Old friends in low places


I was innocently minding my own business when I saw this tweet flash across one of my screens last night:

On the face of it, there’s nothing unusual about Raduslaw Sikorski meeting with Titus Corlatean. After all, they’re both the Foreign Ministers of their respective countries (Poland and Romania). But what struck me as odd was Radoslaw calling Titus an “old” friend.

Titus, for the record, only became Romania’s Foreign Minister in August 2012 (after the braindead Andrei Marga proved to be too much of an embarrassment and so had to be replaced) so a year and a half is hardly enough time to develop a friendship long enough to be called “old”, isn’t it?

Searching though all the public records I could find, there’s nothing that links Titus and Radoslaw ever meeting in other contexts before Titus became Romania’s Foreign Minister.

But Sikorski’s tweet reminded me of my piece A Tangled Web about how Ponta made a trip to Washington, D.C. in February 2012 and was introduced around to the elite of the American government as “the next prime minister” of Romania. I didn’t mention it in my article but Titus Corlatean also accompanied Ponta on that trip. It made sense, as Titus is an old PSD (Ponta’s party) stalwart and both men are Adrian Nastase’s acolytes (Corlatean was Nastase’s “personal counselor” on foreign affairs when Nastase was the PM in 2001).

Did Titus and Ponta also meet with Sikorski during that fateful tour to America in 2012? Not that I can see.

Slicing up Ukrainian pie (February 10, 2014)

Bildt, Sikorski and Ashton slicing up some Ukrainian pie (February 10, 2014)

But Radoslaw Sikorski has a long and interesting past that his Wikipedia page barely covers. Sikorski is one of those “global elites” who is connected to “all the right people”, including the current British Prime Minister David Cameron and long-time Bilderberg attendee, former Swedish PM Carl Bildt, one of the EU’s “special envoys” to Ukraine.

Sikorski’s wife, American-born Anne Applebaum, is a right-wing columnist and former “fellow” of the American Enterprise Institute, Ioana Petrescu’s ideological mentors. Applebaum is also rabidly anti-Russian, an ideological position her husband wholeheartedly agrees with, and Applebaum has been churning out hawkish pieces non-stop since the current crisis in Ukraine began.

Sikorski is also deeply involved with what’s been happening in Ukraine this year. Back on February 20, when Yanukovich was still in office (and in Kiev), all sides were desperately trying to find a compromise. Sikorski, one of the key negotiators, told the opposition (now the interim government) that they better sign a compromise with Yanukovich or else they’d all be killed, a statement which was serendipitously filmed by the notoriously anti-Russian ITN journalist James Mates.

All sides did end up signing that compromise, including Radoslaw Sikorski as an official witness, and yet within 24 hours mysterious snipers began killing people and the Ukrainian opposition had reneged on the deal and Yanukovich was on his way out of the country.

This is also the same Sikorski who has been an official representative of the EU for years to the negotiations over Transnistria, the man who just tweeted about his “old friend” Titus Corlatean talking about the subject.

As I wrote about just a few days ago, there is an ongoing propaganda war over Transnistria and Sikorski is right in the middle of it. Yesterday I had the misfortune of reading this interview (link in Russian) with the hapless Sergei Pyrozhkov (Ukraine’s ambassador to Moldova and also Ukraine’s representative in the 5+2 Transnistria negotiations since 2007), who is in a three-way pissing match with Russian deputy PM Dmitri Rogozin and Transnistria’s Nina Shtanski.

It’s easy for powerful politicians to throw around insults and allegations (including Rogozin, who called Pyrozhkov an “idiot” on Russian state television two weeks ago) but at some point lines can get crossed and there are far more serious consequences to words. The situation in Crimea is now fait accompli but there are still aftershocks reverberating throughout the region and the faultline runs right through the center of Tiraspol. Corlatean, to his credit, has been the most level-headed out of the involved parties, but he’s way out of his depth when it comes to propaganda masters like Sikorski.

Poland is committed to the long game when it comes to Ukraine and Sikorski would be more than happy to sacrifice Transnistria (and Moldova) on the chess board if it helped satisfy Poland’s geopolitical goals. Titus might enjoy basking in the warm glow of praise from the elder statesman from Poland right now but he better watch his back around his “old friend”.

Romanian politics are sometimes vicious but they’re nothing compared to the winner-take-all shark tank where the likes of Vladimir Putin, Victoria Nuland (who was in Moldova last weekend) and Radoslaw Sikorski play.

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1 Response »

  1. Speaking of Poland’s geopolitical goals, what exactly would you speculate these to be? As a country which was basically “moved westward” after WW2, having an eastern part given to the former USSR (now Belarus), and in turn taking a slice of eastern Germany, having geopolitical goals along the lines of regaining the part which was taken away smell from far off like a rather dangerous geopolitical Pandora’s box. Romania’s geopolitical goals (not that everybody agrees with them) on the other hand are a lot simpler, because unlike Poland, Romania gained no territory following the war ….. that it did not already have before the war.

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