First off, the really good news: we are getting our traffic light at the intersection of Bulevardul Marasesti and Strada Cuza Voda. Well done Mrs. Bucharest Life.
Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta is currently clinging on to his job and alas looks secure for the time being. He comfortably (and predictably) survived a vote to lift his parliamentary immunity (on Tuesday) and a no-confidence motion (on Friday). While the clamour for his resignation from all good, civil Romanians is becoming deafening, Ponta, his party (the PSD) and its allies (the UNPR and the PC) have so far stood firmly with him: they all know that if Ponta goes, they go. The mentality of these people is much the same as that of German soldiers encircled by Soviet troops at Stalingrad, and they will fight to the death.
The Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, in one of his best public appearances to date, called again for Ponta’s resignation on Tuesday and labelled parliament’s decision to defend him a grave mistake which does nothing except harm Romania. ‘It was a sad day for democracy,’ he said. He was right. But there is little he can do. The nuclear option in theory available to him (suspension) would only have become viable if Ponta had been stripped of his immunity. We therefore need to hope that the DNA can soon bring new, further charges against him (which it looks as though they may well do) else he looks like being able to see out the summer parliamentary session.
Ponta then further aggravated the situation by threatening any potential protesters against his regime with both prison, and old fashioned violence. ‘If the opposition bring 1000 protesters we will bring 10,000,’ he said. ‘And if they bring 10,000 we will bring 100,000.’ Lovely words, not least as this week is the 25th anniversary of the Mineriada, when Ponta’s hero and mentor Ion Iliescu ordered miners from the Jiu Valley to come to Bucharest and ‘deal with’ anti-government ‘hooligans’ who had been occupying Piata Universitatii for a month.
After they had killed more than 100 people and beaten up many more, Iliescu thanked the miners for their ‘deep sense of civic spirit.’
In a not wholly unrelated incident, Transport Minister Ioan Rus (guess which party he belongs to) was forced to resign on Thursday, having called the children of the Romanian diaspora ‘hooligans’ (yes, the same word Iliescu used in 1990) and their wives ‘whores.’ No, he did, really.
Asked on Friday why he didn’t follow the example of Moldova’s prime minister Chiril Gaburici (who resigned this week after it was revealed he had lied about his academic qualifications), Ponta told a journalist: ‘Why should I resign? What have I done?’
Our pink tie got its annual outing on Thursday at the UK Embassy’s Queen’s Birthday Party, held at the Arenele BNR in Cotroceni: fish and Chips, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding all washed down with gallons of Pimm’s. A couple of Coldstream Guards were on hand for photo opportunities, not that we’d ever do anything so common.
The Arenele BNR are right next to the all-but-abandoned Cotroceni football ground, until 2009 home of FC National (the last professional club of Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday legend Dan Petrescu; they are now defunct). Making the best of an open gate we took some photos. We will edit them and get them up over the weekend.
Finally, something which got forgotten last week amidst the news that Ponta had been charged with corruption.
Last Thursday, Ponta said (in response to president Iohannis’s declaration the day before that Romania remains committed to joining the eurozone as quickly as possible) that Romanians would be allowed to decide via a referendum if the country is to adopt the euro as its currency.
Not for the first time, Ponta was lying: Romanians will not be allowed to vote in a referendum on eurozone membership. The reason is simple: as part of Romania’s Accession Treaty (signed in April 2005) the country is obliged – as are all new EU member states – to adopt the single European currency as soon as economic conditions allow. Eurozone membership is not an optional extra. Any referendum therefore would have to be on Romania’s continued membership of the EU itself, and not a single issue such as adopting the euro. We would have expected Ponta to know such things – he is, after all, the prime minister. Perhaps he does and was playing dumb (somethng he does better than most). Whatever he does or doesn’t know, his increasing populist, anti-European stance is becoming wearisome. He is heading along a staunchly nationalist path until now the reserve of the ‘it’s all a Marxist-homosexual-global conspiracy against Romania’ loons.