The former president used to be the representative of anti-communism and anti-corruption in Romanian politics. In 2016 a criminal investigation for money laundering was started against him. On 20 September 2019 the court declared him a collaborator with the communist secret service “Securitate”
On 20 September the Court of Appeals in Bucharest came out with the decision that the former Romanian president Traian Băsescu was a collaborator with the communist secret service “Securitate”. Băsescu rejects this accusation and has always asserted that he didn’t have such relations. During socialism he was captain of the ship.
The Court of Appeals approved the case brought by the National Council for Investigation of Securitate’s Archives (CNSAS) that Băsescu be declared a Securitate collaborator. The claim points out that the former president reported on his colleagues and was “a person for support” to the Securitate, almost until the regime’s fall. Documents from the internal intelligence service (SRI) and Ministry of National Defense are attached to the case.
“I will not comment on the process. I have to defend myself. We have completely different views from CNSAS. A third party will resolve our dispute – the judge… Let’s see the process,” declared Băsescu in the Court of Appeals in Bucharest.
The court’s decision can be overturned in a higher court. In spite of that, the decision’s announcement was met with a wave of satisfaction from Romanian Facebook. Băsescu’s era in Romanian politics lasted ten years – between 2004 and 2014. After that he became a senator in 2016, and is now a member of the European parliament.
His rule led to severe divisions in Romanian society. Băsescu imposed a style of conducting politics in which everything is personal and communication falls to a low level. The cabinets which were supported by him introduced austerity measures, which led to impoverishment and the rise of contradictions in society. Băsescu ruled during the 2008 world economic crisis. After salaries in the public sector were raised during the period of growth until 2008, Emil Boc’s government reduced pensions by 15% and civil servants’ salaries by 25%. Romania took loans of more than 20 billion euros from the international financial institutions. After changes in the Labour Code and the Law for Social Dialogue, labour unions were greatly weakened.
At that time Băsescu was the preferred politician for the urban middle class and his activities benefited it to the detriment of the poorer social classes. However, in the first months of 2012 he made a serious mistake and was forced for the first time to take a step back, after he had been affirming his power for years. Băsescu considered it his personal cause to overcome the resistance of Raed Arafat (the founder of the Romanian contemporary system for emergency care (SMURD)) and to push for the privatisation of health care. Arafat, who had the support of the population, submitted his resignation and immediately after that protests erupted, which seemed like an echo of the Indignados movement. A bit later Băsescu lost the government, as the Social Democratic Party took hold of the executive power.
As a president Băsescu embodied the unity of the two main ideologies of the Romanian transition – anti-communism and anti-corruption. However, today the emphasis in people’s interpretations falls elsewhere – specifically his hypocrisy and trickery; a person who served power both before 1989 and after. This is what opened the rules for honest people who lived through the transition. Băsescu appointed Koveşi as the chief of the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office DNA after an understanding with the prime minister Victor Ponta, but after he was no longer president, a criminal investigation for money laundering started against him in 2016.
There is an on-going process of replacement of the transition’s elites with new officials. By appointing Koveşi as the chief of DNA Băsescu supported this process. But apparently, he now became its victim. For years, he was lauded by a group of intellectuals, called “the intellectuals of Băsescu”, for his firm stand against communism and defense of Romanian culture and spirit. Even his opponents considered him one of the two biggest politicians of the transition – together with Iliescu. Today, the compassion for his fate has shrunk. He not only became a victim of the forces which he unleashed, but “the new elites” reject him on an ethical level.
In his analysis “The man without a heart” the editor-in-chief of the site G4 Media, Dan Tapalaga comments on Băsescu personality in this way: “Scammers have to abstain from unmasking other scammers. An average scammer doesn’t have the legitimacy to condemn communism. Only people without a heart can do that and can play this double role to the extent that they forget who they are completely.”
During Băsescu’s era such critical analyses were written only by the left around the site CriticAtac, who even published a book with articles on the “Băsescu” phenomenon in Romanian politics. Now dissatisfaction with the former president seems massive indeed. Was Băsescu used in the political game, which he himself seemed a master of for a long time? Maybe he himself would abstain from commenting and say: “Let’s see how the process will unfold.”
Photo: Traian Basescu (photo: Razvan Socol, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons)
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Vladimir Mitev is a Bulgarian-Romanian journalist based in Rousse, a town on the very border between the two countries. He is the editor-in-chief of the Romanian website BARICADA Romania, which initially started as a Romanian language version of the Bulgarian portal by the same name. He focuses on international politics. He has worked for the Bulgarian weekly “Tema” until its closure in 2015. He founded the bilingual Romanian-Bulgarian blog ”The Bridge of Friendship”. His articles and translations have been published by the BGNES agency, the magazines of A-specto and Economy, the blog of ”Solidary Bulgaria” and others. He has published also in the Romanian magazines of Decât o Revista și Q Magazine, in the Romanian cultural magazines of Vatra and Poesis, and in the Romanian left-wing portal Critic Atac.