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​OPINION How much can Romania count on EU, US to help with its problems

de Dan Tapalaga     HotNews.ro
Marţi, 3 octombrie 2017, 14:36 English | Top News

Dan Tapalaga
Foto: Hotnews
​Everyone out there is seeing serious troubles taking place in Romania in recent months, but is trying not to officially turn Romania into a "case". From that moment on, everything would get complicated. In Brussels, where I spent a few days recently, there are quite a few other priorities now: Poland, Hungary and, more recently, Spain. No one wants  another problem child. Once recognized and verbalized, the issue should be  solved, but the European Union has so far been proven powerless in the cases mentioned above.

Then, the European officials have gotten tired of us. I look horrified at the time  of 2019, when Romania takes over the EU presidency, and discovers an administrative failure. Preparations for the EU presidency are far behind, and if it fails to fill its homework on time, our country will simply be unable to run a bureaucratic machine so complex or will be left to be piloted by others more skilled.

With its hands already occupied with Poland and Hungary, confronted with secessionist movements from inside, with the rise of the extreme right and anti-European forces, with  waves of migrants, a dangerous Brexit with a tendency to close from Schengen space, the European Union will have a tendency to avoid the emergence of new crises on its territory, not to confront them openly. Then the European socialists have massively lost ground after the historic defeat in Germany, so their leaders will have even less authority over one like Romania's governing Social Democratic Party (PSD) leader Liviu Dragnea. Martin Schultz and Frans Timmermans have lost the campain in their country and as much as they hate the PSD leader, losers cannot  preach to a winner.

Dragnea and PSD do not only jeopardize Romania's Judiciary, but question all the institutions of checks and balances which compound the fragile Romanian democracy: besides judges and prosecutors, the new power fights with the national energy regulator ANRE, the Competition Council, with the National Bank and, in general, with any key institution of the state which it does not strongly control, from presidency (harmless as it is) to secret services. As far as institutional and public attacks on press freedom are concerned, things have already gone too far.

All this happened in the nine months since the PSD-ALDE coalition took over, and if we go further on the road indicated by Dragnea, who serves as House speaker, and Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu, in a few years the state  architecture will be changed in an incompatible way with European Union values. If we add to this all the debasement of the political discourse, with incrasing outreach against "foreigners", multinationals, banks or ambassadors, that is, everything that illustrates the idea of the West, you have the complete picture of the rapid transformation of our country into an authoritarian, nationalist, isolationist regime and  in addition to the other states emerging from the parameters of democracy - reorganized according to  Mafia style and rules.

Therefore, Brussels officials are pleased to look and pray for the moment, as the Financial Times has done recently [link to article in Romanian], for Romania to ultimately avoid associations with Europe's "bad guys". Back home, I still hear enough optimistic voices, convinced that the European Union  will intervene if Romania goes through the red lines, that it will be somehow disciplined just as it happened in 2012 with the referendum against the president at that time, Traian Basescu. I'm afraid that those times have passed, the paradigm we are operating in today has changed radically.

I am convinced that the European Union will continue to charge the exits in the decor, but much less, and most importantly, with infinitely less efficiency than in the past, given the many problems that keep today's European agenda occupied. Look at Poland. No matter how much its threatened  with the suspension of the voting right in the Council, with cutting off EU funds, they could not stop, just delayed  a little, the massacre of the laws of justice. Look at Hungary. Orban laughs in the faces of the Europeans, refuses migrant quotas, demolishes democracy every day in his country, but that does not prevent him from partaking EU funds. And nobody from Brussels has found a cure for this so far.

Do you think Dragnea and Tariceanu do not see all this? Do you imagine that Tariceanu, who visited Kaczynski in Poland this summer, did not come home convinced that the anti-European model followed by the Visegrad countries is the way? They see and know that they have a much wider margin of action, that they can stretch the string to the maximum and it will not break so easily.

As for the relationship with the United States, we do not have any signs yet that they will trade their major interests with the personal interests of some Romanian leaders willing to promise and do anything if they are guaranteed immunity from justice. In short, I do not think the Americans will close their eyes to the massacre of justice if Liviu Dragnea and PSD will deliver military contracts. But what we do not know today is the effect of the highly aggressive lobbying of the anti-DNA cartel in Washington.

We can not assess to what extent they will somehow influence the Congress, which in turn can change the speech at the State Department. So far, we have good news from the United States: Wess Mitchell, a good connoisseur of Romania, received the Senate approval last week will replace Victoria Nuland.

However, indifferently to the correct official positions of the US administration (see also the recent outings of Ambassador Hans Klemm) the government of Romania does not seem intimidated. Justice Minister Tudorel Toader has announced that he would send a series of bills aimed at changing the rules of Romanian justice to Parliament despite the negative notice given by the Supreme Council Of Magistracy (CSM) and despite the magistrates' protests, being present at an event attended by both the US ambassador and the Austrian ambassador. So, with two Western ambassadors around and with all the concerns publicly expressed, the minister of justice is keeping distance from Dragnea's and PSD's mission: taking over political control in the justice system. It cannot be more relevant than that. And that comes after a long series of bantering and public threats made by the ruling coallition leaders at the US ambassador.

In conclusion, I would not count so much on the European Union and the USA, although their help has always been proven to be essential, and  I would  invest more in our own capacity to stop the evil. I repeat here the appeal in fellow journalist Dan Turturica's text entitled Message in a Bottle: "If the Romanians who are dissatisfied with the way the country is going fail to find a way to unite and force this change, in a hundred years we will still talk about what the followers of Iliescu, Nastase, Ponta, Antonescu, Dragnea, Tariceanu and their accomplices are doing to us. And it will not be of any use, as it isn’t of any use today."

Shortly put, we in Romania are experiencing the boiled frog syndrome live. In the winter, with the Emergency Ordinance 13 they cast her into the boiling water trying to annihilate her, but the frog jumped back instantly feeling the danger. Meanwhile, they changed tactics. Administered in small doses, the evil sneaks in. They increased the flame gradually, so that the frog first relaxed being heat drowsy, then it got tired, and soon it would not have enough energy to jump out of the water that eventually would kill her.
























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