My presentation is in fact a passage through our history of corruption. It contains some relevant episodes which express, like a red wire, features or proofs of our mentality, of our ways of being. All these traits characterize entire Balkans area included Moldova and partly Ucraina forming altogether a common cultural background. Which ones are them we are going to uncover together. I think it is important to put a correct diagnose over our societies in order to cure them properly, to cope with future challenges. First of all, I would like to stand out a typical assertion made by the one of the most important Romanian politicians.
„If you want to discover Romania, do not drive, rent an helicopter”
Such was the advice Traian Basescu, the former country president, had for certain potential investors. How could we call this way of making the statement? Detachment, defiance? Or better irresponsibility? This finding comes from the person who was in the head of the state for ten years and controlled, directly or indirectly, for others ten years the minister responsible for national transport infrastructure. For example, if we compare neighboring Hungary, less than half Romania size, we easily observe that Romania has a bit more than half of the Hungary national highways network. When I was coming here, in Croatia, the average speed on the ordinary routes in Romania was 50 km/h. The rapid trains hardly hit a medium speed 50 km/h, slower than when the railways were constructed. These are effects of the corruption but as well as political incompetence.
What is less commonly known about Romania is the fact the Romania has become the center stage of one of the fiercest anti-corruption battle for the first time in its history. Nowadays Romania is a country set in motion. It is on the own way of modernization. Again. It would be a third attempt. This radical metamorphosis of Romania society is mostly the work of the generation that knew communism when it was young. How was a radical change made possible? Through appearance of a new generation intimate connected to the values belonging on western civilization resulted as a consequence of RO entering UE. Otherwise it is difficult to get a political culture in a poor country where you are not sure about your next meal. Democracy is difficult to practice on an empty stomach. As a leitmotiv, the main question in a culture of corruption remains… Can Romania youth people be the hope when country needs to continue its transformation to democracy? Or will the ghosts of nation communism and corruption past be back to haunt the newly rejuvenated Romania?
Impression of Moldova
On 11 june 1798, the citizen Parrant, special envoy of the French Republic as vice consul in Moldova, submitted to the foreign minister Talleyrand one detailed report on the current situation. The French was delighted by indescribable beauty of the places and the wealth of nature, but totally disgusted by the ruling class.
“ We have to say that here we meet two big sins that will always oppose flourishing of that loving land would certainly deserve more whatever you would do. The two sins are the leadership which through its nature is a real curse, and the depopulation, the unfortunate result of the first.”
Nowadays, at the beginning of the millennium three, the ruling class is still the true misfortune for Romania, and therefore the main consequence of these villains is the country s continuing depopulation: over 3.5 million people, approximately 17% left their home in the last decade. Since joining the UE experienced a massive drain brain and a huge loss in terms of active labor force.
“Once every three years, a new legions of such vampires got to Moldova, all living in poverty and being embittered, and then they set off full of gold and valuable goods, leaving behind only the memory of sorrows and the taste for an insatiable greed which their brave heirs will surely expose it”. Unfortunately only the rate had been altered. In the present is once every four years.
Impression of Valahia
Louis Langeron, a French aristocrat, employed as an officer in the Tsar’s army during the Russian-Turkish War between 1806 and 1812: „The words of order, justice, honor, are often forgotten in Wallachia. Here, all jobs are bought, that is, one buys the right to commit any crime without being punished. Each job soon enriches the one who buys it, but after a year it has to leave it, or leave it to another – because another abuse of this terrible government (Greek-Fanariot) is that a servant should never stay more than a year in a job, whatever it is; then he comes to Bucharest, where he indulges in an unbridled and bad taste luxury, squanders quickly the fruit of his robbery, and after two years of doing nothing, he buys a job, he enriches himself again, to come again in the capital and live on the big foot. This is the vicious circle of the boyars. ” The Principle of the Epoch: Money makes jobs and jobs make the money. Another present vicious circle.
The eternal despots
„The country is divided into counties, each county being headed by an administrator called „ispravnic”. These dignitaries have prices, higher or lower, according to the income they can bring to the boyars who buy them from the members of the „Divan”. These „ispravnici” are real despots in their counties, and they are not afraid that they will be held accountable, for this is never the case, or that they will be punished, for that is not the case either, because the superiors are bought. ”
Today they are so-called barons. Their chief is Liviu Dragnea, the baron of the poorest county in Romania and the current head of the PSD.
Cuza or the hardships of the beginning
The reign of Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the prince of the Union, a popular hero who became legendary mainly as a fighter for justice, was in fact one which generated extreme corruption.
The ruler was surrounded by a circle of so-called businessmen – a camarilla – with whom he was extorting the country’s finances. For example, it postponed the entry into force of the new Civil Code, just so that more foreign citizens could acquire property in Romania, after having bribed the ruler’s camarilla.
Cuza: „I would have been long overthrown by the parties, if I were harsh with all the people who preyed the country, since apart from some honorable exceptions, but unnecessary in the works of the country, the others do not seek in the rights they ask for, anything but the means of destroying the country”.
The eminence gris of the regime was a Belgian deserter and adventurer, an old drinking, adventuring, and playing cards friend of the ruler, Cezar Librecht. He was accused of corruption, sentenced to 10 years in prison, then the process moved in province where he was acquitted. As usual.
Carol II or the way to dictatorships
The personification of the inter-war corruption was the king Carol the second. He was the true inventor of many practices and means of siphoning public funds being a role model in that matter even in these days. He was surrounded by a businessmen clique those head was the first Elena, Elena Lupescu, and for her sake he quitted from a while even the throne and emigrated. The monarch ruled the country between 1930 and 1940 and demonstrated an unimaginable greed. Their corruption facts ruined the budget, curbed the country s development, weakened the country defense capacity, simply sabotaged and destroyed the democratic system. When the war began Romania had loses its incipient democracy. Carol set up the royal dictatorship. The state collapsed from inside. What followed were the legionary dictatorship, military dictatorship, communist dictatorship. The occidental modernization project came to an end.
Corruption in communism
Do you know what RCP stands for? Officially yes, The Romanian Communist Party. For the people, it stands for backstairs influence, acquaintances and nepotism. Namely the means of individual survival practiced by the Romanians. Does the name Ceausescu sound familiar? Yes, he was the last Romanian communist dictator, the one who, in his megalomania, wanted to transform the 1989 Revolution into a blood bath. Having completed only elementary school, both of them, him and his wife, became members of the Academy. They established an original form of communism, a dynastic one. The entire family occupied key positions within the state. Everything was set up for his son to succeed him to the throne. We were closer to North Korea than to Europe. Nobody was outraged, but why? Because whoever had been in their place, would have done the same.
Romanians became specialists in avoiding impersonal norms through personal dealings. In the end, it was all a legitimate self-defense reaction. The repressive nature of the communist regime became endurable in many ways by corrupting the administration and the ideological guardians. Corruption was one of the means by which society succeeded, in the end, in defeating the communist system. Was anybody ashamed to resort to backstairs influence in order to bypass the official repartitions to gain a better job in the city? Or a house? By the techniques used in order to get food or other more sophisticated goods? Way too few. Corruption became a true art of living. Do you know what was the hard currency on the black market and the symbol of the underground economy? The pack of Kent cigarettes. A parent would offer it to the teacher for a better grade at school for his child. The teacher would offer it to the doctor in exchange for better medical services. The doctor would offer it to the policeman for him to overlook something and so on and so on. Essentially, Romanians settled quite well with the communist system. The liberties specific to the rule of law state were regarded as eccentric. On one hand, the pro-western elite had been annihilated and, on the other hand, the standard of living had risen. The people had secured jobs, which provided them an income, guided by the principle „Little work, even less money”. But who would care when stealing from the workplace, from the state’s wealth, was a national sport? The idea of honest work, on contractual basis, had been destroyed and the effects of it are visible even today, and the idea of solidarity, collective action for a common goal, was completely foreign to the Romanian collective mentality.
The big fish or the case of Adrian Nastase
The nineties meant the spectacular and overnight transformation of the communist nomenklatura and the structure of political police known as Securitatea into the new democratic elite. The entire nation wealth fell into their hands. It was the national theft decade but also the start for a new attempt of country modernization.
A happy context related to Ro negotiations from entering European Union allow UE put pressure on Romania to crack down on corruption among public officials. The most spectacular result in the early fight anti-corruption, more precisely 2012, was the case Adrian Nastase. This verdict opened a door to a new era for Romanian justice in which judges are no longer afraid of condemning powerful people. Nastase is the most senior political figure to be convicted by a court in Romania since the fall of communism in 1989. The Romania’s highest court had upheld a two-year prison sentence against Nastase on corruption charges. In fact it was about a classical and habitual laundering black money operation in order to fill the party accounts for the future presidential election.As a irony he was who set up the National Anti-corruption Directorate but the first main victim as well. He coordinated a campaign for destroying the free media on a large scale.
Former Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase has attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself in the neck. The incident occurred when police arrived at Nastase’s house to take him to prison.
It was a stupid joke. His real intention was to avoid imprisonment by hospitalizing under false pretexts. For many Romanians the gesture represented a sinister farce, an act of cowardice, an abdication of responsibility, a deep distrust of justice. The wound was superficial. It is noticeable that the others participants to maneuver were sentenced to on average 5 years in prison.
The anti-meritocracy or the symbol of the educational system failure
For someone not living in Romania, it is not an easy job to understand the fall of our educational system. Statistically, it looks like we are fitting in between the minimal standards of the European educational system. As usual, in my country the exterior is hiding the rottenness of the essence. The private educational system was not developed as a better quality alternative to the retrogressive public system. On the contrary, it became the cancer of the national education. The purpose of the private universities and the private colleges was hijacked: they were transformed in actual diploma plants, where, after paying the correct price, anyone can graduate in any field. A real machine to generate university graduates from semi illiterate people, far from having any minimal required knowledge of the subject they are supposed to study. What comes next for them? A well-known route in Romania: joining up an important political party, with the purpose of being employed as a high official of the government or in a high paid job in one of the state run companies.
There is a saying in Romania: only who is not interested in being a professor, doesn’t become one. Master diplomas and PhD titles are awarded in mass. Plagiarism is the word of the day, as no one would bother to study or research. To be a plagiarist is a good point in your resume. The former PM, Victor Ponta, and the current PM, Mihai Tudose, were not ashamed to be associated with this category, they even took pride in it. The latter even became the symbol of anti-meritocracy and the hideous face of the Romanian political class. He graduated from a low ranked high-school, no one knows what he did in the five years before the Revolution of 1989, afterwards he studied law at a private university and went on add to his resume numerous degrees and diplomas. He acquired his first home from the state, when he was already in politics. Without any kind of experience, he started in politics and he was straight away named as a political advisor for an MP, a position he held for 8 years. He was elected for 5 terms to the Parliament, on a list, with zero results for his constituency. Today, he is Prime Minister. As ridicule has never compromised or killed anyone, Mr. Tudose is also a professor at a well-known University, the one that belongs to the Romanian Intelligence Service, giving place to the rumor that he is an undercover secret intelligence agent. With such a resume, it’s not that unlikely. Crass incompetence has raised to one of the highest offices in the land.
Never before in the Romanian history the office of Prime Minister has known such a fall in prestige. But here, at the gates of the Orient, everything is possible.
Pomposity, ignorance and defiance or the cultures of privileges
The rush after empty but well-paid titles or honorific functions from public budget are an eternal preoccupation for the new and older generations of romanian robber barons. Though our country have no university among the first 500 universities in the world we have no less than five so called academies apart from the classic one. All of them are officially apolitical but, in reality, they are full of politicians and the large fauna around them.
1.The Romanian Scientist Academy, 212 membership, budget 1,8 million euro annually
2.Academy of technical sciences of Romania, 240 membership, life annuity-average salary on the economy
3.Academy of medical sciences, 199 membership, life annuity-average salary on the economy
4.Academy of agricultural sciences, 220 membership, life annuity-average salary on the economy
5.Academy of National Security Science, 31 membership, life annuity-average salary on economy, around 500 euro. The budget includes only amounts for annuities.
Five academies for a national network of privileges and influence. Money for nothing.
The heir of Securitatea
Dan Voiculescu, a businessman, politician connected to the secret police, has been accused in the case of the unusual privatization of government land. Unusual because he paid 100,000 euro, a minuscule price, but it was worth 8 million Euro.
The Bucharest Appeals Court sentenced him to 10 years in prison for using his political influence and ordered the confiscation of property, television studios and land belonging to his Antena media group to cover damages. In addition, his family was ordered to pay 1.3 million euros in restitution.
Voiculescu has been a political and power broker for almost two decades, using his media outlets to help push phantom political party in parliament repeatedly in successive general elections and to have it seated in government coalitions several times.
He served only 2 years and 10 months due to the fact he got 380 days cut from his sentence by writing 11 books and working in prison.
Dear Romanian, sleep well, my Investment Fund works for you
So sounds the oily slogan for a huge pyramide scheme that was promising winnings five times higher for the naives, obviously. Therefore the whole Romania has slept peacefully.
Over 300.000 people have lost their money in 1999 and also 300 million dollars were siphoned from their accounts. The author of this con is the media mogul and the lord of economic and plundering netting, Sorin Ovidiu Vantu. Before ’89, a modest provincial accountant who was sentenced to prison for embezzlement, moment he became an zealous informant of Security. After Revolution, he explodes in the business world: controls a state bank, couple of private banks, an insurance company, dozens of firms and off-shores, newspapers and magazines, a political party, having on state payment reputed politicians or union leaders extremely powerful, intellectuals, but also the most influent TV station: Realitatea TV.
Everything went into bankruptcy, the money being directed to personal accounts. He was helped by a great number of officers of the Securitatea and he was considered the greatest financial engineer of the time. Now, he has 61 years, he’s in jail and his life is the expression of Romanian transition, with its ups and downs.
„I wasn’t born to steal, I was born to create.”
PSD deputy and ex-member in the parliamentary control committee of SRI activity. Before entering politics, Ghita transferred his businesses to relatives and old friends and financed all important parties. Through intermediaries, the parliament controls the news channel ROMANIA TV with the greatest public ratings today. A pure politic propaganda channel orientated completely against independent justice. The secret of his success: 350 contracts with state institutions, from where he gained overnight around 300 million euros. The biggest part was gained from contracts with the hard ministries or secret services for IT software that proved to be useless or nonfunctional. His friendship with PSD premier Victor Ponta is well known, where Ghita invited him along in extravagant vacations. Prosecuted for corruption and money laundering, he disappeared in December 2016, in the last day in which he beneficiated of parliamentary immunity. Special investigators were on his tail when he went missing. After a tour of Europe, he was discovered in Serbia in April, 2017. Why Serbia? Because of some special agreements with Romania and Russia. And because there is no extradition treaty. His nature of blackmailer came out when launched several recorded tapes on his TV station with the aim of compromising the main anti-corruption fighters. At 39 years old he represents the new interparty mob created by old generals linked by Securitatea. A post-communist product, created, controlled and covered up by the state.
In Romania the justice is of female gender. As well as the hope.
Three powerful women gave strength to the Romanian justice.
Monica Macovei is the first independent Justice prime minister after 1989 that wasn’t part of the strong political structures, thing which allowed her to initiate in 2004-2005 a virtuous circle that brought Romanian justice the independence it so desperately needed. She is the one who started to change the rules of the vicious circle of Romanian justice. As justice minister, in 2005-2007 she appointed independent prosecutors, set the bases for the Integrity National Agency and introduced detailed wealth and interest declarations, elaborated the National Anticorruption Strategy, created the National Anticorruption Directorate, reformed and institutionalized the legal system, elaborated a new Status of Magistrates and improved the Minister’s investigation legislation. Today, eliminated from the Romanian government, she is the most successful Romanian europarlamentary. In 2008, Monica Macovei was designated the European Woman of the Year. In the European Parliament, she wrote and negotiated the Directive for confiscation of unjustified wealth of those condemned for corruption and organized crime.
LiviaStanciu is the model of upright magistrate, with vision and firmness. She was the president of the highest Romanian court, The High Court of Cassation and Justice, which managed to remove her for most part from the evil influence of politics. She run full courts that sanctioned famous names and thought to be intangible of the politic and economic world in Romania. A moral woman, with a set of values way ahead of her times. Currently member of 9 years of the Constitutional Court of Romania, she fights against the falling of this institution in the net of politics.
Laura Codruta Kovesi is the personification of the anticorruption fight in Romania. Upon appointment in 2006, Kövesi was the first woman and the youngest Prosecutor General in Romania’s history. She is also the only public servant to have held the office of Prosecutor General for the entire duration of its term. She vehemently attacks almost everything that means politics. She is supported by a part of the public opinion, but also by leaders of the occidental world.
„It is an assault on DNA, because the DNA efficiency despairs some, that desire us to stop doing our job. This is why we are attacked, this is why there are pressures or harassment. If we don’t investigate anyone, if we don’t touch anyone, everyone praises us and it would have been all well. We will not yield. I will not yield. We will continue to do our jobs, as long as we are allowed to, because we fight with the mafia.”
The conclusion is that changing something in a country by yourself is impossible, but sometimes all it takes is a
person to begin the change.
#Rezist-more than a hope?
Rezist is a fascinating winter story about virtues and values. A civic manifestation in favour of democracy and rules of law but against discretionary power and its abuse.
“ Like a thief in the night”
is the slogan that summarize perfectly the way the government adopted an emergence ordinance that practically decriminalize corruption. The reaction of the peoples?
“You have succeeded in uniting us”, “Keep the corrupt in jail, where they belong”, “Corruption Kills!”
Romania’s civic revolution purely and simply sparked, spontaneously and unexpectedly. The movement-self-started, non-utopian, non-ideological and peaceful- set an example of civic attitude and public responsibility.
This protest movement-the first major pro-EU and pro-Western upheaval in post- Brexit Europe, and without doubt the largest in Romania’s history-did not appear out of the blue. It has a great deal in common with previous rebellions, in 2012, 2013 and 2015. It is a reassertion of civic courage that is not driven by political parties but is instead an unabashed expression of civil society in action.
One of the protesters in Bucharest was carrying placard that read “89 Reloaded”, referring to the protests that brought down Romania’s communist regime. Nice, is not it? The list with examples could continue and the story must go on…for the benefit of the future generations or the least for the beauty of life.
Comments on pictures or cartons
The justice is not blind at all. Up to a certain point the law of the jungle is in power except some islands of independent justice. The saying- There is one law for the rich and another for the poor- is unfortunately true.
This is a cow milked shamelessly by the politicians. It is neither a joke nor a metaphor. The cartoon accurately illustrates an obvious mentality aspect. Any public sector of activity is regarded like this skinny cow, namely like an easy prey. Anyone named, appointed, elected or designated in a public office considers having the absolute right to exploit its public position exclusively at his own interests.
He who laugh last, laughs longest. Orthodox church-the eternal and loyal ally of the power, regardless of it. Even an atheistic one, such as the communist regime. Some called it- God corporation- because of the similarities with an economic company orientated of making money or public institution providing useful services. Far too ritualistic, far too close to terrestrial goods, far too distant towards human needs. If the Jesus teaching had been the core and the heart of the orthodoxy, Ro would have looked wholly different. Unfortunately, neither the 8th commandment, not to steal, is taken into account.
(Dan NICHITA – for ROM 2017 – Renewing Our Minds Forum – Croatia)