Romanian ex-PM raises eyebrows with op-ed in Jerusalem Post urging new European approach to Russia

viorica dancila
Foto: Inquam Photos / George Calin

Viorica Dancila was already in Siberia.

She served as Romania’s first woman prime minister until she was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Nov. 2019 after almost 21 months.

She chaired the Social Democratic Party and ran for president where she was trounced by President Klaus Iohannis, winning just 33.91% of the vote. It was of the worst scores in a runoff since communism ended and a big embarrassment for Romania’s biggest party.

From there on, it was the Russian winter for the Romanian politician.

She was prized out of the leadership of the Social Democrats and, because she wasn’t a lawmaker, was forced to exit public life.

That was until the upcoming parliamentary elections when she failed to be nominated by the Social Democrats to run for a seat in Parliament. The party was loath to promote a protegee of former Social Democrat leader, Liviu Dragnea who’s serving a 3 ½ year sentence for having two party members paid by a state agency for fake jobs.

There are reports that Mr. Dragnea made calls from his prison cell to stop her running for Parliament, annoyed that his cipher hadn’t passed an amnesty when she was in office which would have spared him jail.

Not having much success in returning to public life in Romania, Viorica Dancila _never considered a reformer and at times angry with European Union demands to pass laws to crack down on high-level corruption_ returned to the public eye this week putting her name to an editorial in the Jerusalem Post.

The op-ed caused ripples, not merely because it was unexpected, but because she positioned herself as a former leader asking Europe to recalibrate its relations with Russia, currently under widespread EU sanctions over its illegal annexation of Crimea.

The op-ed which is contradictory at times_ almost as if the writer doesn’t dare state outright their support for Moscow_ doesn’t appear to be a translation from Romanian.

I doubt that Ms. Dancila wrote it: it’s more likely penned by a professional writer, although she was consulted for one banal anecdote which says more about middle-aged people in any country than any insight into the Russian mentality.  

Who wrote it is unimportant, but why it was published, who it serves, and what comes next are of interest.

Is Viorica Dancila lobbying for the Kremlin?

The op-ed clearly serves Russia and as an ex-prime minister, no longer holding office, Viorica Dancila is freed from constraints can lend her voice to anything cause she sees fit.

I imagine that Viorica Dancila is simmering with frustration over her treatment by the Social Democrats, and rightly so, some would say.  

She would have readily agreed to her name being put to an op-ed in the respectable publication on a pan-European issue.

But Romania is a member of NATO and the European Union which are wary of Russian activity near their borders. The EU placed widespread sanctions on Russia in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea. Romanian relations with Russia are prickly.

Now we have Viorica Dancila with another perspective, and an on the table approach.

It’s reminiscent of Gerhard Schroeder, the former German chancellor, who is chairman of the board of directors of  the North Stream 2 and also holds other posts in Russia.

 Is Viorica Dancila lining herself up for a similar job or does she want to act as a roving pro-Russian influencer?

At home, the op-ed has raised concerns about who else supports her in Romania, where the Russians are generally feared, even loathed.

The Social Democratic Party, a re-re-re invention of the defunct the Communist Party, has occasionally put forward a more nuanced position with Russia.

“The Social Democrats has a long tradition of flexibility in Russian matters, going back even before 1989, wrote Iulian Fota, a national security expert and former presidential adviser.

Is Viorica Dancila “capable of protecting Romania’s state secrets she had access to,” as prime minister, Iulian Fota wrote on Facebook.

“The problem with what she wrote is not what she said but the “people around her and the scheme that was put in place for her to make such declarations,” he said.

Who is behind Viorica Dancila and what plans do they have in these uncertain times?


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