The New York Times, from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, has found out that Calin Popescu Tariceanu, currently the second most important political persona in Romania, as the Speaker of the Senate, is being investigated “for giving false testimony to aid suspects in a wider real estate graft case.

Prosecutors said Tariceanu made untrue statements under oath in April when he was called to testify in an investigation in which …

OK.
So he isn’t investigated for anything he might have done then but for something he had (not?!?) recently said about the whole thing, now.

“Tariceanu denied wrongdoing and fired back at magistrates, saying “we live in a republic of prosecutors based on the politics of dossiers and handcuffs”.”

At this point it is very important to remember that Mr. Tariceanu has been at the fore front of the Romanian political stage for the last 25 years – for instance he was the Prime Minister from 2004 to 2008, and to mention that he is only one amongst  the many Romanian politicians being criminally investigated who deplore the growing importance of the role recently assumed by the Romanian prosecutors.

I’m not going to discuss here the individual merits of each of the corruption cases that have been investigated recently. It is very possible that some of them were started, or closed, because ‘somebody’ had made specific ‘recommendations’. The prosecutors are human beings themselves.

But isn’t it rather strange that so many of the people who have actually honed the finest inner wheels of the contemporary Romanian state are now complaining about the way it works?

During the last 26 years this rather small group of people had countless opportunities to put things on the right track.
It seems that they didn’t succeed. For various reasons.
But it also seems that some of them, at least, had ‘ulterior motives’ for not succeeding.

Some of which are now being unearthed by the prosecutors.

The point being that we shouldn’t become mesmerized by the process.

Let the prosecutors do their job. Under close supervision, of course.
Learn the appropriate lessons.
“Do not steal” is important not so much because it is one of the Ten Commandments but because no society that has condoned theft on a large scale has ever thrived for long long enough to really enjoy the spoils.

Coming back to the Romanian political class – and to the people itself, everybody eventually gets to sleep in the bed each of us has prepared for itself.

If corruption wasn’t so widespread as it is today the prosecutors wouldn’t have been able to launch so many investigations.
If corruption wasn’t so widespread as it is today the ordinary people would have undoubtedly enjoyed a way better life. Maybe one close enough to the point where they wouldn’t have minded so much ‘a little’ corruption.

I have to end this by quoting Traian Basescu, the former President, also a very controversial figure:

“Corruption rests with two sides. I do not want to change responsibility, but it must be shared and assumed. A corrupt civil servant cannot be corrupt if they do not have a partner to put money into their hands, a ministry cannot pay by 50 percent more if there is not a consultant to sustain what the constructor says: ?Yes, we’ll raise the bill’. The ministry finds it impossible to act, because anyone wins in court if one also has the consultant’s advice that they should increase the public works price by 50 percent’, Basescu said at the launch of the Report on the Competitiveness of Romania, an event organised by the Romanian-based American Chamber of Commerce.

The President went on: ‘I believe we must, first and foremost, leave hypocrisy behind. The state alone cannot be corrupt, it has a partner, if there is corruption. The state alone cannot be non-performing, it has a partner. Let us together assume what we have to do. The easiest thing for the private sector to do is to criticise the state and the easiest thing for the state to do is to show indifference to the problems facing the business environment. I believe we are not in such a situation. We all want to have performance, to be competitive.”

Those of you who are interested in learning more about how we got here might start by reading this report by Oxford Business Group.