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Ex- president Iliescu denies confirming existence of CIA prison in Romania

Romania's former President Ion Iliescu on Monday said he has in no way confirmed the existence of an illegal CIA prison in Romania in an interview he has recently given to the German publication Der Spiegel."I am unpleasantly surprised by the way in which my statements in a recent interview to German publication Der Spiegel are being reflected and especially commented on. I want to be as clear as possible: in no way have I confirmed the existence of an illegal CIA prison in Romania, a prison where illegal interrogation techniques such as torture would have been used. I was equally clear when I said that had I known the destination of the facility asked of us by the US I would have certainly taken a different decision. Knowing what I had approved, namely headquarters for a CIA representation office in Romania, justifies that fact that all these years I have denied the existence of any CIA prison in Romania. I am firmly rejecting the interpretation of my gesture, which is a natural one among partners and allies, would have been my bribing the US into NATO welcoming Romania in. So far as I remember, the approval was issued AFTER the November 2002 NATO Summit meeting in Prague decided to let Romania in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization," Iliescu says in a post on his blog.

The PSD honorary chairman also says Romania's accession to NATO was the natural outcome of political and military reforms conducted in Romania after 1989 that incurred costs "which we all accepted because our NATO membership exceeds costs by far."

"We can truly see now that we made the right choice that provides security to us in a complicated and highly dangerous international context. Cooperation on multiple levels between Romania and the US has sped up and consolidated over the past 15 years, which has been acknowledged and continued by the subsequent presidents and prime ministers of Romania. We have taken up some commitments that are not mine, [former President] Basescu's or [incumbent President] Klaus Iohannis'. They are Romania's, in the logic of serving the interests of Romania. I say it once again: there are costs for everything. The US has taken up the fight against terror. That fight had and still has human and material costs, which we knew as well in our commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Did not we have to take them up? Did not we have to follow the rules under the treaties to which we are a party?" writes Iliescu.

Iliescu argues the allegation that his statement "is playing into the hands of Russians" is "ridiculous and particularly degrading to Romania and dangerous to its interests."

"By the same token, the report presented earlier this year in the US Congress that is highly critical of the CIA and its interrogation techniques would play into the hands of Russians. Do you think you can say that without falling into ridicule? The US Congress report is the most concrete expression of the strengths of a democracy, which can own up to mistakes and make sure they will never be repeated. If rules were violated at the CIA facilities in Romania back then, let that be said and proceed accordingly. Romania cannot deny having accepted a request from the CIA, but there is a long way from that to saying we knew what was happening there, that we knew about alleged torture and cruelty acts. I refuse to take that way," says Iliescu.

"My statements are proof to Romania being strong enough to shoulder the responsibilities incumbent on it for the better or for the worse, as bizarre as that may seem to those who believe they found yet another reason to spat with Ion Iliescu. I hope we all have learned the lesson of this occurrence and act accordingly. I hope we will learn to speak in one and the same voice when it comes to Romania and its interests. If there is something that plays into the hands of Romania's foes it is the sum of our disunity, politicking and a conflictual approach of all issues," Iliescu concludes.

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