Ex-FM Melescanu eyed by investigation for “hiding the truth on the Romanian communist regime” during Vienna conference in 1989

 Jan 21, 2020

The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of Romanian Exile (IICCMER) has been notified ex-officio on the current Senate Speaker, former FM Teodor Melescanu’s  past activity as representative of the Romanian delegation to the conference in Vienna during December 19-20, 1989, when he is accused of “hiding the truth” regarding the anti-communist revolution in Timisoara back then.

More precisely, Melescanu is accused of taking part in the “misinformation” spread by the Ceasescu’s regime among foreign diplomats those days in December 1989.

Just few days before, in the days of December 16-17, 1989, Romanians in Timisoara were starting to rebel against the communist ruling and against the communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu. It was the start of the Romanian Revolution, and it was in Timisoara that events first had a tragic turn, when numerous lives were claimed and many other people were injured.

“According to diplomatic cables, Teodor Melescanu would have participated as an official to the misinformation and diversion exerted by the communist totalitarian regime by misleading the foreign diplomats attending the conference in Vienna on the crimes and abuses committed in Timisoara and by placing the events committed by the representatives of the communist regime as “rumours launched for hateful purposes” and as “unconfirmed news stories,” IICCMER says.

The Institute started an internal investigation on potential criminal deeds committed by Teodor Melescanu back then, with inquiries probing into archive documents and into identification of witnesses.

If concrete clues leading to criminal deeds are identified, IICCMER will notify the criminal prosecution bodies and to deliver all evidence and documents of the researches to the Public Ministry.

According to some US diplomatic cables, released by Canadian journalist Stanley Tromp, on December 20, 1989, Teodor Melescanu has “strongly” opposed a moment of silence during the conference of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation, held in the loving memory of the victims of the repression in Timisoara.


USR demands Melescanu's resignation from Senate leadership: 30 years ago, as Ceausescu's representative, he denies the crimes in Timisoara

Redactia    -  

19 December 2019

USR representatives demand the resignation of Teodor Meleșcanu from the position of president of the Senate. They say that it would be the only "gesture of decency" of Meleșcanu, who 30 years ago, as a representative of Nicolae Ceaușescu, denied, in front of the international community, the crimes in Timișoara and refused the moment of silence for those killed in Revolution.

"Thirty years ago, Teodor Meleșcanu, as a representative of Nicolae Ceaușescu, denied to the international community the crimes in Timișoara and refused the moment of silence for those killed. On December 20, 1989, when the entire Timișoara took to the streets, declaring -is the first city free of communism, claimed in Vienna that in Romania there is "peace and quiet". And which, for 30 years now, ensures the peace and tranquility of any party that offers it functions ", say the USR representatives, in a message posted on Facebook.

They recall that Melescanu presided over Monday's solemn sitting of parliament to commemorate the heroes of the Revolution, when MP Iulian Bulai drew attention from the rostrum that "there is no greater insult to the memory of the victims of the December Revolution than the presence of Teodor Melescanu in the rostrum of the Romanian Parliament."

"The current president of the Senate is the living and shameful image of the captured Romanian state, of the eternity of the dictatorial nomenclature that is also reproduced in democracy, of the refusal, by any means, to give up power," adds USR.

On December 20, 1989, Teodor Meleșcanu "harshly" opposed keeping a moment of silence at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, in memory of the victims of the repression of demonstrations in Timisoara, according to an American diplomatic document published by Canadian journalist Stanley Tromp.

The former Foreign Minister categorized as unfounded the information from the western press about the bloody events in Romania. "It simply came to our notice then. What I said, and it should be on the tape, is that there is indeed press information and that if a bloody crackdown has taken place, as that information says, those guilty must be held accountable," he said.


Romanian Revolution: Let's Browse Formerly Confidential Diplomatic Messages!

Zoltán Sipos

At the end of December 1989, American diplomats telegraphed Hungarian and Soviet intentions to intervene, the role of Capital, and Meleșcanu's loyalty to the communist regime. They tried to figure out who was still in control of this country.

An unexpected and exciting result came from public interest requests made by a Canadian journalist, Stanley Tromp, to governments in various countries: hundreds of pages of diplomatic transcripts about the 1989 Romanian Revolution and the 1987 Brasov uprising became public. Foreign affairs notes and urgencies were written by diplomats from the U.S. State Department, the British Foreign Office, and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs.

Tromp’s original intention was to compare access to information of public interest in Canada with similar U.S. and British options. To this end, he submitted a series of data requests on the subject of the 1989 Romanian Revolution, which preoccupied him anyway. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the revolution, he decided to make the documents received in this way public .

 There was speculation about Hungarian intervention

The significance of foreign affairs documents can be assessed by historians, but they also contain exciting details for lay people of our own kind. The US State Department's originally classified foreign affairs, for example, show that in the early days of the revolution there was speculation that Hungary would help the Romanian army fighting "terrorists" (the armed forces persisting with Ceauşescu), but this was ultimately a side Romania did not request.

On December 20, when there were still controversial and uncertain news about the events in Romania and the number of casualties, the U.S. Embassy in Vienna summed up what diplomatic options were available to the Austrian government.

Referring to a representative of the Austrian government in this document, it is stated that there is no legal basis for convening an OSCE emergency, and the Council of Europe is likely to condemn the events. The matter could be put on the agenda of the UN Security Council , but China is likely to veto it, the document says.

 Gyula Horn reassures everyone

"We believe that Hungary will react cautiously, as they do not want to give Ceauşescu an opportunity to see the Hungarian community as a threat to national security and to take revenge on them," says the Austrian government, which says the Warsaw Pact does not allow Hungary should intervene.

The then Foreign Minister Gyula Horn also made a statement on the day: he said that Hungary did not plan any military intervention.

“There is no military threat (Romania) from the outside. However, if circumstances change, the Hungarian forces will be ready,” the urgency quotes as saying.

On December 21, according to another document, Hungary is considering severing diplomatic relations with Romania and intends to refer the matter of the revolution to the UN Security Council. The then Foreign Minister, Gyula Horn, told reporters that the demonstrations in Timisoara had 1000-2500 victims, and that Hungary was terminating its 1948 treaty of friendship and mutual assistance with Romania. Horn denied that Hungary would mobilize and warned of the dangers of “hysterical” reactions.

A day later, the US Embassy in Budapest will report on Hungary's position. “Hungarians are watching the news about the protracted fighting coming from Romania attentively and with growing frustration. Opposition political parties called on the government on December 23 to bring the matter of the revolution before the UN Security Council and to ask peacekeepers. ”

According to the government, a working group consisting of representatives of ministries, non-governmental organizations and opposition parties is working on organizing relief operations in Hungary.

 Meleşcanu blocked the one-minute silence proposed in memory of the victims of Timisoara

According to the report, Horn denied in a televised appearance that Hungary was going to send weapons or ammunition to Romania. The report notes that the Hungarian Minister of Defense is in contact with senior Romanian military officers, however, the Romanian side did not request weapons or ammunition.

The reports show that Teodor Meleşcanu , who has been Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs and Head of Foreign Intelligence (SIE) several times in the colors of the PNL since the revolution and is currently President of the Senate, has reacted "emotionlessly and harshly" to international criticisms.

According to a report in Geneva, Meleşcanu, as a representative of the Romanian regime, first blocked a one-minute silence in memory of the victims of Timisoara, later denied news of the revolution, calling it “alleged events” and “unconfirmed rumors”. He rejected external interference in Romania's internal affairs and warned that "strict measures will be taken against provocateurs, anti-Romanian elements and foreign secret services".

 László Tőkés was just the spark, the organization has been going on for months, the embassy is told

Perhaps the most interesting reading is a long summary by the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, the title of which is also telling: "The Romanian Revolution: Young protesters fear that (the revolution) will not live up to its promise."

The long report details how the idealistic protesters of the early days were gradually pushed into the background and how a group of officials from the old system took control. What’s more, on the afternoon of December 26, under Iliescu’s leadership (and the cold set in), he dispersed the first student demonstration organized against the old cadres coming to power.

The report, written on the afternoon or evening of December 26, refers to unnamed sources, according to which those who stood by László Tőkés formed the spark, but the revolution did not break out spontaneously: groups of students and intellectuals had been preparing it for months.

The original organizer of the events was the National Liberation Front; several people claimed to be embassy staff. As a sign of preparation, they interpreted the way the students’ leaders tried to keep order in the protesting crowds, prevent disorder and violence, and make sure the scandals did not falter.

The movement revealed its identity in Bucharest on December 22 at 11:15 a.m., according to a report when a truck equipped with a public address system was stolen. A number of well-known personalities sat on the car, announcing the formation and program of the National Liberation Front with freedoms and free elections and a multi-party system to be held until March 1990. They said the Front was headed by a committee chaired by Corneliu Mănescu, whose members were Silviu Brucan, Dan Petrescu, Mircea Dinescu, Doina Cornea and Ana Blandiana.

“However, the Front was not prepared to govern. An army representative in the person of Colonel Voina soon appeared and negotiations began,” the report said. Dumitru Mazilu , the author of the National Liberation Front’s 10-point program, and Ion Iliescu joined a little later.

 The old communist cadres transferred their power

“Radical democratic leaders were not enthusiastic about negotiations with officials of the old regime, but a compromise was soon reached. Mazilu's program was accepted, but Iliescu became the leader of the wider group.” This was first called the National Rebirth Front and then quickly renamed the National Salvation Front.

The source to which the report refers also revealed that Iliescura was chosen because he had previously demonstrated his ability to lead a political operation and because he was not at Ceauşescu’s mercy. Iliescu, by the way, initially opposed the multi-party system, but then gave in.

The broader NMF sucked in other emerging political groupings, discouraging many intellectuals and former dissidents to form their own political organization, the report notes.

“Dreamy idealists protesting in the streets and sacrificing their lives have been pushed aside, given no role in the new government, and under the pretext of the country’s practical responsibilities, a number of old communist cadres have resigned,” the document sums up.



More commentary on the records, by historian Roland O. Thomasson, PHD