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Romania crossing “red line”: Is there a way back?

Head of the fourth European Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko said the air defense systems in the territory of Romania pose a threat to the national security of Russia. He said Moscow told Bucharest about it publicly, not ruling out cooperation opportunities either.

With the current location of air defense systems in its territory, the Romanian political elite “shot itself in the leg.” As leading Western countries seek opportunities to improve their relations with the Russian Federation, Bucharest that considered itself the outpost of the “Latin civilization” in the Slavonic-Hungarian group has again assumed the unfortunate role of “ramming” in the confrontation against Moscow. This happened amid heavy domestic and international situation when both the government and the opposition have launched all-round defense. Spending much energy and resources in the domestic fight, they are creating new enemies for themselves, angering the old ones, at the same time. This may trigger cataclysm. After the parliamentary elections of December 11 2016, Romanian social democrats (SDP) made a coalition agreement with liberals (ALDE Party) and made up majority in the parliament. In fact, they fulfilled part of their pre-election promises by raising minimal salaries and pensions and thought it enough to enlist public support in settling personal problems of their leaders.

At first, they tried to promote their leader Liviu Dragnea for prime minister’s post despite the conditional term for machinations during the referendum of 2012 for resignation of the then president Traian Basescu. After the anticipated failure of that attempt, they nominated Sevil Shhaideh, a 52-year-old member of the Tatar Muslim community for that post. Shhaideh’s husband was a citizen of Syria supporting Bashar al-Assad. It is clear that in Romania, such candidate for prime minister could not have any chances. Romanians started showing antagonism to Arabs, specifically, Syrians, Libyans, Palestinians, during the so-called revolution of December 1989 because of the rumors that commandos from those countries fought on Ceausescu’s side. Finally, social-democrats nominate quite acceptable candidate – Sorin Grindeanu.

After his appointment as prime minister, the social-democrats decided to rehabilitate their leaders who were discredited by various methods, because of various deceptions: former leader Victor Ponta –plagiarism of his PhD thesis, current leader Liviu Dragnea - voting fraud. The scandalous bill on amnesty sparked continuous protests in the center of Bucharest. So far, only Justice Minister Florin Iordache, co-architect of controversial corruption measure, has resigned saying he did not confess, but yielded to the public pressure. In the meantime, protesters are demanding resignation of the government and new elections to the parliament.

The Right-wing Conservative president Klaus Iohannis nominated by the National Liberal Party, former mayor of Sibiu, Germany by origin, warned against such scenario. Apparently, conservatives want to rest from power for a while waiting for the social democrats to discredit themselves at full. There is no much time left until that moment.

The international situation is not good for Bucharest. All its neighbors (except Ukraine) changed their geopolitical orientation in 2016 or even earlier. Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban have not concealed their loyalty to Russia. The newly-elected presidents of Bulgaria and Moldova – Rumen Radev and Igor Dodon, joined them last autumn. Although the new president of Bulgaria cast no doubt on the good-neighbored relations with Romania and even planned to travel to Bucharest (but for the anti-government demonstrations that President Klaus Iohannis joined), Moldova’s president showed openly anti-Romanian stance by stripping the former president Traian Basescu of his Moldovan citizenship. The latter was again elected to the Romanian parliament and will retaliate Dodon for that offence. He will try to drag Romania to the Anglo-Saxon and Latin societies to counteract Russia and Germany. His successor Klaus Iohannis will hardly let him do that – he is oriented at Berlin and Vienna, since his ancestors are from there.

Botsan-Kharchenko’s statement sounded not at the best moment for the Romanian political class. It closed the chain of hostile neighbors and made the country hostage to the most aggressive militarist circles of NATO. Irrespective of whether the Romanian figures will manage to establish relations with the new president of U.S. Donald Trump, Romania is an object of the Russia-West military-political conflict. Quite an unfortunate position, given the improving relations of Washington and Moscow. Bucharest has crossed the red line and there seems to be no way back so far. The Romanian public does not comprehend yet that the air defense base in Romania has made the country a target of Russia’s missiles. This will hardly meet the Romanian people’s interests that are becoming different from the ones of the political class.

Bucharest’s partners in Eastern Europe are still Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Croatia and their anti-Russian sentiments. However, the territorial dispute with Ukraine impedes their constructive dialogue.

Romanian geo-politician, Academician, the head of the Institute for Political Studies and International Relations, Romanian Academy (of science) Dan Dungaciu is concerned over Romania’s isolation. In his article “What did Putin hand over to Romania through Dodon?” in a prestigious newspaper “Adevarul” (“The Truth”), he expressed his growing concerns over the improving relations of Moscow and Budapest. He is sure this is happening, first of all, at the expense of Romania, the more so as, Dodon, as a junior partner, is joining the union of Putin and Orban.

It should be added that Boyko Borisov will also join that union if he returns to the post of the prime minister (which is quite possible) after the parliamentary elections in Bulgaria set for March 26 2017. Borisov calls Orban “my friend” saying “Putin loves us!” In addition, some anti-Russian mass media in Sofia disseminate the words Leonid Reshetnikov, who was the head of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies before Jan 2017, saying Russia prefers dealing with Borisov’s party “Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria” (GERB) and not the socialists who nominated Radev for president. Actually, Russia “advances” from the south anyway. The only way out for the ruling circles in Bucharest is to seek a concession with Moscow. It should stop being a “spearhead” (the air defense base in Romania’s Deveselu is nothing but a spearhead) of America’s idealized “uniqueness” of Barack Obama. He is no longer the president. U.S., the key sponsor of Bucharest is changing before our eyes. Yet, Bucharest does not feel it yet. It is time to bargain again – here is slogan of the day! New Ambassador of Russia to Romania Valery Kuzmin was right to organize a conference of Romanian business circles in Moscow this spring. Talking to Adevarul recently, he even named the most popular Romanian product – furniture. Economy must improve the relations. Neighbors are not ought to love each other, but hostility is unreasonable too.

Not only politicians but also political scientists are responsible for the current situation. Many of them come out with openly senseless propaganda in the local press in the spirit of James Forrestal, the first defense secretary of U.S., who entered psychiatric treatment and jumped out of his bathroom window crying “The Russian are coming! They're right around. I saw Russian soldiers.”

It is no secret that public conscience is poisoned with such a paranoid propaganda.

Valentin Seguru-Zaytsev, an independent Russian-Romanian political analyst, for EADaily

Permalink: eadaily.com/en/news/2017/02/13/romania-crossing-red-line-is-there-a-way-back
Published on February 13th, 2017 06:17 PM
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