Politics
Zoe Petre
 

diately, but we had a tough time in dealing with the bullet- proof material situation which was eventually solved in a week or two. It took us a bit longer to demilitarise the access to Cotroceni, but with the enthusiastic help offered by Nora Cofas, the new manager of the Museum, we also managed to solve that situation as well. Unfortunately, in 2000, Iliescu?s newly installed team put into practice the old rules again. During his first visit, Vladimir Tismăneanu asked me, in a very amused tone, about the armed soldiers who used to wander down the corridors of the palace during Iliescu?s time.

The less visible and more substantial part was the organization chart. Like any other institution, the Presidency also had one, but I was more or less stupefied to see that it had a strange asymmetry, running counter any principle of institutional management: beautifully drawn, more than 80% of the partitions representing the departments and all the connections with the exterior, from parliament to banks, were directly connected to the partition standing for the presidential councillor for national security. The rest was rather decorative drawing.

Another weird thing: the typists were almost all gone, but a few state councillors and councillors were still present. One of the guys who was still trying to preserve his place, a former PDSR MP, told me sneering: ?The only way I can leave this place is if Severin appoints me ambassador? (he finally left, but he kept on suing us till around 2002). Afterwards, probably wanting to compliment me, he added: ?I thought you were going to come accompanied by all the drug addicts and all shaggy guys from Universităţii Square, yet I see that the secretaries are quite neat.?

What was really extraordinary was the meeting I had with Dan Iosif. He entered the door and instantaneously declared his love for me for having won over his death enemy, Iosif Boda, during a broadcast TV show, afterwards throwing a quote from Kant and another from Nietzsche and openly stating his willingness to work with me. The truth was that after knowing that he was a presidential councillor, I was stupefied to find out that he was only a clerk with a high school diploma in his pocket (bureaucracy can have its bright side because since he didn?t have college studies, he couldn?t have been placed on a higher position) hence he considered that it was his very right to preserve his job. Luckily, after briefly exposing my reasons not to indulge him, he didn?t insist, quickly joining the cabinet of his eternal protector, senator Ion Iliescu. After he left, the office-bottle-warehouse where he used to unfold his revolutionary activity had to be, as they say now, severely disinfected.

Apparently, the contact that the current Presidential staff had with the new team wasn?t completely smooth, either. During one or two months, till they got used to us, the eternal refrain was: ?How polite they are!? I completely managed to understand this exclamation in 2000, while leaving, when one of the cleaning ladies, told one of my colleagues, while crying: ?Now, Mister councillor Pascu will start calling me you wench and he will keep on cursing me from dusk till dawn!? Mister state councillor Pascu used to be head of the technical department of the Presidency up to 1996 and had been fully involved in the Costea business, the one with the electoral posters; now he was coming back on the same position.

Another component of the same type of problems was the relationship with the bureaucracy in the ministries. I personally had much more to do with the Ministry of External Affairs. I had great communication and collaboration with the successive ministers and secretaries with whom I maintained a cordial and even friendly relationship after Pleşu was appointed head of the ministry, with many of the ambassadors, especially with the young ones and with some high officials, mainly with Mihnea Constantinescu and Cristian Diaconescu, characterized by outstanding competence and efficacy. But both the ministry and the diplomatic group were dominated by a bureaucracy almost completely swamped not only by routine but also by the mythology of its own perfection dating far back from the glorious days of the ?60s-?70s (actually of the ?68, the year when Czechoslovakia was invaded, till ?78, the year when Pacepa went astray). This bureaucracy was still preserved- with diplomacy, of course but also with incredible perseverance-rooted in the stereotypes of a routine called ?experience? and ?competence?. With a stupefying haughtiness for those who didn?t know it, it had even tried, when Adrian Severin was still a minister, to promote a normative act which would have stated it that the only institution allowed to conceive, project and guide the Romanian external affairs would have been the Ministry of External Affairs: not the Parliament, not the president-not, practically people?s will- but the technicians of diplomatic relationships. I could barely stop them from doing it.

I generated a small revolution whose proportions I was going to realize only later when, the second day after the elections, the moment we had to arrange the participation of the new president at the extremely important OSCE summit from Lisbon I asked for the information in the file to be delivered to me also on a disk, calmly letting them know that there were elements to add to the MAE analyses and that, my president was not to deliver the dry discourse the ministry had prepared for the predecessor as official speech. I had the chance to later on find out that Iliescu was actually orderly reading those dry and full of clich├ęs texts, that he actually trusted the information which was usually taken out of a dusty computer, without being at least updated, so that my demands of rethinking- not to mention those of reformulating- the files had been perceived as an insult.

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