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May 24, 2022

Silence that says a lot …

‘Silence is gold’ – says an old Romanian saying which hides a huge amount of wisdom. But quite a few seem not to agree with this assertion anymore these days, especially when it comes to President Klaus Iohannis, or, better said, regarding his ‘silence’. A silence that is being held against him more and more as far as I can see and which, in the opinion of professional fault-finders, is some major flaw, whilst it can be (is) a major asset.

The truth is that, no matter how long they kept the magnifying glass on him these four months since installation to Cotroceni, striving to find major faults they could pick up on, Iohannis’ detractors have not really had much to criticise about the new president. So they picked on his ‘silence’ and rubbed their hands in satisfaction for finding a reason of reproach to the president at least.

Although it is more than obvious that, with Mr. Iohannis, silence is talky, it proves education, elegance and decency, emotional intelligence and is part of his strategy of conduct, attitude and public image. A silence that, apart from working to his advantage as it is being very intelligently used, also brings back a certain state of normality to the public space in as far as the positions worthy of a head of state and not a suburban person, the ex-president had accustomed us with, are concerned.

Moreover, only speaking what, how much and when he needs to, President Iohannis is the kind of person who, in few words and during few appearances, sends much deeper and pertinent messages with the exact charge and destination to have the anticipated impact, than a relentless orator with an unstoppable verbal discharge rate who, although ceaselessly bombards the audience, after a certain point on is not heard by the public anymore.

Compared to his ‘vocal’ predecessor, Traian Basescu, who had already become invasive and tiresome in the public space because of his habit of having an opinion in just about any field, often overstepping his prerogative and impermissibly interfering with other areas of the rule of law barred by the Constitution, but also using an offensive language or a threatening tone against his opponents, President Iohannis is seen as an unusual appearance. ‘He’s keeping silent for too long’ – some have said. ‘He disappoints with his silence’, ‘he did not get people’s votes to keep silent’, other voices said. ‘He is much too inactive in the public space and he abuses communication on Facebook’, other reproached him. Even the former tenant at Cotroceni did not hesitate to be ironical with his successor on the comparative number of messages posted on Facebook, in which field, the president-in-office is definitely in the lead.

Others, on the contrary, have said that no one was expecting the president to be like Traian Basescu and interfere with everything everywhere without having any constitutional right to do that, but at least on major matters such as the recent threats made by top-ranking Russian officials to Romania he should have made a decisive public statement.

But there have also been analysts who defended President Iohannis, saying that it was a right thing for him to be silent and that his very well calculated silence, coming from his personality but also from his gene of a tame and calm Transylvanian, was only bringing him benefits. Unlike the wrangler predecessor whose often and always seeking scandal public appearances only brought disadvantages, at least during the last period of his term, causing him to lose much of the credibility and capital of sympathy he had started with.

Since the Romanian people has an inborn wit and is a champion in inventing jokes, the first jokes on the ‘silence’ of the president have appeared: ‘he writes faster than he speaks’ – an allusion to the fact that the president is already getting ready to release his second book after the ‘Step by Step’ bestseller released in the autumn, which broke all selling records.

The most pertinent explanation for the ‘presidential silence’ came from Klaus Iohannis himself Monday night, during the press conference after the talks with the political parties on the electoral reform.

Asked if he was aware of the phrase ‘the president who is silent’ and the fact that he was being criticised for his hyper-activity on social media networks to the detriment of live activity in the public space, the head of state answered with humour: ‘I haven’t really been that silent today’. And then he came up with a brilliant retort: the president must have the courage NOT to express himself on absolutely everything’.

Most definitely Mr. Iohannis is fed up with the ‘advice’ and ‘teachings’ of his predecessor who never misses an opportunity to ironically pick on him with things such as… ‘I would have done this and that if I were in his place’…

With a  different kind of behaviour of the  ‘he shuts up and acts’ type , unlike the laud style of the former president, Iohannis did not answer the provocation of the journalist who reminded of something Basescu had recently said that he had not been that active and vocal in the matter of the Romanian national kidnapped in Burkina Faso. Klaus Iohannis answered in his characteristic style: ‘I don’t think I personally need to comment on absolutely every event’.

But he noted that he had been in contact with the crisis cell every day and was always aware of news and developments in the unfortunate case, alluding that the important things were happening in the background without him necessary coming to the front and posing in an omniscient and picker of victory laurels, as Basescu was doing. ‘I don’t need to come to the microphone and tell people what to do, they know what they need to do’, the president said.

Indeed, the non-pronunciation on every occasion is an act of major courage assumed by Klaus Iohannis and he deserves all congratulation on his conduct. There are so many situations that are strictly down to presidential prerogative where he has taken a stance and so far successfully intervened, sending out the right messages to the right addressee, pin-pointing exactly the things that needed to be said and highlighted by a president.

He knows very well that he is not a commentator, but a President, he knows very well his competence and boundaries under the Constitution. In addition, when he has spoken so far, he always spoke well, pertinently and to the point, be it at solemn occasions, or as representative of the country internationally, in relation to the Premier, Parliament or political parties, or during the work report meetings of the institutions competent in the area of justice where he was invited.

Far from being clumsy in the art of conversation as some have suggested, but, on the contrary, being a connoisseur who, like any thoughtful Transylvanian, knows how to best pick his words, in fact Klaus Iohannis says a lot and sends much more when he is silent than he could express in a million of words. It is all about wisdom, decency, dignity, respect for the Constitution and institutions of the rule of law, but also for their professionals and specialists.

‘Silence is gold’ and the President knows it so well…



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