New Romanian President Ion Iliescu, the country's first post-communist head of state from 1990-96, was sworn in before parliament on Wednesday, after winning December 10 elections.
The 70-year-old ex-communist, who has pledged to maintain the pace of reforms to take Bucharest into the EU, notably paid tribute to those who died in Romania's bloody 1989 revolution which overthrew dictator Nicolae Ceasescu.
He called them "martyrs .. without whom this ceremony could not take place," and asked MPs to observe a minute's silence for them as he took his oath of office.
"I swear to devote all my strength and abilities to the spiritual and material prosperity of the Romanian people, to respect the constitution and laws of the country, to defend democracy, the freedoms and fundamental rights of the citizens, the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Romania. May God help me," he said.
Iliescu beat off a challenge by far-righter Corneliu Vadim Tudor in the presidential ballots this month.
He succeeds Christian-Democrat Emil Constantinescu, who opted not to run again after a term marked by a series of crises stemming from the reform process and financial upheavals.
The former communist has appealed for national reconciliation and pledged to modernize the country's fragile economy, and lead it into Europe during his four-year term.
He took the oath of office in the presence of Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist.
Members of the outgoing government of Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu, who is to return to his former job as central bank governor, were at the swearing-in.
Technocrat Isarescu will be replaced as head of government by Adrian Nastase, whose Party of Social Democracy won the November 26 legislative elections -- BUCHAREST (AFP)
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