Protocol - covered World Scenarios
Valeriu Iordan Popescu
The author's experience in the protocol activities for almost two decades during Ceausescu's comunist dictatorship in Romania enabled him - as a graduate from the Faculties of Philology and International Economic Relations - a consistent approach based on rigurous information and "cold - blood" judgement of the history he was so familiary with.
The characters - whom he directly met - are political personalities and high officials who played a major role in working out and finalizing some global scenarios in which Romania and especially the District of Brasov were viwed as a sound ground for the fulfilment of mankind's endeavours: peace treaties, economic agreements, etc.
It was not everybody's privilege - even as a second- rank official - to meet, to listen or to discuss with the world's powerful leaders involved in eliminating the conflicts and bringing closer quite different civilization and cultures.
It was not everybody's privilege to involve in protocol activities on such a scale, welcoming with the well-known Romanian generosity, open - mindedness and wisdom guests from the whole world at Brasov and Predeal: King Hussein of Jordan, the composer - prince Norodom Sihanouk of Kampucha, the poet and philosopher Leopold Sedar Senghor of Senegal, Yasser Arafat, Haffez al Assad, Anwar al Sadat, Kenan Evren, Ali Bhutto, McNamara, Todor Jivkov, Eric Honecker, Hua Kuofeng, Konstantin Katusev, Georges Marchais, La Pasionarria, Santiago Carillo, Felipe Gonzales,etc.
Characters, official or private meetings, situations - either fanny or critical - in memories with effects so close tu us...
Euro - Asia Publishing and Impresario House (EAPCF)
(138 pages) - 40000 lei
Bucharest - Romania
HUSSEIN IBN TALAL (1935-1999). He was crowned King of Jordan in 1953 at about seventeen years old. During his long reign, Hussein played a crucial part in the complicated and unstable politics regarding the Middle East. Through talent and a true calling towards concord, he maintained good relations with the USA and he successfully interceded for the peace mediation actions in this area. Following the Camp David Peace Agreement between Egipt and Israel, Jordan broke off the relations with Egipt, a conflictual state of affairs that lasted until 1984.
"I'm a human being and nothing of what is
human is unknown to me"
During the autumn of 1999, the press bulletins broadcasted the sad news of the passing of a great political man, eminent statesman and man with a capital M. The history of politics was to record the leaving from the political stage of King Hussein of Jordan, the leader of a small kingdom in the Middle East, who, through his exceptional capacity and clear-sightedness, insured this Arab country with an important part in securing world's equilibrium. Situated at crossroads and in the way of the winds, living especially on trade and assuming, to a certain extent, the role of financial centre of the war damaged Lebanon, Jordan knew during this reign an era of great economical, social and political growth. Everything-due to the wise leadership of King Hussein.
Plane, helicopter and racing car pilot, skilled skier, accomplished horseman, strategist and diplomat, man of the world, man of refined conceptions, a beauty lover, he reached the exquisite performance of achieving all these in the family environment of his native country, respecting the law of the land, his fellow countrymen's religion, the Arab people's aspirations towards peace and understanding with other nations, the ideas of solidarity and unity, the tendency towards modernisation; born negotiator, subtle and indispensable, in a world in which global values tend to suffocate natural values. He confronted himself with everything and he resisted all the transformations of the present tactfully, diplomatically and with an unquenched understanding.
His name will remain a bright inscription in the memory of the twentieth century. Equalled or maybe unique. Rather unique. The adage contained by the title characterises his personality better than any other in the 20th century. To live your life fully for yourself and for the others and, at the same time, to be acclaimed miracle by a nation, to be approved and appreciated as a negotiator by fierce enemies, even when they plan your killing, to be expected all over the world as a peacemaker-these are few of the exceptional features of the great man that passed away. But, Hussein impressed most through his impeccable modesty and his implacable self-control. Features that could teach or even surpass any British gentleman.
It was a frosty winter's day. After a few days of snowing, snowheaps and snowstorm, the frost had turned the sky blue and had given way to a spring sun. With sun and frost, an ideal day for skiing announced itself. These were the thoughts of the members of the little numerous welcome escort while they were expecting their honour guest on the outskirts of the Predeal resort. In the parking lot, widely dug into the crossing hill, a few all-terrain Aro cars were waiting, their engines hot, among which only one was equipped with a powerful Mercedes engine, as if to match the boys' joke: "Capitalist organ transplant on socialist cast- the so-formed hybrid, a kind of tool with unpredictible resultant".
Who was the distinguished guest? Due to strict security reasons, the "Black September" organisation being a possible threat, the name was known by a reduced number of people. King Hussein of Jordan, present for a long time on the front page of the newspapers around the world because of his joining the efforts towards achieving peace in the Middle East, was in Bucharest for talks with Ceausescu. A good occasion to ski a little in the Romanian Carpathians and to spend together with the Queen, a week-end in the mountains.
The Predeal resort, by its very name, suggests a spot situated before starting the ascent. Cut as a valley in the depression formed by the Bucegi mountains, the resort unfolds as a bright white sheet of paper in front of the climbing tourist. As soon as you pass by "Don"'s bend and start climbing the edge of the hill, on sunny days, you have the revelation of light, stillness and hope. It seems that a benefactory spirit acts upon you in order to turn the daily worries away from you.
That February day was such a day, as though ordered in advance. On the winding road coming from the Capital the first glow became visible. In accordance with the agreement, the King's minicolumn of cars, made up of a few all-terrain vehicles, had to join us at the Clabucet chalet. The King's wish to ski originated in the experience acquired in the well-known mountain resorts in Switzerland and Austria. To prepare this action professional guards backed up by spontaneous intervention measures had been mobilized, should some special situation occur. At the chalet, a special kind of room had been prepared, provided with intervention equipment, including first aid equipment, serving, at the same time, as preparation and departure base for His Majesty.
To our surprise, at the time of the honoured guests' arrival, the protocol flat had been invaded by a noisy group of young people, conducted with a peculiar childish enthusiasm by Nicu Ceausescu, the President's son. After an outrageous party, woken up straight on the ski track, the new-comers rushed into the refridgerators, the cups of tea and coffee, leaving a chaos behind them. I made an imperceptible gesture of protest, but an acquaintance in his personal guard stopped me discretely.
I had met Nicu Ceausescu during a meeting that he had as Chief of the Comunist Youth with the local leader, considered in truth Ceausescu's main enemy at that time. Virgil Trofin's rapid political rising was owed to his ready support given to Ceausescu for the removing from the political stage of his unique opponent to his succession as head of the party, Gheorghe Apostol. The harsh, whipping accusations of corruption and immorality, brought by Trofin, a greatly skilled orator, to Apostol during a party's forum, had made a deep impression among the militants and had decisively contributed to the elimination of Gheorghiu-Dej's fighting mate …from the source and to his transfer to an anonymous position, as ambassador in a South American country. As member of the Political Bureau, Trofin was almost sure that he had reached a solid position, which, in his opinion, allowed him to elaborate his own policy. This was utterly improper and disapproved of by the ruling family who, in due time, despite his initial obedience, transferred him to a secondary plan of the power and, later, marginalized him unscrupulously.
It was said, nevertheless, that the system's number two, Ion Gheorghe Maurer, took a fancy to the younger politicians, Virgil Trofin, Cornel Burtica, etc. and encouraged them when a destabilizing action against the first leader came to the boil. After the first years' adaptation under Maurer's protection, Ceausescu had developed the taste for power and the pleasure of travelling abroad. In the meantime, the system's propaganda had forged the legend of the charismatic leader, endowed with world vocation. So that, under the influence of Elena and her ambitions, not the slightest act of inobedience or insubordination was admitted, an aspect that the Romanian Comunist politicians were about to experience on their own. In this context, on one of his innumerable visits abroad, Ceausescu was informed by one of his numerous secret services that, after his departure, Trofin and Burtica had made work visits in a few counties, among which Brasov as well.
What did these work visits really mean? Set up in Dej's time, the visits stood for the link between the Comunist leaders and the immediate reality in the territory. Taking place at certain times, defined exactly as encounters with the local leaders, visits of enterprises and of institutions, talks with the specialists, not long ago, they had degenerated into a kind of show by which the local population was compelled to make its attachment towards the party and its leaders manifest. It was a period when people still demonstrated in the streets on May the 1stand on August the 23rd, The National Day, bearing the portraits of the Political Bureau members, when direct references to the party and the leader were made. Little by little, the ceremony began to be changed, the work visits became manifestations of absolute obedience towards the leader, seen as the party's supreme representative and, later on, towards his wife, with more and more noise and followers. An expected pretext and, possibly, encouraged on purpose for the release of the "witch hunt", was also Trofin's impardonable visit through the country's counties. Back home, Ceausescu had one of his most acute fits of anger, blaming his young party mates for the violation of competences and the disrespect of the statutory prerogatives, specifying that he was the only one authorized to perform work visits, and, possibly, the Prime Minister Maurer, but even the latter only with his permission. But, as far as I know, the Prime Minister Maurer never used this permission, preferring to ramble in the mountains, during his many hunting matches.
Following this incident, Trofin was somehow retrograded, being appointed prime-secretary at Brasov on April the 1st 1974, while keeping his position at the Political Bureau, meanwhile the Political Executive Committee. In these circumstances took place at Brasov the encounter between Nicu Ceausescu and Virgil Trofin. Nicu, the president of the students in the whole country, looked fresh, vigorous and, despite the rumours about his love and Bacchic escapades, impressed me as a witty and funny guy. I welcomed him on his coming in, introducing myself shortly:"The Protocol Clerk". He held out his hand, shaking mine with force, like a friend's, introducing himself, in his turn, as if needed:"Nicu from the Students". I accompanied him to Trofin's office. During the talk I looked out of the window. Another strange thing: Nicu had come without his bodyguard, in his own car, a rather old Renault 16, that he would drive himself. On his departure he invited me to pay him a visit at the villa where he used to live in Predeal, an invitation that I never answered, because, due to his disordered life, all his followers, with no exception, ended up on Elena Ceausescu's pursuit lists.
To put an end to this parenthesis, being familiarized with the president's son record, we preferred to clean up thoroughly ourselves, while a siren warned us that the King was in front of the building. He was rapidly dressed up in an impecable ski suit, then he went to the ski track, on a weather with a marvellous sun, guarded by a special team, made up of professional sportsmen and escort agents.
Kings make jokes, too, don't they?
The King, a short , extremely polite man, entertained us, making a few jokes, so that the day announced itself favourable. This episode over, I rushed back to Brasov, where, that very night, a private dinner party to which the local authorities had also been invited, was to take place. In the evening, by a glass of wine, a security agent told me how the ski match had continued. "We all left by the ski-lift to Clabucet. In the morning, the sky was clear, since it was quite frosty; the coat of snow was good for skiing and the ski track was not crowded at all. At the top, hot tea in thermos bottles waited for us, despite the fast descent, the King behaved like a true professional. I was tense - my friend stresses. Behind each tree I could almost see a sniper. I tried to relax but despite the strict security measures, they did not seem satisfactory to me. Halfway the track, an unexpected snowstorm caught us in its whirl. This was the moment when the entire team surrounded His Majesty and accompanied him in this manner all the way down to the chalet. The day ended well."
Our animated talk was interrupted by the chief of the establishment who let us know that the official car had left the residence. We checked the establishment one last time. Considered to be a typically Romanian restaurant, the Carpathian Stag had gained international fame, being one of the few programme wine vaults in the whole world, at that time. Two similar establishments could be found: one in New York and one in Paris. The time of this restaurant's opening had coincided with the time of Romania's opening towards the West and with the unprecedented growth of tourism: the Romanian seacost had been included in the European circuit, and in the mountains, one or two-day trips were organized, the visit of this establishment being an almost obligatory stop.
Occupying the ground floor of an ancient peasant market in the 15th century, the establishment opened in a lobby, set up in folk style, with carved wood railings and typical folk objects. A stag head, a real trophy, guarded the way in. In this lobby, the official deputations were welcomed by the local hosts and, while they were greeted, lads, dressed up in beautiful national costumes, blew the alphorns, as a sign of joy and special gratefulness. The guests were asked to go downstairs to the establishment's cellars, where, 20 metres lower, was the wine vault provided with casks full of wine from the vines all over the country. According to the hosts, 40 tons of the purest kind of wine waited to be tasted and possibly drunk. The moment the gathering reached the first stairs, two girls in national costumes greeted them "welcome", and the big-bellied Bachus, stirring a cup full of wine, received them just before the entrance into the wine kingdom, with a friendly greeting, inviting them to taste the wines. While the orchestra also played a welcome tune, a beautiful girl, from the artistic staff, offered the guests a "golden" stuff medallion, representing a Carpathian stag's effigy, at whose feet the name of the establishment was engraved.
At this ad hoc ceremony, attended by numerous state and government chiefs, crowned heads and many national and international public personalities, moments of real emotion and affection were born, tongues were loosened and the atmosphere became extremely nice. Such a moment took place that very night as well. Their Majesties, the King and the Queen, were welcomed with the warmest hospitality. The moment when the medallion should have been offered was to follow. A handsome youngman, in Somes costume and wearing a hat adorned with peacock feathers, addressed the Queen, putting the ritual medallion round her neck. In her turn, a beautiful girl, in a snow white embroidered blouse and a traditional kerchief, bent over to put the medallion round the King's neck. All of a sudden, all went silent. The girl was in vain trying to put the medallion round the neck, because, due to a design error, the lace was smaller than the monarch's head. A tense and truly embarassing moment. I reacted on the spot. I took the medallion from the girl's hands, I broke the lace and, apologizing to the monarch, I tied it round his neck, making a knot. The gathering breathed relieved, and the ceremony went on with the short presentation of the establishment's history and with the visit of the huge cellar full of casks of wine. Depending on the deputation, except for the Moslem ones, a short winetasting would be set up in the private winery, where the dust layer on the wine bottles proved the age of the liquor.
The second part of the ceremony took place in the restaurant proper, where the meal was served. The restaurant's saloon was spacious, it could receive more than 200 people. The tables were set in small inlets, with small back benches and corner benches, thus creating a private atmosphere. The official table was set in the centre, having an overall view and a good perspective on the artistic programme. The programme wine vault, as it was called, created a certain closeness between the guests and the hosts, a relaxed, joyful atmosphere, achieving the confort required for future encounters.
On such occasions, difficult problems, almost impossible to solve, were treated with a smile on the face many a time. As far as the organization was concerned, the restaurant's administrators had layed the bases of Middle East peace before Camp David had. There were evenings when, in the same place, Israeli and Arab groups of tourists got together. The first stage was the sounding stage. As soon as they found out about each other, they spied on each other until the music started. The orchestra, a pleiad of professional musicians and performers, made sure to start with either Arab or Israeli tunes, depending on the majority, a source of confusion, the public applauding accordingly. After the warming up period, the guests at the tables no longer paid attention to details and the programme would go on as usual, with dancing and varied tunes. Music and atmosphere reached a consensus where politicians had been making great efforts during a long time. This lesson of concord through art and culture should be learned by all the politicians, before it is too late. The performers Puica Ursuleasa and Lizica Gaman succeeded in seducing their audience; Puica would perform exception tunes in the international repertoire, in several foreign languages, while Lizica, a true master of the national melos, performed rhythm folk tunes and party songs.
The same evening, in an animated room full of tourists, a successful dinner party was going on, Their Majesties stepping down, not without risks, among the people, and proving, one more time, that nothing of what is human was unknown to them.
Meanwhile, two small souvenir gifts were prepared for the honoured guests, one of which being a brand new quality medallion with a "golden" lace. Just before leaving, as a sign of appreciation, His Majesty shook my hand friendly.