Former U.S. President Barack Obama, former U.S. First lady Melania Trump, former French President Nicholas Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni and even Tony Blair and his wife have visited the pyramids in Egypt.
It’s a standard photo op for political leaders at the end of a visit to Egypt. President Klaus Iohannis who visited Egypt this week where he met President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and other top Egyptian officials was no exception.
Initially, the story gained little media attention.
But when photos of the president and wife Carmen visiting the pyramids appeared on a regional news outlet, it was seized upon by some commentators. Media considered the pyramid trip ‘inopportune’ during the pandemic and ongoing government crisis.
They shifted their attention from political bickering in the Parliament and the ruling National Liberal Party to the Egyptian desert.
Parliament dismissed the government of Florin Citu on October 5. It failed to endorse a government led by former EU Commissioner Dacian Ciolos on Oct 20.
Parties are now involved in complicated negotiations over Prime Minister-designate Nicolae Ciuca who is attempting to form a parliamentary majority to approve his Cabinet.
Failing that, Romania could face early elections which many politicians oppose. Commentators currently think it is an unlikely scenario.
Frankly, the political stalemate is an old story.
So pictures of Klaus Iohannis and his wife dressed in traditional white outfits and looking carefree and happy was something fresh to pounce on.
Commentators said it jarred with the health and political crises at home. Optics are everything in the world of politics.
The visit which was planned long in advance was timed to celebrate 115 years of bilateral relations with Egypt, an important regional partner. A cancellation would have been a snub.
Warm and sunny
Maybe Egypt looked too warm and sunny and holiday like, although Romania is enjoying a few days of golden weather. Or maybe it was because he went with his wife, Carmen, who rarely appears at his side in Bucharest as she continues to work as an English teacher in their hometown Sibiu.
The Romanian president has borne the brunt of the criticism over Romania’s handling of the pandemic. As there’s currently no government, or the government is weak, he’s the only one at the top to take the blame.
Mr Iohannis has been in office for seven years is currently trailing in opinion polls amid general disenchantment with the current political class.
The nationalist Alliance for the Unity of Romanians with its ant-vaxx and populist anti-government rhetoric has gained popularity. The Social Democrats who have been out of office since 2019 are well in the lead. However, if they support the prime minister-elect, they also stand to lose points.
The Romanian president doing a walk-about in the desert like Obama or Blair is an easy target. There’s no risk in reporting it. As long as journalists have the energy, time and courage to pursue the important stories, then we can rest assured that the media is doing its job.