DIPLOMACY POLITICS

U.S. Ambassador’s reaction after Traian Basescu accused him of influence peddling: Freedom of speech, one of the values we cherish

U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm stated on Wednesday that the statements made by Traian Basescu, who accused the American official of influence peddling, did not bother him.  Basescu’s attack came after the American diplomat paid a visit to Valeriu Zgonea, in the midst of a full-blown scandal surrounding the bid to dismiss him from the office of Speaker of the Lower Chamber.

“No, not at all. One of the values both Romanians and Americans cherish is freedom of speech,” U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm stated when asked whether Traian Basescu’s statements bothered him.

The American official explained that the visit he paid to Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea is part of his “obligations” as ambassador.

“NATO and the U.S. enjoy a strategic partnership and we are also allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. As allies, as partners, I believe it is very important to consult each other on issues of mutual interest. We are living in a very dangerous world and we are lucky that Romania and the U.S. were capable to find many ways to cooperate both in defending our countries as well as in the cybersecurity and law enforcement domain. In order to fuse together the links between the two countries, it is my obligation as an ambassador to meet government officials, economic and cultural leaders in Romania, but also the people of Romania. That is why I have to talk,” the U.S. ambassador stated when asked for his comment on the statements made by Traian Basescu, who accused him of influence peddling.

Ex-president Traian Basescu stated that U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm was in the wrong when he paid a visit to Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea, emphasising that “he has become a sort of lobbyist for state offices” and that in Romania that means influence peddling.

“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 Romania TV.

“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,” the ex-president added.

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