The generation that gets to eat

The generation that gets to eat

In one of his rare public outings, Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) chief Eduard Hellvig on Tuesday projected the image of an enviable country: „Romania is a stable country, with social peace and a lot of economic prosperity, a country where many young people from other parts of the world would like to live”.

The former political science graduate chose the platform of Babeș Bolyai University in Cluj to instill confidence in students that the state is finally in good hands after a long and troubled post-communist history.

In his well-crafted speech, Romania is portrayed as a country where two generations have struggled and toiled, with the third generation reaping the rewards, or getting  „to eat”.

„There is an old saying of the Transylvanian Germans that I heard very often in my childhood and that I like to repeat publicly: the first generation fights, the second generation works and only the third generation eats. I heard it often because it explained to me why I had to work and fight. And I was told that the generation that will eat will come, but it won’t be my generation. I believe that, on the scale of Romania’s history, the generation that can enjoy the results of these decades of turmoil and accumulation is your generation,” the head of the SRI told the young students at UBB. Many of them you will probably find they left Romania in a few years’ time.

The head of the SRI would not be the only one talking about a country that exists only, perhaps, in his mind and in the minds of the spoiled of the regime. President Klaus Iohannis told Romanians during his visit to America in September that Romania’s economy is doing well and that, despite the overlapping crises, people are doing well.

„Romania is doing well and the Romanian economy is growing. This is very, very positive news. As for the crises we are facing in Romania, I think we are in a situation we have not been in for a long time, there is a crisis, on top of a crisis, on top of a crisis, and yet we are managing”, the head of state told Romanians on the US west coast.

Another way of saying that Romania is eating white bread and that the hard times have somehow been overcome.

But the optimism at the top of the state is not so visible in the country. Young people, especially educated ones, are leaving in droves. A recent survey shows that more than 60% of young Romanians believe that Romania is going in the wrong direction and do not trust the Parliament, the Government and the Presidency. The number of young people leaving Romania for good has doubled in the last 10 years.

Sociologists say that migration has intensified lately, especially among educated young people and people with a good financial situation, but who are dissatisfied with the quality of life in Romania. What could drive away all these new generation people from the plentiful table they are invited to „eat” at.

The ” generation that gets to eat ” is not you. Nor will you be any time soon. It’s them again, with their people infiltrated everywhere, in agencies, ministries or state companies, dully posted on duty in lucrative sinecures to watch over the country. It’s as if there have never been so many of them in sight.

For them, not for you, the national security laws were designed so that the intelligence services can never be held accountable for anything. They want to stay further ahead at the head of the table. They will come up with security laws again soon and, as the head of the SRI put it, „it would be desirable for Romanian society and policy makers to decide what role they want to assign to the intelligence services. We cannot at the same time be a kind of firefighters called to put out fires set by others and then accused of putting them out.”

President Iohannis’s friend, for example, is part of the „generation that gets to eat”. Michael Schmidt’s companies win public tenders worth tens of millions of euros, equip the Romanian police with 600 BMWs. Also as the only bidder, he has a chance to sell several dozen motorcycles to the police.

„We’ll manage”, as President Iohannis would say. Of course, seen from aboard a BMW, Romania’s economy is on fire since the country can afford to buy so many expensive cars.

Even those close to PSD President Marcel Ciolacu are not starving in these times when ordinary Romanians are tightening their belts. G4Media.ro revealed how tens of millions of euros are being leaked to the press through party firms. Since Ciolacu became president, the turnover of the Look Outdoor company run by a fashion model has increased 835 times. Social democracy also goes through the stomach first. You can’t cry on the shoulders of the poor with an empty stomach.

Also part of the „eating generation” are parliamentarians and politicians from PNL, PSD and UDMR. They would all like to feast on European funds from Brussels, on the billions allocated through the NRRP for „reconstruction and resilience”, without fear of the prosecutors.

That is why this eternally hungry generation of politicians is still trying to weaken the justice laws, to retain the levers of control over the system, to make the whistleblower law inoperable or to completely annihilate the public prosecutors’ offices. And they have also invited almost the entire press to feast with them the power’s table, stuffed with public money to keep them quiet.

They want to eat in silence, and not have prosecutors pick them up from the table with the plunder in their mouths.

They’ve eaten us a good part of our lives.

Even though in his youth he was told that he would not be part of „the generation that will eat” and lived, according to his own confession in front of UBB students „in a grey block in a small town in northern Transylvania”, it can be said that the head of the SRI succeeded in life. What Eduard Hellvig never told young people is that in Romania, another piece of good news, you don’t necessarily have to be a business genius to make a good living.

Hellvig’s wealth statement reports a house of almost 600 square metres and land of over 3,000 square metres in Tunari, but also a loan of almost two million lei bizarrely moved from a commercial bank that charged regular interest rates to a non-bank financial institution in Cluj, where interest rates are higher.

Those who told him in his youth that the generation that will eat will come, but it won’t be his generation were a bit wrong.

Mr Helvig also said he was disappointed by some of his unnamed university friends who had allegedly made compromises for power. Compromises bigger than the formation of the PNL-PSD coalition is hard to imagine, however. What do college friends count anayway?

This is the reality of the country from which the younger generation is fleeing: no prospects, no future, where only a small party and state nomenclature is in charge, and everyone else pays the bill.

Those who do make it on their own, however, quickly come to the conclusion that almost nothing works from the moment you walk out the door, and they figure out how to escape from hell faster.

„I believe that, on the scale of Romania’s history, the generation that can enjoy the results of these decades of turmoil and accumulation is your generation. Of citizens who have at the same time a Romanian, European and global identity. Use this power wisely”, concluded the head of the SRI’s speech to the students at UBB.

I believe that, on the scale of Romania’s history, our generation has not yet concluded the wars begun and partially lost after 1989: westernization and internalization of western values, the fight against corruption, the cleansing of the political class, the promotion of meritocracy, the limitation of the influence of the intelligence services in politics, economy and society in general. Without a radical change in the model of power perpetuated after 1989, the „generation that eats” will still be them and we will leave nothing to our children.

I believe that we still have a duty to the next generation: not to capitulate to the aggressive mediocrity that is perched on all levels of power, not to back down in the face of imposture, corruption and theft as a way of life. Romania has been a member of the EU for 15 years, but has not yet become a European country.

For some it is enough to eat well, but life is not just about that.

If we all leave, if we lose hope, if we complain that there is nothing left to do, we will leave behind a failed country. It will also be the failure of our generation, no matter how well we eat in other people’s land and country. This choice is also a solution, and those who choose it are understandable. Not all are willing to risk their lives and the lives of their children for seemingly lost causes.

But it still seems well worth it to trying again.



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