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President Iliescu Defends the SDP Approach on Dirty Campaigning

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25 Aug 2004 - 00:00

POLITICS - August 25th 2004

President Ion Iliescu and PM Adrian Nastase defended yesterday the negative campaign conducted by the [ruling] Social Democrat Party (SDP) against the [opposition] Alliance of the National Liberal Party (NLP) and Democrat Party (DP).

By MONICA IORDACHE

Iliescu said that the SDP did not start the negative campaign, but was "compelled" to answer the "aggressive campaign" of the Alliance.

Iliescu said he deplores the fact that the campaign already took an ugly turn, and mentioned as an example worth taking the presidential race of 1990, when he run against Radu Campeanu and Ion Ratiu. "We staid on friendly and civilized terms afterwards. Fifteen years on I would like this kind of relationships to develop in our political life. We should not be ashamed to look into each others eyes.
Life will always bring us together and force us to work together for the big issues of the country; and this is why it is important to build a foundation for dialogue and competition," said Iliescu, as he urged politicians to preserve "a mutually decent and respectful" behavior.

Iliescu refused to address the issue of his eventual candidacy for a place on the SDP electoral lists for the Parliament.
He also said that only he, as President of Romania, has a special status and is considered to be outside of party life, hence his situation does not apply to his aides, like [former justice minister] Rodica Stanoiu.
Iliescu said that he "did not see which was the problem" for Stanoiu to have enlisted on the SDP lists" of Olt County, as she did not give up her membership and wanted to face the primaries. Iliescu also provided the example of Dorin Marian, adviser to former president Emil Constantinescu, who continued his political career much in the same way.

The PM and SDP president, Adrian Nastase, said his party’s action was a means to warn the Alliance of NLP and DP to stop its own vicious attacks.
"Unfortunately, the opposition exclusively used a negative campaign in the race for local elections, speaking of "local barons, corruption, and other such dirty attacks" [when referring to the SDP], said Nastase.

"They were highly visible the offensive and base means used by DP representatives, by Traian Basescu [the DP leader] and also by some of the NLP leaders. We just wanted to answer that dirty campaign," said Nastase. He said that SDP wanted to warn the leaders of the Alliance that "if they would go on with the same type of negative campaign as they used to at the local elections," the ruling party will react in kind.
"We do not want for this thing to go on and on, but so it will, if they will not put a stop to it," said Nastase.

Basescu publicly addressed Nastase a set of questions yesterday in order to clear the air after corruption allegations against the SDP surfaced.
Thus, Basescu asked Nastase to explain the statements of Nutu Camataru [a man arrested for alleged racketeering and money laundering], who said that he "laundered money for Miron Mitrea, Serban Mihailescu and Dan Agathon [members of the SDP Executive]."

Other issues Basescu wanted explained were the "Dracula Park conning operation, which encouraged citizens to invest in the project [with no benefit so far]", or the 17,000 billion lei (425 million euros) public debt of the RAFO Onesti oil refinery and the 11,000 billion lei (275 million euros) public debt of the National Railways Company.
Other questions on Basescu list for the PM addressed the issue of trafficking children and the one concerning the financial scandal of the National Fund for Investment.
The last on Basescu’s list was a question regarding Nastase’s personal wealth. Basescu asked the PM to explain how he came to invest one billion euros abroad "in the Far East, at the Sea of China, or thereabout," said Basescu.

The SDP spokesman, Titus Corlatean, said yesterday that the NLP-DP leaders conduct lately "a negative campaign, which lacks arguments and content" against the SDP leader, Adrian Nastase.
Corlateanu said that Nastase’s statement of personal wealth was posted on the Government web page, according to legal provisions. "If they disagree with its content they have to come forward with proofs and take responsibility for their public allegations", said Corlateanu.

Translation: ANCA PADURARU

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