The atmosphere of the Sinaia, Romania meeting was festive, and the event was apparently well-orchestrated. However, the main topic of the conference was both anti-West and anti-European Union. In her speech, for example, Marine Le Pen assured Romania that the country would be better off if it left the EU, which she described as ‘a drifting ship without a compass,’ and ‘a total failure.’ Le Pen questioned the EU’s future, calling it ‘a threat to its inhabitants.’ Instead, she proposed a Union ‘from the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains’… a Europe that would also include Russia.
By Nicholas Dima | May 10, 2016
A conference, Our Europe-A Europe of Nations, took place unexpectedly on April 16 at Sinaia in Romania, the renowned mountain resort of Peles Castle and the former residence of Romanian kings. The meeting was organized by the new Romanian nationalist party Forta Nationala, and was attended by delegates representing several countries, including Marine Le Pen, president of the National Front in France. The event received limited press coverage from the traditional media, but it was well-covered by social media, including the Romanianbreakingnews.ro and by pressone.ro on April 20.
The meeting was strange because true nationalism in Romania is in retreat, while a form of ‘parade’ nationalism is encouraged by certain forces, and especially by Russia. Among the Romanian participants were Laurentiu Rebegea, currently a member of the European Parliament, and an active member of Le Pen’s faction, Europe of Nations; Victor Craciun, a dubious individual with strong ties to Moscow; and, Mircea Chelaru, an honest Romanian patriot, but apparently with little political acumen. There were also many enthusiastic young people, as well as older men described by the press as nostalgic for the old times.
The atmosphere of the Sinaia meeting was festive, and the event was apparently well-orchestrated. However, the main topic of the conference was both anti-West and anti-European Union. In her speech, for example, Marine Le Pen assured Romania that the country would be better off if it left the EU, which she described as ‘a drifting ship without a compass,’ and ‘a total failure.’ Le Pen questioned the EU’s future, calling it ‘a threat to its inhabitants.’ Instead, she proposed a Union ‘from the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains’… a Europe that would also include Russia.
The conference was well-attended. Among the important foreign participants were: Ludovic De Danne, spokesman for the French National Front and secretary general of the Europe of Nations group in the European Parliament; Marcel De Graaf, Dutch member of the European Parliament and co-president of the same group; Tomio Okamura, president of the Movement for Liberty and Democracy from the Czech Republic; Riccardo Molinari, vice-president of the Northern League of Italy; Johannes Hübner, representing the Liberal Party of Austria; and, Zbigniew Jarząbek, representing the New Right Party of Poland.
While the speeches condemned the European Union and the policy of the West, the attendees kept applauding apparently without much thinking or reasoning. Nevertheless, there is a dangerous duality afoot in Eastern Europe. On the one hand many people are justifiably wary of the EU’s current policy. On the other hand, Russia is working hard to influence European hearts and minds against the EU, America and globalization. Within this political climate, the Sinaia conference was most likely staged with Moscow’s support. While the Romanians do not trust Russia, Moscow has its own agents everywhere and sadly, it also has some real arguments on its side.
The journalists who covered the conference understood the ploy behind the event and asked some probing questions. They asked Marine Le Pen if her organization is financed by Russia and what are her relations with Moscow. Ms. Le Pen answered laughingly that when she needed help to finance her campaign neither French nor Western banks would grant her any loan. Then, she said that she found a Czech-Russian bank that offered her a loan. And she asked the journalist: ‘Do you know any Romanian bank that would give me a loan? I will sign the contract immediately…’
The reality is that for a good number of years Russia has been working to secure support throughout the EU including Southeastern Europe. In neighboring Moldova, for instance, Russia has the upper hand and is buying power and influence. Yet, the Moldovan/Romanian majority of the republic is struggling to oppose Moscow and to link with Romania and the West. To the south of Romania, in Bulgaria and Serbia, Russia is using its common ethnic and cultural roots to draw the population to its side. And Hungary, located west of Romania, is already vocal against the EU. As for Romania, throughout its history the country has been a thorn in Russia’s expansion toward the Balkans. This is one of the reasons why Russia has changed its strategy and now is trying to enlist the Romanian nationalists for their opposition to America and the West.
Some 20 years ago when Romania applied for NATO membership, Moscow indicated its willingness to let Moldova reunite with Romania, if the country would not join NATO. Romania did not take the Russian bait then and it is not taking it now. A tragic history has taught the Romanians to be wary of Russia’s intentions. This is why after 1989 they placed their hope with America, NATO and the West. Would the West let them down again as it did in the 1940s? Apparently Not. A recent U.S. decision seems to justify this trust.
According to Romanian media, elements of two American cavalry regiments will arrive at Iassy, the historic capital of Moldova located in Romania, where they will join a Romanian motorized battalion.
Together, they will then cross the Prut River toward the city of Balti in the Republic of Moldova, where they will be joined by a Moldovan military unit. On May 9, when Moscow celebrates with great fanfare its victory at the end of World War II, the combined military force of the three countries will parade together in downtown Chisinau to present America’s modern military technology. The U.S. military will remain in Moldova until May 29 as part of the larger maneuvers known as Atlantic Resolve. This participation will be a boost to the pro-Western aspirations of the Moldovans and a warning for Russia’s aggression in Eastern Europe.
A word of caution is still necessary. America and the West will have to change their political, economic and moral policies in the region. Otherwise, Russia will make even more inroads.
Nicholas Dima, Ph.D, is a former professor and author of numerous books and articles including the autobiographical memoir, Journey to Freedom, a description of the effects of communist dictatorship on a nation, a family and an individual. He currently lectures and is a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.