How predictable was this?
No doubt angered by its support for open society, democracy and the rule of law PSD leader Liviu Dragnea has Romanian civil society in his sights.
‘There are many NGOs in Romania who operate correctly, but there are also many who are possibly operating at the limit of law and who do not respect any principles,’ he said, before singling out the 83-year-old man who is allegedly Romania’s worst enemy, George Soros.
‘I have a problem with Soros,’ Dragnea declared. ‘The foundations and structures he has founded have done great harm to Romania ever since 1990. Soros finances evil and has never done anything good for this country.’
The evidence suggests otherwise. As we have asked on a number of occasions, can any of those lunatics who blame Soros for everything that goes wrong in Romania actually point to one thing he has done to the detriment of this country? No, they can’t. In fact, by offering thousands of young people the chance to study abroad – among much else – Soros has done far more for Romania than just about every Romanian who curses the day he was born. How many scholarships to elite universities has the PSD offered underprivileged Romanians?
Then there are the NGOs funded by EEA grants, also no doubt high on Dragnea’s hit-list. We wrote about those this time last year:
From 2009-2014 EEA Grants spent €190.75 million trying to make Romania a better place to live. Norway Grants spent an additional €115.2 million during the same period. Proof – as if anymore were needed – of just how much Norway hates Romania.
There are so many Romanians who have benefitted from these programmes that it is difficult to even know where to begin listing them. From simple student exchanges to grants for Romanian students to study in Norway, from public health programmes aimed at eradicating tuberculosis (TB) in Romania (which has Europe’s highest rate of TB) to the prevention of human trafficking money has been spent in key areas with one aim: making Romania a slightly better place for Romanians. Norway spent €4 million on trying to reduce domestic violence, and helping the victims. Another €9 million is to be spent on improving pre-school childcare so that young mothers can join (or rejoin) the workforce, and become self-reliant. Another €15.6 million has been allocated to helping Romania conserve its cultural heritage.
And what about local NGOs which rely heavily on funding from foreign donors, such as Casa Ioana, which offers refuge and support to victims of domestic violence? Are they to be a target?
This new attack on NGOs is a manifestation of the new Romanian government’s current phobia of civil society in general and non-traditionally Romanian civil society in particular. Any organisation or person that is not under the control of – or in agreement with – the state is held to be suspect and should be silenced. It’s nothing new: the communist authorities demonstrated the same antipathy towards civil society.
It’s a shame for the Romanian people. Overall the wealthiest, most stable, innovative and resilient societies on the planet are those which have a strong and expansive network of non-governmental societies, associations and organisations. These institutions and non-governmental associations provide support and continuity even in times of economic decline, war or other crises.
Think of the multitude of religious, charitable, scientific, academic and business associations and institutions that flourish in places like Scandinavia and the UK, among others. In the PSD’s Romania, such organisations must be either co-opted by the state or kept in a condition of weakness and precariousness. Or simply outlawed.