Romanian PM says his country won't give in to terrorist demands

Monday, April 25, 2005

Romania's Prime Minister, Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu announced today that Romania's 860 troops in Iraq will not be withdrawn, despite the demands of the terrorists who kidnapped three Romanian journalists in Baghdad late last month.

In a public statement to Antena 1 television, Tariceanu said:

It would be risky to pass judgment today, under the influence of the latest events. Romanians, if they want to be a strong people, must show solidarity in such moments and we mustn't play the game of those who want to put us under pressure and make us yield.

Tăriceanu added that the Romanian Government will do the most it can to save the lives of the journalists, but will not give in to terrorist demands. The Iraqi terrorists, known as the Muadh ibn Jabal Brigades, which are holding the three journalists captive issued a tape last Friday which gave the Romanian government four days to remove its troops, or the journalists would be killed. According to the tape, the deadline for the removal of the troops is today.

In the past few days, hundreds of ralliers gathered in Bucharest to show solidarity with the journalists and call for their release

Today, central Bucharest has been filled by hundreds of peaceful ralliers calling for the journalists' freedom, and urging the government to save their lives at all costs. Romanian media workers and the journalists' families have been backed up by Romania's small Arab community, which today also rallied, with large green posters reading "Freedom" in English, Romanian and Arabic.

A poll was conducted recently which shows that 70% of Romanians want their troops to be removed from Iraq. This figure is up from 55% a week earlier.