruitful that the Security Council resolution was realised and quickly approved.

We supported all the actions according to that resolution. Then we joined the international community’s embargo of Iraq. Because of the aforementioned aspects, that cost us a great deal.

Finally, we offered some humanitarian help to the war effort. The Minister for Foreign Affairs could well explain that we engaged in many diplomatic efforts to contribute to a specific solution to the Gulf conflict. It seems that nobody could really stop the war, but we made some contribution to the peaceful efforts and negotiations and are still prepared through all our contacts and means to contribute to peaceful negotiations after the war.

Mr RATHBONE (United Kingdom)

May I return to rather more finite questions? When he spoke to us this morning, the President referred to the fundamental rights guaranteed under the new laws. There is no more fundamental right than that protecting the health and welfare of children, to which some colleagues have alluded. That seems to be lacking at a specific home in Bucharest – Home No. 6 – which was visited by some of my British parliamentary colleagues only ten days ago. In contrast to some of the other homes that they visited – and they made quite clear that it is in contrast to those – Home No. 6 is run down almost to ruin. Its dilapidated buildings are a sorry sight. There are non-functioning facilities and, perhaps most important, a demotivated staff.

Unfortunately, a 300 000 dollar consignment delivered by the Austrian Save the Children Fund over six months ago remains locked, unopened and unused in a cellar. The home still appears to be a dumping ground for the old system’s unwanted children, who are largely of good gipsy parentage. I wonder how the Prime Minister equates that with what he was saying about the achievements of his government.

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania

Clearly, the situation that has been described is not an achievement. Obviously, I am not aware of all the situations that now exist in Romania. I do not deny that Home No. 6 is in ruins, and that the staff is demotivated, but that cannot be weighed against the general and specific action of the government in favour of abandoned and handicapped children. I am deeply sorry that such a situation existed as recently as ten days ago. I can only say that I shall make enquiries and try to change the situation.

Mrs LENTZ-CORNETTE (Luxembourg) (translation)

In fact, Mr Roman, you have just replied to the first question I wished to ask on orphanages, in which the situation is deplorable but for which you say great efforts are being made.

I should like to know the rules you apply generally for adoption.

Furthermore, what are you going to do with all the people who were working in diplomatic “dens”, I mean in the embassies, largely to spy for the Soviet Union?

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania (translation)

Your two questions are rather different! (Laughter)

With regard to adoption, the Romanian Parliament has enacted a very good law. In addition, not long ago, a commission for adoption was established by a government decision. The aim is to ensure that what is a normal process in itself does not become a problem. Everyone will understand what I mean. I think that the problem has been settled legally and things should operate properly.

With regard to spying for the Soviet Union, doubtless it did exist. Did it occur in the embassies! I think that the embassies were generally able to look after themselves...

In any event, even before the revolution we could not impose staff on the embassies. This is even truer after the revolution!

As for Romanian embassies abroad, there has been a very great change. In general, since January, all staff who did not have true diplomatic status have been withdrawn let us say all those who were covered by the title “false diplomats”. Practically all the ambassadors have been changed. Are there still some left? The Minister for Foreign Affairs tells me, on his own responsibility, that there are not. I did not know this and I congratulate him.

In my view, the spying for the Soviet Union you are talking about was done rather for the dictator who quite simply conducted affairs and developed propaganda to support his dictatorship. The Soviet Union perhaps acted more discreetly...

Mrs LENTZ-CORNETTE (Luxembourg) (translation)

They were “brother countries”.

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania (translation)

Moral brothers, kindred spirits, perhaps. (Laughter)

Mr BASIAKOS (Greece)

The recent revelation concerning environmental pollution claimed that Romania was one of the least environmentally-conscious cultures in Eastern Europe. What measures have been taken to deal with the situation?

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania

Unfortunately, it is true that we inherited a bad environmental situation and that there were some very critical areas of the country. We stopped all chemical industry in the north of the country, in Suceava. We have also stopped production in one of the most critical areas for lead and zinc – Copsa Mica. We have started an extensive programme to solve the problem.

Before the revolution, I was a professor at the polytechnic institute. My speciality was water pollution. For ten years, between 1975 and 1985, I was carrying out, three or four times a year, pollution measurements on the River Danube, I would like to give details of this problem to the Council of Europe – not now, of course – because I know a lot about the subject. Clearly, Romania is not responsible for what is now happening in the waters of the Danube.

We have a very critical situation in some areas of Romania and we need help in this respect.

Mr FABRA (Spain) (interpretation)

asked what the Romanian Government’s policy was on religious freedom and religious education.

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania (interpretation)

Mr ROMAN (Interpretation) said that freedom of worship had been fully re-established immediately after the revolution. While it was true that much had been done to re-establish the rights of the Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholics and the Protestants, less had been done for the Greek Orthodox Church. This was a historically complicated problem which had not yet been solved, as the Greek Orthodox and Catholic Churches had yet to reach a compromise.

Mr ELMAS (Turkey)

We understand the difficulties that your country is facing in the process of transition, especially with regard to the need for economic structuring. It is evident that the Western countries have much to contribute to this process. What is your view on the possible effects of other areas of co-operation on the economy, such as the regional economic cooperation that was recently established among the countries bordering on the Black Sea?

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania

I was in Turkey only two days ago, when I had discussions with almost all the members of the government and the President. This idea of co-operation in the Black Sea region is interesting. The idea was promoted by Turkey, and we support it. More than that, we have considered the possibility of joining the co-operation in the Black Sea region. We consider cooperation with the Danube project to be the main economic and cultural instrument for all Europe, but that is another matter on which I should like to touch at some time.

Mr SOLÉ-TURA (Spain) (interpretation)

said that he had been a member of the Council of Europe’s delegation to Romania and he had been struck by the fact that Romania’s problems stemmed not from the strength of the State but from its weakness in many areas. He asked Mr Roman what the Romanian Government was doing to reform the administrative structure of the country.

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania (translation)

It is quite true that it is rather the weakness of the State and the lack of instruments at its disposal which cause difficult situations.

We have set in hand a rather complex process of reconstructing the instruments of the State and of administration but, obviously, this is extremely difficult to carry out as, above all, it requires new men, men trained for the civil service. And I have realised that, unfortunately, many honest people do not manage to shrug off their old ways of thinking and do not manage to understand the function of a civil servant in a democracy.

I have, at least, succeeded in forming a government team of new men, mostly educated in the West, who will gradually take their places in the teams the country needs. I can only hope that this process will bring to the reform the best values and the best men in Romania today.


Thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister. That brings us to the end of all the questions. We are very much impressed by the way in which you have answered the twenty questions put to you. You have not tried to hide your problems. You have answered our questions very honestly.

The number of questions clearly shows the interest within the Council of Europe in the position in your country. It also shows – and I stress this – the importance that we all attach to good relations with Romania, and a desire to maintain and establish good relations with Romania in all spheres. You, Mr Roman, should take all the questions that we have heard here today as a clear sign of our interest in your country.

I expect that you, Mr Roman, are tired after all those questions. In the Council of Europe you will find warm sympathy for your country. We are happy that the totalitarian rule under which you lived for so many years has come to an end. We wish you, as part of our European community, all the best fo the future. On behalf of the Assembly, I thank you, Mr Prime Minister.

Mr Roman, Prime Minister of Romania

Thank you, Mr President. I did not know that economic reform contained such broad aspects.