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Thursday, November 11, 2004
Romania's twin presidential and parliamentary elections later this month may briefly interrupt but not derail preparations by the Balkan country to join the European Union in 2007, analysts say.
The ruling Social Democrats (PSD) say their chief EU negotiator Vasile Puscas is working day and night to conclude membership talks with the EU before the November 28 polls.
Even if he succeeds, it will have only a symbolic meaning because the real challenge faced by whoever forms the next government will be to implement several major reforms required before EU entry, analysts say.
They say the opposition centre-right alliance (PNL-PD) may be better suited for the task even though they will need a transition period at first to learn the complex EU business.
The two rival groups are running neck-and-neck ahead of the poll, with surveys showing the PSD's failure to curb rampant corruption has become the central issue for many Romanians.
The EU and independent analysts say the PSD, a party of former communists, have dragged their feet with some key EU-linked reforms, mainly in the areas of justice, competition and environment protection.
Failing to close negotiations in these so-called "chapters" put Romania behind neighbour Bulgaria in EU entry preparations. The two countries form the EU's second eastward expansion after 10 new mostly ex-communist members joined in May.
The EU has also expressed concern about media freedom in Romania after a spate of incidents in which newspapers and journalists critical of the government had been muzzled.
The PSD hope that the booming economy and progress it has made on the way to the EU will convince voters they should be trusted with another term in power.
Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 11/11/2004 10:03:00 am
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