Agerpres and Romanian MAE Fail European Geography  

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Though it may be unfair to extend the failure of the Romanian National Press Agency (Agerpres) and the Romanian External Affairs Ministry to an entire nation, let us not forget that part of their job is to represent the country. The recent faux-pas, confusing the French contours with the German one in a one-print commemorative brochure is, unfortunately, indicative of the dilettantism that has taken over the Romanian government.

German Foreign Affairs Minister Steinmeier holds brochure with German flag superimposed on French borderThe image of the German Foreign Affairs minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, holding the brochure (PDF) smiling, makes you wonder if he actually noticed the error himself and thought it was funny or he is also blissfully unaware of it. Only now has the news started to pour in on YouTube: wochit, OzoneLayer, Allemagne21.

This is particularly unfortunate, as the German minister was in Bucharest to express his country’s support for “open discussions” on Schengen accession – a huge issue in Romania.

Lost in the fracas, Steinmeier’s key point on his Romanian visit, as expressed in an interview (hn-excl).
  • A major focus for his talks with Romanian President, prime minister, minister of Foreign Affairs would be identify common ideas and initiatives for an even closer cooperation between Germany and Romania
  • Germany was ready to take part in the creation in Romania of units for NATO forces integration and of a multinational command center
  • Extending infrastructure, better legal safety and fair public tenders, as well as an efficient administration would be important advantages for Romania when it comes to future investment decisions in favor of Romania
  • Germany will promote a program to support teachers in German ethnic minority schools in Romania
  • By signing the Accord of Association with the EU, the Republic of Moldova has set new ground for its relation with the EU. It is a proper ground for Moldovan-European relations - and we're not speaking about EU accession now, but more of an offer to Chisinau for a deeper collaboration with the EU and for the modernization of Moldova
  • It is wrong to believe that sanctions or weapons deliveries would be a remedy for the conflict in Ukraine

On the bright side, this mistake is probably more insulting to France than it is to Germany (and the memory of that pinnacle of French military strategy, the Maginot line). Furthermore, on his Facebook account, the Bulgarian president was named “Romanian” (a mistake often made by BBC as well, or by rock stars greeting Romanians in Bucharest with Helllloooooo Budapest!).image

What else is going on in Germany and is way above this incident in “most read articles” tops?

There’s quite a bit, from Grexit and to allied rapes.
  1. Germany’s most liveable cities, according to Mercer: Munich (4th worldwide), Dusseldorf (6th), Berlin (14th), Hamburg (16th), Stuttgard (21st), Nuremberg (25th); this isn’t the only survey, others placing cities such as Vienna, Melbourne and even Toronto higher
  2. Green party proposes cannabis (marijuana, weed, trees, 420) legalization (legalize it, doc1, doku)
  3. Following news that women earn 21.6 % less than men, Germany introduces a 30% “executive quota” starting 2016 and there is talk of an upcoming “wage transparency law”. Critics had said the bill had been poorly drafted and may result in companies moving to other countries, echoing the effects of similar legislation in Norway. (ld-wage)
  4. Professor Miriam Gebhardt claims in a new book (.CA, .UK, .FR, .DE, .IT, .ES) that allied soldiers raped 860000 Germans at the end of the Second World War, of which 190000 were sexual assaults were perpetrated by American soldiers. Meanwhile, Sudeten German Homeland Association gives up its claims of reparation (ld-sdtn), while the far right causes a mayor to resign (ld-neonazi).
  5. Greece demands that Germany pays war reparations and threatens to send its refugees to Berlin (defence minister Panos Kammenos). German MPs vote to extend the bailout, despite public opposition (ld-gr).
  6. A child porn MP (Sebastian Edathy, Social Democrats) is booted out of party (ld-mp).
  7. A German Professor of Biochemistry at Leipzig University, Annette Beck-Sickinger, rejects an Indian student stating “Reports reach Germany on a weekly base [sic], and especially these 'multi-rape crimes' are threatening, but for me also demonstrate the attitude of a society towards women. (..) Of course, we cannot change or influence the Indian society, but only take our consequences here in Europe.” (ld-prof)

I really cannot tell whether this was truly a gaffe or simply a tongue-in-cheek joke at the expense of the French, who themselves took swipes at Romania and most of all at the tanned beggars who have very visibly taken over not just French, but so many other European cities. Watching the video above it is quite obvious that the German minister had a quick look at the brochure before holding it up. That, however, does not necessarily mean that he noticed the problem: there’s much more info crammed on the first page, including text in a language other than German, the map is small and he is holding it far from his eyes. And yet, a similar joke at the expense of both the French and the Germans is played upon by a Swedish animator in one of my fav music videos of all time, Paranoid Android.

Even the lyrics seem eerily appropriate.

Please could you stop the noise, I'm trying to get some rest
From all the unborn chicken voices in my head
What's that...? (I may be paranoid, but not an android)
When I am king, you will be first against the wall
With your opinion which is of no consequence at all

Ambition makes you look pretty ugly
Kicking and squealing Gucci little piggy
You don't remember
You don't remember
Why don't you remember my name?

As for the Romanian side, they should not get off so easily.

  1. Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German of probable Luxembourgish descent, elected on the slogan “Romania of the job well-done”, which according to him does not translate well into German, is ultimately responsible for how Romania presents itself on the international stage. He had asked for Romanian diplomats to be recalled following election organization failures in diaspora right after his election. Since then, the French embassy made another faux-pas; in that incident, ambassador Bogdan Mazuru assumed responsibility but declined guilt.
  2. Steinmeier’s Romanian counterpart, Bogdan Aurescu, conveyed his “profound regret”. The foreign ministry spokesperson, Brandusa Predescu, was fired (hn-brand). The salary of Alexandra Stefan, Agerpres expert, was reduced 10% for 3 months – a decision of her boss, Alexandru Giboi (hn-stefan). There’s something odd with women bearing the brunt of such failures, with virtually no repercussions for either Aurescu or Ponta.

Deutsche Welle covered the event in two main articles, none mentioning the Romanian gaffe.

In the Romanian version (dw-ro) though not in the English one (dw-en), the coverage focuses on some “reparatory remarks” made by Steinmeier on Romanian immigration in Germany (as well as Ukraine, Moldova and NATO, but these topics are reflected in both versions). We used as of yet uncorrected Google Translate.
  • Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany recalled a recent study commissioned by the Foundation Bertelsman which revealed an improvement in the opinion sensitive to migration Germans, although the number of arrivals was very high in recent years, around 500 000 000 only from 2013 onwards.
  • Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier made a statement on this occasion meant to chase the clouds that gathered over the subject: "I always suspected that the information in the public space (about Romanian) are based more on prejudice. We have received confirmation that they were prejudiced the moment it was published a very detailed study data showing that Romanians in Germany are among the most well-integrated foreign labor market. I received this path and confirm that Germany in turn benefit the large number of people in Romania who work and study in Germany. "
  • Replica Minister Steinmeier has come to put salve on the wound opened in Berlin, where Romanian President Klaus Johannis had with visible irritation to answer a question on extremely steep Romanian emigration Chancellor Angela Merkel and had at that context can provide their own perspective.
  • Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said in turn that sent Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier "consider the added value of the Romanian community in Germany, which is firmly anchored in the reality of socio-economic and cultural life of Germany."
  • But the subject of emigration is always just an attachment, never explicit, the Schengen file. On this topic, Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at the MAE: "I know MCV last report highlights progress, especially in terms of strengthening the independence of justice and interior ministers mission is now Europeans to decide next steps . We are willing to support this process in an open discussion. " It was one of the most encouraging statements by German officials lately. However as long as the admission of Romania is related to CVM, things remain complicated.
  • As expected, the Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu pleaded strongly for the admission of Romania, in his final showing that "Romania's accession will strengthen the area of ​​free movement (in fact) the security of Europe, because Romania is already acting as a member of facto ".

To conclude, diplomacy is a game of purposeful ambiguity and differentiating between a planned and an involuntary mistake is next to impossible. What we do know is that Germany and France have evolved from enemies in the previous wars to strong allies and trade partners and are the main economies and engines of growth in the European trading block. Though Germany has surpassed France a while back in most economic indicators, France keeps a more or less well-deserved renown for its welfare state.

A recent article compared social benefits afforded to working people in Germany vs France (ld-frvde) and we summarize it here – Germany seems to have the upper hand.
  1. Parental Leave. France: One year split evenly, or maximum 6 months for just one parent. Two+ children, 2 years max, with the state paying €390/month. Mothers on maternity leave 16 wks on full pay. Elternzeit: jobs protected indefinitely until the child turns 3. The benefit is 65% of parent’s previous monthly salary, boosted if earning less than €1000. Total monthly benefits are min €300 and max €1800. Maternity leave 6 wks before birth, 8 wks after on full pay.
  2. Retirement age. France 62; since 2012, 60 for those who entered work at 18. Germany: being raised from 65 to 67, but lowered to 63 for those since 18.
  3. Minimum wage. France: SMIC is €9.61 or €1457.52/month F/T; Germany €8.50 since January 2015.
  4. Average salary. France - €2430 vs Germany around €3000.
  5. Sick leave. France – 90% of salary for the first 30 days and 2/3 for another 30 days, calculated based on seniority (no paid sick leave for less than 1 yr in the company). Parents – 3 days/year for sick child. Germany, 6 wks full salary, followed by 70% covered by health insurance. Parents – 10 days each or 20 for single parents.
  6. Unemployment. France: 10.4% or 3.48 million vs Germany 6.5%.
  7. Paid holidays. France: 11 public holidays, 25 days paid leave (though not in the first year on the job).  RTT days for those working 35h+/wk up to 22 days. Germany has on average 9 public holidays, though Bavaria has 13; 24 days minimum holiday, some professions 30.

Our one advice is wherever you go, whether you go to travel or to work, make an effort to learn the local language!

Sources / More info: brochure, wiki-topcities, ld-frvde, ld-sdtn, ld-gr, ld-neonazi, ld-mp, ld-wage, ld-prof, hn-brand, hn-stefan, hn-excl, dw-ro, dw-en, hn-gafafws

Thank you for reading (mulţam fain pentru cetire)! Publicat Wednesday, March 11, 2015 . Similar articles under the following categories (poţi găsi articole similare sub următoarele categorii): (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe) . Dacă ţi-a plăcut articolul, PinIt-uieste-l, ReddIt-eaza-l, stumble-uieste-l altora, trimite-l pe WhatsApp yMess şi consideră abonarea la fluxul RSS sau prin email. Ma poti de asemenea gasi pe Google. Trackback poateputea fi trimis prin URL-ul de sub Comentarii.
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