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March 22, 2023

U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm criticised for guest list at Deveselu and interference in Romania’s domestic politics

Hans Klemm, U.S. Ambassador to Romania, has recently become the target of criticism, more or less diplomatic attacks and sarcasm from some politicians and political analysts, for the way in which the U.S. Embassy drafted the list of guests invited at the inauguration of the missile shield in Deveselu, but also for his meeting, last Friday, with Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea, a meeting that came in the midst of an elections campaign in Romania and at a time when the Speaker is caught up in a process of dissidence from his party.

Ex-President Traian Basescu is one of those who joined the chorus of criticism, being of the opinion that U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm was in the wrong to meet Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea, stating: “If a United States ambassador has reached the point of meeting this political character, I have to reanalyse a bit what ambassador of the United States means.”

“After Deveselu, two things that I find important occurred. There was Ambassador Klemm’s visit to Zgonea. If a United States ambassador has reached the point of meeting this political character (…), a politician of Zgonea’s stature, ilk, I’m sorry but I have to reanalyse what ambassador of the United States means. Two things happened, the United States ambassador’s meeting with the Lower Chamber Speaker and the announcement that Premier Ciolos will pay a visit to the United States, pay attention. (…) In my opinion, the United States ambassador was in the wrong, one doesn’t do such a thing. He forgot he is a United States ambassador and turned into a kind of lobbyist for state offices. It is kind of punishable in Romania, it’s influence peddling. Of course, in their country it’s lobbying, in ours it’s influence peddling and if Codruta Kovesi sounds him out about it she might subpoena him at the DNA. Of course, I’m joking,” Basescu said on Sunday evening on Romania TV.

According to the former head of state, the U.S. ambassador should offer explanations for the bribe that America’s Microsoft paid to some Romanian state officials.

“I would have been thrilled if, during his meeting with Zgonea, he would have explained to us the stage the Microsoft investigation is in. Maybe Mr. Klemm can tell us how it’s possible for an American company to pay such large bribes, because nobody can tell me that at Microsoft it’s possible to pay a bribe of one million without that being known at the top of the company,” Basescu added.


Basescu chaffs Americans for not inviting him to Deveselu


Ex-President Traian Basescu was not on the guest list at the inauguration of the missile shield in Deveselu, and he tried to find explanations for that on Sunday evening on Romania TV.

“I don’t believe I had a place being there, at a ceremony that was not even the ceremony that marked the switching on of the shield. The anti-missile system became operational last year. What happened now was the transfer of American-Romanian control to NATO control. The whole system came under NATO command. (…) The Americans are pragmatic. Why should they complicate their existence with an ex-president when they had an incumbent President, who might have taken offence, an incumbent Premier who could have been more or less discomfited,” Basescu said.

The ex-president added that the missile shield negotiations between Romania and the U.S. lasted well over two years.

“The investment started in 2013, but in 2010, along with Vice President Biden, who came as President Obama’s envoy, we agreed to base the shield in Romania. Then we chose the location, because there were three [options]. (…) Then we started working within the CSAT [Supreme Defence Council], the whole process until we ended up breaking ground in 2013. There were at least two and a half years of negotiations on the bilateral agreement concerning the deployment, implications and the obligations of the signatory parties,” Basescu added.

According to the ex-president, “Romania has entered another stage of its strategic importance for NATO. Now she’s part of a system. Because we’re not talking only about the missiles in Deveselu. (…) Romania has already entered a global system on which Europe’s security depends. The presence of the NATO Secretary General at Deveselu called for the presence of the President, because the NATO Secretary General has the rank of a head of state.”


Tariceanu: Basescu should have been invited at Deveselu. Diplomats’ attitude affects sympathy for the U.S.


Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu – who can be suspected of anything but harbouring sympathy for ex-president Traian Basescu – stated that the ex-president should have been among the guests at the inauguration of the missile shield, because he played an “important” role, and added that the attitude shown by some ambassadors might affect “the huge sympathy that America enjoyed.”

Criticising the attitude shown by U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm, Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu added that a diplomatic conflict is out of the question, but he considers that the Foreign Ministry and President Klaus Iohannis should intervene and “make some corrections.”

“Despite the disputes and differences I had with President Basescu, I believe his presence would not have been redundant at this event. (…) Despite the disputes – our approaches differ, I have many things to tell him or criticise him for – he was president at the time and played a role, which I consider important, just as Victor Ponta did,” Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated on Saturday evening on Antena 3.

The Senate Speaker also explained why he refused to attend the ceremony; however, he did not go into details because these are “sensitive” issues. Asked why he did not go to Deveselu, Tariceanu said that “we are talking about the respect for institutions in a constitutional order.”

“We are talking about the political attitude that some ambassadors take the liberty to have. You know what’s regrettable? That Romanians had extraordinary sympathy for the Americans, without that being cultivated in a special way. (…) I don’t know if the attitudes we are seeing lately on the part of successive American ambassadors are only serving to affect, to crumble this huge sympathy that America enjoyed,” Tariceanu added.

Likewise, he declared himself completely discomfited by the American diplomacy’s interference in domestic politics, also mentioning U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm’s meeting with Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea.

Ex-Premier Victor Ponta was also extremely upset with the attitude of the U.S. Embassy, after he initially criticised the Government and Premier Dacian Ciolos for not inviting him at the missile shield inauguration ceremony.

Ex-Premier Victor Ponta published on Facebook on Saturday a picture showing empty seats at the ceremony that inaugurated the missile defence shield at Deveselu, thus reacting to the statements made by U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm, according to which Ponta was not invited at the event because there were no available seats.

The former Premier went even further, suggesting that the U.S. ambassador and Premier Dacian Ciolos had no place being at the event because they took office after the project had been finalised. Moreover, Ponta derided American officials for taking Bucharest for Budapest (mix-up made by U.S. Deputy Defence Secretary Robert O. Work).

“The truth is that Mr. Ambassador Klemm is not wrong – he recently arrived in Bucharest (or Budapest, same thing), the Shield was ready, basically at the inauguration just like Ciolos. We were fools, all of us who thought that our good deed will go unpunished!” the PSD lawmaker concluded.

Referring to the displeasure expressed by certain politicians who were not invited at the inauguration of the missile shield in Deveselu, U.S. ambassador Hans Klemm stated on Friday that it would have been “ideal” to be able to invite everyone involved in this project, but there were insufficient seats for that.

“Yesterday’s ceremony in Deveselu was organised by the U.S. Navy, but in close consultation with the Embassy and also with the Ministry of Defence. It was truly a historic day for Romania, for the United State but also for NATO. We honestly had a limited number of persons we could invite to the ceremony. Unfortunately, we were very limited in the number of persons we could invite at the ceremony. I didn’t talk with the Senate Speaker. I saw the statement he made yesterday. He was invited and I’m sorry he chose not to come. And it was an honour to have Speaker Zgonea alongside us,” Hans Klemm stated at the Palace of Parliament, after a meeting with Zgonea.


Ex-Premier Adrian Nastase about U.S. ambassador: “Brutal interference in Romania’s political life”


Ex-Premier Adrian Nastase harshly criticised, in his turn too, U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm for the support he offered to Valeriu Zgonea. Nastase also warns Zgonea about his friendship with the Americans, giving Traian Basescu as an example.

“Giving up on the office of Speaker of the Lower Chamber should be an issue of dignity for Valeriu Zgonea, not of regulations. His colleagues’ withdrawal of political support entails such a decision. Even if there could be arguments to the contrary. But one’s own “values and principles,” which Zgonea talked about, should be examined in a wider context, the context of the political battle, of a sentencing related to the political campaign carried out by the whole party – whose member Zgonea was too, which transformed him too into an “accomplice,” even if only Dragnea “paid for it.” Hypocrisy in the name of “values and principles” works only for the great powers.”

“The U.S. ambassador’s intervention in his support (the meeting that took place after the announcement concerning the withdrawal of political support, the message given, the press conference – unusual for this kind of meeting) represents brutal interference in Romanian political life. It reminds us of the way Andrey Vyshinsky acted, during a certain period, in his relation with Romanian authorities. And it does no good to Vali Zgonea. This kind of support will estrange him even more from his colleagues and will ostracise him. After a while, he too will understand that in foreign policy Americans do not have “former” friends but only persons that promote their interests at one point. Traian Basescu is a good example,” Adrian Nastase wrote on his blog.

In the end, Adrian Nastase mentions the 2006 moment when, left without PSD’s political support, he resigned from the office of Lower Chamber Speaker.


Cristian Tudor Popescu: American ambassador’s behaviour breaks political-diplomatic protocol


Journalist Cristian Tudor Popescu labelled U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm presence alongside Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea as a veritable paid selfie.

“I can see in this only a very Romanian thing: it looks like a paid selfie. What else could I be thinking of when, to my stupefaction, the ambassador of the United States to Romania, in the midst of an elections campaign, [meets] this gentleman Zgonea who is in conflict with his own party, no longer has a party and could lose his office at the Lower Chamber?” Cristian Tudor Popescu stated.

“Mr. Klemm releases some communiqués, when he expresses the embassy’s position on political, social events in Romania, but to show up alongside a politician, in such circumstances, I believe this is a first in the political-diplomatic history of Romanian-American relations in Bucharest,” he added.

“So one thing Mr. Zgonea – I don’t know how they talked in English, I would have been very curious to hear Mr. Zgonea’s English on this occasion – lacked was that hammer, sledgehammer with which he was planning to tear down the Palace of Parliament’s wall alongside Roger Waters, when the latter gave a concert in Bucharest. In my opinion, the behaviour of the American ambassador is breaking all political and democratic protocol. It’s inexplicable,” the journalist added, being quoted by b1.ro.


Ion Cristoiu: American ambassador’s gesture is ostentatious


“Valeriu Zgonea has been kicked out of PSD. Not for the crime of having a different opinion, as some were in a hurry to state, but because PSD’s Executive President and Speaker of the Lower Chamber was a simple snitch for the American Embassy in Romania. After he was receiving his allowance, in the form of the ambassador’s huge smile, Valeriu Zgonea was returning to the Lower Chamber with the mission to block any debate in Parliament on the more than 40 amendments decided by the CCR [Constitutional Court of Romania] to the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code,” journalist Ion Cristoiu wrote on his blog.

“In the context of the conflict he has with PSD and with PSD’s parliamentary group, the American ambassador’s gesture is ostentatious, being related to the policy of Yankee arrogance that the American civil servant adopted from the very first days of his diplomatic stint in the Pashalik called Romania. Americans are defending Valeriu Zgonea! If from all of Romania’s politicians, the American Embassy has found precisely this self-conceited Wooden Head to be America’s Chosen here, it’s a big question mark about the ambassador’s lucid judgment. Didn’t the American ambassador realise until now that Valeriu Zgonea is a consistent Dupe? Maybe not, if we think that Valeriu Zgonea talks to the ambassador using the sign language. Judging by how he waves his hands around to say something somewhat coherent, Valeriu Zgonea seems really intelligent!,” Cristoiu added.


Accusations from the U.S.: Zgonea manipulated American ambassador into supporting Stalinist laws


Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea is accused of having manipulated the U.S. ambassador into supporting a Stalinist law. Chris Terhes, President of the Romanian Community Coalition, warns that lawyers’ “super-immunity” is but a normal stipulation endorsed by the U.S. Supreme Court too.

“Unfortunately, DNA and all the undercover intelligence officers in the press and civil society have put the American ambassador in a very tight spot, tricking him into publicly endorsing not only a lie, but also principles that run counter to the rule of law and the act of justice.”

“The situation is particularly grave because the articles that forbid a lawyer from being an undercover intelligence officer, and that force him to publicly reveal whether he collaborated with the former Securitate, have been removed from the same law.”

“Plainly put, instead of desiring to modernise the Romanian judiciary and bring it up to democratic standards, the desire is to maintain it at Stalinist standards. Why isn’t it desired to ban by law undercover intelligence officers among lawyers?”

“If magistrates are not allowed to be undercover, why shouldn’t it be the same for lawyers too?”

“But worse is that Valeriu Zgonea, as Speaker of the Lower Chamber, manipulated the American ambassador into agreeing with some Stalinist legal provisions that, paradoxically, are contrary to the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court too. How do you see the way out of this situation?,” Chris Terhes wrote on Facebook.

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