NARRATIVES: 1. Most Romanians opt for parties with sovereigntist policies. 2 Europeans and Romanians are losing confidence in the EU and NATO and want their countries to leave these blocs due to the support the latter provide to Ukraine.
BACKGROUND: Western countries have joined forces to provide financial and military support to Ukraine following the Russian invasion of February 24. In addition, both the EU and non-NATO member states have imposed sanctions against Russia for its acts of aggression.
Against this backdrop, Russia has intensified its propaganda efforts, seeking to sow division at EU level following the “divide and conquer” model”. On the one hand, Russia wants to undermine Western support for Ukraine. On the other hand, Moscow wants to block any further severe sanctions, such as a total embargo on imports of oil and gas from Russia, which would deal a heavy blow to its economy. Finally, another key objective that Russia has been pursuing for years is destabilizing NATO, the EU and Western societies, something that is transparent in its disinformation and fake news campaigns (the refugee crisis, Brexit, the US presidential election, etc.)
In Romania, Russia is endorsing extremist and nationalist forces with a view to weakening resistance and the domestic political context. The AUR extremist party has been intensely courted by Russian propaganda and its agents that foster Euroscepticism and anti-NATO views under the guise of primitive nationalism.
PURPOSE: To spread false sentiments of patriotism that would contradict Romania’s EU and NATO membership.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The 60% share of Romanians who allegedly support sovereigntism and Romania’s withdrawal from the EU and NATO are unrealistic claims. The people behind these claims, Petru Romoșan and Cozmin Gușă, provide no source for this conclusion and simply promote figures that lack any factual basis.
The INSCOP survey conducted last month shows that 14.6% of respondents believe Romania should leave the European Union, a decrease compared to February 2022, when 22.4% of Romanians shared this view.
In addition, 83% of respondents opposed a potential “Ro-Exit”, again a decrease compared to February 2022, when 74.7% were of the same opinion.
Alternately, only 11.9% of interviewees, compared to 15.7% in February 2022, believe Romania should leave NATO. Similarly, 86% of Romanians believe Romania should remain in NATO, as compared to 81.2% in February.
Furthermore, 50.5% of Romanians believe purchasing state-of-the-art technology from the USA helps strengthen the Romanian Army. The percentage reported a slight increase compared to February 2022, when 48.5% of Romanians supported the idea.
Two thirds of Romanians (65.7%) don’t believe the Russian army is capable of reaching Bucharest within five days, compared to 36% of respondents who also disagreed in February 2022.
The issue of “traditional values defended by Russia against the influence of the decadent West”, a commonplace narrative of Kremlin propaganda which Veridica has often disproved, no longer appeals to Romanians. Only 24.7% of Romanians still believed this false narrative in May 2022, as compared to 41.4% in February 2022.
The same survey reveals that over 83% of Romanians believe that Romania must have a Westward direction in the following years (EU, USA, NATO) in terms of political and military alliance.
Asked about who they believe to be primarily responsible for triggering the war in Ukraine, 71.2% of Romanians answered Russia in another survey carried out in June. Other Romanians answered the USA (10.4%), Ukraine (4.5%), NATO (3.9%) and the EU (1.7%).
In a different survey examining the competitive advantages that remain key for Romania in the post-pandemic period and the regional geopolitical context, carried out in July by the Romanian-American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), EU membership was the top answer (87%), followed by NATO membership (63%).
In addition, the Eurobarometer published in April reveals a widespread consensus among EU citizens from all EU Member States regarding the EU’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Most Europeans believe that, since the start of the war, the EU has displayed solidarity (79%), unity (63%) and has been swift in its reaction (58%). Interviewees generally agree to the EU supporting Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
More specifically, nine in ten respondents (93%) approve of providing humanitarian support to people affected by the war.
In addition, 88% of Europeans agree to the idea of the EU receiving people fleeing the war, and 80% approve of the financial support granted to Ukraine. On the other hand, 66% of respondents agreed that “Ukraine should join the EU when it’s ready”, 71% believe Ukraine is part of the European family and 89% show sympathy towards Ukrainians.
The Eurofond survey published on June 24 shows that solidarity with Ukraine remains high, translating into active and practical types of support. 80% of respondents agree to the EU and national decisions to provide refugees with housing, and over 84% of them support the EU and member states in providing humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.
Over 70% of respondents agree to imposing economic sanctions against Russia, two thirds of them claiming harsher sanctions should actually be introduced.
This is particularly true of Nordic countries, the Baltic States, Romania, Poland and Ireland. Even in the more delicate issue of military support, 66% of respondents approve of the EU’s military support for Ukraine (although 34% of them believe the EU has done too much in this field).
Therefore, all the aforementioned data indicates that Romanians don’t want an anti-European and anti-NATO sovereigntist current, while AUR, the party that Romoșan and Gușă suggest to be representative of this segment, has an approval rating of merely 12%, according to the latest Avangarde survey, which signals a decrease in polls as the COVID-19 pandemic started to ease off.
Also worth mentioning is that Liviu Dragnea, the former leader of PSD, has created a party that fosters sovereigntist policies, although his approval rating is disregarded by specialized surveys.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: Romania does have Eurosceptic political parties that call for Romania’s withdrawal from the EU and NATO.