Open Letter to President Trump: Romanian Government Abuses Power in Unprecedented Reversal of Anticorruption Reforms
TO: Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America
Dear Mr. President:
My name is Sebastian Burduja and I studied and worked in the United States for almost 12 years. I returned to my home country of Romania a year ago, with the hope that I would bring back some of the American spirit, values, and optimism for a better future.
For me America has been truly great: I graduated from two of the best schools in the world, Stanford University and Harvard University, started a successful career in management consulting and international development, and married the love of my life, a native of Yorktown, Virginia, where the Revolutionary War was won in 1781. America has also shown me what a democracy truly is and how it is supposed to function for the people, in stark contrast with the many malfunctions of the young and fragile Romanian democracy, which has so often placed politicians above citizens.
Thank you for the opportunity to write to you today regarding an urgent matter in #Romania: the very foundations of our #democracy and rule of law are in grave danger. This is a critical issue not only for my country, but also for the United States, as our strategic partner, and truly for the entire free world.
Yesterday in the dead of night, the Romanian Government cowardly issued an abusive Emergency Ordinance that decriminalizes official misconduct. This is an unprecedented blow to the fight against #corruption, led boldly for years by dedicated prosecutors and judges in a very hostile political environment. This “timely” ordinance changes the penal code and allows public officials to break the law and steal public money while in office without criminal punishment. It is no coincidence that several prominent figures of the ruling coalition (the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Social Liberal Democrats) would now be cleared from ongoing investigations.
The ordinance has been strongly and rightly criticized by the Romanian President, Klaus Iohannis, numerous judges and magistrates, the general prosecutor of Romania, the chief prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Department (DNA - Direcția Națională Anticorupție), Laura Codruța Kövesi, the chief prosecutor of the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (D.I.I.C.O.T), members of the Romanian Parliament, the European Commission, and hundreds of thousands of citizens all around the country and in the #diaspora. Rarely in the history of our nation have we witnessed such an abuse of power. Romanians, still traumatized by decades of brutal dictatorship and isolation behind the Iron Curtain, now cling to the hope that these events do not signal a return to the dark times of unaccountable, tyrannical “leadership.”
The current situation is urgent: the emergency ordinance will take effect in less than 10 days unless overturned by the Constitutional Court or by the Government itself. Given everything that has happened recently, it is clear that efforts by the Romanian people alone may not be enough to sway the Government to right this wrong. We need international support and we need the support of our strategic partner, the United States. Mr. President, I am fully aware that your administration has embraced the call to place “America first” in all matters. I am also aware that in his final inaugural address, on January 20, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated: “We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations far away.” This is just as true today as it was then, at the dusk of the darkest era in human history, marked by millions of innocent victims around the world.
Mr. President, as a man of action and leader of the free world, we know you can help. We kindly request your support in continuing Romania’s fight against corruption and in strengthening the rule of law. Our ask is simple, would require minimal effort from you, and would mean a world of difference for us: issue a public statement declaring that no one is above the law in a true democracy and encouraging the Romanian Government to restore at once the fight against corruption.
This issue is of critical importance and particular interest to you and your administration, given your commitment in the international fight against corruption and the strategic partnership between the United States and Romania. During your campaign, you promised to work tirelessly against career #politicians who use political office for nefarious, personal gain. This resonates tremendously with the situation in Romania. Your staff has also already shown direct support of Romania’s anti-corruption efforts. Mr. Rex Tillerson has stated that “Romania is an important ally, and I fully agree that anti-corruption and rule of law should continue to underpin our relationship. I look forward to working with the Romanian government on these issues.” The Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, has emphasized the need to continue the engagement with Romania on #anticorruption: “Romania's anti-corruption and rule of law efforts have been strong…Nevertheless, threats to progress continue and reform must remain a priority.” The Romanian people deeply appreciate this strong commitment and ask for your support.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and consider this important request.