How can disrupt diplomatic waters some statements made in a talk show with a minimum rating ? Very much. Very much if you’re President of the state and forget that this is not a job with the program for 8 hours and after you can talk open all you think of. Statements of Romania’s President about the King Michael and Marshal Ion Antonescu scandalized public opinion nationally and internationally. But mostly ransacked Russian sensitivity.
Basescu voiced the scandalous statements back on June 22. They were dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. On June 22, 1941, the Romanian troops along with the Germans crossed the border into the USSR and later occupied a considerable part of Moldova and Ukraine, including Odessa and Nikolaev. Bessarabia (the main part of Moldavia), Chernivtsi and Odessa regions of Ukraine were made a part of Romania, and a special administrative unit of Transnistria (Zadnestrove) was created on the rest of the occupied territory. Speaking on June 22 at B1TV TV channel, he acquitted Antonescu’s actions 70 years ago. “I would also give such an order. We had an ally. Under those circumstances I would have done the same,” said Basescu, justifying the actions of the Romanian marshal. Further, the president urged not to blame Antonescu for the deportation of local Jews and gypsies. Basescu even managed to find a “Russian trace” here. “We forget that the Romania head of state at the time (King Michael – Ed.). Antonescu was the Prime Minister. To one we pay homage and return the property, while we make the other a war criminal. Why? Just because one of them was a Russian servant? ” Basescu said. Perhaps he meant that after the war Mihai renounced the throne and was awarded the Soviet Order of Victory.
After Wednesday night, at a week after the troublesome episode, President Basescu reiterated his statements, claiming that it has nothing to retract, the Russian Foreign Ministry took a short break from preparations for the Russia-NATO Council (to be held in Sochi on July 4 and when the President Basescu’s statements can be used as additional argument on Russian concerns about missile shield to be installed in Romania) and on its website was published a statement that condemning the statements of Romanian President. “Russia is indignant with the remarks of the President of Romania. Such a statement, particularly made on the sad day of the 70th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War, during which our people have lost 27 million lives, cannot be explained either by the current political circumstances, or answers to the provocative questions of the journalists,” said Alexander Lukashevich, the spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry. The exchange of words seems to continue in public in the same unconstructive way specific of recent years in bilateral relations between Romania and Russia.
Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs published in reply a press release where says that ”has noted with surprise the statement expressed on behalf of the Russian Foreign Ministry, referring to some comments by the President of Romania on historical themes. Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers completely inappropriate language used in Russian official statement on this subject (…) and consider unfortunate and unfounded public launch such a violent reaction of unacceptable language, without complete information, and minimal prior diplomatic interaction“. Also, Romanian President said that he not considers inappropriate to discuss historical truths that were accepted even Russia itself. “I do not understand what is so insulting, because the Soviet Union no longer exists. We have a relationship with the Russian Federation, but when it comes to a debate about the Soviet Union, this is a discussion about something that is already in the past,” said the Romanian President, commenting on the scandal.
Romanian president was accused on several occasions that he is inspired by Vladimir Putin’s dictatorial behavior. Moreover, in the bilateral talks at the NATO Summit 2008 in Bucharest, Putin launched the idea of a visit of Romanian leader to Moscow. Visit which has no found place in the full agenda of the new Kremlin leader Dmitry Medvedev. It seems that President Basescu’s frustrations sometimes seem stronger than diplomacy that to be a second nature to the highest state representative function. But I also believe that the Russians should not be so upset that the President (of a small country from uncivilized part of Europe and in close proximity of Russia Federation) with epigonic habits, desperately trying to be as cynical as the hero of the last eleven years of Russia, Vladimir Putin !
Beyond the irony of the comment, I see that such statements in public space maintain growing international tension and personally I don’t think its bringing the expected votes. Neither Russia nor in Romania. Priority problems of the citizens are quite different (austerity measures, lack of jobs, a poor health and education) and nationalist extremists are declining percentages. I also believe that for Russia to claim an anti-Russian attitude of a NATO member, placed in its neighborhood can bring additional pressure on missile talks strategy, but will not change anything essential in view of the West.