Romania, Hard Hit by Iraqi Sanctions, Seeks Relief With AM-US-Gulf, Bjt
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Romania has been particularly hard hit by its support for sanctions against Iraq and needs credits and other economic help from the United States and other countries, Ambassador Virgil Constantinescu said Thursday.
In return, Constantinescu said, Romania might be able to produce fuel for U.S. jet fighters based in Saudi Arabia.
″We are badly affected,″ he told reporters. ″But the decisions were right and have to be carried out.″
The ambassador was explaining his country’s plight at the embassy shortly before President Bush said at a news conference that his aides were developing a strategy to help the countries hardest hit by the sanctions.
A State Department official who spoke on condition of not being identified said the details of the plan were yet to be formulated and it was unknown how much Romania would be included in the assistance.
The United States, angered by Romanian suppression of dissidents and demonstrators last June, has suspended non-humanitarian aid to the country and has refused to grant it favored trade status.
Ambassador Constantinescu said Romania was still in the process of moving away from the communism practiced under overthrown President Nicolae Ceausescu.
Nonetheless, he said, Romania has enacted the legal framework for free elections on a par with other emerging democracies in Eastern Europe, and those countries have been granted favored trade status.
Because of the sanctions, Iraq has halted repayment to Romania on a debt of 1.7 billion dollars, Constantinescu said. Since the payment was being made in the form of crude oil, Romania is having to cut back production in its oil refineries by 25 percent.
Romania also had a number of joint ventures with Iraq that are having to be curtailed, he said. Iraq was Romania’s main trading partner in the developing world and its eighth-ranking trading partner overall.
Constantinescu said Romania was suffering from an unjustifiably bad image in the capital markets around the world.
″Nobody is ready to give money to Romania,″ he said.