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December 9, 2022

Purely Romanian embarrassment

The subject of embarrassment in the Romanian society is so ample that entire volumes could be written to cover the topic. An inexhaustible theme which, in the last twenty years of democracy, has grown just as Prince Charming grows in fairy-tales: in one day as much as other ones grow in three days. Since embarrassment and hilarity go hand in hand, all we are supposed to do is make an ad-hoc selection.
A few days ago we learnt that Romanian politics has become richer: the known showman (it’s a bit difficult to call him an actor) Mugur Mihaescu has been elected president of the Green Party of Romania. Becoming a star with his comedy group, Mugur Mihescu has now decided he wants to play eco-politics (!), leading a quasi-unknown party guided by the manifesto ‘Enough! This can be done differently!’
Local crime head Bercea Mondial (known for his over 100 criminal cases), currently on remand for 29 days, has just received another piece of bad news: the authorities have a plan about his diving licence.
It has taken them years to realise that Mr. Bercea Mondial is illiterate, and yet drives on Romanian roads without a problem. Well done, authorities!

If local ‘celebrities’ cause our jealousy and smiles almost on a daily basis, the news of the month actually comes from the Buftea area, where the divorce of Monica and Irinel Columbeanu is in progress and the scandal will flourish fast as the intensity of the child custody battle mounts.

Equally embarrassing is businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vintu (SOV) in his intended pose as a victim of the political regime. Having missed court dates repeatedly, the last time he showed in a wheelchair, asking the judge to be allowed to go abroad to undergo surgery, although Austrian specialists said the surgical procedure could be performed in Romania just as well. We almost forgot about the substance of the proceedings, about the victims in the FNI case (but Mr. Vintu has not been convicted, which means he is innocent until proven otherwise) when we heard SOV emphatically told us how he was going to fight the regime with all his forces.

Equally embarrassing is the Romanian justice system in general. The Superior Magistracy Council (CSM) has become an apple of discord, with a provisional and incomplete structure. Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu has almost forgotten the how long he has been in office. He was first promoted by the Liberal government, he continued in the PSD-PDL government and now is operating in the PDL-UDMR-UNPR government.

Healthcare restructuring is another embarrassing moment. While so far patients were made sleep two in one bed in some cases, after the disappearance of tens or even hundreds of hospitals, we can only expect a hospital bed will be shared by three or even four patients.

On DIICOT, DNA etc. action we can only say they are dodgy, too. Most of the times telephoned. Done on order? Amateurism? Anyway, the repeated interventions of the special forces wearing face masks at wrong addresses are more than embarrassing.

The arrests and criminal cases involving the customs system looks like a serious thing. The embarrassing part there is the absurd idea that no one knew what was going on and that the intervention could only be done now. Let’s get serious! Romanian customs have been ‘operating’ with bribe since forever. Equally embarrassing is ANAF head Sorin Blejnar, who is the subject of more and more depositions indicating him as a major piece in the customs corruption scheme, when he says he’s not going to resign. After all, he’s right there: as long as there is no proof…

The forests of the country are being logged! Hundreds of thousands of hectares only in the Harghita County in the last few years, according to a TV channel. Asked if he was aware of the situation, a county MP comes with the nonchalant answer ‘No’. Not a single reaction, no interest whatsoever in dealing with an issue he ‘assumingly’ did not know about.

At last, the nicest and richest ‘section’ is politics. Here, the embarrassment is at home. The Social-Liberal Union is an ‘odd’ thing, a union of two parties (PSD and PNL) with opposing doctrines, with antagonistic interests, with a history that has always opposed them.

Also in PDL the embarrassment is at home. More recently, ex-Justice Minister Monica Macovei alongside Sever Voinescu and Cristian Preda propose the reform of the party. To the Democrat-Liberals, it all sounds like a very good joke.

Embarrassing was also the exaggerated courtship of UDMR by the leaders of the two main opposition parties (Victor Ponta and Crin Antonescu), at the recent congress of the Union. It is true that PM Emil Boc also present in Oradea for the congress, tickled the vanity of the leaders of the Hungarian minority in the same way.

In the top there stands, obviously, PM Emil Boc, for his ability of importing President Traian Basescu’s ideas as he goes, for his bragging about how he will complete this year another…10 new km of motorway, for how he becomes cheerful/sad when it comes to his position as head of the cabinet or of party, for how he presents to the public the new Labour Code as a victory in ‘making the labour market flexible, for his manly action against oil companies raising fuel prices forgetting that, in 2010, the Executive itself had increased the relevant excise duties by 18 per cent for petrol and 23 per cent for diesel.

President Traian Basescu is also in the ranking. Before the 2008 election, the president was emphatically telling the country that the government (led by Calin Popescu-Tariceanu) had resources, yet was refusing to raise teachers pay (in accordance with the vote of the Parliament) by 50 per cent. A while later, he was telling us that he was not aware of the economic crisis. In 2010, all wages in the public sector, teachers’ included, were slashed by 25 per cent. About the same time, the same president was publicly stating that teachers had nothing to complain about as they actually work only a few hours per week.

It is still the president who told us that we should not be concerned about the migration of Romanian doctors: we have all fought for freedom, including freedom of movement!

As for the reactions to the postponement of Romania’s entry to the Schengen Agreement, the president’s first move was to reprimand some EU member states. Everything that followed, the customs scandal included, found the critics right. Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi had been as virulent, mentioning in an interview no less than a boycott of Croatia’s accession to the EU should Romania not enter Schengen as scheduled.

We have saved for the end the ‘Top 3’ most embarrassing figures.

Number 3. FM Baconschi addressing to Elena Udrea: ‘I must make monumental efforts not to fall under her charm,’ describing the future president of the Bucharest PDL organization as ‘intelligent, beautiful, tenacious’ and ‘with endurance to the disgusting environment of Romanian politics.’

Number 2. The mayor of the Prahova County commune of Magurele, Ion Apostolescu who, addressing to the same Elena Udrea, in front of the members present for the PDL county election conference in Ploiesti: ‘Allow me, Madam Minister, to make a confession, only to you. I sleep with your picture under my pillow.’
Number 1. In the ‘oldies but goldies’ cycle, the first position goes to the statement of MEP Elena Basescu: ‘you can have failures, you can also have successuses’. The ad-hoc plural she ‘manufactured’ for the Romanian word ‘success’ has almost made its way into the current colloquial language. We should not be surprised if it is also entered to the explanatory dictionary of the Romanian language given its current wide use.

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