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Elena Udrea: Minister of Conjugal Tourism 26/09/2010

Posted by allthingsro in politics, quirks.
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Controversial figures and entrepreneurs with dubious pasts have made their way into the government formed by prime minister elect Emil Boc on 18 December 2008. Emil Boc’s cabinet has brought both the right (the Democratic-Liberal Party – PDL) and the left (the Social Democratic Party – PSD) into government. The cabinet awaits Parliament’s endorsement.

The government is one of dubious combines. Elena Udrea, the PDL’s nominee for Tourism Minister, is an important satellite on the orbit of businesses with the logo “Alexandru Bittner – Adrian Petrache”, an axis which President Traian Băsescu once described as “Adrian Năstase’s personal mafia”.

The Blonde from Cotroceni enters in government

Elena Udrea, nick-named the “Blonde from Cotroceni” by the Romanian press named due to her frequent visits to the presidential palace Cotroceni, is the new Tourism Minister. She manages the holdings of the countless businesses operated by her husband, Dorin Cocoş, and his traditional associates. Her husband owns the two Eurohotels in Bucharest, and Cocoş’ old partners – whom President Traian Băsescu collectively labelled the “Băneasa mafia” – are linchpins in the business holdings managed by Elena Udrea.

In July 2003, the National Trade Register Office issued a certificate of registration for the tourism company “Turism şi Agrement SA” (“Tourism and Amusement”). With its registered office in the village of Jurilovca in Tulcea County, the shareholding was divided between Piscicola Tour (54% stake), controlled by Alexandru Bittner through an offshore intermediary incorporated in London, and the state company Mamaia SA (45% stake). These shares are held by the Minister for Small and Medium-Sized Companies, which is also the source of the portfolio entrusted to Elena Udrea.

The road to “Eden”

The Danube Delta is a strategic objective for Romanian tourism, and Cocoş’ former partners have turned it into an inexhaustible profit stream. The resort Eden at the seaside of Gura Portiţei on the Black Sea is an extensive tourism business owned by the controversial figure Alexandru Bittner, the former business partner of the Udrea-Cocoş family. In 2000, the former state company Piscicola Jurilovca signed an association agreement with the company Pharmamed Sanitas. Through a succession of holding companies appears the company Piscicola Tour, a smokescreen for Alexandru Bittner. The entrepreneur abandoned the initial objective of the association with the former state company (fishing and harvesting reeds) and succeeded in getting his hands on over five hectares in one of the most lusted-after tourist destinations in Europe: Gura Portiţei. In 2003, Alexandru Bittner opened – with great pomp – the holiday village Eden, a mini-resort located on a strip of land between the Black Sea and Razim Lake in the Danube Delta.

When the newspaper EVZ contacted Elena Udrea, she largely avoided commenting on the possible incompatibility between her future position and her husband’s business activities. “I do not want to make a declaration now. For the time being, nothing is set in stone; there are still a few steps to go through before I become minister. But in any case, the Tourism Minister is involved in something completely different. He makes policy; he does not get involved with private proprietors, hotels or developers. But it is too soon to talk about that,“ said Elena Udrea.

Extract from an article by Liviana Rotaru and Andrei Crăciun in Evenimental Zilei on 19 December 2008. Translation by Daisy Waites



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