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Adrian Năstase

Adrian Năstase (born June 22, 1950) is a Romanian politician who was the Prime Minister of Romania from December 2000 to December 2004.

He competed as the Social Democratic Party (PSD) candidate in the 2004 presidential election, but was defeated by centre-right Justice and Truth (DA) Alliance candidate Traian Băsescu.

He was the President of the Chamber of Deputies from December 21, 2004 until 15 March 2006, when he resigned due to, yet unproved, corruption charges.

Biography

Family background

Năstase was born in Bucharest to a family that originated from Hanul de Pământ village, Tărtăşeşti commune, Dâmboviţa county. His father, Marian Năstase, was an officer of the Royal Romanian Army. His father was marginalized after the rise of communism in 1947, but he got his position back after he joined the Romanian Communist Party. Soon after, he became part of the Romanian Communist nomenklatura, serving as director in the Education Ministry. His mother is named Elena and he has a sister, Dana Barb (née Năstase).

Communist period

Adrian Năstase finished high school at Nicolae Bălcescu High School (now Saint Sava National College) and then graduated from the University of Bucharest, receiving degrees from both the Department of Law and the Department of Sociology. He worked at various times as a professor, judge, and as president of several organizations involved with law and international relations.

While a student, he married the daughter of Communist dignitary Grigore Preoteasa but then divorced her. On 31 July 1985, he married Dana Miculescu, the daughter of Angelo Miculescu, another important Communist personality. They have two sons, Andrei (b. 12 February 1986) and Mihnea (b. 23 June 1993).

As was the case with many of Romania's post-1989 political elites, Năstase was a member of the Romanian Communist Party before the Revolution during the era of Nicolae Ceauşescu. Although he was young, he was trusted by senior Communist leaders and sent as Romania's representative to various international conferences on human rights. He published many Communist apologist articles in the Romanian press, such as the one called "Human rights - a retrograde concept", in which he attacked the Freedom House for its annual "rank" which called Communist Romania a "Not Free" country. Năstase, 1983

In 1989, he participated in a Romanian-Soviet Youth conference in Moscow and another one in Pyongyang, North Korea. In an interview given to Russian Komsomolskaya Pravda he talked openly against Perestroika. Goşu, 2004

Post-1989 political career

Năstase was first elected to the Chamber of Deputies of Romania as member of the National Salvation Front party on June 9, 1990 and served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the governments of Petre Roman and Theodor Stolojan (June 28, 1990–October 16, 1992).

In 1992, he was re-elected to the Chamber of Deputies as a member of the Democratic National Salvation Front (FDSN) and served as the President of the Chamber of Deputies. Between 1993 and 1997, he was also the executive president of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR, formerly the FDSN).

Since the early 1990s, Năstase's nickname has been "Bombonel" ("Candyboy"), pointing to his alleged homosexuality. While homosexuality was illegal during Romania's communist regime, a February 1975 informative statement to the police by history professor Ioan D. Suciu mentioned Năstase along with others on a list of known people with homosexual inclinations. The veracity of the statement remains in doubt, as well as the alleged origin and authenticity of the document.

When the PDSR lost the 1996 elections, Năstase became leader of the opposition PDSR parliamentary group, vice-president of Chamber of Deputies, and member of Standing Bureau and Member of the Romanian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe where he was the Recording Secretary of Council of Europe commission on judicial problems and human rights with reference to illegal activities by religious sects.

After the victory of the PDSR in the 2000 legislative elections and the re-election of Ion Iliescu as President of Romania, Năstase was elected president of the PDSR, which soon changed its name to the Social Democratic Party (PSD) after merging with another party. Năstase remained PSD president until April 2005 when he was replaced as PSD president by former foreign minister Mircea Geoană at a PSD party congress. At the same congress, Năstase was elected to be PSD executive president, the second most senior position in the party.

Term as Prime Minister of Romania

Năstase was confirmed by the Parliament as Prime Minister on December 28, 2000, following his appointment to the position in days before by President Ion Iliescu. He held the position concurrently with his leadership of the PSD. His four years as Prime Minister were characterized by unprecedented political stability in post-communist Romania, continuous economic growth, and a foreign policy strongly oriented toward the West. Romania joined NATO, and committed Romanian troops in support of international efforts in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

His government completed accession negotiations with the European Union (EU) and aggressively passed legislation and implemented a number of reforms required for EU accession, anticipated to take place in 2007 or 2008. His government successfully negotiated the lifting of visa restrictions on Romanians traveling to EU Schengen treaty countries.

The privatization of large state-owned companies continued, with the selling of money-losing steel enterprise Sidex of Galaţi to the Indian company Ispat and of the oil company Petrom to Austrian company OMV.

Inflation decreased and the Romanian leu became stronger. However, critics pointed out that this was at least partially due to an influx of foreign currency into Romania from the estimated two million Romanians working abroad. GDP also grew substantially during each year of his term, with a growth of 8.3% achieved in 2004, the highest in the region. Average wages similarly grew, although they did not match the pace of economic growth. For example, in 2004 wages grew by 10.4%, with a 9.2% inflation rate, thereby leading to a real wage growth of 1.2%, in a year when GDP grew by 7%.

The Năstase government did not make substantial inroads on a number of important issues in Romanian society, such as agricultural policy: about 42% of Romanians continued to work in agriculture (compared to 3% of French and 19% of Poles). Critics also pointed out that economic growth was not evenly distributed among the social classes, and the percentage of people living below the poverty level remained high, especially in the rural areas.

Although the government took initial steps toward meaningful judicial reform, the government was repeatedly criticized, including by the EU, for failing to combat substantially widespread corruption, including at the highest levels.

2004 presidential candidacy

The 2004 presidential election cycle marked the end of the second term of President Ion Iliescu, who, according to the constitution, could not serve another term. The PSD selected Năstase to be its presidential candidate. His running mate (selected to be prime minister in the event of a Năstase win) was then Foreign Minister Mircea Geoană.

Throughout the autumn of 2004, opinion polls predicted Năstase would win, boosted in areas and among sectors where the PSD traditionally received strong support: in rural areas, in small and medium sized towns in the south and east of the country, and among pensioners and labor groups. The PSD, which remained by far the largest single political party in the country, was also expected to rely on its network of local party organizations to ensure voters came to the polls.

Năstase was ahead by a substantial margin during the November 28 first round of the presidential elections, although he received less than 50 percent of the vote, and therefore was required to compete in a December 12 run-off election against second place center-right Justice and Truth (DA) Alliance candidate Traian Băsescu. Independent civil society organizations alleged incidents of fraud in Năstase's favor during the first round of the elections, including alleged multiple voting by PSD supporters as a result of poor controls on voter identification, and flaws in the electronic vote tabulation.

At the time the polls closed on the evening of the run-off election, major media outlets released the results of exit polls showing a tie between Năstase and Băsescu. Nonetheless, Băsescu and his supporters interpreted the results as clear indication of a victory. Tens of thousands of Băsescu's supporters converged on University Square in the center of Bucharest, and in other parts of the country, to celebrate his presumed victory. The next morning, authorities released figures confirming Băsescu's win. Năstase received only 48.77% of the total vote.

Năstase later attributed his surprise defeat to a number of factors, including what he characterized as a failure of Humanist Party politicians to campaign on his behalf (the Humanist Party had an electoral pact with the PSD at the time); and the endorsement of Băsescu by Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor. Other likely factors include Băsescu's strong performance during the second presidential debate, as well as persistent allegations of corruption against Năstase and the PSD.

Despite Năstase's presidential defeat, the PSD still won the largest bloc of seats in the Parliament in the concurrent legislative elections. Following the elections and in the interim period before Băsescu's DA Alliance was able to form a coalition majority, the PSD succeeded in obtaining sufficient support within the parliament to elect Năstase as president of the Chamber of Deputies. Former PSD Prime Minister Nicolae Văcăroiu was elected president of the Senate in the same circumstances. Năstase resigned as Prime Minister the day after Băsescu's inauguration. Later on, at the request of Cozmin Gusa, the campaign manager of Traian Băsescu, who resigned from Băsescu's party after he got elected, requested the release of the official results regarding the alleged fraud of the 2004 elections. The investigation concluded that there were no hard evidence of this fraud and that the elected president, Traian Băsescu, had no proofs to make that statement. The accusation of stealing the elections heavily helped Băsescu win the elections, some political analysts argue.

Allegations of corruption and other controversies

Beginning before his period as prime minister, Năstase was implicated in varying degrees in a number of financial scandals. Scandals accumulated toward the end of his premiership, ultimately leading in 2006 to a series of criminal charges and his March 15, 2006 resignation as speaker of the lower chamber of parliament and as executive president of the Social Democrats.

Allegation regarding highway construction concessions without competitive bidding

In 2003 and 2004, Năstase was accused of giving construction rights for one motorway (BraşovBorş) without a competitive and open bidding process, to the American Bechtel Corporation after some high level talks between Năstase and the company leadership. The Năstase government claimed that this no-bid process was a necessity based on the short time allowed under their agreements with international funders to get the project started, and defended it as legal on the basis that it was a "national security" project. The government also argued that it had negotiated a fair and competitive price with Bechtel. The failure to undertake a bidding process resulted in general outcry, both inside and outside Romania. The European Union expressed its concern regarding the validity of this transaction and its lack of transparency. In addition, European Commission officials complained that the highway was not included in the EU's greater plans for constructing a highway system in the region. These concerns increased when, after high level talks with French officials, construction rights for the Câmpina - Sinaia highway were awarded in a similar manner to French companies. Despite the outcry, the construction of both highways remained extremely popular in Transylvania, and the center-right Tăriceanu government continued the projects after Năstase left office.

2003-2004 PSD transcripts

Closely guarded text transcripts of PSD meetings surfaced on an anonymous website just before the 2004 Romanian presidential election. In the transcripts, Năstase and his ministers allegedly discuss plans to illegally interfere in judicial processes to achieve political goals; and to suppress media reporting negatively on the PSD. Năstase asserted that the transcripts were fake, but several party members, including Foreign Minister and PM candidate Mircea Geoană, said they were indeed genuine.

2004 attempts to censor media

In 2004, with the increasing pressure of the electoral campaign, Năstase as prime-minister and leader of the Social Democratic Party PSD allegedly attempted to censor Romanian mass-media. Most TV channels in Romania were – and for that matter, are – under heavy debt, including for failing taxes. In 2004 threats were reportedly issued against the stations that did not provide favorable coverage of Năstase and the PSD prior to and during the electoral campaign period, including allegedly threats to revoke broadcast licenses. This was reportedly to have been the case with PRO TV – the largest Romanian TV station, with a market share of 40% – and its mother company, Prima TV with a market share of 5% and Realitatea TV. The other main private channel, Antena 1, with 20% market share, was owned by Dan Voiculescu, president of the very small Humanist Party (PUR). The PSD thereby formed an electoral alliance with the PUR, an apparent attempt to ensure positive coverage on Antena 1 by promising 35 seats in the parliament for the much smaller party.

Romanian State Television (TVR) with a 20% share, concentrated especially in rural areas, was put under strong control and direct censorship, a reminder of bygone communist times, in order to show only the positive deeds of the government and the downsides of the opposition. Strong attacks were launched against Theodor Stolojan and Traian Băsescu. Thus, 90% of TV in Romania was strongly influenced through intimidation by the PSD. Print media was also controlled, as most newspapers rely on social advertising issued by the government, and that was given only to pro-Năstase publications, and strictly controlled. Some newspapers, such as Naţional, were completely taken over ideologically by the PSD. The only newspapers not affected were Evenimentul Zilei and the satirical Academia Caţavencu, which sold in record numbers during the campaign as they showed evidence of corruption and mishaps in the government. These papers were strongly criticized in all other media. After the victory of the opposition, most newspapers switched sides or adopted a neutral position.

2004 secret meeting recording

In October 2004 Năstase was recorded in a PSD meeting showing his concern about an alleged 700 million USD bribe received by a government member upon the privatization of state-run petroleum company Petrom. Năstase has been recorded saying: "Today I have asked the General Prosecutor to investigate this, because if someone from the Government got $700 million and did not bring in his contribution to the election campaign, then he is twice guilty." An article, including the audio recording , was published by Evenimentul Zilei on December 4, 2004. Adrian Năstase declared afterwards it was only a joke.

2006 DNA (National Department of Anti-corruption) take Adrian Năstase to court

In November 2006 a trial began in which Năstase was charged with several counts of corruption and bribery. Three bank accounts belonging to the ex-prime minister have been frozen. According to the prosecutors, the amount of money obtained illegally totals more than € 1 million.

Gifts from Ion Ţiriac

On 4 November 2004, Năstase received from Ion Ţiriac a Mercedes S500 (worth USD100,000) for a bet they had The Romanian law requires high-ranking officials to declare any gift worth more than USD200 in less than 30 days after they received it, but Năstase failed to declare it as of 7 December. Both Ţiriac and Năstase stated that the bet was actually a joke meant to create publicity for a government project aimed at building over 400 gyms. Eventually Năstase refused to accept the car, and asked Ţiriac to donate instead 20,000 balls (soccer, handball, volleyball) for the newly built gyms.

In the TV debate of the presidential election, Năstase declared that he was considering quitting his hobby of hunting. However, on 22-23 January 2005, Năstase took part in a boar hunt in Bâlc, Bihor, which was dubbed a 'massacre' by the Romanian press, ecologist organizations and other hunters. In the two-day hunt, 185 boars were killed, 23 by Adrian Năstase. (Romanian only)

The hunting property Năstase uses is rented and maintained by Ţiriac, who invests heavily in it (in the range of millions of USD) and uses it to invite very important and wealthy persons from all over the world to facilitate business deals.

2006 Dacian gold scandal

Adrian Năstase was named, together with Dan Iosif, Sergiu Nicolaescu and Ioan Talpeş, as a part in another case investigated the National Anti-corruption Department, involving ancient Dacian artifacts retrieved from Sarmizegetuza Regia, worth € 1.5 million.

2006 "Aunt Tamara" scandal

In January 2006, Năstase included on a legally required wealth disclosure statement an inheritance of over 1 million euros from his wife's elderly aunt. Năstase claimed that the aunt, who had lived modestly on a pension, had come upon the fortune by selling jewels she had owned for decades and investing some of the funds in real estate. The explanation did not seem credible to many in the public, and the media speculated that the Năstases used the inheritance as an opportunity to launder money and carry out illegal land deals. Năstase "temporarily suspended" himself as executive president of PSD while prosecutors investigated the alleged crime.

Undervalued land leads to resignation of posts

In 1998, Năstase bought (through some middlemen) a 700 m² lot in a posh neighborhood of Bucharest, from controversial businessman Gabriel Bivolaru, for a price that was estimated by real-estate agents to be less than 1/25 of its worth. On this land, his company built a luxury apartment building. Initially, an inquiry by the National Anti-corruption Prosecutor's Office failed to bring charges. In November 2005, the case was reopened by the prosecutors and on 7 February 2006 he was officially charged with taking a bribe and with trafficking influence.

As a result of this charge, Năstase lost a vote of confidence among his party’s leadership and was forced to resign on March 15, 2006 as speaker of the lower chamber of parliament and as executive president of the Social Democrats.

Other criticism

Adrian Năstase is the owner of a chicken farm. In front of the press (the discussion was about his wealth), he said: "Someone wanted to come and count my chickens. I would suggest him he would better count my eggs (in Romanian eggs also means balls)" "Cineva voia sa vina sa-mi numere gainile. I-as sugera mai bine sa-mi numere ouale"

Asked by a journalist whether he knows anything about a press scandal about his sexual orientation, Adrian Năstase said:

"I am not scared of any sexual scandal with which I will be soon threatened by the employers of a newspaper which criticises me every day. If Evenimentul Zilei employers want from me a prove I don't have homosexual inclinations, I will test all their wives, so that they are convinced about my sexual inclinations.
Intrebat de un jurnalist de la “Ziarul de Sibiu” daca are cunostinta ca i s-ar pregati un scandal in presa legat de inclinatiile sale sexuale, Adrian Năstase a lansat un atac abject la adresa “Evenimentului zilei”: “Nu mi-e frica de nici un scandal sexual cu care voi fi amenintat in curind de angajatii unui ziar care ma tot critica in fiecare zi. Daca cei de la “Evenimentul zilei” vor sa le demonstrez ca nu am inclinatii homosexuale, o sa le testez toate nevestele lor ca sa se convinga in legatura cu inclinatiile mele sexuale”

Right Now

The Parliament rejected the request of DNA(National Anticorruption Department) to begin a trial against Adrian Nastase. The Parliament said that there were not enough evidence in order to start the trial even if in this way the Parliament acts as a Judge.

Publications

Năstase has published over 150 pieces on International law in Romanian and foreign journals, and has held over 140 talks at international meetings; publications include:

  • Human Rights: a Retrograde Concept
  • The Political Idea of Change
  • International Economic Law II
  • Parliamentary Humor
  • Romania and the New World Order
  • The Construction of Europe and Constitutional Supremacy
  • Romania's Treaties (1990–1997)
  • Personal Rights of the National Minorities
  • Regulations in International Law
  • The Battle for Life
  • Romania-NATO 2002
  • NATO Enlargement.

See also

External links

References

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