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Archive for Romania

Newsline: Romania summons Austrian ambassador

Romania’s government has reacted with outrage after Austria blocked its bid to join the visa-free Schengen zone. Austria’s ambassador was summoned to explain a veto that Romanian officials called unjustified and an act of blackmail. Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner justified his vote on the grounds of a migration crisis in south-eastern Europe. Landlocked Austria has demanded EU action over tens of thousands of undocumented migrants arriving from the Balkans. But Romania said it had nothing to do with this and accused Austria of playing political games. “This result is completely unfair and devoid of any objective motivation,” Romania’s Foreign Ministry said. Romania’s Deputy Prime Minister Hunor Kelemen accused Austria of “miserable blackmail”. “Austria’s veto is unfair, immoral, lacking solid arguments, showing a miserable political game,” he said. (https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/europe/2022/12/09/romania-summons-austrian-ambassador-over-schengen-snub/) Austria’s ceremonial head of state Alexander van der Bellen also criticised his government’s veto on Friday. But the government said it was the wrong time to extend Schengen when border protection was not working well enough. The Austrian veto stopped Romania and Bulgaria from joining Schengen in an EU vote on Thursday. The Netherlands also voted against, but said its objection was to Bulgaria and not Romania.

Newsline: Syrian Ambassador’s Friend Made a Million Selling Him an Embassy in Romania’s Capital

The Art Deco-style mansion at 47 Paris Street in Bucharest was never going to be cheap. It measures over a thousand square meters, sits in a prime neighborhood favored by diplomats, and was built by legendary Romanian engineer Emil Prager in 1933. But it still raised eyebrows among some in Romania’s capital when the white stone building shot up in value by a million euros in under a week in 2009. Even more unusually, the mansion passed through the hands of a widowed pensioner who lived in a Communist-era public housing block in southwest Bucharest. Leana Pielmus, then 58, bought it on September 10 for 3.5 million euros (the equivalent of US$5 million). The average pension in Romania at the time was 162 euros per month. Pielmus sold it a week later to the Syrian Foreign Ministry for 4.46 million euros (US$6.6 million), according to sales contracts obtained by journalists from OCCRP partners RISE Project and SIRAJ. (https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/how-a-syrian-ambassadors-friend-made-a-million-selling-him-an-embassy) The deal, which has never been reported in the mainstream media, was brokered by her son-in-law, Ammar Aoun, a dentist who counts the Syrian ambassador to Romania among his friends. Dissidents argue that Bucharest has become a European hub for the illicit financial networks of Assad and his wealthy cousin, Rami Makhlouf, who is married to the daughter of the Syrian ambassador. That ambassador, Walid Othman, is among Assad’s closest associates. He has been at his diplomatic post in Romania for 13 years, despite having blown past the mandatory retirement age of 65. Ambassador Othman and the Syrian Foreign Ministry declined to say whether the deal followed public procurement rules or if the Syrian government investigated the potential conflict of interest. Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the question of how the Syrian Embassy was purchased was outside its purview. But Camelia Bogdan, a Romanian judge with expertise in money laundering, said the transaction raised red flags that should have been reported to authorities. Romania and Syria have had close diplomatic ties since the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. The former communist dictator had a warm relationship with Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, who ruled Syria with an iron grip for nearly three decades. In March 2011, the European Union imposed sanctions on the Syrian strongman and his close associates, which are still in place. Romania is one of a few EU countries that have nevertheless maintained diplomatic relations with the Syrian regime throughout the civil war.

Newsline: Romania recalls its ambassador from Belarus

Romania is recalling its ambassador to Belarus in solidarity with Lithuania and Poland, Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said, joining several other states amid continued tensions after Minsk’s disputed presidential election. “Belarus needs to understand that using diplomatic pressure on EU member states will not help dialogue and will not bring positive results.” (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-belarus-election-romania-diplomacy-idUSKBN26U0Z0) Belarus has accused its neighbours Poland and Lithuania of meddling in its affairs by hosting exiled opposition leaders and refusing to recognise Alexander Lukashenko’s victory in the Aug. 9 poll. Critics said the vote was rigged. Romania joins Germany, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Bulgaria and Slovakia in recalling its envoy. “We decided to recall our ambassador in Belarus for consultations in solidarity with Lithuania and Poland,” Aurescu said on Twitter.

Newsline: Chile to shut down its embassies in Greece, Denmark, Algeria, Syria and Romania

The Chilean ambassadors of Greece, Denmark, Algeria, Syria and Romania were informed, that they will have to finish their affairs before the end of the year, 24 Horas reported. The closure of the embassies are occurring in order to provide a greater national presence in Brussels, considered the unofficial capital of the European Union, as well as in Vienna (Austria). (https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/06/08/chile-to-shut-down-its-embassy-in-athens/) The measure was taken by Foreign Minister Teodoro Ribera, after the Strategic Planning Directorate asked to evaluate the political, economic and development relevance of the different nations where Chile has embassies.

Newsline: Representative of Romanian Embassy dies in Kabul after Taliban attack

A representative of the Romanian Embassy in Afghanistan died after a terrorist attack on a compound in the capital Kabul inhabited mostly by foreigners. Another Romanian citizen was severely wounded in this attack, the Foreign Affairs Ministry announced. The head of Romania’s diplomatic mission in Afghanistan and the Embassy’s head of security were evacuated to a nearby military base. (https://www.romania-insider.com/romanian-dead-kabul-attack-september-2019) Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis and prime minister Viorica Dancila both condemned the Kabul attack and reaffirmed Romania’s commitment to continue fighting terrorism. The Taliban suicide attack took place on Monday night, September 2, and killed at least 16 people, injuring over 100 others. The attack took place just hours after the US said it would withdraw 5,000 troops from Afghanistan after talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar. A tractor rigged with explosives hit the compound’s wall damaging the houses in the vicinity.

Newsline: Jordanian King Cancels Romania Trip Over PM’s Plan for Jerusalem Embassy

King Abdullah II of Jordan has cancelled his planned trip to Romania in response to the Romanian prime minister’s announcement that the country plans to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said during a speech before the AIPAC conference in Washington on Mar. 24 that her country intends to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. (https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/jordan/.premium-jordanian-king-cancels-romania-trip-over-pm-s-plan-for-jerusalem-embassy-1.7048618) The statement was strongly contradicted by the country’s president, who opposes the move and has a final say on foreign policy issues. President Klaus Iohannis called Dancila “ignorant” for making the statement, which had received strong applause from those attending the pro-Israeli conference.

Newsline: Netanyahu urges Romanian PM to move embassy to Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday urged Romania and other EU countries to follow Washington’s lead and move their embassies to Jerusalem. Netanyahu made the call during talks in Jerusalem with Viorica Dancila, the prime minister of Romania, which this month took over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union. “I hope you will act to stop the bad resolutions against Israel in the EU, and also of course to move your embassy and other embassies to Jerusalem,” Netanyahu told Dancila. “We wait for you in Jerusalem.” Last year the Romanian government, supported by the speaker of its parliament, adopted a draft proposal to move the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.


Newsline: Romania’s Ambassador To U.S. In Trouble

Romania’s ambassador to the United States is in trouble with his superiors after he criticized a letter from U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer about Romania’s leaders. George Maior was recalled to Bucharest by the Foreign Ministry to discuss remarks he made about a letter penned from Rudy Giuliani and published by Romanian media on August 27. In the letter addressed to President Klaus Iohannis and Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, Giuliani wrote he was concerned about “continued damage to the rule of law in Romania, committed under the pretext of law enforcement.” He also criticized what he called the “excesses” of Romania’s anticorruption agency and the country’s Intelligence Service. Maior, who has been ambassador to Washington since 2015 and is a former head of the Intelligence Service, responded by saying Giuliani’s letter resulted from “a lobby initiated by people interested in defending figures who have problems with the justice system.” “Ambassador George Maior had a stance that was not approved at the central level in the Foreign Ministry or the government and it does not represent the Romanian Foreign Ministry’s stance,” a ministry statement said. “His role is to promote the national interest … and he is required to abstain from public statements that can negatively affect bilateral relations with other states.” It wasn’t immediately clear why exactly Giuliani was wading into Romanian politics. Though he is currently Trump’s personal lawyer, he has no official position in the Trump administration.


Newsline: Israeli PM welcomes Romania’s stand on Jerusalem embassy

Israel’s prime minister has thanked his visiting counterpart from Romania for her government’s stand on possibly moving Romania’s embassy to Jerusalem. Benjamin Netanyahu met Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila who is on a two-day visit. Netanyahu’s statement on Wednesday welcomed the “Romanian government’s approval of a draft decision on initiating the transfer of the Romanian Embassy to Jerusalem.” Earlier this month, Liviu Dragnea of the Social Democratic Party which effectively runs Romania’s government, said Bucharest is ready to follow the U.S. and move its embassy to Jerusalem. But Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who is in charge of foreign policy, later downplayed the announcement.


Newsline: Romania to move Israeli embassy to Jerusalem

The Romanian government has approved a memorandum to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, the leader of Romania’s ruling Social Democrats said. If confirmed, the move would put Romania among the first countries to take this step after the United States. US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December and announced the upcoming move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump’s decision infuriated Arab allies and dismayed Palestinians who see the East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.