President Iohannis Embarks on African Tour Amid Controversies of Secrecy on His Costly Flights
President Klaus Iohannis will undertake a series of visits to Africa from November 14 to November 23, 2023. The visits include state visits to the Republic of Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Republic of Cape Verde, as well as an official visit to the Republic of Senegal.
“The President of Romania’s visits to Africa represent the first political-diplomatic initiative at this level in the last 30 years and aim to revitalize Romania’s relations with the African continent, both in our country’s direct relationship with African states and as part of the joint European effort, in the broader context of the need to reinvigorate EU-Africa relations in the spirit of a new partnership. These visits seek to revitalize high-level political dialogue with the mentioned states and re-energize economic and sectoral relations, aiming to open up and exploit new opportunities for collaboration in areas of common interest, including those related to addressing global challenges. President Klaus Iohannis’ initiative takes place at a time of deepening and diversifying relations with African partners, considering that over the past decade, the African continent as a whole has gained a more prominent international profile. Africa’s new international status is demonstrated by the increasing interest of global actors, combined with growing trade and investment, as well as collaboration in areas such as development or security. In this context, Romania makes its own significant, distinct contribution to the implementation of the Euro-African strategic partnership, in the spirit of pragmatic, honest, and balanced cooperation among equal partners,” the Presidential Administration stated.
However, this tour raises questions about its purpose. The countries on the President’s itinerary are far from being among Romania’s major trading partners, while the costs of other recent tours by Klaus Iohannis have been quite high, according to calculations by Recorder: over one million euros each.
As the Presidential Administration’s budget was exhausted in August, the Government has allocated an additional 7 million lei for year-end projects, including this African tour.
What’s for sure is that the President’s destinations are exotic tourist destinations. The Cape Verde Islands are known for their white sandy beaches and turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The President will likely seek to boost bilateral trade because in the first seven months of this year, Romania imported 60 euros worth of goods from there, which is approximately 300 lei. The Head of State is also set to visit Kenya, recognized as the world’s top safari destination, with 50 parks and national reserves. Romania imports coffee, fish, dates, figs, and pineapples from here and exports phones.
From Senegal, one of Africa’s main cultural destinations, Romania imports titanium ore and exports refrigerators and freezers. The last destination on the President’s list is Tanzania, which hosts some of the world’s most acclaimed national parks and game reserves. From here, Romania brings in limited amounts of fish, coffee, and dates and, in turn, exports railway carriages, automotive parts, and accessories. In all four countries, Romania enjoys a trade surplus, exporting more than it imports from the countries President Klaus Iohannis will visit.
At the beginning of this week, Recorder published an investigative video today about the increasing use of private planes for travels by President Klaus Iohannis. These costs are kept secret by the Presidential Administration, even though they involve public funds.
In order to make a comparison with other European presidents or heads of institutions, Recorder gathered data on the travel costs of 19 European leaders attending the coronation of King Charles in May of this year. Among all of them, Klaus Iohannis was the only one who arrived in London on a private plane, while the rest traveled on official planes or commercial flights.
While the cost of Klaus Iohannis’s journey remains classified, other European leaders provided detailed expenses, some of them even including copies of their plane tickets.
Many of the international trips made by the President using private planes involve stopovers in Sibiu, incurring additional costs. This was the case for the journey from London, where the stopover in Sibiu increased the aircraft rental cost by at least 5,000 euros.