Horia-Roman Patapievici, (photo) President of the Romanian Cultural Institute (ICR), was invited in Parliament yesterday by Ilie Sarbu and Puiu Hasotti, the leaders of the parliamentary groups of PSD and PNL respectively, in order to take part in a hearing over the government ordinance that puts ICR under the Senate’s authority. The hearing was postponed at the last moment after no agreement was reached over the presence of the press and the number of guests. “Patapievici wanted to show up with 20 persons that would have attended the meeting. We told him we should talk about technical issues concerning ICR’s activity and then each of us should make statements after the meeting. He wanted the press present; we couldn’t turn this into a circus,” one of the Social-Democrat senators explained for Mediafax. Sarbu and Hasotti allegedly asked the ICR Director to invite only two or three persons at the hearing.Present in Austria yesterday, Premier Victor Ponta met Carmen Bendowski, Director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in Vienna, the two discussing the ICR issue. “Why is Mr. Patapievici protesting, is it because I don’t want to replace him?” Ponta stated smilingly, Mediafax informs. Carmen Bendowski answered: “I don’t know, do you see me wearing a bowtie?” “Neither do I. Mr. Patapievici stays so I don’t see why he’s protesting,” Ponta concluded.
On the other hand, protests in support of ICR have resumed. After the spontaneous protest that took place Saturday on Bucharest’s Arthur Verona Street, protesters gathered yesterday evening in front of the Romanian Cultural Institute, asking for the emergency ordinance to be repealed, for the institute’s current leadership’s term in office, which is set to expire in January 2013, to be respected, and for the ICR leadership to continue being from among intellectuals. At the same time, dozens of cultural personalities and multinational company managers have signed, under the aegis of the Erudio Association, an open letter asking Premier Ponta to withdraw the emergency ordinance. In the letter they state that “under Patapievici’s leadership the ICR saved Romanian cultural life from death through the forgetfulness and indifference to which the previous politicization had condemned it abroad… It’s sad and disappointing that the initiative of re-politicizing the ICR belongs to Liberal leaders, a party whose ideology should feature the state’s and political institutions’ minimal, not maximal role.” “What President Traian Basescu erred in what concerns SMURD and Raed Arafat you are at risk of erring now in what concerns the ICR and its director,” the signatories add. Also yesterday, approximately 30 Romanian artists, including director Cristi Puiu, gathered in front of the Canadian embassy in Bucharest, in order to symbolically ask for “cultural asylum,” claiming that placing the ICR under the Senate’s authority threatens cultural independence. According to the AFP, quoted by Hotnews, the artists pointed out that they chose Canada as a symbol of a country “where cultural independence is respected.” The protesters walked in front of the Canadian embassy for an hour, and then headed towards the government. Filmmaker Cristi Puiu pointed out that “Patapievici’s team worked for eight years to overturn the preponderantly negative image that Romania had abroad and to transform it into a preponderantly positive image.” “We hope the government will realize the mistakes it has done, will abrogate this emergency ordinance,” Mihai Mihalcea, director of the Bucharest National Dance Centre, stated. In reply to the protests, PNL spokesperson Mihai Voicu stated that ICR was a “personal propaganda” institution that has to be put back into a proper institutional framework. “We have to take a comparative list and I’m convinced we’ll notice that almost all those that are protesting can be seen traveling with Mr. Basescu on his airplane and being among the collaborators paid hundreds of millions of RON in order to brush up his image on various televisions stations or through various publications belonging to the Presidential Palace,” Voicu stated.