Romania - Leadership

The election of Iliescu in 2000 was greeted with apprehension by many in the West due to his association with the Ceausescu regime and his brutal suppression of student protests in 1990. Iliescu insisted he had changed, however, and soon was traveling extensively in the West claiming Romania could make significant reforms and become a liberal democracy on the European model. He appointed as prime minister Adrian Nastase of the Social Democratic Party, a lawyer, former foreign minister, and widely respected academic who has held prestigious posts at several international institutions. Iliescu began making the difficult steps needed to further push the economy toward a free market model. In 2001, the government secured a large loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the condition that it continue to sell or shut down many of the inefficient or superfluous state-owned enterprises that had been draining the government of money since 1989. It also won support from both the United States and the United Kingdom to be considered for membership in the EU and NATO. Iliescu was unable to secure Romania's membership in the EU during its new round of expansion announced in December 2002. In November 2002, however, NATO formally invited Romania to join the organization, with accession slated for 2004.

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