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Cristian Grosu / Foreign policy for personal use: two dangers that are threatening Romania

de Cristian Grosu , 23.5.2018

The game is, of course, very complicated. But not necessarily from Romania’s point of view.

Until the clarification, among the uncertainties of the future, of the relationship between the EU and Trump administration, we can count in Romania some certainties covered by a professional diversion apparatus;

and, above all, we can articulate the two long-term dangers that threaten Romania as a “playing state”.

Let’s talk about certainties – people and facts.

1- In the matter of moving the embassy to Jerusalem, it is NOT about the “firefly story” in its classic version (“instead of… from 10 small fireflies, better from the big firefly”) – it is not about positioning toward the two variants of the West.

When a few months ago, the State Department of the “Big Firefly” sent the Parliament an unusually tough letter about the laws on the judiciary and about sidetracking the state in favour of the mafia,

everyone from Liviu Dragnea to the last PSD supporter was vehemently protesting against the US interference in …. .

The US involvement in Liviu Dragnea’s “decision” on the embassy in Israel is just a pretext.

“I will not allow anyone to break us away from our strategic US partner,” said Liviu Dragnea, referring to Klaus Iohannis, four days ago.

In this story, the US is used as a pretext for a certain type of relationship between Liviu Dragnea and the state of Israel, on the one hand, and Israel is used as a sort of channel for the relationship by the back-door with the US.

2-, There is no US pressure on Romania to move its embassy.

Let’s listen a little:

Last December 21: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) appreciates that the promotion of the draft resolution on the status of Jerusalem, today, December 21, 2017, comes at a time when caution should be exercised. MAE considers that it is rather necessary, at this stage, to relaunch the direct dialogue in order to unlock the peace process. Consequently, Romania has voted to “abstain” within the UN General Assembly. “(MAE official position after the UN Council).

Important: The US thanked Romania for abstaining from the vote on moving the Jerusalem Embassy – that is, we are still in the ideal situation of sailing between the interests of the two US and EU giants.

What happened to Bucharest that the direction has changed in just a few months, from the abstaining position at the Security Council to the aggressive positioning?

3- The governmental decision to move the embassy was made Not only without consulting the presidency:

Teodor Melescanu himself was in Libya on the day of the announcement of the “Secret Memorandum” on moving the embassy.

All the “work” was done by Secretary of State Ciamba – a useful boy, with Melescanu being notified in Libya by phone.

Romania’s involvement in the hottest spot on the globe, the change of direction and the collision with the EU were made without the presence of the foreign policy responsible (president) and without the foreign minister.

Is it needed to say that all embassy relocations have been done so far only with a presidential decree?

4-, “This decision was taken (the relocation of the embassy – editor’s note), for which I was first to stand up, I support it, the Government acted accordingly, and the proceedings started” – Liviu Dragnea, April 19, 2018.

In what capacity has Liviu Dragnea “stood” to announce a “foreign policy” decision? Teodor Melescanu did not stand for that, Viorica Dancila did not either, Klaus Iohannis “stood” even less.

Caught between the constant refusals received from Washington to be recognized as the de facto leader of Romania, dismissed with an ostentatious and tenacious contempt by the EU, Liviu Dragnea is looking for leaders and external situations that could place him as an individual on the map.

5,- Israel is in a very difficult situation. Caught between the Arab world, the Syrian chaos, Turkey, and Russia’s boot in the Mediterranean, Benjamin Netanyahu is looking in all directions for help, votes and any shred of approval he can use.

In July 2017, the Israeli Prime Minister paid a visit to Europe to discuss the support he needs in the Middle East.

He did not go to Brussels, but where there is a weaker spot: in Budapest, where, for this event, prime ministers of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia gathered. Together with Viktor Orban, they criticized the European Union, each for what they hurt.

Ignored by the Visegrad group (which in fact no longer exists), the opportunity opened for Liviu Dragnea not only to become a “player” in an external equation but also to approach the US on the Israel “channel” – as roads are closed otherwise.

On April 14 (just five days before Liviu Dragnea’s announcement on the embassy), the Romanian Official Gazette published “Prime Minister Viorica Dăncila’s decision” to take Herman Berkovitz (Netanyahu’s physician) as a personal advisor.

Close to the establishment in Bucharest for many years, Herman Berkovitz’s relations have catapulted Andreea Pastarnac’s relations.

Brought to the PSD government from the ambassador position in Israel, after years of hesitations from the authorities in Bucharest (Israeli authorities were too demanding in asking for her and only her – eventually she was sent by Titus Corlatean, and the best-informed person of the moment, Traian Basescu, knows for sure why), the Minister of Relations with Romanians from everywhere has a very precise role in this equation.

Mayor Gabriela Firea also announced in February, in the presence of Israel’s ambassador, that Bucharest Jewish neighbourhood would be entirely restored.

This is how it looks the seam that Liviu Dragnea has decided to use – and that has nothing to do with the “strategic partnership with the US”, promoted on all party channels.

6- The situation in the Middle East is so explosive that the Israeli Prime Minister is capable of anything for his country.

Benjamin Netanyahu made not less than four visits to Moscow in the last two years. And his need for support is so big that, when asking for it, he does not care about the costs undertaken by those who decide in one way or another to support him.

At this time, we do not know whether Romania will eventually move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. What is certain is that Liviu Dragnea, in his statement, has positioned Romania in this sensitive and chaotic international context, has suddenly and aggressively changed direction and has taken Romania out of the list of coherent states in their international politics.

And that’s why Klaus Iohannis said that “evil has already been done.”

7-, Very Important:

The countries that blocked the EU declaration on the condemnation of the embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem were Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic (Austria only sent a representative to Jerusalem at the opening of the US Embassy):

But none of these countries has started the proceedings to move the embassy – as Liviu Dragnea: “This is a decision taken for which I was the first to take the stand.

That being said, let’s go to:

The two dangers of the Romanian foreign policy: the moment of the choice and Poland lesson

1 / The first and biggest danger for Romania is the moment when we may be asked to choose between the US and the European Union.

The tensions between the two colossuses are on the rise, and so far, Romania – a tiny state in terms of economic significance and political influence – has managed to slip through the boots of the “combatants”.

But even the main stake was to delay as much as possible the moment when we might be asked to make a choice.

Or the game triggered by Liviu Dragnea brings that moment closer and it complicates it.

There is no more harmful thing in terms of perception about this conflict than accrediting the idea that today, May 2018, we already have to make a choice. On one of the last evenings, I was reading on the lower third of an assault TV station (I believe it was Antena 3), set by the Party on automatic fire: “With whom are we going? With the US or Germany?”

You must be unconscious to do that, even in the effort to accredit the idea that “PSD is with the Americans, and the Opposition is with the Germans.”

Important: Poland is a country as American (although even more) as Romania, with similar problems in its relations with the EU. But Poland was not one among those who blocked the EU declaration, nor did it interfere with the embassy story in Israel.

First, Poland knows that the US and its long-term relationship with this country do not limit to just the Trump administration.

Secondly … – and this is the second biggest danger:

2 / Compromising Romania’s relationship with the European Union in the explicit interest of Russia.

And Poland avoids that for its own good: yes, of course, we have our domestic “vision,” with all the related issues, but we cannot play with the international relations.

In Romania, though, for a contextual issue, which is related to the positioning and personal interests, Romania’s foreign policy, far from being aligned with a vision and a plan, resembles a grenade with the nail off that Liviu Dragnea throws to the establishment in Bucharest.

The fact that situation is out of control is proved by the Foreign Minister himself, Teodor Melescanu: on May 9th he said in the Senate’s Committee for the foreign policy that there is no problem and – literally – “he is working on a tour to be organized for Viorica Dancila” in the Arab countries.

One: If we have come to the point where the foreign policy relies on Viorica Dancila ….

Two: Melescanu worked so well since May 9th that Palestine recalled its Ambassador in Bucharest yesterday, 16 May…

Is it needed to add that the danger from Russia is NOT a fantasy – and that we see right from the very position of Liviu Dragnea’s “vision” buddies:

-, Hungary: Russia will never force the Carpathians, it is sheltered. Besides, the country does not move its embassy.

-, Czech Republic: it is even farther. With its geographical position and economic situation, the Czech Republic can afford anything, anytime.

Austria has not blocked the EU declaration – nor had it a reason to do that: it was blocked by Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic anyway. Besides, it carries discussions with Russia from the positions of former empires which are doing real business today.

Slovakia and Poland are already, and for a long time, in another league – and do not play with the foreign policy.

We cannot overlook the deepening – at the limit threating the national security – every year and on all levels, of the internal divergence: the difference between Transylvania and the rest of the country:

With all the highways over the Carpathians blocked, the mere decentralization of the local administration would de facto cut Romania in two: Cluj will continue on its path to the West.

***

Here are some things that we do not understand from this equation:

*, Liviu Dragnea makes a very personal foreign policy game, but he could not, and cannot do it alone. Behind him is a “cohort” of specialists who really know how to do these things: how to do them so that to be as good as possible and how to do them so that to be as bad as possible? It depends on whose benefit.

Here the PSD leader ignores the saying of one of the party’s classics: “The Americans have only friends, they never have former friends” – Adrian Nastase, after leaving the prison.

* Relations in the European Union – where the money, the export market and the society’s value benchmark come from – are solely based on trust. Here you cannot afford to be unpredictable, a liar, and hope in the same time that you can count – what good can it do to remind the situation in which even those in the same political family break with you:

Of course, we are talking about a different situation, with other causes and on another level, but it is worth mentioning this example:

Victor Ponta also thought he could turn in on another power and regional influence when doors were shutting on his face everywhere in the West: on Turkey.

It is well-known the episode of the participation, despite the European embargo, at the Games in Baku, from where he left afterwards with Erdogan to Ankara.

If we were to think well, he returned several times to Romania (in Turkey he kept having surgeries on a knee), and the last time he resigned.

* Let’s look at internal policy:

Chaos in the Law on unitary payment (Olguta Vasilescu), the devastating chaos in the Fiscal Codes (Darius Valcov), the chaos in the Criminal Codes (the entire gang), in the European funds, the infrastructure, the administration:

what I have seen so far in the internal policy translates into the foreign policy. But with much more dangerous stakes now, in this tension, for this country.

***

PS1: Mr. Valer Dorneanu – the well-known President of the Constitutional Court – is currently in Russia, despite the Foreign Ministry’s recommendation to avoid this visit. The man ignored the recommendation and motivated that when it came he had already made his luggage.

Beyond the jokes from the televisions (“he went to the Russians to change his microchip”), the moment is very delicate. Both in terms of the EU’s position regarding Russia and especially regarding the decisions that CCR is to support. It is not on the agenda yet, but a “constitutional conflict” is to occur between the Presidency and the Government on certain foreign policy issues.

PS2: As a predestined thing, Mr. Tariceanu (another great politician whom everyone in Brussels calls) also comes forward to remind Dacian Ciolos that we “do not get light” from the EU.

We do not need to get light from anyone, we have the two mighty stars with criminal files in the phase of getting the judicial decisions.

PS3: Deputy Prime Minister Viorel Stefan goes to Brussels to discuss, explain, see what and how. EU economic commissioners refuse to meet him.

So it begins!

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