Gabriel Oprea, the WikiLeaks deserter

Gabriel Oprea is the greatest deserter of the PSD and the leader of the parliamentarians who claim to be independent, also deserters from PSD and PNL. This is the current Deputy prime Minister’s profile, made by the USA Embassy in Bucharest, in 2009-2010, according to documents published by WikiLeaks. General Oprea is described as an opportunist politician, who supported, both politically and financially, former President Traian Băsescu, being rewarded by the latter with rank advancement and government functions.

USA Embassy in Bucharest reports show that Oprea served as Minister of the Interior Affairs for a brief time, in January 2009, when PSD leaders withdrew their political support and compelled his to resign, due to his alleged tied to Băsescu. Oprea, who Băsescu recently promoted to Four Star General (retired), leads a new group of “independents” from the Chamber of Deputies, according to the documents published by WikiLeaks. ” This motley group includes deserters from PSD and PNL, which Băsescu’s Liberal Democratic Party (PDL) managed to recruit (…). Gabriel Oprea, the greatest deserter of the PSD and leader of the “independents” will probably get a major portfolio (…)”.

The US Embassy shows how Oprea’s group has become pivotal for each government, and Oprea a career politician who raised his wealth and power. ”In 2004 Oprea became the chief of the PSD Ilfov branch, the region around Bucharest, increasing his political capital and personal  wealth, according to accounts, by creating a network of contacts and supporters and by investing in real estate.”

The Americans’ analysis shows how Oprea deserted from the PSD after the creation of the PSD-PDL coalition, Oprea being appointed Minister of Interior Affairs, with Adrian Năstase’s support. ”Although he got this appointment, Oprea didn’t have a comfortable position within the PSD. He was a close ally of an increasingly isolated Năstase, an adversary of the emergent PSD president, Mircea Geoană. Soon, Oprea will risk his political future by challenging the PSD”.

As Minister of Interior Affairs, rapidly lost PSD credit by appointing Virgil Ardelean, a favorite of Băsescu, to the management of the internal intelligence service of the MAI. The US Embassy report metaphorically describes Minister Oprea’s confrontation with the leader of his party. ”PSD accused Oprea of being President Băsescu’s Trojan horse within the Government. Leader Geoană called Oprea to account for the appointments made (for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ed.), but Oprea “insolently” replied that he is not accountable to the party for his work as a minister. Less than a month after taking over the portfolio, PSD withdrew their political support and Oprea resigned as minister.”

Mobster for Năstase, four star general for Băsescu

WikiLeaks documents briefly present the adversary-ally game between Oprea and Băsescu, as seen by American diplomats in Bucharest. The Embassy’s briefs mention that during the 2004 presidential campaign Traian Băsescu called Oprea ”a member of Adrian Năstase;s personal mafia”. Băsescu accused Oprea of providing a business front for Năstase and of doing his dirty work. ”However, by 2009 Oprea became Băsescu’s political ally, as he nominated him for an important government position. In 2009, Băsescu rewarded Oprea with the fourth star as a general”, shows the Embassy report.

The document explains the stakes for the promotion of Băsescu’s former political enemy: in his 2009 presidential race, Oprea used his wide network of political and business partners to actively support him during the campaign and to raise money for Băsescu’s reelection. After the latter’s victory, Oprea officialy participated in the formation of the government, as leader of the independent parliamentarians, feeding the rumors according to which he was going to create a new party, together with the PSD reformers and the PNL deserters, the National Union for Progress, no later than 2010, according to WikiLeaks documents.

The American diplomats had, even in 2010, their doubts about Gabriel Oprea’s military ranks and higher education. Although retired with the rank of captain, Oprea was promoted to a four star general. ”It is unclear how and when Oprea was promoted from captain, in 1993, to major, lieutenant-colonel and colonel. He was promoted to one star Brigadier General in November 2001, got his second star in 2003, his third in 2008 and his fourth in 2009. His first two stars were awarded by President Ion Iliescu, who came from the Social Democratic Party, when Oprea was a member of the PSD. He got his following two stars from President Băsescu, during the time when Opres kept his distance from the PSD”, according to US Embassy reports. Five years ago, the Embassy raised the following issue: ”Oprea is also a member of the National Council for Attesting University Titles, Diplomas and Certificates. It is unclear when Oprea got his PhD, and the subject of his PhD thesis is not a public matter. The American friends knew why.