West 'Betrayed Fighters'

INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT

The new Romanian President Emil Constantinescu has expressed disappointment with Western governments' lack of support for those fighting for democratic change in other parts of the world.

In an exclusive interview with the Monitor, Mr. Constantinescu says he was surprised by the post-cold war policies of Western nations toward Eastern Europe.

He says they have provided support to authoritarian governments in the interest of stability.

"After 200 years of successful democracy, I'm afraid even the United States seems most unconfident in the strength of popular democracy," he says. "The West is always inclined to support stability abroad, and the most convenient form of stability is often authoritarian or dictatorial."

The president's remarks come while popular demonstrations challenge less than democratic regimes in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Albania, and follow his recent defeat of former Communists in November elections.

The neo-Communist regimes that emerged after 1989 provided the West with "protection against organized crime and unwanted immigration and even gave them a basis for feeling superior. But by supporting them, the West betrayed those fighting for democratic change," he adds.

Constantinescu credits ordinary Romanians with having the courage to vote for change, even as they knew that needed economic reforms would cause them great difficulty in the short term.

Asked if his government faces challenges from remnants of Ceausescu's security police, he acknowledges that such forces exist, but says "the extent of popular support during the elections has them afraid to take actions."

Most Romanians believe that covert intelligence and security elements still exercise considerable power behind the scenes, a paranoia given credence by the previous government's obstruction of investigations into the Ceausescu period, the 1989 revolution, the Tigru Mures riots, and other events.

Constantinescu says that he has spoken with "certain officials" of the various security agencies. "We have the support of the people and we cannot be blackmailed or bought," he said. "They have nowhere to go."

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