By Daniel Stroe – Bucharest
A book titled “The ones pulling the strings in Europe”, launched on Thursday in Berlin, reveals that the Romanian President Traian Basescu opposed a proposal launched by Germany and backed by France to withdraw the voting rights for Greece due to failure to deliver on its economic commitments, during the November 2010 European summit.
According to the EUObserver, which cites paragraphs from the book, German chancellor Angela Merkel made an unusual proposal at the EU summit in the fall of 2010, namely that Greece’s failure to meet the deficit targets to be treated as human rights breaches. “Article 7 [of the EU treaty] foresees possibility to withdraw voting rights in very serious situations. This is not a public humiliation, when you see that you endanger the Euro, all Euro-countries and ultimately the very existence of the EU,” she said on 28 October 2010.
Article 7, which provides for suspending the voting rights of a country in the EU council, was introduced in the EU treaty after Austria formed a coalition government with a far-right party, prompting a boycott by EU countries that saw this as a breach of human rights, freedom and democracy, reminds EUObserver. “We accepted article 7 for human rights violations. We have to show the same degree of seriousness when we deal with the Euro issue,” Merkel adds.
The first to oppose was the Romanian President Traian Basescu. “This situation cannot be equated to a violation of human rights” he said, quickly to be supported by Spain, Luxembourg and Greece. Only then French President Nicolas Sarkozy endorsed Merkel’s proposal, saying this is not unreasonable, but Herman van Rompuy, the head of the European Council, postponed making a decision on the sport because the matter needed further analysis.
Sarkozy seems to not have forgotten Basescu’s refusal to punish Greece. A month later, at the Lisbon NATO summit, the French President refused to shake hands with his Romanian counterpart, a gesture which the French media heavily criticized. Video footage showed the French head of state vividly gesturing in front of Basescu who seemed to be asking for explanations on a conciliatory tone.
Basescu then went to then Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi who, talking to the Romanian President, pointed to his own head, the common gesture of explaining someone is crazy. Sarkozy later explained he was just telling the Romanian President he was late for a meeting.
Basescu managed to vex Sarkozy again only a few months later when, at an EU summit in March 2011, the Romanian President said EU should not hurry to recognize the newly established political body of the Libyan rebels.