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October 22, 2021

A new constitutional crisis would not favor Romania, US envoy warns

Ambassador Gitenstein states that the US wants a stable ally and that some companies no longer invested in Romania because of corruption and unpredictability.

US Ambassador Mark Gitenstein stated on Pro TV that reaching an understanding, a civilized atmosphere between rival parties after the December elections will be very important for the relation with the US, who wants a stable ally. The ambassador underlined that a new period of instability would not favor Romania.Mark Gitenstein stated that there were companies that wanted to invest in Romania but gave up, being worried with the quality of the business environment – corruption, and the transparency of several governments, not just the current one. Particularly in what concerns the decisions on VAT reimbursement, state aid. Several companies were displeased with tenders, felt that the process was either incorrect or unpredictable. Asked to whom was his message that the December elections could divide the people addressed, Gitenstein answered that it was a message for the whole Romania and the Romanian politicians, for those leading Romania.Asked in what way could these elections divide the people, the American ambassador stated that Romania is facing a problem similar to the one the US faces. He explained that in the US the popular vote is divided in almost equal parts, which could create problems when it comes to governing the country, and Romania has a similar problem. According to the American envoy, the US wants a stable ally and a Romanian government that can take decisions Washington can rely on, whatever they might be. The diplomat avoided making any comments on a possible impeachment of President Basescu in case USL wins the elections and the President refuses to appoint Victor Ponta Premier. In his opinion, stability, consensus, civilized cohabitation, decisional stability and the predictability of decisions are important for the economy, for Western investments, for the relation with the US and EU. Asked about the fact that he was perceived as Traian Basescu’s defender, Mark Gitenstein stated that his position has nothing to do with Traian Basescu and has to do with imposing the rule of law and respecting the laws. Mark Gitenstein pointed out that during the summer the parliament passed laws on the referendum. Then, in the last minute, the parliament started making changes to those laws and the Constitutional Court decided that that was unconstitutional. The ambassador underlined that for the US, for other EU members, for investors, whether American or not, the important thing is whether Romania respects its own rules, whether they concern democracy or fiscal policies, tenders or anything else, warning that unless you have a predictable legal system you are not a trusted ally and you are not a safe place for investments. This was the criterion used. Moreover, the ambassador stated that in a republic it does not matter what a majority decides, what matters are what the rules are and what the courts decide. As long as those decisions are taken in a proper and legal manner they have to be respected.Asked whether he mentioned that during the meeting he had with Crin Antonescu after the latter became interim president, Mark Gitenstein answered affirmatively and added that Crin Antonescu took the commitment to act within the limits of his president ad interim office, a promise that he respected.In what concerns the issue of visas for Romanians, asked when could Romanians travel to the US without visas, Gitenstein pointed out that that matters on a lot of things but mainly on the rate of rejection which is on a downward trend. The ambassador expressed his confidence that the new Visa Waver legislation will be approved by the US next year. Approaching the end of his term, Mark Gitenstein stated that he has profound affection for Romania, especially since he is already Romanian-American. The ambassador finds Romanians captivating, very intelligent and very creative. He added that he finds the country beautiful. The ambassador stated that Romania is the most beautiful place in Europe. The Romanians’ biggest flaw? A great deal of cynicism, a great deal of pessimism.

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