DIPLOMACY POLITICS

Relocation of Romania’s embassy to Jerusalem, topic of heated dispute on political scene

A storm on the Romanian political scene and concern on the part of some of Romania’s European and international partners. This is how one can briefly describe the reactions triggered by the announcement that Social Democratic Party (PSD) President Liviu Dragnea made last Thursday on Antena3, according to which the Government has adopted a memorandum on relocating the Romanian embassy to Israel, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “This gesture is of a very big value for the American administration, because Romania is the second state to do this, after the U.S.,” Dragnea said.

“The Government has adopted a memorandum that decides the start of procedures for the effective relocation of the embassy, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It may seem of little importance. This gesture of ours has a huge symbolic value, primarily a symbolic value for a state that has extraordinary influence in the world, a state – Israel – with which we have had special relations for many years, a state in which there are over 500,000 Romanians, it is of very big value for the American administration,” the Social Democratic leader said.

The Presidential administration reacted immediately to the PSD President’s statements and pointed out, on Friday, that President Klaus Iohannis was not informed or consulted about the relocation of the Romanian embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Presidency underscored that this decision is not based on solid and comprehensive assessments and that “such an overture can only be made after an in-depth analysis that would take into account all of its foreign policy consequences and implications.”

In fact, Klaus Iohannis informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in January 2018, that Romania will not relocate its embassy until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ends through a peace agreement based on the two-state solution.

At the same time, on Friday morning, President Klaus Iohannis tried to talk on the phone with Premier Viorica Dancila about the announced relocation of the Romanian embassy to Jerusalem, however the Premier did not answer her phone, according to political sourced quoted by RomaniaTV. Subsequently, Premier Viorica Dancila explained that she did not answer because she was at the Symphony of Tulips, but she did return the call.

 

PM Dancila: Memorandum on Romania’s embassy in Israel is actually launch of discussion platform

 

Premier Viorica Dancila confirmed that President Iohannis called her, and she did not immediately answer but returned the call later on.

“At first, I didn’t answer, I was at the Symphony of Tulips, I didn’t have the phone on me. Then I called him and we talked, I consider it normal,” Viorica Dancila stated on Friday, pointing out that she returned the call.

She confirmed that the government adopted a memorandum on the relocation of the Embassy of Romania from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, explaining that talks will be held with all the institutions, President Klaus Iohannis included. Dancila refused to provide more details, stating that the document is classified.

In addition, the Premier added that the memorandum approved by the government does not represent a decision to move Romania’s Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but “the launch of a platform of discussion.”

“This is not a decision, it’s the launch of a platform of discussion. It’s not a decision, therefore we have not broken any international treaty,” Dancila said in Parliament when asked whether the government’s decision regarding the move of the Embassy of Romania from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is in breach of international treaties.

 

Presidential Administration: Relocation of the Romanian Embassy to Jerusalem violates international law

 

President Klaus Iohannis has not been informed or consulted on a possible relocation to the Embassy of Romania in Israel, the Romanian Presidential Administration announced on Friday, underscoring that the move will only be possible after a thorough analysis that takes into account all its external political consequences and implications.

“The President of Romania has not been informed or consulted in advance about this approach. The Presidential Administration underlines that this decision is not based on solid and comprehensive assessments. Such a move can all be done after a thorough analysis that takes into account all its consequences and external political implications,” the Presidential Administration said on information publicly circulated about the Romanian Government’s intention to start the relocation of the Romanian Embassy in Israel Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

According to the Presidential Administration, the head of state considers that the Government’s initiative may “possibly represent at the very least the beginning of an evaluation process in the field that can only be completed when negotiations over the Middle East Peace Process are concluded, where the status of Jerusalem is a central theme.”

“This status can be established only after the conclusion of a direct and final agreement between the parties,” reads the statement.

Iohannis, as the maker of Romania’s foreign policy decisions of Romania and as the country’s representative abroad, in accordance with the constitutional provisions, reiterates that Romania’s constant position regarding the Middle East Peace Process remains unchanged.

“President Klaus Iohannis stresses once more the need for a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by implementing Israel’s two-state solution, Israel and Palestine co-existing in peace and security, as the only viable option capable of guaranteeing the parties meet their aspirations.”

Iohannis also reaffirms that Romania’s position on the status of Jerusalem remains in line with that established by the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly.

The Presidential Administration mentions that there are a number of resolutions of the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly calling, inter alia, on UN member states to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem and to step up international efforts for lasting, comprehensive and fair peace settlement in the Middle East. “Therefore, at this stage, the relocation of the Romanian Embassy to Jerusalem would be a violation of relevant international law,’ reads the presidential statement.

“Taking into account all these aspects, President Klaus Iohannis urges all governmental and political decision makers to accountability and discernment regarding the major foreign policy decisions of Romania with strategic implications, including to Romania’s national security and to Romanian citizens. Such a decision must be taken only after talks and with the approval of all the relevant bodies in the area of foreign policy and national security, with the final decision being vested with the president, constitutionally speaking,” the Presidential Administration concludes.

 

Iohannis called Dancila to clarify the situation of the embassy in Israel. “I was at the Symphony of Tulips, I didn’t have the phone on me.

 

At the same time, on Friday morning, President Klaus Iohannis tried to have a phone conversation with Premier Viorica Dancila about the announced relocation of the Romanian embassy to Jerusalem, however the Premier did not answer the phone, according to political sources quoted by RomaniaTV. Subsequently, Viorica Dancila clarified that she did not answer the phone because she was at the Symphony of Tulips, but pointed out she returned the call.

Premier Viorica Dancila confirmed that President Iohannis called her and that she did not immediately answer but returned the call later on.

“At first, I didn’t answer, I was at the Symphony of Tulips, I didn’t have the phone on me. Then I called him and we talked, I consider it normal,” Viorica Dancila stated on Friday, pointing out that she returned the call.

She confirmed the adoption of a memorandum on the relocation of the Embassy of Romania from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem during the Government’s meeting on Wednesday, however she refused to provide more details, stating that the document is classified.

“This memorandum has been adopted during the Government meeting,” Premier Dancila pointed out.

The memorandum has been forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the ‘Confidential Documents’ category, and will retain its confidential character until a final decision.

“It’s been adopted, as already known, a memorandum has been adopted during the Government meeting. I will discuss with the President after the adoption of this memorandum. I assure you we are responsible, we have discernment and we will have discussions with all institutions,” the Premier added.

Asked whether consulting the President before adopting the memorandum was required, Viorica Dancila said: “The Foreign Ministry has taken responsibility for this and we will subsequently hold the discussions.”

She claimed that she cannot disclose the contents of the memorandum because the document was classified by the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

“We will have discussions with all institutions. When we reach a denominator, then we will make it public…,” Dancila added.

Asked how come Liviu Dragnea knew about this document if it is classified, Viorica Dancila said: “Right, information about this document was known, I saw it appeared even before it was voted in the Government meeting, so this document was already known. Apart from that, I can’t tell you what the document contains.”

“The character of the document is established by the initiator, in line with the legislation and the legislative technique norms. In the case you are referring to, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has decided to forward the Memorandum for debate, during the Government meeting, under the ‘Confidential Documents’ category. The decision to place the document under this category was taken out of considerations pertaining to foreign policy and Romania’s position, until the process of consultations and adoption of the final decision is finalised,” reads the Government’s response to a Mediafax request to offer more information about the memorandum on the relocation of the Romanian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

 

MAE: Analysis and evaluation process on relocating Romania’s Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, launched

 

In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made clarifications in a reply sent to AGERPRES that “an analysis and evaluation process has been launched” regarding the relocation of the Embassy of Romania from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which includes consultations with all “relevant” institutions and actors.

“We reiterate that a comprehensive process of inter-institutional analysis process is considered through this demarche, with the inclusion and consultation of all relevant institutions and actors, according to the Constitution and the laws in effect,” the MAE said.

At the same time, the ministry mentions, “by initiating this approach, the identification of the most appropriate way of for Romania to position itself or act is in view, taking into account the latest developments in this file, as well as a process of consultation and coordination, consistent and applied, with the partners and the strategic allies of Romania.”

The MAE stresses that “the objectives of this complex process are subsumed to supporting Romania’s interests” and recalls Romania’s “balanced position” in the Israeli-Palestinian file.

“Traditionally, Romania has had a balanced position in the Israeli-Palestinian file, as also confirmed by the bilateral recognition of the Palestinian State for more than three decades. We recall that the balanced position is supported by the constant concern of our country with regard to the community originally from Romania living both in the State of Israel as well as in Palestine, “the MAE communiqué concludes.

 

Palestinian ambassador: Government’s intention to move Romanian Embassy to Jerusalem violates international law

 

The Government’s intention to move the Romanian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is an act that violates international law, the decisions of the Council of Europe and contradicts the position of the Romanian state regarding the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, considers the representatives of the Embassy of the Palestine State in Bucharest.

According to a press release issued on Friday for AGERPRES, the Embassy of the Palestine State in Bucharest is concerned about the decision of the Romanian Government to adopt the memorandum on the start of the relocation procedures of the Embassy of Romania from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“We consider that the intention of the Romanian Government to move the Romanian Embassy to Jerusalem is an act that violates international law, the decisions of the Council of Europe and is contrary to the position of the Romanian state regarding the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Ambassador of the Palestine State in Bucharest Fuad Kokaly, quoted in the press release.

The diplomatic mission also refers to the reaction of the head of state on this issue.

“As the release of the Presidential Administration in Bucharest shows, such a decision could endanger the national security of Romanian citizens and violates the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the General Assembly that call on the member states to abstain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem,” the embassy specifies.

Moreover, the Embassy of the Palestine State shows, “the action of the Romanian Government endangers the interest of the Romanian state and of its citizens in the Arab and Muslim world.”

“We call upon the institutions of the Romanian state to remain in the position of balance they have adopted so far and to play a constructive role in the peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians, a peace based on the solution of the two states, Palestine and Israel, to live in peace and security and good neighborhood,” Fuad Kokaly said.

The Embassy of the Palestine State in Bucharest reminds all Romanians that after the admission of Palestine as a non-observing member state, the United Nations decided on December 17, 2012 that the name “Palestine State” be adopted by the UN in all its subsequent work, reaffirming through this the legitimate existence of the Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, according to Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947.

“In this context, we welcome President Klaus Iohannis’ appeal to responsibility and discernment and reiterate the conviction that Romania will remain a guarantor of international law and a responsible protector of the national security of its citizens,” further reads the release.

 

Ex-President Basescu: A dunce from Teleorman has destroyed 60 years of consistent and intelligent diplomacy in the Near East

 

Ex-President Traian Basescu had an extremely harsh reaction to Liviu Dragnea’s announcement regarding the relocation of the Romanian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He listed a series of negative effects that the memorandum will have, including the good status that Romania has in the Middle East.

“A dunce from Teleorman has destroyed 60 years of consistent and intelligent diplomacy in the Near East, the relations with Israel and the Arab countries.

“Assuredly, Dragnea cannot understand the implications of his statements. Dragnea was simply driven by his own interests, giving a heavy blow to Romania’s long-term interests. Poor Dancila [Viorica Dancila, Romania’s Prime Minister – ed.n.] is merely playing ‘the innocent puppet’, with power though, and Melescanu [Teodor Melescanu, Foreign Affairs Minister – ed.n.] is in the situation of the bad guy who has his leg in a cast thinking he will get away with it. The decision to relocate the Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is one with capital repercussions on Romania’s foreign policy. Among many other things, with Dragnea’s statement, Romania lost the statute of ‘honest peace broker’ both for Israel and the entire Arab World, tramples on the international right, forsakes the European Union’s position, increases the terrorist risk on Romania’s territory, overthrows the confidence both the Arab countries and Israel had in Romania. Not to speak about the interests for the development of economic relations with the Arab countries,” the former head of state wrote on his Facebook page on Friday.

He wondered “which of the Deputies Chamber Speaker (Liviu Dragnea – ed.n.) entitle him to such a decision” and highlights that President Iohannis has the duty to act swiftly and firmly.

“PS – for enthusiasts of speculations: I am an admirer of the Jewish people and its checkered history and an unreserved supporter of a peace solution in the Middle East,” Traian Basescu further wrote.

 

PNL’s Orban: Decision to move Embassy in Israel can only be made by country’s President

 

President of the National Liberal Party (PNL) Ludovic Orban stated on Friday that a decision to move Romania’s Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem can only be made by Romania’s president and urged the Government to renounce any institutional demarche in that regard.

“I followed with consternation the statements made by PSD [Social Democratic Party] Chairman Liviu Dragnea yesterday evening in a television show where he was invited. I will refer to the announcement made by Liviu Dragnea regarding the memorandum adopted by the Government on the relocation of Romania’s Embassy to Jerusalem. I specify that Dragnea has not got any quality in matters of the Romanian state’s foreign policy and it doesn’t seem normal for a party leader, be it the governing party, to make announcements which regard the state’s foreign policy, to influence decisions concerning Romania’s foreign policy. The Government has made a huge mistake for adopting this memorandum. Through this decision it is throwing away a more than 30-year constant effort of the Romanian state’s foreign policy in the area and is seriously breaching Romania’s Constitution, as no foreign policy decision can be made without it coming from the holder established by the Constitution in regards to foreign policy, namely the president of Romania (…) Such a decision can only be made by Romania’s President and it can solely be taken in the context of the peace negotiations in the Middle East, upon the conclusions of these negotiations, especially of those between the two parties. (…) We urge the Government to reject any institutional demarche in that regard,” Orban told a press conference.

He added that through this decision, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) – Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) government places itself outside many decisions of the United Nations Romania is part of and acts in disagreement with decisions made at the European Union level in this domain.

“We will debate this topic at PNL’s Executive Bureau meeting on Monday. It is clear we will consult with Romania’s Presidency, because foreign policy decisions rest upon the president. We will analyse all constitutional possibilities to halt such an endeavour harmful for Romania. We have several leverages at our disposal, we can call the premier at ‘Government’s Hour’, we can summon the Foreign Affairs Minister at ‘Gov’t’s hour’ or convene the Foreign Affairs Minister in front of the foreign apolicy Committees. We will use all constitutional and statutory demarches at our disposal,” Ludovic Orban concluded.

 

PNL’s Gorghiu says Israeli embassy relocation – a red herring, also a blemish on Romania’s foreign image

 

Senator of the National Liberal Party (PNL) Alina Gorghiu says that the recently adopted memorandum on the relocation of the Romanian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “casts blemish on the country’s foreign image,” adding that the “imminent scandal that will break out” is meant to distract attention from the controversial changes to the Criminal Codes.

“The memorandum on the relocation of Romania’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was classified as ‘confidential’, the government tells us. Such was the document’s secrecy that Mr. Dragnea dished us the information in prime time. Mr. Manda – head of the Romanian Intelligence Service Oversight Committee – must already mobilize to urgently call the committee in order to identify the ‘siphon’ in the government, and the PSD-favorable media angrily demand a special commission to investigate such a leak of information. … For the time being, reality is as follows: a striking announcement regarding Romania’s foreign policy is made through the voice of a party leader, which sparks a conflict not only between the Cotroceni Palace and the Victoria Palace of Government, but also a theme that casts yet another blemish on the country’s foreign image. The main conclusion that can be drawn after Mr. Dragnea’s announcement: let the Romanian society, the opposition, the Presidency, as well as the European bodies focus on sorting out this long lasting conflict tossed in the public space, not on the imminent scandal that will break out in just a few days, when the PSD will intensify efforts to push through Parliament the controversial amendments to the Criminal Codes,” Alina Gorghiu wrote on Saturday on Facebook.

 

Ex-PM Ciolos: Constitution clearly states what are the prerogatives of the branches of government

 

The Romanian Constitution very clearly spells out the prerogatives of each branch of government and there should be no controversy on the topic of relocating the Romanian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, ex-Premier Dacian Ciolos stated on Friday.

“There should be no controversy here in a democratic state in which the Constitution clearly says what are the prerogatives of each branch of government. And I observed this while I was Prime Minister. The President has a clear prerogative regarding foreign policy, so I believe that, based on what I understand from the President’s statements, the President was not consulted. Of course, the Government also has its margin of freedom to take certain decisions, but on these foreign policy topics, sensitive topics in which the President is also a factor to ensure continuity, because Mrs Dancila has just become Premier – she was preceded by several others – since this topic is on the agenda. And I find it at least unnatural, and this raises question marks, why wasn’t the President consulted on this topic,” Ciolos stated for DigiFM.

According to him, apart from these aspects, the topic is a sensitive one at international level, one that concerns not just Romania’s relation with Israel “but risks affecting Romania’s position within the framework of some international institutions and may even discredit Romania in relation to certain partners, because the President – the one who is able to do this – adopted a certain position.

“And the Government of the same country comes up with a different decision, a decision adopted – I believe – hastily and in a rush, secretly, without there being public consultations about this topic or without even an announcement concerning the Government’s intention to adopt this memorandum,” the ex-Premier added.

 

French ambassador Ramis: Law should prevail in issue of embassies’ relocation to Jerusalem

 

Ambassador of France in Bucharest Michele Ramis, commenting on Friday in Constanta on the possible relocation of embassies in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, said that any move should comply with the Middle East Peace Process and that international law must also be observed.

“The Jerusalem issue is highly sensitive, it is tightly linked to the Middle East Peace Process. There are Security Council resolutions on this subject and deciding where to place an embassy must observe international law. France considers that relocating an embassy to Jerusalem does not comply with international law and peace talks should be organized to allow attaining the goal of creating the two states that should live within secure and recognized borders. This is France’s stance on Jerusalem”, the ambassador said.

Asked how she comments on the Romanian government’s plans to move the state’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, ambassador Michele Ramis said she doesn’t believe a decision to this effect has yet been taken.

“I am not sure the institutional decision has been made. I think the Constitution of Romania has regulations in place as far as such foreign policy decisions are concerned, and each branch of the executive will have its due role in making this decision. That’s what I can tell you now, but in my opinion, the decision has not been made yet”, concluded the ambassador of France to Romania.

 

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