- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2004

Did Romania become a member of NATO under the false pretense of having joined the ranks of democratic nations? Even the European Union is beginning to have doubts about Romania’s bona fides. Bulgaria yes, Romania no, said the latest vote of the European Parliaments Foreign Affairs Committee.

Romania is dragging its feet on meeting the EU’s economic, political and human rights criteria for membership. Unreconstructed “Securitate” agents — the late Communist dictator Nikolai Ceaucescu’s KGB-type secret police and its network of informers — can still be found at every level of the Romanian political establishment.

The EU’s shot over Bucharest’s bow came from Baroness Emma Nicholson, a British Liberal member of the European Parliament. She is responsible for Romania on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“Implement genuine reform now or accession to EU in 2007 is impossible,” the European Member of Parliament said. The Foreign Affairs Committee said the Romanian government had failed to implement the rule of law by refusing to limit the all-encompassing powers of the Justice Ministry (202 of its 345 employees are former communist apparatchiks). It was also berated for the continuing ill treatment of detainees at police stations and the harassment and intimidation of journalists.

The Romanian Supreme Court ruled in 1999 in favor of the rehabilitation of the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from East to West during the Cold War. The rank of general and his confiscated properties were to be restored. But the government not only continued to ignore the decision, but also instructed its ambassador to the United States to state flatly that Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, who is still living under cover in the United States, could come home a free man.

Clearly an Orwellian untruth. Not only has Romania’s President Ion Iliescu ignored the Supreme Court ruling, but also added insult to injury when he said sarcastically, “Only Ceaucescu can restore Pacepa’s rank.” Ceaucescu and his wife were captured while fleeing the anti-communist revolution, and executed after a brief trial on Christmas day 1989.

One of Romania’s principal newspapers, Romania Libera, asked, “Is it right and moral for Pacepa to be treated as a traitor by those Securitate officers who served Ceaucescu’s regime down to its dying breath, and who are now at the top of Romania’s democratic structure?”

Radio Free Europe recently decided to cancel its programs for six former Soviet bloc countries recently invited to join NATO. A last-minute change retained the Romanian language service. The reason, according to a ranking RFE executive (not for attribution), “is Iliescu’s idiotic reaction to the ongoing Pacepa affair.” A wealthy Romanian has now filed suit against both the president and the prime minister “because they refuse to carry out the Supreme Court decision to rehabilitate Gen. Pacepa.”

Not to be outdone, the Securitate establishment, evidently nostalgic for their glory days of the Cold War, decided to wheel into action the heavy artillery of disinformation. Bucharest editors were told about a secret dossier that was never made public, even in the days of Ceaucescu. Pacepa defected to the United States because he was about to be exposed as a “liquor and cigarette smuggler and a homosexual.”

Gen. Pacepa, with a new identity, and a U.S. passport, has been under the protection of the federal government since his 1979 defection. As deputy head of the Romanian intelligence service, he was the highest-ranking communist intelligence officer to have chosen freedom during the Cold War. The information he brought the CIA was judged at the time to the best ever obtained on communist intelligence networks.

That is what his former colleagues find hard to forgive and forget.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor in chief of United Press International and editor at large of The Washington Times.

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