Romanian prime minister between November 1992 and November 1996. Nicolae Vacaroiu was born in Bolgrad, Bessarabia, but grew up in Bucharest. In 1969, he graduated magna cum laude from the department of finance at Bucharest's Academy for Economic Studies, where he later taught. He worked mainly on the State Planning Committee, which oversaw Romania's communist economy, rising within that body by 1989 to head the Directorate of Economic and Financial Synthesis. After Nicolae Ceausescu's demise in December 1989 he became a deputy minister in the Ministry of National Economy until the governmental reorganization that followed the May 1990 elections. Then he was appointed a secretary of state in the newly created Ministry of Economics and Finance, but was soon demoted to directing first the department of prices and then the department of taxation. One of his major projects was preparing a proposal for a value-added tax. He soon regained his rank as a secretary of state and was appointed president of the interministerial Committee for Foreign Trade Guarantees. Just before becoming prime minister, Vacaroiu was part of the Romanian delegation that sought credits from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
When Iliescu was reelected president of Romania in November 1992, Vacaroiu was not his first choice for prime minister. But Ion Iliescu could not form a cabinet entirely from his party, the Democratic National Salvation Front, because it did not have a majority in the parliament. He could have fashioned a narrow majority by forming a coalition with extreme nationalist and socialist parties, but that would have isolated Romania internationally at a time when the country needed foreign economic assistance. To resolve these political problems Iliescu selected a government of technocrats whom the Romanian parliament would accept, and who possessed the skills required to lead Romania out of communism. As a technocrat without any apparent political ambitions or party affiliation since renouncing his membership in the Romanian Communist Party in December 1989, Vacaroiu met Iliescu's criteria for a minister. Furthermore, his credentials were remarkably similar to those of his immediate predecessor, Theodor Stolojan. During his tenure as prime minister, Vacaroiu was content to be the spokesman in the legislature for Iliescu's policies rather than to turn the prime minister's office into a powerful position as Romania's first post-communist prime minister, Petre Roman, had tried to do in 1990 and 1991. Besides their political compatibility, both Iliescu and Vacaroiu agreed that the social costs of Romanian privatization and implementation of a free market economy must be considered, even if it slowed down the process. However, Romania's market economy of a social type failed to improve the standard of living for the vast majority of Romanians, which was the main reason for the defeat of Vacaroiu's party in the October 1996 national elections.
SEE ALSO Iliescu, Ion
Czechoslovak minister of defense. Miroslav Vacek was deputy minister of defense and chief of staff of the army under the Czechoslovak Communist regime before it collapsed in late 1989. He joined in negotiations with Vaclav Havel, the leader of the Civic Forum, in November and early December 1989, which assured that the Czech army would not be used to shore up the collapsing regime. Vacek, a communist and career soldier, was appointed minister of defense by Ladislav Adamec in November