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October 24, 2021

Political lesson

After a period of relatively unimportant domestic and external activity, President Klaus Iohannis’s visit to the U.S. can be translated not only as a historic event but also as a total success that marks the start of Romania’s reconfiguration and repositioning from other coordinates in international relations.

It is, we must admit, a forceful comeback for President Iohannis. One that puts him on an entirely new and undeniably favourable position. Especially in the rapports that the Romanian Presidency has domestically with the whole political spectrum.

Why do I start by underscoring this reinforcement of the President’s force and position, particularly toward the Romanian political class, and why does he keep resorting to these actions? Particularly in the last six months, since the regime in Bucharest has gained a new direction and a different orientation.

Because, aside from the exceptional welcome that President Iohannis received at the White House, aside from the excellent dialogue that the American and Romanian presidents had, aside from the undoubted relaxation and fluency that Klaus Iohannis showed both in his attitude and especially in the speech he gave in the presence of the planet’s top leader, there was a moment in which this whole success was overshadowed by an expression I heard used by the American press corps when journalists asked the Romanian President questions about the continuation and the winning of the fight against the “Bucharest corruption swamp.”

Yes. It’s about the “corruption swamp.” A metaphor that fully evinces the international public opinion’s perception of what we call “the Romanian political class.” A grave epithet that most of the Romanian press overlooked in its translation.

The main point on Romania’s domestic and external agenda has concerned the fight against corruption for years, most of us would say too many. And, in the same way, for years, our country has stood out in the world in a completely unfavourable way concerning the same unfortunate topic of corruption, which has become like a contagious disease for which many palliatives have been apparently found, but no cure.

So, unfortunately, the “corruption swamp” expression should not and must not represent a reason for surprise, nor for false offence. And not even one of omission on the part of the press, which must prove itself, in the end, impartial in the correct rendering of information, regardless whether we like it or not.

And the problem that we should all raise, Romanian politicians and citizens alike, is the following:

In the context in which we have duties too, via our partnerships, not just rights, in what way and how capable will this “Romanian political swamp” be to handle them and to honour our country’s obligations?

Because a visit like the one paid by President Iohannis the other days, as well as the meetings that he will have in the following weeks with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, does not mean solely courtesy meetings that generate national pride and photo opportunities. Just like the Romanian President does not mean only one person. He represents the entire Romanian state, “corruption swamp” and all.

The one that for almost three decades is primarily responsible for the state of the Romanian nation and for the way in which external partnerships were implemented and honoured.

And if we look at the… state of the Romanian nation, I believe we have all reasons for concern also for the way most of the Romanian political class sees fit to do everything possible for the country and its citizens to be part of the most important international bodies and equal partners of nations that, for more than obvious reasons, are still equating our political class with corruption.

We always wanted to be treated on an equal footing. Recognised at the big table of the world’s powers. After years and years of sitting at the kids’ table or in the dining hall’s waiting room. And when the powerful of the world finally treat us like we wanted, I believe we must analyse with maximum objectivity how adult and capable our political class is to handle the dinner offered by the planetary power?

Because, when the lights shining on this visit fade, when President Iohannis will have returned to Bucharest, the political life will go on. Just as it did before. And, up until now, there is no sign that this will mean something different from what it meant all these years.

To be a partner and trusted friend of the American, French, German nation does not mean solely an agreement reached by the political parties and the presidency over the defence budget or a series of patriotic or pro-European or pro-American statements in line with the popularity rating. Only for them to be contradicted, in the immediately following second, by other statements or completely opposite actions on the part of various parts of the Romanian political spectrum.

To be partner and friend does not mean a continuum of poor-taste Cowboys-and-Indians film, verbal denunciations of corruption and an eternal war between politics and the judiciary.

To be partner and friend means, first of all, eliminating the true, obvious and already chronic reasons that generated the unfortunate term “Bucharest corruption swamp.” Elimination! Not beautification, nor whimsically interpreting what comes from our partners or what any part of politics that comes to power exclusively, subjectively and randomly believes true democracy and the correct and coherent implementation of its precepts means.

Only then will we be able to say we rightly won our place in the world. And a success such as the visit that President Iohannis paid to the White House will be not only upheld but also developed to the benefit of our country. But, for this, for this success to be not just a temporary one, the definitive and urgent draining of the swamp is needed.

What I would want understood first of all is the fact that, in what concerns our external partnerships, we are not dealing with words but with the NECESSITY OF ACTION.

A partnership such as the one we have with NATO is not equivalent to a nicely drawn-up and presented but completely unreal and impossible to implement governing platform. Nor does it mean changing the change on daily basis, but commitments clearly and firmly translated into direct and immediate effects on a financial but especially national economic plane.

At any rate, we can say that, after six months in which things were more than disappointing, if not outright worrisome on the domestic politics plane, this new political lesson that Romania is receiving via its president, as well as those that will follow, open the outlook, for me personally, for a potentially new and optimistic re-tackling of our domestic politics.



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