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“Good bye, Elena Udrea!” 23/12/2010

Posted by allthingsro in politics, translations.
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The resignation of state counsellor Elena Udrea has been accepted. Today President Traian Băsescu will sign a decree releasing her from her functions. Asked yesterday to comment on his counsellor’s gesture, the head of state did not make any statement. He only said a polite “Good bye!”. Journalists have translated this as: “Good bye, Elena Udrea!”.

Resignation follows virulent attacks

Elena Udrea’s resignation was announced on 21 October 2005 in a dry press release by the Public Communications Department of the Presidential Administration. Elena Udrea explained that her decision to leave the Presidential Palace in Cotroceni was due to “profoundly unjust attacks” against her and against others who support the President’s anti-corruption drive. These attacks, she said, are “so virulent that they can only be explained by a fear that the law will be applied”. According to the press release, the former state counsellor sees the recent press accusations as completely groundless. “Not a single one of the mass media’s accusations against me demonstrates my membership of any kind of corruption syndicate,” declared Udrea, adding that she did not want to become a “a vulnerability for the measures undertaken by the President of Romania” as a result of “repeated insinuations”. At the end of the press release, Elena Udrea, nicknamed the “Blonde from Cotroceni” by the Romanian press, expressed her faith in the President’s power to “complete the reform of Romanian society” and affirmed that she will remain “an active supporter” of the head of state.

Image mistakes

Following her boss’ example, Adriana Săftoiu, spokesperson for the Presidential Administration, refused to give any kind of comment on Elena Udrea’s resignation. Recently she had, however, declared that Elena Udrea had made a series of “image-related mistakes”, without any one of them being catastrophic in her opinion. From the day she was appointed to the Presidential Palace, Elena Udrea had repeatedly delighted a sensationalist press with her outfits, which were considered unsuitable for the post of state counsellor. Even President Traian Băsescu suggested after an official visit to Russia that she should adapt her look to all meetings she participated in. The press also delighted in the state counsellor’s gaffes on a television programme when she did not know that Norway is ruled by a king and that it isn’t a member of the European Union.

Press accusations

The names of Elena Udrea and her husband, Dorin Cocoş, have been linked in particular with the “couple” Adrian Petrache-Alexandru Bittner, after President Băsescu said that the latter are in charge of “Adrian Năstase’s personal mafia”. The target of the accusations was Dalli Exim SA, the firm which manages all the car parks in central Bucharest. It was auctioned off after it won the concession in 1995, when Crin Halaicu was Mayor of Bucharest. The ten-year contract expired at the end of 2005. Founded in 1993, the firm Dalli Exim SA counts amongst its founders Dorin Cocoş, the husband of Elena Udrea, and Adrian Petrache, friend and business partner of Alexandru Bittner.

The most recent accusations levelled at the tandem Cocoş-Bittner concern the monopoly over medical tests which Romanians going abroad have to undergo, as well as the association between Dorin Cocoş and Cristian Vlaicu, director of RAAPPS (a national agency which manages heritage property in state ownership), who was appointed to his current position as a result of an intervention by Elena Udrea according to newspaper articles.

Reactions

The leaders of the Romanian Social Democratic Party, Mircea Geoană and Adrian Năstase – leaders of a party with big legal problems: many former ministers are currently under investigation – said at a press conference that Elena Udrea’s resignation demonstrates the existence of a corruption syndicate, of which President Traian Băsescu has spoken many times.

“It shows that corruption syndicates do not avoid those currently in power,” said the president of the social democrats. For his part, Adrian Năstase suggested that there was a conflict between the Prime Minister’s syndicate and the President’s. The resignation of State Counsellor Elena Udrea was also welcomed by the “Europa” Academic Association for Public Administration. However, in a press release, the president of the association, Bogdan Drăghici, expressed his disappointment that Elena Udrea had not been sacked by President Traian Băsescu following the recent revelations about the activities of the Udrea-Dorin Cocoş tandem. Before this edition went to press, the leaders of the Justice and Truth Alliance between the ruling National Liberal Party and Democratic Party had not reacted to this matter.

Jokes

Yesterday, a joke about Elena Udrea’s future career rapidly spread in certain political circles:

“What is Mrs Cocoş going to do after leaving the Presidential Palace?”

“She is going to run for President of Norway!”

 

This article by Andreea Nicolae appeared in the newspaper România Liberă on 24 October 2005. Translation by Daisy Waites.

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