Monday, January 29, 2007

Deputies change referendum law, eye president

The Judicial Committee of the Romanian House of Deputies approved change to the Referendum Law on Monday in a different version than first proposed by the opposition Social Democrats-PSD.

The new draft says that in case a President is elected in a second round of elections the number of necessary votes for his dismissal through referendum should be half plus un of the total number of votes obtained in the electoral process.

The proposal was first submitted by the PSD as a preliminary procedure for a plan to determine the suspension of Romania’s President through the constitutional means of a referendum. The PSD has been pushing for the suspension of President Basescu after a huge political scandal that had him face Liberal PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu in a public conflict.

PSD’s initial proposal was that the president be dismissed if half plus one of the total number of votes the head of state receives in an electoral process approve of the dismissal.

But the suggestion was change to only consider votes received in a second round of voting due to constitutional provisions., Jan 29, 2007

Governing Democrats, Liberals to run for European Parliament on separate lists

The leadership of the governing Democratic Party-PD decided on Monday to run on separate lists in elections for the European Parliament expected this year and not join their coalition partners, the National Liberal Party-PNL, on common lists. PD president Emil Boc said the possibility of separate lists was supported by the protocol forming the basis of the incumbent governing coalition.

Boc said the decision was made due to PD’s belonging to the European Popular Party, of which the PNL is not a member. He said he informed PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu, the PNL president, of the PD decision.

Bucharest mayor Adriean Videanu was named head of the electoral campaign for the EP elections, due to take place on May 13, 2007.

The PNL did not welcome the move as party representatives blamed it on PD mastermind President Traian Basescu and said it would not help the governing coalition, now struggling to remain in office after a series of political scandals over the past two years., Jan 29, 2007

Low temperatures, strong winds affect Romanian transports

Low temperatures and strong winds have hit many parts of Romania for the past two days after weeks of unusually warm weather. Road transport and port activities were affected by stormy snow falls on Monday as meteorologists announced bad weather would expand to much of Central, Northern and Western Romania.

Two national roads - DN 7A and DN 67C - were closed on Monday between Voineasa-Vidra and Novaci-Ranca respectively as plugs cannot clean up the snow stormed by strong winds in the area. The same condition led to the closure of the Midia and Constanta Sud-Agigea Fluvial ports on the Black Sea coast in SE Romania.

Authorities there say winds blow at 80-90 km/hour off coast and at 60 km/hour on the shore.

Dozens of other local roads were closed partially or completely due to heavy snow in the counties of Alba, Cluj, Bistrita-Nasaud and Maramures.

The Transport Ministry in Bucharest issued a warning that drivers avoid travelling in affected areas as much as possible., Jan 29, 2007

Parties consider proposal to suspend President

A recent initiative by the opposition Social Democratic Party-PSD to start procedures for the suspension of President Traian Basescu was received with caution by the governing National Liberal Party and the small Conservative Party-PC. The two groups said they wound not support the move but might take into consideration similar actions against the head of state.

The PSD decision to submit a notification at the Constitutional Court for the suspension of President Basescu for allegedly breaching the Romanian Constitution was re-confirmed on Sunday.

The PSD, with support from another opposition group, the far-right Greater Romania Party-PRM, says the President breached the Constitution when he took public stand on several government and parliamentary issues earlier in January.

The Conservative Party, which shared power with the Liberal and Basescu’s Democrats until it withdrew from the government coalition late last year, said it did not support the PSD because the move to suspend the president is not well based judicially. But a PC representative said the party may promote an initiative of its own for Basescu’s suspension.

And a spokesman for the Liberals said on Sunday the party was analyzing the issue despite it cannot support the PSD move., Jan 29, 2007

EBRD blocks loan for Kaufland development in Romania

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - EBRD has blocked a 100 mln euro loan it planned to grant to German group Schwarz so that it expand its Kaufland store chain in Romania. The EBRD justified the decision with a series of charges of abuse that German trade unions brought to the management of the company.

German trade union Verdi sent a letter to the EBRD in mid-January asking it to stop a loan for Schwarz as the group allegedly breached the labor legislation in Germany and other countries.

Previously, lobby group Bankwatch accused Kaufland of employing minors and of not obeying rules on work pauses for all employess.

The EBRD said it would check all complaints but said the examples provided by Verdi are just isolated cases., Jan 29, 2007

Cernavoda reactor to run at full capacity by September

Romanian Economy minister Varujan Vosganian said on Sunday that the second reactor of the Cernavoda nuclear power plant in SE Romania will run at full capacity by September 2007. He said it will start producing electricity in April.

On the third and fourth units of the Cernavoda plant Vosganian said they needed important investments - about 2 billion euro in total. A Governmental draft project to lure investors for the two units will be submitted by Monday.

The minister said the plant does not pose any risk to Cernavoda residents but that authorities would pursue a social program to develop the area.

“Romania’s energy strategy has a clear goal - to increase electricity production”, Vosganian said, adding that a 25% growth was needed by 2014, which would need important investments in the coming years.

And he said his ministry has initiated a program to boost the transparency in the sector, which is 52% controlled by the state., Jan 29, 2007

What the newspapers say: January 29, 2007

Romanian media on Monday tries to identify the winners and losers of the most recent scandal that shook the political power structures in Bucharest and saw opposition moves to suspend President Traian Basescu.

The papers also discuss who is really in control of the Romanian energy sector, attempts to evaluate how palpable communism remains 17 years after its fall in Romania, and contemplates the first tree blooming in the unprecedentedly warm capital in mid-winter.

On the political stage, a series of political parties are focusing on finding a way to suspend President Traian Basescu, who they say breached the Constitution when he came out and attacked PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu and the opposition.

The moves are the result of a scandal that flurried earlier this month which saw Basescu come up publicly with a letter of Tariceanu’s two years ago, in which Tariceanu allegedly asks the head of state to intervene in the support of an oil mogul having troubles with the judiciary.

Wondering who the real winner is in the scandal where President Traian Basescu found himself in an unprecedented open conflict with Liberal PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu, Adevarul interviews Transport minister Radu Berceanu from the Basescu-friendly Democratic Party (PD).

Berceanu firmly believes that the winner is the Social Democratic (PSD) opposition, which was thus allowed to promote its political agenda.

The PD and the Liberals (PNL) form the governing coalition in Bucharest.

Gandul quotes the results of a “secret” opinion poll that shows otherwise: Tariceanu lost more than Basescu following the scandal, but the biggest loser is the PSD opposition whose initiative to suspend the head of state was beneficial both for Tariceanu, as it turned public attention away from the original scandal, and for Basescu, because it unified the center-right electorate behind him.

For its part, Evenimentul Zilei reports that while waiting a final word from the Liberals on their move to suspend the head of state, the PSD leadership is already preparing for early elections in autumn.

The same newspaper quotes PD representatives who warn the Liberals they would leave the government for good in case the latter will vote in favor of Basescu’s suspension.

The idea is shared by Cotidianul, which quotes a series of political analysts claiming there was little chance the PNL would support the PSD call for the suspension of the president.

Cotidianul and Gandul also compare the original scandal sparked by Tariceanu’s note to the President with a similar one in Britain, where PM Tony Blair, who according to the British media faces troubles after it was found he allegedly wrote a note admitting the efforts of 12

major contributors to the Labor campaign in elections two years ago, who would be rewarded with noble ranks.

Meanwhile, Gandul quotes Romanian Economy minister Varujan Vosganian who made public on Sunday the market share of energy providers on the Romanian energy market in 2005-2006. The data prove about half of total energy supplies on the Romanian market run through private hands, while the rest remains with the state.

And the paper also quotes Vosganian saying that “no matter how close to the EU, Romania cannot ignore Russia” and that Romania needed a direct partnership with Moscow to avoid gas imports through intermediators. This position comes against a clear break from Russian deliveries, as supported by President Basescu, the newspaper comments.

Elsewhere in the papers, as many Romanians celebrated the birth of late communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania libera quotes King Michael of Romania who says that while “dictatorship disappeared in Romania, communism did not”.

King Michael, who was deposed by the communists in late forties and returned to the country after the fall of communism, warns that many of those who’ve been governing in post-1989 Romania are “people of the past. They changed their political color, but not their way of thought”.

And Evenimentul Zilei tackles the wave of warm weather that affected Romania in the usually very cold month of January and reports that a tree bloomed in Bucharest - which shouldn’t have happened before March. But the paper admits the blooming period is not that close as February is announced as a very cold month., Jan 29, 2007

Legislation barter : Integrity Agency for Hungarian minority law

The project for a National Integrity Agency (ANI), capable to run checks on dignitaries' wealth was modified so it would be more similar to the initial draft, after several severe changes in the Parliament.
The main engine to enable ANI to check dignitaries wealth found an unexpected support at the Hungarians' Minority Democratic Union (UDMR), a political formation that holds the presidential seat in the Senate's Juridical Commission.

According to sources, UDMR negotiated the move with the Democrat Party, which offered in exchange their support for the "Minorities' Law".

The first draft for the ANI law enabled the Agency to "control the wealth and verify conflicts of interests and incompatibilities of persons exercising functions as public dignitaries".
While discussed in the Parliament, the draft was chopped to the limit where the entire agency would simply take note of the official wealth statements, not even to compare the statements with the real situation., Jan 26, 2007

Romania has first representative in UEFA Executive committee

The head of the Romanian Football Federation-FRF Mircea Sandu was named in the UEFA Executive Committee on Friday with 32 votes from 52 voters placing him third among the candidates, before Angel Maria Villar of Spain and Senes Erzik of Turkey.

Other members of the Committee voted today are Joseph Misfud (Malta), Gilberto Madail (Portugal) and Grigori Surkis (Ukraine).

Sandu, 54, is the first representative of Romania in the European football body. He had two previous attempts to get a seat in 1998 and 2000, but failed.

An educated economist, Sandu built his career as a football player and then football official. He’s been heading the FRF since 1990 and saw how Romania’s national team qualified for the 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cups, the 1996 and 2000 European Championships, but failed to qualified for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups or the 2004 European Championships.

He’s been the subject of intense criticism in Romania for his handling of the Romanian football industry, including accusations that he turned his eye away from widespread corruption in the sector., Jan 26, 2007

Renault to showcase F1 Racer in Bucharest

Renault’s future Formula One racer will hit the streets of Bucharest as the Romanian capital has been included in a five-country caravan tour organized by the French car maker. The other countries included in the tour are Poland, the UAE (Dubai), South Africa and Mexico.

A specific date for the event is yet to be announced. Renault did not specify whether F1 pilots will also pe present in Bucharest.

Organizers have said the demonstration would take place on the city streets as such events have had enormous success before. Renault plans to promote the competition in the countries included in its itinerary., Jan 26, 2007

WB Report: high salaries bring inflation

The average income growth, doubled by increasing non-governmental credits bring along inflation pressure and the risk for the Romanian economy to over-heat. This is one of the conclusions in the latest World Bank report on the Central and Eastern Europe economies.

The conclusions come as a response to the government's approval for budgetary employees income growth, with a rate reaching 23% for Education employees.

WB officials claim that the problem isn't yet huge for Romania, where the current account deficit is still somewhat balanced by foreign investments.

According to the report, the real growth of the Gross National product (GNP) consolidated in the region, including in Poland, Slovakia and Romania, while the output grew in the second half of 2006, despite the national currencies strengthening compare to the European currency.

Inflation is still under control in Poland and the Czech Republic, but brought up difficulties in Bulgaria and partly in Romania., Jan 26, 2007

Romania hopes to introduce euro in 2014

The Government approved the Convergence Program, an official press release on Wednesday informs. Romania will join the European Mechanism for Exchange rates and targets the introduction of the European currency in 2014.
"According to the European regulations, each member state builds and presents such a program. It is a technical document, but it's still an important one" said the governmental spokesperson, Oana Marinescu.

The Program includes a brief presentation of the targets to be followed and of the reforms and measures to be taken so that Romania may accomplish a real convergence in its development with the European Union.

The Program is due for official release before the end of January. In its construction, the government also involved labor unions, non governmental organizations, employers' associations and scientists.

"We need this time to allow Romania to apply the necessary measures required to ensure the economy's ability to support the euro", said Oana Marinescu., Jan 26, 2007

More power for Integrity Agency

One of the most disputed projects issued by the Justice Ministry is about to gain more power and credibility. The National Integrity Agency (ANI) inspectors will be able to verify the wealth of dignitaries, instead of simply verifying their official wealth statements.

This right was included in the first law draft, but the article was rejected by the House of Deputies.

The president of the Senatorial Juridical Commission, Peter Eckstein Kovaci, suggested for the law to be adopted in a shape nearer the Government’s draft.

Still, senators decided that ANI should not handle the verifications in status incompatibility cases., Jan 25, 2007

Former Economy Minister - first hearing as defendant

The former Economy minister, Codrut Seres, was heard on Thursday at the Prosecutor General’s Office, in the “Strategic privatizations” file. When questioned by the journalists, Seres said he didn’t make any written statements and only filed a before-hearing acknowledgement, accepted by the prosecutor. Seres also got a chance to throw a glimpse at the documents in his file.

Seres declared for the press that he is still confident in the ways and means of the Justice system, a system that would eventually prove him innocent.

It was the first time Seres met the prosecutors, in a file in which he’s accused of unveiling secret information in the energy-related privatizations.

In the same file, Seres is accused of supporting a trans-national crime-oriented group, in fact an espionage network put up by the international consultant Stamen Stantchev., Jan 25, 2007

Davos: World’s most powerful 2000 people talk about climate changes

The problem of the climate changes made the headlines at the Davos Economic Forum. The small Swiss village shelters for five days a delegation representing the world’s most powerful 2000 people, gathered in search of a solution for an increasingly worrying problem.

One of the first conclusions was that developing countries are most affected by this phenomenon, created by the advanced countries.

Representatives of the developing countries expressed their decision to follow the growth of their economies, regardless the effects on the environment, in their attempt to fill the gap between them and the advanced countries.

“The United States and the countries within the Co-Operation and Development Organization are the ones that substantially contributed to the emission of gases causing greenhouse effects”, said Rahul Bajaj, CEO of the Indian company Bajaj Auto Ltd.

Another Indian, Sunil Bharti Mittal, president of the telecomm company Bharti Enterprises, showed that the developing countries need incentives in order to approach the environment problems any time soon.

Barbara Stocking, manager in the Oxfam Britain company, admitted that the poor countries are under a lot of pressure when being asked to reduce the fossil reserves. Meanwhile, the same countries find themselves between the most affected in the global warming process., Jan 25, 2007

Ceausescu's political police worked against the Pope

General Ion Mihai Pacepa, the intelligence general that abandoned Ceausescu’s political police (Securitate) and fled to the USA, unveiled the maneuvers Communists used against Pope Pius the XIIth. Following USSR orders, Pacepa was sent to make the Pope look like a former Nazi officer, as Pacepa told the US magazine National Review.

Pacepa claims he gained access to the Vatican archives, in exchange for a 1 billion dollar loan without interest, undercover as an emissary who tries to reopen the diplomatic relationship between Romania and Vatican.

Between 1960 and 1962, hundreds of documents were stolen from the Vatican archives by Pacepa and his subordinates, disguised as Romanian priests. Still, they could not find anything able to compromise the Pope.

Jan 25, 2007

PSD head: "We don't know how many of us are information officers"

Gaffe of mistakenly told truth? Asked about the information officers in Romania, Mircea Geoana, president of the Social-Democrat Party answered in a press conference on Wednesday: "We don't know how many of us information officers, to begin with!".

The question that troubled Geoana was: "Do you think there are too many information officers in Romania?"

Geoana's gaffe comes in the middle of a discussion he launched himself, claiming that the information services should be controlled by the Parliament.

In 2006, the PSD head was targeted by a media scandal, having his father accused of being employed by the former political police, Securitate., Jan 25, 2007

US renews promise of visa waiver program for Eastern Europe

An official of the American government will meet on Wednesday representatives of the Eastern Europe governments, including Romania, in order to discuss the elimination of visas for the Eastern citizens, a press release issued by the US Embassy reads, as quoted by Reuters.

Paul Rosenzweig , the deputy secretary of the International Affairs office within the Interior Security department will meet in Prague representatives of 13 states, in order to put up a "topic schedule" designed to facilitate the travel conditions for Eastern Europeans.

"In case the Congress approves the suggested reforms, the program will include several supplementary security issues but will eventually offer the possibility to travel to the US to all citizens in the countries that meet those elements", the press release reads.

The discussions taking place include Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Greece. South Korea will soon join the negotiations., Jan 24, 2007

European Commission slams Romanian Govt. in car registration tax scandal

"Romania won't become a garbage dump for European cars if the first car registration tax is cancelled" declared the European Commissions Business representative in Bucharest, Onno Simons, for, thus contradicting Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu.

The Romanian APIA (Car Importers' and Exporters' Association) representatives officially declared on January 14 that they consider "as an irresponsible gesture to encourage the acquisition of old and polluting cars. Any concession made to those who look for profit at any price would lead to transforming Romania in a garbage dump for Europe".

"The free circulation of goods is one of the European Union's foundation stones of the European interior market. The second hand cars are also goods and there shouldn’t be any discrimination, compared to new cars", answered Simons.

The tax, already casing serious problems in Poland, where the government may be forced to refund 555 million euros to taxpayers, is supported in Romania by both APIA and prime minister Tariceanu (Citroen dealer in his spare time)., Jan 24, 2007

Coface maintains A4 rating for Romania

The Coface rating agency maintains its A4 grade for Romania, counting among the local weak spots the tensions within the governing alliance that may lead to a more difficult reform process.

Analysts also draw attention on the increasing budget deficit, a problem that may enforce Romania's dependence on foreign capital. Meanwhile, this would reflect in the quality of credit portfolios in the banking system.

According to Coface representatives, the sort term budget deficit is under control, as a result of the accession to the European Union and of direct foreign investments. Still, on a medium term, the problem may represent a currency exchange rate risk, after the income from privatizations would cease feeding the budget.

The interior growth engine for 2006 was found as the interior consumption, supported by both average income growth and the accessibility of consumption credits. Other positive factors are the solvency of Romanian companies, otherwise threatened by the employees' income growth.

Auto, IT and telecom are the most rewarding fields, while the textile industry, furniture and agriculture are on the opposite side.

Coface uses seven grades of risk: "A1", "A2", "A3", "A4", "B", "C", "D", indicating the way the political, financial and economic perspectives influence the companies' funds flow., Jan 24, 2007

Media alliance: Ringier buys Dogan shares

Swiss Ringier AG and Turkish Dogan Yayin Holding A.S. (DYH) are about to sign a share transfer contract in which Ringier would buy 25% of the shares at Kanal D Romania, a channel due for the first broadcast in February, a press release of the Swiss group informs.

The information comes to complete the late rumors on a possible alliance between the two media groups. Another interesting piece of news is that the news programs at Kanal D will be realized through the video feeds offered by Realitatea TV and NewsIn, both media institutions belonging to the recently convicted businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vintu.

Cosmin Popa, NewsIn development manager, confirmed for the information above. "The interior news stream for Kanal D will be provided by Realitatea TV and NewsIn, 24 hours a day, meaning a huge adaptability effort from our side", said Popa.

“DYH follows its strategy, trying to become one an important player on the media market of all the countries that see a fast economic growth", said Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, Dogan Yayin Holding A.S (DYH) Chief of Operations.

“Kanal D Romania is a first step in applying this strategy. We are delighted that Ringier, one of the most important European players on the media market, decided to join forces with us", added Mehmet Ali Yalcindag., Jan 24, 2007

Moderate economic freedom in Romania

Heritage Foundation placed Romania 67th in the world's top of economic freedom, among the countries with a moderate degree of freedom, in the same group with Slovakia and Italy, but also Albania, Bali or Uganda.

The maximum degree of economic freedom is given when the citizens are free to work, produce, consume and invest as they like, without any restrictions imposed by the state, which only has a protective role.

The countries with the highest degree of economic freedom worldwide are Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, USA, New Zealand, UK and Ireland. In Europe, the leading countries are Estonia, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Germany and Sweden.
The economic freedom is proportional with the country's prosperity, the average income, the income of the poorest 10% of the citizens, life expectancy, child death rate, access to water and corruption.
Citizens in the best economies enjoy an average annual income of more than 24,000 US Dollars., Jan 24, 2007

Opposition forms alliance against president Basescu

Conservative leader, Dan Voiculescu, and far-right leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor support the social democrat (PSD) initiative to suspend president Basescu. Voiculescu said that the reasons for his party to support such a decision are Basescu's late false statements and his contribution to the undermining of the national economy.

Vadim Tudor, president of the far right Great Romania Party, declared on Tuesday that he supports without any comments the PSD initiative and that he already gathered 15 signatures in the Parliament so that the president suspension process may begin.
PSD also demands prime minister's resignation after the recent scandal on influence trafficking. Above all, PSD wants the referendum Law to be modified so that the president could be suspended even in the case of massive vote absenteeism., Jan 24, 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Biggest Handsome LAN-PARTY ever - 7752 people

At Dreamhack Winter 2006 the organization tried and succeeded in beating the existing world record for the biggest LAN party. Their goal was to get 10,000 people there. As of October 15, 2006, tickets for 10,000 people had already been sold.On the first of December, a representative from Guinness Book of Records officially announced that the record had indeed been broken. The new record is 7752 attendants and 7788 computers connected to the network, although the calculated attendance of DreamHack 2006 was 10,638."

Poze Dreamhack Winter 2006

Locatie si sosirea participantilor

Am gasit si un virus (sau ce o fi m-am speriat rau)

Mai multe poze de la eveniment gasiti aici

Dreamhack este un Lan Party ce are loc de doua ori pe an in Jönköping, Suedia. La editia din 24-25 Noiembrie 2004 au participat 5272 de persoane, la fata locului fiind aduse 5853 calculatoare, toate conectate in aceeasi retea. Acest lucru a fost considerat un record fiind omologat de catre cei de la Guinness Book of Records si Twin Galaxies.
In 2005 au participat 7538 persoane!
La editia din 2006 s-a incercat doborarea (din nou) recordului, si chiar s-a reusit. Pana la 15 Octombrie 2006 se anuntasera 10.000 de participanti Pe 1 Decembrie 2006 ora 18:33, un reprezentant al Guinness Book of Records a anuntat doborarea recordului: 7752 participanti - 7788 calculatoare conectate intr-o singura retea.
Daca doriti sa participati la eventul din 16-19 Iunie 2007, mai multe detalii puteti afla aici. Biletul costa aproximativ 75 euro

Tag-uri Technorati: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, January 27, 2007

New Coca Cola & PEPSI can designs 2007

Coca-Cola redesigns cans. The newly designed Coca-Cola can, right, will go on sale in Japan.

TOKYO — Coca-Cola Japan Co has redesigned its cans and bottles as part of its "The Coke Side of Life" marketing campaign. The beverage maker said Monday that the new look can will hit the Japanese market on Jan 29 before its introduction to the world market in March.

"We live in a world where we make choices every day and 'The Coke Side of Life' encourages people to make those choices positive ones," said Marc Mathieu, senior vice president for carbonated soft drink core brands, marketing, srategy and innovation.

"This new campaign invites people to create their own positive reality, to be spontaneous, listen to their hearts and live in full color."

Agentia Tribal DDB Dallas (digital marketing agency) a creat pentru gigantul Pepsi o serie de microsite-uri care sa acompanieze noua campanie de branding pentru anul 2007.

Ideea din spatele campaniei este crearea unor can-uri (cutii n.a.) Pepsi noi-noute, cu design si sistem de deschidere inovatoare. Pepsi planuieste sa comercializeze prin rotatie noile design-uri, schimbandu-le in magazine odata la 3 saptamani. Temele de design abordate pentru noile cutii variaza de la fashion, car culture si muzica, pana la sports si entertainment.

Pentru fiecare design original va fi conceput cate un microsite separat unde vor fi prezentate detalii despre concept. In total Tribal DDB planuieste crearea a 10-12 microsite-uri. Primul astfel de site este si a fost lansat in luna ianuarie '07.

  • visit Tribal DDB site here [+]
  • see ALL PEPSI CAN designs here [+]
PURCHASE, N.Y. - January 12, 2007 - Beginning in February, Pepsi-Cola will reach out to consumers in a different way than ever before. Pepsi will connect with consumers via a global brand restyle - a 360-degree marketing campaign that will be reflected all over the world on TV, radio, in print, packaging and online.

The first, most visible piece of this effort will be new package graphics for Pepsi-Cola that change every few weeks to reflect themes close to the hearts of teens and young adults, such as sports, music, fashion and cars. The new graphics will be on more than eight billion Pepsi-Cola cans, bottles and cups throughout the world.

The iconic Pepsi globe logo and name lettering will remain the same - as will Pepsi's great taste - but the background graphics will change every few weeks, marking the first time Pepsi has altered its look so frequently. In its 109-year existence, Pepsi-Cola's look has changed just 10 times, but this year alone, it will change more than 35 times. This steady rotation of designs reflects the fast, ever-changing interests of the elusive "millennial" generation.

Not only will the packages look different, but they'll be different. Pepsi bottles, cans and cups will give consumers access to exclusive online content, games, contests and sweepstakes through unique web addresses on each of the designs.

Pepsi's global brand restyle will be highlighted in new thematic ad campaigns. The TV, print and out-of-home advertising will utilize the iconic Pepsi globe in whole new ways to represent the fun, optimistic, and youthful spirit that consumers have long associated with Pepsi. The restyle will come to life in-store with merchandising, account-specific promotions and point-of-sale materials that will showcase an array of packaging representing the wide range of design graphics.

Examples of the upcoming packaging designs and promotions:
In the U.S., the first can, titled "Your Pepsi," will link to a website inviting consumers to help design a Pepsi billboard ad which will run in New York City's Times Square in April.
Consumers in the U.S. will also have a chance to design a special paint scheme for NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon's car that will race later this year.
In many international markets, designs will link to websites that enable consumers to create music and video that they can share with others.
Consumers will also have access to packaging designs by some of the biggest names in sports and music.

"On the surface, this might look like a packaging update, but it's much more than that. We're changing the way we interact with consumers - and now we're doing it on their terms," said Cie Nicholson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Pepsi-Cola North America. "When people pick up a Pepsi, they'll be getting much more than a great tasting cola. They'll be getting a passport to the things they enjoy most."

"We've learned that young people embrace change and seek discovery, connectedness, personalization and multiculturalism. We believe this restyle touches on all these trends," said Ron Coughlin, chief marketing officer, PepsiCo International. "Now our consumers will have a different experience each time they buy a Pepsi."

About Pepsi Purchase, N.Y.-based Pepsi-Cola North America ( is the refreshment beverage unit of PepsiCo, Inc., in the United States and Canada. Its U.S. brands include Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Jazz, Pepsi ONE, Wild Cherry Pepsi, Pepsi Lime, Mountain Dew, Diet Mountain Dew, Mountain Dew Code Red, Mountain Dew LiveWire, Sierra Mist, Sierra Mist Free, Mug, Tropicana Twister Soda, Aquafina, Aquafina FlavorSplash, Aquafina Sparkling, Quaker Milk Chillers, Dole single-serve juices, Tropicana Juice Drinks, IZZE and SoBe. The company also makes and markets North America's best-selling ready-to-drink iced teas and coffees, respectively, via joint ventures with Lipton and Starbucks.

U.S. Media Contact:
Nicole Bradley
Pepsi-Cola North America
(914) 253-2964

International Media Contact:
Liz Derham
Freud communications
+44 (0)20 7580 2626

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Influential Liberal'a son-in-law named head of fiscal authority

Romanian PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu named the deputy head of Romanian fiscal authority ANAF Daniel Chitoiu as interim head of the authority on Tuesday. Chitoiu, the son-in-law of Dan Radu Rusanu, an influential member of Tariceanu’s National Liberal Party-PNL, replaces Sebastian Bodu, who was dismissed from office four days ago.

Chitoiu has been acting as deputy president of ANAF since February 2005. He had previously been a financial supervisor at the Romanian Court of Accounts.

His father-in-law Dan Radu Rusanu is seen as a mind behind the scene in Liberal politics.

Chitoiu also served as a member in various boards of state companies including the Savings House-CEC, Radiocomunicatii SA and the Coresi Publishing House., Jan 23, 2007

Romanian technology industry suits itself a brand name

The Romanian IT&C industry will from now on be named RomaniaIT. The new brand identity will be included in all its marketing materials, will form the basis of promotional activities in the Romanian information technology sector and will be registered as a trademark.

The Romanian Government presented on Tuesday its branding strategy for IT exports and offered details about the implementation of the strategy. The RomaniaIT trademark is the result of a Romanian public-private partnership led by the Tech 21 Coalition.

While authorities claim the annual value of the Romanian IT sector will reach 1 billion euro in the next 2-3 years, there are skeptics who claim the target would have been reached without the creation of the brand.

“The community of exporters in the IT sector, evaluated at some 9,000 firms, will benefit of a better and more homogenous perception on foreign markets, with a potential for exports growth of over 1 billion euro”, Iuliu Winkler, minister-delegate for Economy and Trade said today.

The first event to use the new brand will be the CeBit 2007 fair to be organized in Hanover, Germany.

While the cost of the brand stands at 400,000 RON, minister Winkler could not say who paid more for the initiative - the public or the private sector. And the investment will not stop here as IT&C representatives say a further amount of 500,000 will fuel the brand this year alone., Jan 23, 2007

Social Democrats demand National Defense Council be disbanded

The Social Democratic Party-PSD will initiate their own version of national security laws promoting the idea that the existing Supreme National Defense Council-CSAT be replaced with a National Security Council, PSD president Mircea Geoana announced on Tuesday.

The leader of the main opposition party in Romania made the statement a year after ex-President and PSD leader Ion Iliescu called a similar initiative by the governing National Liberal Party as proof of “political infantilism”.

The law establishing CSAT was conceived by a former PSD government.

Geoana said the change was necessary because CSAT in its current form is paralyzed by the “fight” between the President and the prime minister., Jan 23, 2007

Romanians number among best behaved Europeans

Romanians come among the first European peoples when it comes to the interest they pay to their own behavior. Still the perception of other Europeans on Romanian behaviors is rather neutral, a new GfK study shows.

The study, produced by GfK Custom Research Worldwide for Wall Street Journal Europe, is based on investigations in 20 European countries and the United States.

It shows the US people is considered the worst behaved and that the French and the Brits are seen as the best behaved in Europe.

Citizens of Western European countries included in the poll generally named they own people as the best behaved. Belgians lead the pack in this regard, with 39%, followed by the Swiss and the Austrians. But the situation is different in Central and Eastern Europe, where more people said the English and the French show the best behavior.

Still, only 6% of Romanians are proud with their good manners., Jan 23, 2007

Privatization authority to sell RON600 mln-worth of state assets

The Romanian state hopes to obtain at least 600 million RON in privatization processes planned for 2007, the head of the Authority for State Assets Recovery-AVAS Teodor Athanasiu told AVAS prepares for the privatization of 62 companies where it holds the majority stake.

The Authority announced today that the process is due to be launched before October 1 for all 62 firms and to sell its takes in publicly traded companies by August 1.

AVAS holds shares in a total of 461 companies with a combined social capital of 4.5 billion RON, 600 million of which belongs to the Romanian state. Still, Atanasiu said 80% of the companies are not attractive for investors due to financial losses or old assets.

Meanwhile, the sale of the 8% stake the Romanian state still holds in oil company Petrom to Petrom employees will have to wait a bit more as the Justice Ministry and the Petrom trade union failed to reach a deal so far. The ministry wants shares be sold only to employees who worked at Petrom when the company was privatized, a move the union does not agree with.

And he said that so the state received four offers for the Daewoo factory it recovered after the demise of the Korean company. The offers were submitted by Ford Motors, General Motors, Tata Motors and the Chinese company Cherry., Jan 23, 2007

British deputy PM Prescott visits Bucharest

British deputy prime minister John Prescott visits Bucharest on Tuesday and Monday for a series of top level talks on the framework of Romania-UK relations within the European Union, a British Embassy press release says.

Prescott is expected to land in the Romanian capital on Tuesday afternoon and will hold taks with President Traian Basescu, PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu and several high-profile ministers.

Prescott is the highest ranking British official visiting Romania since prime minister Tony Blair visited the country in May 1999.

Prior to his departure, Prescott said "this is an exceptional time to be coming to Romania, and I am delighted to bring my Prime Minister's and the British cabinet's message of confidence that Romania, as the 7th largest Member State, will actively shape the future of EU.

“As Tony Blair said on 1st of January 2007, joining the European Union is a great achievement for the people of Romania and Bulgaria. It's also a source of great satisfaction for us, since Britain has always been a strong supporter of your membership."

According to the British Embassy, in May 2006 the Prime Minister asked John Prescott to oversee and co-ordinate the efficient development of Government policy across the full range of domestic policy areas, which he will do through his chairmanship of a number of major Cabinet Committees.

The Prime Minister also asked him to continue with his international work particularly with regard to China, and, in recognition of his work in delivering the Kyoto Treaty, to work with the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for the Environment on implementing our domestic post-Kyoto environmental objectives within the UK., Jan 23, 2007

CIA flights report spark tensions within European Parliament

The European Parliament commission investigating the alleged illegal activities by the CIA in Europe adopted the MEP Claudio Fava’s final report on the issue on Tuesday. The report does not bring any new elements since the previous one in July last year and is based more on assumptions, according to international media.

The Euobserver news website notes that the document has already sparked a series of disputes among members of the European Parliament. And International Herald Tribune says the MEPs for the European Popular Party tried to sweeten up the critical tone of the report with a series of amendments on Monday.

The report does not include direct evidence to prove the CIA controlled secret detention centers in Europe, but accuses several EU officials of not cooperating enoug with the investigators.

Revelations on alleged human rights breaches by the CIA in Europe first emerged in November 2005, when Washington Post published a report in this regard. the Human Rights Watch organization later identified Poland and Romania as possible hosts for alleged secret prisons. Authorities in both Warsaw and Bucharest repeatedly dismissed the claim.

In September 2006, US President George W. Bush admitted that terrorism suspects had been held in secret CIA prisons overseas but failed to specify where it happened., Jan 23, 2007

Indictees in energy privatization case released

The High Court of Justice in Bucharest admitted on Monday night an appeal by four people involved in a locally famous case related to abuses in the privatization of Romanian energy companies, who had challenged a decision that their arrest warrants be prolonged.

That means the four - foreigners Stamen Stanchev and Vadim Benyatov along with Romanian citizens Dorinel Mucea and Mihai Radu Donciu - were released, but will not be allowed to leave Bucharest pending the investigation.

The four had received preventive arrest warrants on November 29. The 20-day warrants were then prolonged by another 30 days.

The case - in which former Economy minister Codrut Seres also faces charges - revolves around the privatization of several energy companies in Romania to certain buyers which allegedly took benefit of secret information to gain an advantage in the tenders.

The case also points towards an alleged involvement of Stanchev’s network in the procurement of cheap energy to be resold to Romanian distributors at higher prices., Jan 23, 2007

What the newspapers say: January 23, 2007

A short glance across today’s newspapers and one would never think that Romania has gone through a serious political crisis for a week. The media today talks about Bill Gates coming to Bucharest, official threats to the freedom of speech, the fate of the Romanian currency and of Chinese workers sick of it all, with political issues coming to the front only now and then.

Cotidianul hails the first visit to be paid by Microsoft founder Bill Gates to Romania and notes that while the exact date of the visit is not known, it will take place somewhere in February 1-4, shortly after Microsoft launches Windows Vista for domestic users on January 30.

In Romania, another event takes place in the same period - the opening of a Technical Support Center offering services and support to Microsoft clients from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

On the home front, Cotidianul turns to the political troubles in Bucharest with one report - that President Traian Basescu fiercely attacked his predecessor, Ion Iliescu of the Social Democratic Party-PSD, whom he accuses of organizing a “political miners’ crusade”.

In an interview for the public television last night, at a time when he himself is charged with seeding chaos in Romanian politics, Basescu dropped his unual target, PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu, and turned his canons on Iliescu, whom he blames for a PSD initiative to change a law that would allow the replacement of the head of state.

For its part, Gandul is alarmed that the Constitutional Court in Bucharest decided against a previous decision that libel and insult become unconstitutional.

The newspaper quotes a Romanian Press Club and other organizations who protested the reintroduction of libel and insult as crimes in the Penal Code, which they say is a shame for a European Romania.

The same Gandul is more interested in the economy today with a report that the Romanian currency RON may lose little ground against the euro from January 2007 to 2009, according to the Consensus Economics organization.

And it focuses on a special situation in Bacau, where Chinese workers at a textile factory have turned against the management in a dispute over salaries.

The newspaper.reports that while the manager complains that the law discriminates between local employees and immigrant employees - who may earn some 300 USD, three times the minimum salary a Romanian would receive - the Chinese workers are stunned they earn far from the 20,000 USD they hoped to earn in a three-year period.

Evenimentul Zilei also reports on the strike of Chinese workers in Bacau and quotes the Chinese women planning to return home, after only six months in Europe.

Still, it notes that they have little to return to in Asia as one worker, who had worked abroad before coming to Romania, said “it is worse in Cambodia than in Romania, and the weather is worse still”.

The same Evenimentul Zilei publishes a feature report on “the drama of Romanians in Basarabia” - the ex-Soviet Moldovan Republic that was once part of Romania.

The paper writes the Russian-style leading the “Moldavian people” turned the Romanian population there in the sixth nation living in the country and persecutes it religiously. The feature focuses on the conflict between the Moldovan Metropolitan Church, which stands under the wing of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Romanian-oriented Basarabian Metropolitan Church.

Last but not least, Romania libera reports that Government officials launched checks yesterday on the tender procedures that led several companies, run by business people seen as close to President Basescu, gain the rights to build the Bucharest-Ploiesti highway.

According to a minister, the checks were initiated due to suspeicions that public procurement laws have been breached in this tender., Jan 23, 2007

End in sight for political crisis in Bucharest

The two major parties forming the government coalition in Bucharest renewed their signs on Monday that they were ready to overcome the political crisis they’ve been facing for about a week.

Both the Liberal Party-PNL and the Democratic Party-PD said they were in favor of maintaining the protocol of their alliance despite the scandal that put Liberal leader Calin Popescu Tariceanu, the prime minister, and President Traian Basescu, PD’s informal leader.

PD head Emil Boc said today that his party had no reason to leave the government at this point in time but would not stick to power at any price. He said the protocol at the basis of the alliance with the Liberals was a contract with the voters and electoral promises should be fulfilled.

He said, however, that Liberal PM Tariceanu made a mistake when he sent President Basescu a controversial note that raised the possibility that the President intervened in favor of an oil mogul facing troubles with the law. The latest scandal was sparked when Basescu made the note public last week.

For their part, PNL deputy president Ludovic Orban said his party would remain in line with the coalition protocol with the Democrats and called on the PD to overcome the crisis and participate on common lists in the next national and European Parliament elections., Jan 22, 2007

Bill Gates expected in Romania in early February

Bill Gates, the founder of US giant Microsoft, will pay a visit to Romania in early February following his participation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week, the communication manager for Microsoft Romania Paula Apreotesei confirmed for

Sources who wish to remain anonymous told that Bill Gates will attend an event for the launch of a new Microsoft product on the Romanian market.

This would be Gates' first visit to Romania, ten years after Microsoft first opened a branch here in 2006. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer visited the country last year.

Other news sources such as the Realitatea TV news channel and the Mediafax press agency confirmed the news by noon on Monday.

Microsoft Romania eyes to triple its business figure by 2010 after it reported a 29% boost of income in the fiscal year 2006 compared to the previous year, company data show., Jan 22, 2007

President Basescu: Romania not willing to admit control of Russian investors

Romania would not agree to be controlled by Russian investors, President Traian Basescu told Austrian weekly magazine Profil in an interview quoted by the Presidential Administration website on Monday.

Basescu said that while the experience of the Soviet era prevents Romania from accepting the rule of Russian investors, it would never question partnerships with them.

He also said that Romania was holding talks with Austrian oil company OMV to guarantee that its Romanian subsidiary OMV-Petrom remains an integral part of the country’s energy strategy.

Asked whether Romania, which still faces troubles related to its communist past, should push a certain lustration law, Basescu said that “lustration is possible if applied a year after a revolution. But 16 years have already passed. Many employees of the Securitate (ex-dictator Ceausescu’s secret police) are long since retired.

They’re no longer active in the current intelligence service as they are in the economy or in politics”., Jan 22, 2007

A third of Romanians work in agriculture

Despite intense investments in the industry and services sectors Romania remains a mostly agrarian country, according to the latest data from the National Statistics Institute-INS. It shows some 31% of all labor force in Romania works in the agricultural sector.

But the data shows the number of Romanian citizens working in agriculture decreased by 2.2% in the third quarter of 2006, compared to the same period in 2005, while the number of workers in construction works and industry grew by 8.1%, while the growth reported for the services sector stood at 8.3%.

The INS says that in Q3 last year the activity rate of working-age population (15-64) grew to 65.8%, the highest in the past five years.

The unemployment rate reached 7% during the period, lower than in the previous quarter but 0.9% up from the Q3 2005 rate., Jan 22, 2007

Labor minister: Spain to remove visas for Romanian workers

Spanish authorities plan to modify the labor legislation and remove visas for Romanian citizens working there, who will only need work permits, Romanian Labor minister Gheorghe Barbu said on Monday. The Spanish Embassy to Bucharest announced earlier this year that Romanian citizens planning to work in Spain for more than six months would need visas.

On January 18-20, Barbu attended an informal meeting of EU social affairs ministers in Berlin. He raised the issue during talks with his Spanish counterpart.

By the end of 2006, prior to the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU, the government in Madrid decided to restrict the access of Romanian and Bulgarian workers on the Spanish market for a period of maximum two years., Jan 22, 2007

Romanian European Commissioner sworn in today

New European Commissioner for Multilingualism, Romanian Leonard Orban, and the future representative of Bulgaria in the EC Meglena Kuneva will be sworn in officially in a ceremony at the European Court of Justice on Monday. The two have already attended their first EC session on January 11 this year, shortly after Romania joined the European Union on January 1.

Orban will manage a budget of about 1.2 billion euro with 3,400 people in his subordination - that is, some 15% of the total payroll of European institutions. His subordinates operate in three fields of activity - translation, traduction and publications.

Orban’s portfolio tackles policies aimed at guaranteeing the access of EU citizens to documents translated in all 22 languages of the Union and at popularizing the language diversity. The Commission has been compiling a project to have EU citizens learn at least two European languages beside their mother tongue., Jan 22, 2007

Romanian parents protest fast-food in schools

Hundreds of parents from the Romanian city of Cluj have been collecting signatures against fast-food campaigns in local schools. The initiative prompted an independent deputy to initiate a draft bill aimed at banning such campaigns, promoted especially by McDonald’s.

“We are working at a draft bill banning the promotion of fast food products in kindergardens, schools and high-schools considered unhealthy for children”, deputy Mircea Giurgiu told His moves come as over 400 parents in Cluj, Western Romania have joined a campaing against fast-food advertising in local schools.

The protest comes as a local newspaper revealed in October last year the aggressive way in which McDonald’s has been promoting its products in Cluj schools.

The bill will be submitted to House debate before February 1, according to Giurgiu.

One of the parents involved in the protest, Mihaela Ignat, told that McDonald’s representatives have been visiting local schools to invite children buy their products.

Education Ministry officials have explained that Romanian schools have decision-making authonomy at local level in shuch cases.

And McDonald’s officials told that the company complies with the law and business ethics fully as what happened in Cluj schools “is not at all an advertising campaign or a move to promote the company’s products.

The only actions we operate in education units are those aimed at promoting an active and balanced life among children”, as McDonald’s PR manager Cristian Savu said.

But he failed to explain the way such campaigns are organized, where they take place and the nature of various partnerships with schools., Jan 22, 2007

European Commission wants first registration tax removed, not changed

The European Commission does not want a lower first car registration tax in Romania, but its full removal, a top Commission source told Another source from the Finance Ministry in Bucharest, also speaking anonymously, says Romanian authorities are aware that provisions related to this tax in the Fiscal Code introduced on January 1, 2007 are in breach with EU laws.

The two spoke as the head of the fiscal administration agency Sebastian Bodu, whom PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu dismissed from office last week, took stand against the tax as did the Romanian EU Commissioner Leonard Orban.

Not even the example of Poland - forced to remove a similar tax for the first registration of cars from its Fiscal Code - or Hungary, which has become the target of EU judicial procedures for a similar provision, would not compel the Romanian government to drop the tax.

Finance Ministry sources say there may be two reasons for the government stubbornness in this regard. The first would be to prolong as much as possible the necessary moves to return the already collected money to the population and use it for other purposes in the meantime.

A second would be the pressure of new car importers and dealers, a group which is favored by the tax at the expense of used car importers., Jan 22, 2007

FT: President Basescu defends early elections

Romanian President Traian Basescu has renewed his pressure for early elections in Romania, defending the idea in an interview for the Financial Times this weekend. In the interview, he dismissed the idea that Romania would suffer because of the persisting tensions between him and prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu.

According to the FT, Basescu avoided to criticize the prime minister any longer but insisted that a message he received from Tariceanu - which sparked a huge political scandal in Bucharest last week - was uninspired.

The message, which Tariceanu sent to Basescu almost two years ago, was understood by the head of state as a way for the PM to defend the interests of a Romanian oil mogul facing hearings in a criminal case.

According to the FT, Basescu defended the idea of early elections, which according to the latest polls his party would win.

And he also spoke of EU fears that Romania’s European accession would consolidate the far-right movement across the Union. He said the Romanian far-right is far from stronger than the similar movements in other European countries.

He also said the country would not cool down in its efforts to promote reform and combat corruption.

And he insisted that the EU may reduce its energy dependency on Russia by limiting energy consumption and developing alternate routes for oil and gas deliveries., Jan 22, 2007

Opposition to inform "EU leaders" about Romanian political crisis

The head of Romania’s main opposition party has urged top Justice institutions to take note of corruption charges President Traian Basescu and PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu exchanged in a huge political scandal last week and announced he would inform EU leaders “in detail” about the political crisis in Romania.

In the latest episode of the scandal, Romanian prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu launched a new attack against President Traian Basescu on Sunday claiming that the head of state was trying to establish a “personal authority rule” in Bucharest, “following the Belarus model”.

Tariceanu’s new stand comes several days after his tense relationship with the President turned into open war, prompting the prime minister to promise he would not lose any occasion to criticize the head of state.

Mircea Geoana, the head of the Social Democratic Party-PSD, said the General Prosecutor’s Office, the High Court of Justice and the National Anti-corruption Department should prove that the Romanian justice system was not politically controlled.

And he said he would provide EU leaders “detailed information” about the conflict that ignited in Bucharest last week, when President Basescu accused PM Tariceanu of traffic of influence, while Tariceanu spoke of a circle of oligarchs under the wing of the head of state.

PSD’s intervention comes in advance of a week that announces to be very tense for the Romanian politics despite the two governing parties, Basescu’s Democrats and Tariceanu’s Liberals, gave signs they would agree to maintain their unstable coalition despite the crisis last week., Jan 22, 2007

Romanian athlete Maria Cioncan killed in car crash

Romanian athlete Maria Cioncan died in a car crash near the city of Plevna in Bulgaria while returning home from Greece on Sunday. Her car left the road due to excessive speed and hit a tree, according to Romanian police quoted by Radio Romania.

The police said Cioncan died when hit by a heavy luggage from the back of the car. Another passenger was slightly wounded.

Maria Cioncan obtained a bronze medal in the 1500 m run at the Athens Olympics in 2004. She’s been an athlete for 16 years., Jan 22, 2007

Governing alliance survives scandals

The Democrats accused prime minister Tariceanu of influencing the Justice system. The Liberals summons the president back within the Constitutional frame. No one backs up, still the two parties seem to stick together in the governing alliance.

After an emergency meeting that lasted for a few hours, the Liberals declared their total support for the Government and the Prime Minister. Liberals expressed the hope that Democrats would act maturely, so that the Alliance wouldn't go to war.
The Liberal official statements indicate president Traian Basescu as the only one responsible for the scandal on influencing Justice.

Meanwhile, the Democrats roughly criticize Tariceanu's practice in influencing Justice and totally supports president Basescu's gesture, according to the Democrat Party president, Emil Boc.

About the letter sent by Tariceanu to Basescu, asking him to intervene in favor of a Liberal businessman, Democrats say that "we don't know whether it's influence trafficking or not, but it's definitely crossing the borders of each power in the state. It is not admissible for an administration institution to intervene in Justice processes"., Jan 19, 2007

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Tariceanu sacks popular minister

Prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu released from his function Sebastian Bodu, the president of the Fiscal Administration Agency (ANAF), a seat equal to the one as ministerial state secretary. The official reason: "Misleading the public opinion in governmental matters, through political statements", a Government press release informs.

Bodu is a member of the Democrat Party and recently had a few rounds of arguments with the Liberal Finance Minister Sebastian Vladescu, in the matter of some taxes and duties.

Tariceanu, according to the release, considers "unacceptable for a state secretary to challenge governmental decisions, instead of contributing to their fair application. Through his actions, he positioned himself outside the structure he was employed in".

The invoked statements are the ones on the first car registration tax, discussed by Bodu with a reporter from Evenimentul Zilei. Bodu believed the tax may contribute to a growth in the tax evasion practices.

"The first registration tax doesn't come against the European regulations. The only problem is the size of the tax, currently established by the Parliament, when the governmental version was an European one", the release shows.

Our note: Poland lost a lawsuit yesterday in the European Justice, because a Polish citizen considered this tax as abusive. The Polish state may have to return 555 million euros collected from the tax during 2007., Jan 19, 2007

President presents foreign policy goals

President Traian Basescu presented on Friday the main goals of the Romanian foreign policy for 2007, in front of the representatives of diplomatic missions to Bucharest. According to the chief of state, Romania's priorities in 2007 are to promote an "open-doors policy", to find solutions for the ongoing conflicts in the Balkans and to support the energy security.

Traian Basescu believes that the European Union should be more convincing in the international area and impose itself in the new international political configuration.

"Europe's ambition to build a credible and efficient foreign project depends on its capacity to manage its interior challenges, some of it being far from being simple tasks, if we think of the Constitution Treaty".

In energy, Basescu pleads for the diversifying, liberalization and co-operation between the political and economic players, as well as for investments in research and development.

Basescu also declared that Romania would support Moldova's accession to the EU, promoting an "open-doors policy" and asking for Moldova to be treated just like the rest of the West-Balkans states.

The second interest area would be Kosovo, where the international community must prove it can offer a viable solution. "Romania intends to provide for this region all the instruments and mechanism needed to fight the illegal traffic of any kind and to fight terrorism", said Basescu.

At the same time, Romania will fulfill all its promises made towards NATO, including those referring to the war in Iraq. "The accession to the EU won't alter the way we see NATO, on the contrary, it would plead for a co-operation between EU and NATO", says president Basescu., Jan 19, 2007

Storm hits Romania, yellow alert

The weather prognosis for today proved to be true. The strong winds caused several trees to fall on the 17th and 18th national roads (DN), causing major traffic disturbances. It rains in the Northern Romania and Transylvania, while some snow falls in the mountains.

The winds continue with over 100 kilometers per hour strength. Several counties - all Transylvania, the Western border and the seaside counties - are in yellow alert state.

Even stronger winds are expected all over the country on Friday and Saturday.
- The traffic is closed on the 18th national road (DN 18), between Carlibaba and Botos.
- A rend tree fell on the gym building of a school in Straja, Hunedoara, without causing any victims.
- Over 200 villages in Transylvania have the power cut due to accidents on the power line.
- In Europe, the same storm led to the death of 44, over half of them in Germany (11) and UK (14)., Jan 19, 2007

Governing alliance survives scandals

The Democrats accused prime minister Tariceanu of influencing the Justice system. The Liberals summons the president back within the Constitutional frame. No one backs up, still the two parties seem to stick together in the governing alliance.

After an emergency meeting that lasted for a few hours, the Liberals declared their total support for the Government and the Prime Minister. Liberals expressed the hope that Democrats would act maturely, so that the Alliance wouldn't go to war.
The Liberal official statements indicate president Traian Basescu as the only one responsible for the scandal on influencing Justice.

Meanwhile, the Democrats roughly criticize Tariceanu's practice in influencing Justice and totally supports president Basescu's gesture, according to the Democrat Party president, Emil Boc.

About the letter sent by Tariceanu to Basescu, asking him to intervene in favor of a Liberal businessman, Democrats say that "we don't know whether it's influence trafficking or not, but it's definitely crossing the borders of each power in the state. It is not admissible for an administration institution to intervene in Justice processes"., Jan 19, 2007

Dutch Aegon and Transylvania Bank form joint venture for Romanian Market

The Dutch company Aegon and Banca Transilvania signed an agreement memorandum on the forming and management of a joint venture company addressing the Romanian life insurance market, a press release informs. The company will be formed this summer, with each of the two institutions holding 50% of the deal.

The insurance company will be headquartered in the city of Cluj and will offer co-branded products through Transylvania's 340 banking units. The Aegon release also informs that another similar joint venture will be opened for the obligatory private pensions.

Aegon, the second largest insurance company in Holland, announced its intention to enter the Romanian market since December 2006. The company controlled, at the end of 2005, 24% of the Dutch private pensions market.

The Transylvania Bank had a 23.7 million euros net profit during the first nine months of 2006, 15% more compared to 2005., Jan 19, 2007

Car market grows 18.9%

The new cars market grew almost 19% in 2006, up to 256,364 units, a press release from the Car Importers' and Producers' Association (APIA) informs.

Local producer Dacia, owned by Renault, still leads in the sales top, with 96,037 units sold and a 37.5% market share. Dacia is followed by another local producer, Daewoo, with 23,075 units and a 9% market share.

The top continues with Renault (21,395 units, 8.3% market share) and Skoda (20,541 units, 8% market share).

The best selling imported model continues to be Renault Clio, with over 13,249 cars sold. Skoda follows with its Fabia model, 7,629 cars sold.

Renault Megan is the third ranking, with 6,882 units.

Opel's Astra Classic had the most spectacular evolution, with a 210% growth, up to 6,103 units., Jan 19, 2007

Le Figaro: Dacia break - best deal of the year

Romanian car producer Dacia - builder of the cheap berlin - launched in 2006 a break model for seven persons. The price / comfort report is unbeatable, daily “Le Figaro” notes, claiming that Dacia's product is the deal of the year. The model was officially launched in September, during the World Auto Show.

"In the middle of the sales season, we found a new break, for 8,800 euros in the five seats version and 10,640 euros for the seven seats".
In Eastern Europe, the price starts at 7,600 but the price is extremely competitive for this kind of car, the French journalists note.

Dacia/Renault delivered to France some 10,000 cars in 2005 and some 20,000 in 2006. Dacia will offer an 100,000 kilometers guarantee for most European states, a Renault press release informs., Jan 19, 2007

Romania's real estate market is under-developed

Bulgaria is currently a much more attractive market for foreign players on the real estate market, while Romania is seen as a secondary market, despite its good output.
The accession of the two countries to the EU increased the trust percentage from potential investors, mainly for the British and Irish, a fact that would lead to an increasing amount of transactions, according to International Herald Tribune.

"It is rather a psychological problem, investors considering until now that Romania and Bulgaria are risky targets", says Georgi Dutchev, editor in chief at the Bulgarian Properties Xpress real estate magazine. "EU brings more safety and transparency for investments".

Despite the true boom lately, the two countries continue to practice the lowest real estate prices in the EU states., Jan 19, 2007

What the newspapers say: January 19, 2007

All news today circle the scandal involving the entire political class. President Basescu, Prime Minister Tariceanu, even the former governing alliance members, the Conservatives, as well as the Opposition snowball the story on the "influence demand" Tariceanu sent to Basescu.
Tariceanu says he's the one who was threatened, Conservatives say Basescu tried to influence its former Economy Minister, Codrut Seres, while the social democrat Opposition points as the scandal and assumes what's left in the political credibility.

"Orange bloodbath" is the title in Evenimentul Zilei, describing the open war between presidency and government.
In short, Basescu says that Tariceanu asked him to influence the Prosecutor General in the case of oil magnate and high ranked Liberal Dinu Patriciu.
Tariceanu explains that the Prosecution abuses signaled by Patriciu were gathered in a file, sent to Basescu and it was normal to ask the president's intervention, since he's the one protecting the Constitution.

Since Basescu didn't stop there, Tariceanu replied roughly, accusing the president of governing his own group of influence, while "Patriciu's group of influence is the one giving jobs".
Tariceanu nominated a construction businessman (Dorin Umbrarescu) who allegedly was sent to the Transport Minister Gheorghe Dobre, sent by Basescu "to be taken care of".

PM Tariceanu continued, showing that Elena Udrea, former presidential counselor, aka "the Cotroceni blonde" was the involved of a mafia-like group dealing with Spain visas and transport for Romanian Workers.

The last accusation launched by Tariceanu, proven through a short message on his mobile phone (Gandul) is that the decision to change the managers in the State Patrimony Management Agency (RAAPPS) upset a "group of interests" so much that he was repeatedly threatened with a scandal similar to the one going on.

Meanwhile, Wall Street Journal reads that the scandal worries the European Union, having too many similarities with the Yukos case (Evenimentul Zilei, Gandul).

The cherry on top was the intervention of the Conservative president, Dan Voiculescu, who claimed that the same kind of demand, or even worse, was sent by president Basescu to the Economy Minister at the time, Codrut Seres.
The note allegedly sent by Basescu was about one of the aluminum companies in Romania, ALRO, held, like the rest of the aluminum companies, by Russians.
"Mr. minister Codrut Seres, please analyze the letter and take your actions according to the best interest of the Government and, if possible, in the best interest of the National Economy". (Gandul)

Conservatives only shown the first page of the report, saying that the rest is about ALRO, "otherwise an honorable company".
Still, same Gandul) found out about an Anti Corruption Prosecution Office report that points at the ALRO owners who, helped by a member of the recent "spies group" sent to court, used occult methods to consolidate their relationship with local decision-makers.

But enough about that. Returning to our usual bad news, the European magazine Cafebabel sees Romania as extremely corrupt, with pensions ridiculously small and bribe as a way of living, a kind of needed second wage, given the average income of 230 euros per month (Evenimentul Zilei).

Corrupt or not, the Romanian Justice managed (after many years) to convict the "always controversial - never proven guilty" businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vantu.
Suspect in the bankruptcy of the National Investment Fund (FNI), where hundreds of millions of euros vanished without a trace, Vantu was convicted for false statements, other accusations being already annulled due to prescription. The court decision is still open to appeal. More in Evenimentul Zilei.
The same paper also shows that Vantu's television, Realitatea TV, won’t lose its license, although the law imposes it, simply because Vantu isn't involved in any paperwork and it can't be proven that it's his station.

Another controversial real estate and football businessman, illiterate politician Gigi Becali, better known as "The Shepard" also wants to open a TV station "for Christian education", same Evenimentul Zilei found out.

In its spare time, the country only goes from poor to poorer. The budget deficit is now 8.85 % (after the first 11 months of 2006), 44.8% (!) more year over year, Romania Libera reads.

Poor or not, Romanians spent 2 billion euros in 2006 for imported food (Gandul). The bad news is that the export of food or agriculture products was only 764.3 million euros, meaning that the budget deficit was influenced a great deal by mere hunger.

And, to make sure it would spend even more on nothing, the Government prepares to go to court against the EU for an absurd tax on the vehicles' first registration. Maybe the Polish example yesterday will serve as a lesson: after losing against a natural person, the Polish government may see itself soon forced to return 555 million euros to those who paid the un-European tax.
(Cotidianul)., Jan 19, 2007

New twist in Bucharest scandal: Conservative leader charges President

The head of the Romanian Conservative Party-PC Dan Voiculescu sparked a new political scandal on Thursday with charges that President Traian Basescu has intervened in favour of interest groups.

This is a new twist in a scandal that’s been rocking Romanian politics for a week and that peaked with mutual accusations of abuse between the head and state and prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu.

“I publicly accuse (President Basescu) of traffic of influence. We have a document, a resolution signed by Traian Basescu, in which he asks former (Economy) minister Codrut Seres to intervene in favour of some interest groups”, Voiculescu said in a press conference today.

Voiculescu leads the small Conservative Party which after, shady electoral deals in 2004, took part in the governing coalition until last year when it withdrew over political conflicts with the head of state. Codrut Seres is a member of the PC.

Voiculescu said the groups of interests Seres was allegedly urged to contact were dealing with aluminum producer Alro Slatina, which was acquired by Marco company.

Presidency spokeswoman Adriana Saftoiu dismissed the charges and said that the situation was much simpler: Marco sent a notification suggesting industry-related “solution” to the President and what Basescu did was to forward the document to minister Seres to analyze the document. Saftoiu said it was nothing but a usual procedure., Jan 18, 2007

Major real estate project for tens of thousands of Norway pensioners in Romania

The Teknopark company plans to launch a major real estate project aimed at offering homes to about 100,000 Norwegian pensioners who are due to settle in Romania and Turkey.

The 20 billion USD project was confirmed for by one of the partners in the program, Acsur Holding, according to which the future location for Romania will be chosen between the Black Sea coast cities of Medgidia or Constanta.

The first phase of the project will be launched in the town of Cesme, according to the electronic edition of Turkish newspaper Sabah.

Husein Acsur, one of the partners, confirmed for that the project was in the phase of feasibility studies and that in Romania it will be launched either in Constanta or Medgidia, where land has already been acquired.

The project is headed by ODTU (Middle East Technical University). It eyes the construction of 20 mini-towns in the two countries as “second homes” for Norwegian pensioners. The project was ordered by the Norwegian government two years ago., Jan 18, 2007

EU hearkens to political scandal in Bucharest

Members of the European Parliament expressed concern about the political crisis currently developing in Bucharest on Thursday and say it affects the image of the country and Romanian politicians’ capacity to govern.

While Hannes Swoboda, deputy head of the Socialist group in the EP, said the crisis was unacceptable, Baroness Emma Nicholson, EP ex-rapporteur for Romania, believes the scandal has yet to affect the image of the country.

There might be such an effect unless the situation is managed with maximum efficiency, Nicholson told Radio France International, insisting that the open conflict between Romanian President Traian Basescu and PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu must not become a stick for the EP to beat Romania with.

But Hannes Swoboda said he was disappointed with the attitude of Romanian politicians but that there have been such cases in other European countries as well. He recalled that many MEPs opposed Romania’s accession to the EU because of corruption there and warned that the ongoing scandal might seriously affect the image of the country before the EP.

The statements come as President Basescu showed the media on a letter sent to him by PM Tariceanu two years ago, in which he is asked to intervene in a judicial case launched against oil mogul Dinu Patriciu, known for his close relationship with the PM. Tariceanu dismissed that the letter, which is unclearly worded, meant what Basescu understood.

But he continued with similar attacks, accusing the president of supporting a group of oligarchs.

The head of the European Liberals Annemie Neyts, meanwhile, says the note that Liberal PM Tariceanu sent to President Basescu was not an interference with justice procedures, but it might have a side-effect on EP elections due to take place in Romania.

And Timo Summa, head for Romania and Bulgaria within the enlargement department of the European Commission, told the Wall Street Journal that the EC was worried about the situation., Jan 18, 2007

Parties take stand in political scandal

Major political parties in Romania took stand in the conflict between President Traian Basescu and PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu on Thursday.

The Demcoratic Party-PD took sides with the head of state, Tariceanu’s Liberals-PNL warn Basescu to return to constitutionality, while the main opposition group, the Social Democrats-PSD, want both to suffer the repercussions for the open conflict sparked yesterday.

The PNL leadership met in an emergency session today and stated their total support for the government and the prime minister. They also said they hoped PD will prove mature enough not to turn the PNL-PD alliance into a war zone. But they put all the blame for the ongoing scandal on President Basescu, whom they accuse of trying to subordinate the state institutions, including the Government.

For their part, the PD leadership condemned Tariceanu’s “practice of influencing Justice” and said they fully supported President Basescu in the situation. But they said it was not their party who should consider leaving the government, but PM Tariceanu, as they would agree with continuing the current power-sharing scheme.

But the Social Democrats said earlier that both the prime minister and the head of state should answer for the political crisis.

They called for the resignation of Tariceanu, who was “proven” to have been involved in “serious corruption”, and for the suspension of President Basescu, whom they consider guilty for keeping silent for two years over Tariceanu’s alleged intervention in favor of a businessman., Jan 18, 2007

President demands proof on "circle of oligarchs"

Romanian President Traian Basescu demands PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu to publicly present proof to support his accusations that a group of oligarchs has influence over the Romanian head of state, the Presidency announced in a press release on Thursday.

The announcement was made a day after Basescu engaged in a fierce and unprecedented exchange of accusations between Basescu and Tariceanu, shaking the power-sharing coalition in Bucharest.

On Wednesday, Basescu showed the media a letter sent to him by PM Tariceanu two years ago, in which he is asked to intervene in a judicial case launched against oil mogul Dinu Patriciu, known for his close relationship with the PM.

Also yesterday, Basescu, a Democrat, said it was then that he lost his trust in Liberal Tariceanu but kept the note secret because such a scandal would have threatened Romania’s EU accession efforts at the time. Tariceanu dismissed that the letter, which is unclearly worded, meant what Basescu understood.

But he continued with similar attacks, accusing the president of supporting a group of oligarchs.

Now, Basescu urges PM Tariceanu to “urgently” submit requests to revoke ministers who allegedly operated to support “the so-called groups of interests at the Cotroceni Palace”, the headquarters of the Presidency.

Unless Tariceanu fails to do so, Basescu believes the prime minister’s statements are nothing but smoke aimed at covering his own deeds before the public opinion.

The Presidency intervention comes as Romanian prosecutor-general Laura Codruta Kovesi said on Thursday that her institution was analyzing Tariceanu’s letter to Basescu to see whether there is enough proof to launch an inquiry into the issue.

The scandal was sparked by revelations a former presidential aide made on TV last week. Basescu’s ex-counselor Elena Udrea was the first to speak of the existence of Tariceanu’s letter., Jan 18, 2007

PM Tariceanu: I received threats

Romanian PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu, facing open political conflict with President Traian Basescu these days, showed journalists during a visit to the city of Calarasi on Thursday a threatening message he received on his private phone.

The message, related to the change of the manager of the state institution, starts with “Dear Calin” and continues with threats that unless the PM revokes several decisions on RA-APPS, the state protocol authority, he would face risky revelations in the media.

On October 25, 2006, RAAPPS general manager Cristian Vlaicu, a member of the Democratic Party-PD, was dismissed and replaced with his deputy Adrian Dumitru, a member of the National Liberal Party-PNL. PD, brought to power by President Traian Basescu, and PNL, led by PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu, form the core of the governing coalition in Bucharest.

The coalition risks falling apart after Tariceanu and Basescu declared open war to each other in unprecedented mutual attacks on Thursday.

RAAPPS is a structure subordinated to the General Secretariat of the Government-SGG and has been the subject of a wave of revelations that it was used by various groups as a lucrative sink to suck state funds. The SGG argued Vlaicu’s dismissal with a series of real-estate irregularities reported in 2005., Jan 18, 2007

Romanian political stage reaches boiling point

Romania’s biggest parliamentary parties convoked extraordinary leadership sessions on Thursday to establish their position in the all-out war apparently under way after President Traian Basescu accused PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu of abuse yesterday, just to become the target of similar attacks from the head of government.

The permanent board of the Social Democratic Party-PSD, the main opposition group in Romania, convened in a special session this morning to establish its strategy on how to deal with the president-prime minister conflict.

Senate speaker and PSD member Nicolae Vacaroiu said prior to the meeting that a decision would be made whether to submit a motion against both the prime minister and the head of state.

That comes after President Basescu showed on Wednesday a letter sent to him by PM Tariceanu two years ago, in which he is asked to intervene in a judicial case launched against oil mogul Dinu Patriciu, known for his close relationship with the PM.

Basescu, a Democrat, said it was then that he lost his trust in Liberal Tariceanu but kept the note secret because such a scandal would have threatened Romania’s EU accession efforts at the time.

Tariceanu dismissed that the letter, which is unclearly worded, meant what Basescu understood. But he continued with similar attacks, accusing the president of supporting a group of oligarchs.

Tariceanu’s Liberals also gather for an extraordinary session in the afternoon today after informal talks this morning, to discuss the evolution and set a strategy to counter Basescu’s statements.

The Democratic Party is also due to discuss the serious implications of Tariceanu’s letter, as party leader Emil Boc said., Jan 18, 2007

Enel to invest 3.5 bln euro in Romania, Bulgaria

Italian company Enel will invest over 1.5 billion euro until 2015 in the modernization of electricity distribution systems in Romania and 2 billion for the construction of a nuclear plant in Bulgaria, Enel head Piero Gnudi said in Sofia, quoted by Forbes magazine.

The investment program for Romania eyes power distribution companies where Enel holds the majority stake. It controls 51% of Electrica Banat and Electrica Dobrogea and bought 67.5% at Electrica Muntenia Sud last year.

In Bulgaria, Enel plans a 49% participation in the Belene nuclear plant, where total construction costs are evaluated at 4 billion euro., Jan 18, 2007

Weather warning: strong winds to affect Romania

Romanian meteorologists warned on Thursday that after days of weirdly beautiful, warm weather in mid-winter weather will change significantly as strong winds are expected throughout the country until January 20.

Wind is expected to blow harder in the mountains and in northern Romania. And temperatures are expected to drop a little, but will remain very high for the month of January., Jan 18, 2007

Romanian President in open conflict with prime minister

In a press conference on Wednesday, President Basescu confirmed the fact that prime minister Tariceanu asked him through a hand-written note to attempt to influence the Justice.

Basescu said that PM Tariceanu offered him a "partnership with our oligarchs". The secrecy on this note, lasting for over two years is also explained by Basescu: "the government would have lost its credibility, thus jeopardizing the accession to the European Union".

"It was then when I lost confidence in the prime minister". The document that stirred the scandal "is not very interesting, it just asks a question, after announcing me about a report on Petromidia, whether I would talk to the prosecutors about the case", says Basescu.

PM Tariceanu responded immediately: "I looked all day and saw nothing but lies", said Tariceanu in the opening of his speech. The prime minister says that the note doesn't contain anything illegal and is not a demand to influence Justice.

"The document only intended to draw the president's attention towards important illegal actions took by state's representatives", says Tariceanu, adding that "This attack is caused by the fact that I refused to become a puppet in the political and economical games of president Basescu"., Jan 17, 2007

Mogul S.O. Vantu receives two year sentence, may challenge verdict

The Bucharest District 1 Court judges sentenced Romanian controversial businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vantu to two years in prison over charges related to the use of false documents on Thursday, but the verdict may be challenged at a higher court. The verdict was given in a case related to the rise and fall of the Bank for Investments and Development-BID.

Judges re-opened the case after several months in which it was passed to one court to another as SO Vantu’s attorneys invoked a series of procedural irregularities.

The case returned to the District 1 Court after the High Court of Jusdtice rejected S.O. Vantu’s way of defense. In the case related to the establishment of BID, the businessman - who returned to limelight with a series of media deals last year - was first found guilty in 2005., Jan 18, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Guardian: Sibiu, one of the most attractive cities

UK Daily "The Guardian" included the Romanian city of Sibiu, aka "European Cultural Capital 2007", in its "50 most fabulous tourism locations in the world" top. The attractions in Sibiu, according to the newspaper, are the coffee-shop culture, the architecture - from gothic to art nouveau - and the city fortifications.

Guardian's top has several categories, Sibiu being included among the "new destinations", along with the Lakshadweep islands, Sarajevo, Yemen, Algeria and the cruises on the Yangtze river.

According to The Guardian, a seven-day trip to Sibiu costs 727 UK pounds, transport included., Jan 17, 2007

EP: Eyes on Romania

With Hans-Gert Poettering as new head of the European Parliament, Romanians can bet that all their commitments, made in order to become European citizens, are to be strictly monitored. reminds that the new EP president pleaded not long ago for a "fair accession" for Romania and Bulgaria, by "fair" understanding "profitable" for the main European states.

In other words, the European politician is rather concerned with the cost / advantage report Europe has in accepting the two countries as members.
The strategic position Romania has is a minor argument for Poettering, in case the financial balance is negative for the EU., Jan 17, 2007

Romania - cheapest luxury apartments in Europe

The price for luxury apartments in Bucharest is still one of the lowest in Europe. The average price is 2,400 euros per square meter in Bucharest, compared to the absolute "champion of expensive": Monaco's 24,000 euros per square meter, a study by Global Property Guide indicates.

Still, luxury apartments in Romania cost more than in Hungary and Poland, which have a much lower market.

The second most expensive place is London, where a square meter in downtown is 10,000 UK pounds - some 15,000 euros. London is followed by Paris and Amsterdam, where a 120 square meters apartment usually costs some 800,000 euros.

Moscow is the sixth most expensive in Europe, but cash transactions and laws that may change at any time make this market unattractive., Jan 17, 2007

Seaside resorts for sale

The State Assets Agency (AVAS) authorized its representative in the Olimp Estival 2002 company to vote for the sale of one of the resorts it manages. The company will open for sale an entire complex, which includes a hotel, a restaurant and a swimming pool.

To AVAS officials, the company goes through a difficult financial phase, with significant debt and income lower than it requires to function normally and pay its bills.

"We tried to contract a credit, mortgaging one of the hotels, so that we could pay our debt and ensure the cash flow, but none of the banks agreed to offer this credit", said Teodor Atanasiu, AVAS president.

"We'll take the last action possible, selling the only hotel that is not mortgaged", Atanasiu added.

The sale of the assets will be made through public auction, with a starting price determined by an independent evaluator., Jan 17, 2007