October: the Cooperation and Vilification Mechanism report

The European Commission's political leadership 2014 - 2019. Source: ec.europa.eu
The European Commission’s political leadership 2014 – 2019. Source: ec.europa.eu

The endless efforts of both putting together a new European Commission and getting the UK out of the EU kept Romanian media busy in October when it came to articles regarding not so positive aspects of the EU.

Anti-European stories (around 1,300) published by Romanian media, though, were also focusing on brutal incidents related with racism and ideology (the synagogue shooting in Halle, Germany, and the fierce stabbing that led to four officers dead in a police station in Paris, France), on the migration threat (and also Turkey’s threat of sending three millions Syrian refugees to the heart of Europe), on the unrest in Barcelona (following the Catalan leaders being sentenced to jail up to 14 years), on the conflict at the top of the EU concerning Albania’s and North Macedonia’s intentions to join the Union, on Serbia’s agreement to join the Eurasian Economic Union (not to mention the country’s plan to buy Russian military equipment), on the scandals involving Russian spies uncovered by Czech and Bulgarian authorities and on the very close relationship that Orban Viktor of Hungary shares with Vladimir Putin of Russia.

As for the anti-American public speech, it is to mention that president Donald Trump had, yet again, his fair share of media attention. The impeachment process and everything in connection with that (Giuliani’s role in what seems to have been Trump’s plan to trade US military aid for Ukraine for an investigation into Biden’s son business deals), the American president’s tax returns but also his trade wars around the globe and the way he handled the Turkey offensive in Syria  – all those were ground for anti-US articles (more than 800) published in Romanian media in October.

Giuliani’s Romanian connection

However, most of the materials that covered the above-mentioned topics were un-biased, neutral articles (almost 90%). But some of the topics were very appealing for certain media outlets, those one that publish more biased articles than others.

Lumea Justiției, for instance, used Rudy Giuliani’s allegations about Biden’s son deals in Romania as the starting point for a conspiracy leading to the former US ambassador to Bucharest, Mark Gittenstein. Which, according to Lumea Justiției, was the US deep state representative in Romania, the middle man that connected that secret structure of power with what’s called in Romania “the parallel state”, the local homologue of the American occult system. More than that, Lumea Justiției claims, Gittenstein should be under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Național Directorate in Bucharest, following a criminal complaint concerning an abuse of power but, of course, prosecutors turned a blind eye and everything is frozen.

The majority report

The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) report issued in the last decade of October was very badly received by those media outlets that usually criticize the judiciary, court decisions in corruption cases (especially if it’s about white-collar corruption) and rule of law as understood and preached by the EU and the US.

And this year’s report was special: not only it did not remark any progress in Romania, to say the least, but it proposed that the CVM should be active only for Romania from now on (according to the European Commission, “when they joined the EU on 1 January 2007, Romania and Bulgaria still had progress to make in the fields of judicial reform, corruption and (for Bulgaria) organised crime. The Commission set up the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) as a transitional measure to assist the two countries to remedy these shortcomings.”).

“A politically biased report!”, claimed Bogdan Chirieac, quoted by Jurnalul. “Unfair, this went too far!”, also said the former presidenent Traian Băsescu, cited by Național and others. For Cotidianul’s main columnist, Cornel Nistorescu, the report was nothing but the result of backstage negotiations and strings being pulled accordingly, hence the headline of his column: “Upside down Europe”.

PS News notes that the report is nothing but “political delirium” and for Lumea Justiției it is all about the epic battle that the globalist forces (that’s the EU, of course) lead against Romania. PS News had some more to add: its most notorious columnist, Silviu Mănăstire, wrote a piece headlined “I don’t give a damn about the CVM report”.

Extremely critical of the report was former MEP Norica Nicolai, who used syntagms such as “totalitarian temptation” and “soviet style” to describe what happens at the top of the EU.

The king’s daugher’s speech

It is certainly worth mentioning the speech that Margareta, Custodian of the Crown of Romania, the eldest daughter of King Michael I and Queen Anne of Romania, gave at the Clingendael Institute (the Netherlands Institute of International Relations), The Hague. Amongst other things, Margareta said the following: “We are more religious, more patriotic and more suspicious of high levels of immigration. It may be that some in the West don’t like this. But to dismiss our feelings as just ‘racism and xenophobia’ or to divide everything between ‘progressive’ – by which we mean Western – and ‘reactionary’ is clearly counter-productive. It is also clearly wrong to argue that our values are not European values; they may not be fashionable in some parts of Europe but are values which belong to the continent. (…) But the starting point for all activities is to stop patronising the new member states, and to avoid threatening them by artificially extended conditionality clauses. Various proposals to use political conditionality in the disbursement of funds from the next seven-year budget of the Union in return for certain political concessions are not only illegal under existing EU treaties, but also guaranteed to divide rather than unite Europe.

As far back as 2011, Romania was judged by the European Commission to have met all the necessary technical conditions for full Schengen membership. Yet one after another, conditions were added. We are now told in private – by officials in a number of countries including, I am sad to say, your own country – that domestic political considerations make it difficult to include Romania in Schengen.”

As one might expect, the Custodian of the Crown of Romania was glorified in Bucharest. “Unprecedented attack against the EU!”, “Romania’s best ambassador ever?” (Evenimentul zilei), “Princess Margaret, a slap on the Dutch face!” (Național), “Princess Margaret smashed the Dutch” (Lumea Justiției), “Phenomenal speech, a slap on the face of the Romanian president” (Sputnik).

As usual, the most biased media outlet was yet again Sputnik: 36 biased anti-EU news and 29 biased anti-US news. Surprisingly, though, Sputnik also published 44 neutral anti-EU news and 21 neutral anti-US news. Sputnik also published 3 biased anti-EU analyses and 8 biased anti-US analyses.

Evenimentul zilei went second with 9 biased anti-EU news, 3 biased anti-EU analyses, 19 biased anti-US news and 4 biased anti-US analyses.

Național occupied third place with 11 biased anti-EU news, 5 biased anti-EU analyses, 6 biased anti-US news and 7 biased anti-US analyses.

 

* The authors of this analysis/study divided the media articles into two categories (news and analysis), each classified as biased or neutral. A geographical criterion was also used to link the media articles to the EU and the US. According to this study, a piece of news is nothing more but a short article covering a fact or a statement whereas an “analysis” may be a column, an investigative piece or any other type of article that is based on several facts and statements that are premises for the conclusion that the author of the article wishes to make public. The neutral characteristic is attributed to those news and analyses that use actual quotes (and not made up or out of context ones), rely on fact checking and logical syllogisms, provide side relevant data (context) in order for the public to get the bigger picture. News and analyses are labelled as biased when, on the contrary, the journalist’s work is not compliant with all of the above: quotes are partial and/or manipulated/manipulative, there’s no vetting process, neutral context is not added (and when there’s some context provided, facts are selected to match the conclusion – which, in this sort of cases, is pre-set – and not the other way round).

Based on this report:

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