March 5, 2012
Speaking to journalists at the end of the 1-2 March EU summit, Romanian president Traian Băsescu hit back at Dutch arguments, used to block his country from joining the Schengen area.
He said the port that is best known for drug smuggling in Europe is Rotterdam and not the Romanian Constanţa port. The Dutch suspect the Romanian customs to be corrupt and unreliable.
Băsescu’s knowledge of shipping comes from first hand. He is a former sea captain, including of Romania’s largest ship at that time, the oil tanker Biruinţa. In 1989 he was appointed the head of the Romania ship agency Navrom in Antwerp, a job normally assigned to senior officers of the secret service Securitate. Antwerp is not far from Rotterdam.
Under Communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, Securitate was one of the most brutal secret police forces in the world. I have some memories of those times myself, as I made my university studies in Bucharest in the late seventies.
Băsescu denies any links to Securitate. Documents quoted in a Wikileaks file certify that he has been a Securitate collaborator since 1973, and that his Securitate dossier has been destroyed.
I don’t know what the affiliation of Băsescu to secret services was, but he is reacting in a style, which reminds me a Communist-times joke. Each time the USA was criticizing the USSR on human rights, Moscow was responding: “And you, why do you beat the niggers?”
P.S. I read in the Romanian press that opposition leader Victor Ponta commented that Băsescu had become “beyond the pale” with his Rotterdam remark, and also with his threats to block Serbia from obtaining EU candidate status.
Trucks carrying Dutch goods were held at the customs as a form of “stupid reprisal”, while in the meantime cars stolen in the EU were getting Romanian number plates without any problem, Ponta said. He added that all the 231 policemen and customs officers arrested in Romania in an effort to make a good impression on the EU Commission were now free.
That much for the effort to impress on progress in reforming Romania’s law enforcement system…