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Breakfast with Frost
Sunday 13 July, 2003 , BBC Breakfast with Frost Interview with Adrian Nastase, Prime Minister of Romania

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

Adrian Nastase, Prime Minister of Romania
The Romanian parliament agreed to send 500 troops to Iraq

PETER SISSONS: Now, of all the eastern bloc countries which threw off the Communist yolk in 1989, Romania has had the biggest struggle to join the western capitalist club.

Now things seem to be looking up, it hopes to join the EU in 2007 and it is best friends with the United States, part of what America calls "new Europe".

The Prime Minister, Adrian Nastase is in London this weekend for that big gathering of centre left leaders, and he joins us now in the studio. Prime Minister, thank you very much for coming in. Do you recognise this term "new Europe"?

ADRIAN NASTASE: I think it's, it's just a way to a concept which has had a significance during the Iraqi conflict, that in fact we are all talking about reunification of Europe and we should emphasise more round the fact, the process, the importance of the enlightening forces, Romania wants to be part of it.

And the fact that ten new members, former Communist countries, will join soon the European Union, the fact that Romania and Bulgaria will join in 2007, will create, after the Second World War for the first time, a united Europe. So I prefer to talk about a united Europe, about the new Europe with a concept which wanted to make a moral case during the Iraqi conflict.

PETER SISSONS: But it did set you at odds with France and Germany and President Chirac has made a hardly veiled threat that whatever you do you may pay a price for supporting the United States over Iraq. You, you could not have found a better way of diminishing your chances of joining Europe.

ADRIAN NASTASE: I don't think so. I don't think so. It was a moment when France, for various reasons, had a different approach on the Iraqi crisis and as I pointed out at that moment France had a problem, not with Romania or other countries in Eastern Europe, France had a problem with the United States. But you think that the things are going smoothly and I am sure that we shall go back to something which makes the force of the euro-Atlantic family.

This euro-Atlantic linkage is essential for a common defence and security policy ... an important, strong European ... it is also important and we are discussing now about the identity of the European Union, it is a debate which is essential but in the end what will count will be this bridge between Europe and America which count for the, for the ... security.

PETER SISSONS: Why were you so determined to back the United States on this? Is it because Ceausescu and Saddam Hussein were friends and allies and soul mates?

ADRIAN NASTASE: Well perhaps for the Romanians the regime of Saddam Hussein was a more important factor in making an assessment and supporting the intervention there. And also perhaps we understood better what Dr Rice said recently in London that power in ... helping freedom might be welcome.

Of course I do not want to assess that ... forces should be used for changing regimes but I just wanted to explain why the Romanians understood better than others because of their own experience of their painful journey to democracy, why we have to contribute to elevating the situation of the Iraqis.

And now we have the Romanian parliament recently accepted to send 500 troops to Iraq and we are now helping with our transitional experience about the process which is going on in Iraq. By the way, a Romanian representative is now in Iraq as a special envoy and he is now in charge of the coordination of the foreign ministry of Iraq. So we try to help as much as we can with our experience and you are right perhaps the Romanians understood better what needs to happen in Iraq.

PETER SISSONS: Just one final question, the European Union has warned Romania about reforms, about fundamental changes to the economic, judicial and administrative system, there has also been a lot of worry about corruption in the country, which flourished under the Communists by all accounts - even you have been called "six house Nastase," they've made allegations against you and accused you of enjoying an income well above your official salary. How do you root out corruption from public life? You've actually threatened to shoot the guilty people, was that a joke?

ADRIAN NASTASE: No, it was a joke of course. But corruption in Romania was part of, of the transition system, of the transition process and well, in my opinion, you either go for a hunting of the witches and you have these kind of jokes of shooting people on the stadium or you address the deep root of the, of the corruption.

And in my opinion, and this is what has done in Romania, you have to go to consolidate the status of property and we have instituted through the land, through about 95% of the population, the houses, the real estate; you address the problem of privatisation and 93& of the industrial properties have been privatised; and also you have to address the problems of relations between state, the bureaucracy and the citizen through transparent procedures - and all the public procurement now takes place only in this way.

Those who were called, who addressed the fact that I have ... six houses, they just wanted to make it clear that during my 53 years I had several apartments in which I moved from one to the other one. It was clarified inside the country but during the political debate of course you have these kind of jokes.

But, to be very serious, it is important to address ... these problems and the fact that we asked for a vote of confidence in the parliament, recently on an anticorruption law, was a very important message that we want to fight corruption.

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