Wednesday 11 March 2015

Another regrettable mistake by Romanian diplomats


News item (AP):
The Romanian Foreign Ministry fired its spokeswoman Wednesday after Germany's foreign minister was handed a gift with a map of France instead of Germany.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier received the gift— the German flag contained in an outline of France— from Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu after a news conference on Monday to mark 135 years of diplomatic relations.
No-one seems to expect the Foreign Minister to resign but he might have said something before handing the brochure over.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, left, looks at his Romanian counterpart, Bogdan Aurescu, as he receives a document celebrating 135-years of Germany - Romania diplomatic relations, during a joint press conference, in Bucharest, Romania, Monday, March 9, 2015.  Steinmeier discussed the situation in Ukraine during talks with Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu, along with other matters of mutual interest. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru/Mediafax Foto) ROMANIA OUT

I remember when the Slovenian President came and they played the Slovakian national anthem. A Slovene diplomat said, diplomatically, 
Don't worry. It happens all the time.
But equally often it happens the other way round and foreign statesman refer to being in Budapest when they mean Bucharest. The Nato Secretary General back in the 90s announced to an expectant crowd 
How nice it is to be in Budapest again 
and a little man walked across the stage and handed him a piece of paper. He read it and then corrected himself.

I knew an Englishman in his fifties who came here to head the local branch of an international law firm. Despite being a sophisticated man of the world (educated at a major public school and Oxford) and in his 50s, he told me he had never visited a European city before he came to Bucharest and had accepted the job thinking it was Budapest. He never overcame his disappointment at the absence of the Danube, goulash and Hapsburg architecture.

On the other hand, Romanian diplomats do have a lot of form. Only last month the Romanian Embassy in Paris sent invitations via email for a dinner reception in honour of President Iohannis, who was visiting, invitations accompanied by a spreadsheet with notes about the invitees in which one guest was described as “undesirable” and another as “ghastly.” Hee hee.

Shortly before that the Romanian Ambassador to Armenia was recalled after he went into a long, unwise, not very intelligent discussion on the theme that whether or not holocaust denial is right or wrong is a matter of timing - or something or the sort - it was not easy to understand. He rounded it off with a joke about a Jew, which was not in fact anti-Semitic but terribly gauche. The whole performance was slightly like Borat. I suppose Armenian-Romanian relations will never be quite the same again.

And yet would one wish that the Romanian state were less amateurish? 


  1. The BBC also put the wrong flags on a debate about the Romanians and Bulgarians in the UK. You Brits are not any better than Romanians :

    1. Isn't it unfair that we former imperial powers are allowed to make such mistakes? Though Fox News is not when they get countries mixed up on their maps. I think in Fox's case it about anti-blonde prejudice, which is a form of racism. I am attempting a joke people --I am not serious. On the subject of maps and blondes:

  2. What? Have the German invaded France yet again? This is not a joke -- this means war!