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Jurnalul Național, Romania

Mr. Gitenstein, Back at It

By Petru Calapodescu

Translated By George-Cristian Samoilă

31 October 2012

Edited by Eric Schallock

Romania - Jurnalul Național - Original Article (Romanian)

“Romania, through its representative in Washington, will monitor attentively and with concern the way in which the U.S. administration will select and name as ambassador to Bucharest someone who is competent and objective, knows diplomacy and who will abstain from intervening in the host country’s matters of internal policy or in those that pertain to the duties of a sovereign and independent state.”

Obviously, you have never seen, and will probably never see, such a statement from the Romanian high-level authorities, beginning with the president’s office. From time to time, however, we have witnessed loud and irritating speeches coming from U.S. Ambassador Mark Gitenstein, who continues to behave in Romania as if it is an underdeveloped country, where he is relaying orders from the Potomac. Mr. Gitenstein relapsed two days ago when giving a speech to law students. The ambassador returned to his favorite topic, stating that he is closely observing the selection process for the district attorney and the head of the DNA (National Anti-corruption Directorate), saying that “this selection process will be a very important criterion that will affect how we judge our strategic relationship with Romania.” It would be, he openly adds, an initial test, because “until we know […] that these empowering institutions are independent, we cannot be confident that you [Romania] are a stable ally.”

Regardless, the new heads of the Prosecutor’s Office must be “as competent and courageous as their predecessors”, Codruta Kovesi and Daniel Morar. It should be said that, not long ago, the same gentleman [Mr. Gitenstein] was asking Romania to change its laws so that the two would keep their seats, where, other than obviously obeying orders from the Cotroceni Palace, they haven’t done much. Stacks of indictments rejected or ridiculed in courtrooms, an unacceptable percentage of acquittals due to the weakness of cases in major sessions, the guilty keeping of “orange” case files under lock, the television performances — all these performances that, at the calls of Monica Macovei and other tenors from the Cotroceni Palace or Modrogan, are received and incessantly praised by Mr. Gitenstein.

However, it is easily noticeable that this time he has crossed a line, waving the threat of a change in the perception of the strategic relationship in front of Romania. This is a relationship which, it should be noted, could be evaluated by Romania as well, a country that welcomed the Americans despite their 50-year delay and did not benefit from the Marshall Plan. A country for which the partnership means intense involvement, with a loss of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars spent on theaters of war where Western allies of the United States are withdrawing one after another. A country that, without Băsescu consulting parliament, easily let go of Iraq’s $2.6 billion debt, in the hope of eluding economical contracts or even the lifting of visas. And finally, a country that, unlike other European states, accepted the installment of the missile shield in Deveselu, making it a potential target for terrorism and bringing in the major risk of a large scale conflict, where the first things to be hit are the defense systems.

By definition, a partnership involves equality in rights and obligations, as well as a certain mutual respect. This is a fact that both Mr. Gitenstein, a lobbyist and a political sponsor in his country, and his predecessor, Nicholas Taubman, a businessman (neither of them trained diplomats), seem to have failed to understand. So, we are waiting with interest for the selection and accreditation of Uncle Sam’s new ambassador.



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