Romanian opposition reacts to recent minister gaffe: “No more fools in public office!”

Romanian agriculture minister’s recent comparison of the pig culling to stop the spread of the swine fever to the Auschwitz massacre triggered harsh reactions from the opposition parties, which asked for the minister’s resignation.

Former health minister Vlad Voiculescu, a co-founder of the Romania Together Movement (Miscarea Romania Impreuna) led by former PM Dacian Ciolos, even said the ongoing campaign to ban convicted people from public office should be followed by another one to ban “fools” from public office. He used a photo of agriculture minister Petre Daea and PM Viorica Dancila, made during a field inspection (opening photo), to illustrate his message. In the picture, the two Romanian officials seem to be leaning to walk under a irrigation pipes.

During a live show at Antena 3 news station on Wednesday evening, agriculture minister Petre Daea said the incineration of pigs culled after being infected with African swine fever was “like Auschwitz”.

Israel’s Embassy to Romania reacted on Thursday saying it was dismayed and disappointed by the minister’s analogy. “We hope that minister Daea made this association due to lack of in-depth knowledge about what the Holocaust and Auschwitz mean, with no intention of dishonoring the memory of millions of victims,” reads a statement by Israel’s Embassy.

The minister reacted in a press release on the Agriculture Ministry’s website saying that he meant no disrespect to the members of the Jewish community and that he only wanted to present the very difficult situation which local pig farmers face due to the swine fever. “My soul is in pain, and I only wanted to describe the horrific moments that our farmers and those who manage this crisis deal with,” he said.

Romanian MP Dan Barna, the leader of the Save Romania Union (USR), who asked for the minister’s resignation said “stupidity can’t be an excuse” when one is a prime minister or a minister, also referring to PM Viorica Dancila’s confusion of Montenegro’s capital Podgorica with Kosovo’s capital Pristina.

“In other countries, after yesterday, the prime minister would have gone home hand in hand with the agriculture minister,” Barna wrote on Facebook.

Vlad Voiculescu also commented the two officials’ mistakes in harsh terms and said that after the #FaraPenali campaign to ban convicted people from public office another one should be launched “Fara Prosti in Functii Publice (No Fools in Public Office)”. “This new campaign won’t be with raising signatures but with votes,” Voiculescu said.

(Photo source: Inquam Photos / George Calin)