Friday, May 27, 2011

Daca tacea... (RO)

Pe fond, decizia actualei puteri de a boicota summit-ul Europa Centrala - SUA din Polonia poate fi discutata cu argumente pro si contra. In principiu ma deranjeaza incalecarea politica de catre basisti a politicii externe, care ar trebui in mod normal sa reflecte un consens national mai larg (vezi exemple aici si aici). Chiar daca ocazional pot de acord cu deciziile luate (vezi aici), modul netransparent in care sunt luate decizii importante la varful statului - inclusiv decizii de politica externa - este profund nelinistitor.

Dar chiar trecand peste aceste nelinisti si presupunand ca decizia boicotarii summit-ului din Polonia ar fi una inteleapta, care serveste intereselor strategice ale Romaniei, ramane gafa enorma facuta de Basescu prin echivalarea situatiei Kosovo cu cea a Transnistriei:
El a afirmat ca Romania are o pozitie predictibila si ar risca, in cazul in care ar accepta astfel de invitatii, ca la o alta intalnire sa se trezeasca langa liderul autoproclamatei republici a Transnistriei, Igor Smirnov: "Ne putem trezi maine ca o tara organizatoare ne invita sa venim si in stanga mea e Smirnov".

De ce zic ca este o gafa?

Succesuri (RO)

A devenit tot mai obositoare, de la o vreme, impaunarea reprezentantilor puterii cu meritele mult-trambitatei iesiri din recesiune.

Pentru Udrea, datele de la INSSE dovedesc ca masurile guvernului Boc au fost corecte, iar reformele incep sa dea roade.
Pentru Boc, televiziunile mogulilor incearca sa ascunda romanilor succesul guvernului sau de a fi scos tara din recesiune, din disperare ca PDL castiga voturi in timp ce "gogoasa infuriata a aliantei socialiste se  dezumfla pe zi ce trece".
Basescu insusi se razboieste (la radio) cu cei care apar "cu ochii bulbucati" la televizor incercand sa darame tara care tocmai se pune pe picioare:

Care este adevarul? Cred ca este oportun un scurt bilant al modului in care Romania a traversat criza, comparativ cu alte tari din regiune, si un inceput de evaluare a performantei guvernarii in aceasta perioada.

Situatia se prezinta in felul urmator:

Intr-adevar, Romania a iesit tehnic din recesiune, inregistrand doua trimestre consecutive de crestere pozitiva (0,1% in trimestrul IV din 2010 si 0,6% in trimestrul I din 2011 fata de trimestrul anterior).

Pe de alta parte:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ONU ne spune: Opriti Codurile! (RO)

Scurt exercitiu (necesar) de memorie:

Prin 2009, guvernul Boc considera extrem de urgenta adoptarea noilor Coduri Civil si Penal ale Romaniei. Asa ca, in stilul caracteristic, a procedat minereste prin asumarea raspunderii in Parlament, scurtcircuitand dezbaterea publica si parlamentara, necesare in democratie si vitale in cazul unor legi de asemenea importanta. Motivul invocat? Urgenta, desigur, pentru ca la Basescu mai totul se face prin procedura de urgenta; asa intelege el guvernarea unei tari europene.
Nu au contat atunci protestele opozitiei (PNL a si depus o motiune de cenzura), pentru ca puterea (PDL-PSD la acea data) avea o majoritate confortabila in Parlament, iar masina de vot functiona fara probleme. PSD a sustinut explicit abuzul (vreo surpriza?).
Nu au contat nici protestele societatii civile (va amintiti coalitia "Opriti Codurile!"?), pentru ca puterea deja hotarase. Discutia de atunci dintre Basescu si reprezentantii societatii civile (mai degraba o mustruluiala din partea presedintelui, care n-a prea inteles ce vroiau de fapt oamenii aceia) spune multe despre motivele pentru care democratia romaneasca schioapata tot mai vizibil:

Dar care era, in fond, urgenta - din moment ce guvernul si-a acordat un an intreg, pana in iulie 2010 (!) pentru adoptarea legilor de punere in aplicare a noilor Coduri, care prevad intrarea in vigoare a Codurilor abia in octombrie 2011 - nu prea este clar (mai pe larg aici). De ce nu s-a folosit macar o parte din acest timp pentru adoptarea Codurilor prin procedura normala? Mister.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Diplomatia la ruleta politicii (RO)

Dupa propunerile-soc la consulatele de la Marsilia (Ioan T. Morar, a.k.a. "Biju") si Barcelona (Cynthia Curt, a.k.a. "blonda lui Boc"), actuala putere se depaseste pe sine in materie de devalorizare politica a diplomatiei: vrea acum sa-l trimita ambasador in Finlanda si Estonia pe Catalin Avramescu.

Da, vorbim de acest Avramescu. Si de acesta.
Propus ca ambasador al Romaniei.

Am avut personal de-a face cu Avramescu la un moment dat.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Borders (EN)

I vividly remember the time when I needed a visa to travel to Western Europe. The endless queues at foreign consulates, the constant humiliation of being treated like a second class European, the arrogance and corruption of some consulate staff, were all powerful deterrents to anyone traveling for a legitimate purpose.
Once, as a student, I almost missed a scholarship for a summer university in Southern France, due to the impossibility to get an Italian transit visa in time. As I was traveling by train, the excruciating routine of seeking transit visas from all countries on the way, in reverse order from the destination, got stuck for good at the Italian consulate in Bucharest. Such was the chaos and total disregard for visa applicants that I spent one week at the consulate's gates with hundreds others from about 6am to afternoon every day, without even getting to submit an application (for a less than 24 hour transit visa) or to show to anyone at the consulate the letter that I had from the French embassy, requesting that my transit visas be expedited. In fact, I never got to see the building from the inside. At the last minute, I decided to change route and got instead transit visas from Austria and Germany, traveling about 1,000 kilometers more to my final destination.


A few years ago, I was flying from Vienna to Sarajevo for a regional conference. At that time there weren't many direct flight connections between the ex-Yugoslav countries, and to travel between neighboring countries the easiest way was often to take a transfer flight through Vienna. Thus, on the same flight there were quite a few people from other Western Balkan countries, some of whom I knew, going to the same conference. The late evening flight took off on time, but shortly thereafter the pilot noticed some technical problems and decided to return to Vienna rather than continue to Sarajevo. All passengers were disembarked and booked for an early morning flight next day; we also got vouchers for dinner and accommodation at the NH hotel at Vienna airport, literally across the street from the terminal. Everything went smoothly, but as I was checking in at the hotel, I noticed that my Western Balkan acquaintances were missing; and they did not show up by the end of the dinner when I went to sleep.
I eventually found out next morning that they had spent much of the night in the airport, not having an Austrian visa to get out of the terminal and cross the street to the airport hotel; eventually they were given a visa after a few hours, which left them just enough time to check in at the hotel, take a shower and return to the terminal for the morning flight.


Earlier this year, as I was flying from Vienna to Oslo on a snowy winter evening, a surprise was awaiting upon disembarkment at Oslo airport: a gentleman in uniform, standing at the gate (just standing there, not at the typical booth as there was none around) was checking travelers' passports or IDs.
To remind, both Austria and Norway are part of the border-free Schengen zone (though the latter is not an EU member); theoretically this means that there should be no control whatsoever at the border. But there it was.
To be fair, it went pretty fast, the uniformed man seemed to be doing a largely perfunctory check. Notwithstanding, my Romanian passport earned me some bonus conversation. Unlike the others, I was asked about the purpose and duration of my visit, and when I explained, it probably seemed somehow counter-intuitive to my interlocutor, so he asked me to show him some evidence, which I did. While doing this, all along in the back of my mind a nagging inner voice was telling me that I didn't have to answer those questions - as an EU national I was free to travel within the Schengen zone at will without having to provide any explanation. But I just answered them, because it seemed more expedient and I was not in the mood to look for trouble.
To give some minimum satisfaction to the nagging voice, and having already established rock-solid credentials for my less than 24-hour visit to Norway, I asked the uniformed man what was his purpose checking passports at a Schengen internal (non-)border. He seemed a little surprised by the question and told me that his was not a border control, just a police check. It just happened at the border by some coincidence.


Why am I telling these stories?
Well, because these personal stories (and I actually have many, many more) are illustrative of the history that we have been living in this region. The experience of traveling in Europe, as a Romanian, has changed a lot, mostly for the better, in the last 20 years - and this has coincided with historic progress in the country's European integration, culminating with accession to the EU in 2007 (perhaps more important for the common folks was the lifting of visa requirements back in 2002).
And this has pretty much been the trend as well for other Eastern European countries that gravitate towards the EU.

But this trend seems now to have stalled, or even gone into reverse gear.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mari barbati (RO)

Basescu, 05/2011:

Şeful statului a declarat, răspunzând unei întrebări, că creşterea TVA a fost una din marile erori politice, susţinută de toată coaliţia de la acea vreme. Băsescu a spus că el a susţinut scăderea pensiilor cu 10%, ca măsură temporară, dar Curtea Constituţională a respins o Ordonanţă emisă în acest sens. El a adăugat că o altă propunere a fost un impozit temporar de 10%, care să se fi aplicat la toate pensiile, de la cea mai mare la cele de până la 340 de lei. Preşedintele a menţionat că cei din coaliţie s-au reunit la Guvern şi au decis creşterea TVA. El a spus că acel impozit pe pensii s-ar fi putut elimina repede, eventual în două etape, până la 1 ianuarie 2012, în timp ce reducerea TVA presupune ani de zile. Şeful statului a criticat coaliţia aflată la putere în acea perioadă, spunând că toţi reprezentanţii acesteia au respins scăderea pensiilor şi ameninţând cu plecarea de la guvernare.
Băsescu a spus că mărirea TVA a fost susţinută şi de "marii bărbaţi care s-au duelat la Convenţia PDL". (sursa)

Basescu, 10/2009:
(Nota bene: cu mult inainte de decizia CCR impotriva reducerii pensiilor; dar si inainte de alegerile prezidentiale, cand reducerea pensiilor si salariilor nu figura printre promisiunile candidatului Basescu)

Presedintele a admis intr-o discutie cu usile inchise cu investitorii straini ca TVA poate fi majorata din 2010. "Prefer majorarea TVA majorarii cotei unice de impozitare", le-a spus ieri presedintele Traian Basescu oamenilor de afaceri straini la Forumul Economic Roman, in timpul unei sesiuni de intrebari si raspunsuri cu usile inchise. (sursa)

Vestea presedintelui Traian Basescu privind posibila majorare a TVA anul viitor anuntata ieri in ZF a bulversat mediul politic si de afaceri. (sursa)

Sa recapitulam:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Roman, caut job (RO)

In general, in viata de zi cu zi, romanii nu prea par a fi in dispozitie optimista si nu se remarca printr-o mare incredere in fortele proprii. Dar exista un domeniu unde moralul concetatenilor nostri pare a fi foarte ridicat, chiar exagerat: cand vine vorba sa-si caute o slujba, multi romani isi supraestimeaza radical posibilitatile.

Am fost implicat de multe ori in selectii de personal pentru pozitii de inalta specializare si am fost surprins de avalansa de candidaturi. In situatii in care era de asteptat - pe baza resurselor "pietei" - sa fie cateva zeci de candidati, erau sute; daca era de asteptat sa fie doar cativa, erau multe zeci. La citirea CV-urilor reiesea ca peste 90% dintre candidati nu aveau nici o legatura, macar aproximativa, cu postul vizat; mai mult decat atat, unii reciclau alte scrisori de candidatura, din nou fara cea mai mica legatura, uitand chiar si sa inlocuiasca numele firmei din cu totul alt domeniu la care candidasera anterior.

M-a intrigat aceasta propensitate nationala pentru spamming cu scrisori de candidatura, dar nu m-am gandit neaparat ca ar fi o trasatura romaneasca specifica.

Recent am dat insa peste niste date care pun lucrurile in perspectiva comparativa - si, intr-adevar, se pare ca romanii sunt campioni ai candidaturilor pentru aflare in treaba.
Iata exemplul:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Revolt and martyrdom (EN)

Notwithstanding the attempts (sometimes rather pathetic, like this one) to make sense of the momentous developments in the Arab world, the events there (as I argued before) remain largely incomprehensible for many Westerners.

Among others, it is mind-boggling how the protests can continue for weeks in places like Syria or Yemen, in the face of atrocious repression by desperate governments clinging to power.

I would argue that any serious effort to understand what motivates such resilience of protests should look at the cultural and especially religious background of the Arab societies, which makes so many of their youth ready for martyrdom to a degree nowhere to be seen in our time anywhere in the (post-)Christian West. The Tunisian revolt was actually sparked by such a self-inflicted act of martyrdom.

Once the barrier of fear has been broken, the fact - reinforced with fresh examples on a weekly basis - is that Muslim youth in Arab countries are far more willing to sacrifice their lives for a cause, and this willingness is nurtured and sustained in time for a lot longer than one can even imagine nowadays in Western societies. And religion plays a huge role in this: Arab revolts are re-ignited every Friday by the prayer in mosques, they follow a ritualistic pattern as much as a political one.