“Romania should rebuild relations with countries from Asia, Africa, South America,” Ponta also said.
Premier Victor Ponta has asked the Romanian ambassadors present at the annual reunion of Romanian diplomats yesterday to be active not just when it comes to relations at official level but also when it comes to dialogue with the foreign press when Romania is blamed, pointing out that the authorities should not accept the collective blaming of the country and of all Romanian citizens. He pointed out that he appreciates the efforts of Romanian ambassadors in Great Britain, France and Germany to answer to the press when Romania or Romanian citizens are blamed. “I don’t believe we have to hide anything from our country’s problems, nor do I believe that we should accept collective blaming, the presenting of Romania and Romanians in a way that may be interesting for the media but is unfair and unacceptable for Romania,” Ponta said.
The Premier added that he knows it is difficult to work with the mass-media and that in Romania the press is “very kind” with the authorities compared to the harshness shown by the press in other countries. “Truly, when I have interviews with mass-media representatives in Great Britain I realize I really cannot complain in Romania,” Ponta added.
The Head of Government also told the diplomats that Romania is not modifying the coordinates of its foreign policy irrespective of the change of governments, but that it has to build economic and political relations with other countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America and pointed out that in the following period he will pay visits to Turkey, Lithuania, Finland. “I ask you, all the ambassadors, to back my Cabinet in organizing these visits – we will go to Turkey, Lithuania, Finland – so that these short visits might be extremely pragmatic (…) I want to ask you to learn from the example I encounter in other countries’ diplomacy – to be extremely active as regards the economic and commercial cooperation”, Ponta told the ambassadors.
Better equipped embassies
At the same time, the Premier offered assurances that he will better equip the embassies, consulates and economic representations abroad, telling the participants that they have to be careful even about small, apparently insignificant details that can affect Romania’s image. In this sense, he gave as an example the official car of the representation in Brussels, which was replaced because it was frequently breaking down. In this context, the Prime Minister stated that the Romanian Cultural Institute’s (ICR) representations abroad are very well equipped compared to embassies. “It didn’t seem normal to me to see wealth on one side, at the ICR, and poverty on the other side, at the embassy,” Ponta said, asking the Foreign Minister and the Head of ICR to collaborate in order for Romania’s representation to be made in a “rational” way. Ponta also announced that starting in 2014 he and the Foreign and Economy Ministers will look for a “radical” change in the way the economic and diplomatic representatives abroad are coordinated, pointing out that the current “two-headed” leadership system is not efficient.
Syria has an ‘illegitimate and criminal’ regime
“I never shunned saying that Romania has to accept that Syria has an illegitimate and criminal regime. (…) I want to ask the ambassadors not to be confused when seeing sometimes differing positions from various institutions. We have a constitutional procedure, government, Parliament, President, in which decisions are taken, but I am trying to think on a medium and long term even though, of course, the short term is sometimes more important,” Ponta told the diplomats. Subsequently, in a statement for the press, the Premier stated that Romania, as always, will show solidarity with the alliance of democratic countries in what concerns a possible military intervention in Syria, the decisions set to be taken at European level, at NATO and within the country’s Supreme Defense Council (CSAT).
On the other hand, presidential aide Iulian Fota said for RFI that providing a military intervention in Syria, Romania might give its political, military, economic or humanitarian contribution.
President and Premier exchange jabs
The Prime Minister rejected the statement that President Basescu made the day before at the meeting, a statement according to which the accusations concerning the president’s intervention in the activity of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) force Romania’s ambassadors to present explanations abroad. “I am not aware of such things, I was never informed and it could be a simple fable,” Ponta said. Traian Basescu stated on Tuesday that he hopes “top” politicians will understand the fact that “they are not rendering any service to Romania by making statements” the likes of “the President has concocted files for Dr. Bradisteanu” or that “the President is using the DNA against his own party.” “These things are childish, they lack credibility, but they put you in the position of explaining them,” the Head of State told the Romanian diplomats.
The differences of opinion between the government and the presidency were once again revealed at the reunion of Romanian ambassadors over the issue of recognizing Kosovo too. While Premier Ponta reiterated the government’s position that Romania will have to recognize Kosovo, President Basescu told the Romanian diplomats that “the President has constitutional prerogatives in recognizing a state” and that Bucharest’s position on the Kosovo issue remains correlated with that of Belgrade and the other five European countries that do not recognize the independence of the province. Moreover, the Head of State pointed out that in the future the rhythm of rendering Romania’s position flexible will be correlated by the gradual agreements between Belgrade and Pristina. Referring solely to Serbia, Basescu stated that Romania will not produce a gridlock in Serbia’s EU accession negotiations, however it will make sure the protocol on minority rights, a protocol signed last year with Belgrade, will be fully implemented.
Lobby for Schengen, compensations for Nabucco
The Head of State asked the Romanian ambassadors to EU states to engage in lobbying so that the JHA Council in December will decide Romania’s Schengen accession in a first stage with its airport customs and its maritime border. He reminded that the Schengen accession decision was postponed in 2012 because of the rule of law problems, and Romania now has to confirm in the CVM report in December that “we are a confirmed rule of law state.”
At the same time, Basescu asked the Romanian ambassadors posted in EU capitals to explain and support a compensation from the EU for the abandonment of the Nabucco project, in the form of the earmarking of resources for the modernization of railways and national roads as part of the regional infrastructure projects managed by the European Commission, arguing that we were the only state that did not waver between Nabucco and South Stream like neighboring states did. He stated that South Stream “is nothing but a consolidation of Gazprom’s hegemony,” pointing out that he is not bothered with this gas pipeline being built but it does not serve the European goal.