President Klaus Iohannis is accused of wanting to allow a wave of Afghan refugees to Romania, thus violating the country's constitution. This false narrative emerged after the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Bucharest was considering bringing to the country some of the Afghans who had worked for the Romanian forces during the years in which they were on a mission in Afghanistan.
NEWS: “The Afghans who would be taken over by Romania are in fact the allies’ allies. We entered this war as allies of the USA, and these Afghans that we would take over were the allies of the Romanian troops. In a way, we owe them. We can't let them down. On the other hand, what do we do about the Constitution? According to the Constitution, we do not have the right to take over groups of people from abroad; we can only offer asylum to individuals - man by man, grain by grain. Not as President Klaus Iohannis is trying to do”, Sorin Roșca Stănescu said in his videoblog.
NARRATIVES: 1. Romania will open its doors to Afghan refugees. 2. By bringing in refugees, President Klaus Iohannis violates the Constitution.
LOCAL CONTEXT / ETHOS: After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, thousands of Afghans stormed the Kabul airport trying to flee the country, for fear they would be ill-treated or even killed.
Western states have rushed to evacuate their citizens, as a matter of priority, as well as locals from vulnerable categories such as translators who have worked for the international forces. Romania has also engaged in the effort to evacuate its own citizens, and the MFA has announced that Bucharest is open and is now assessing, at interinstitutional level, the possibility of taking over, where deemed justified, local Afghan staff who supported the Romanian authorities, based on an analysis of each case, including from a security point of view.
In other words, Romania is preparing to individually evacuate, on a case-by-case basis, Afghan citizens who over the years have helped the Romanian forces deployed in that theater of operations and who now risk being killed.
On 17 August, President Klaus Iohannis convened a meeting of the Supreme National Defense Council (CSAT) for 25 August to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Right after the announcement, the populist party AUR started putting pressure on Romania not to receive Afghan immigrants.
The theme of an invasion of refugees from the Middle East, Africa, or Asia, who are threatening not only the Christian and national identity, but also the security of the citizens of different European states is old. Actually, it’s been one of the main narratives of Russian propaganda, designed to create a sense of fear among Europeans and trigger feelings of rejection of immigrants from around the world, thus favoring the growth of extremist parties.
Russia is trying to portray a weak Europe that cannot cope with waves of immigrants and at the same time scare the European population into creating confusion in the EU Member States. Romania is not exempt from the influence of such Russian narratives, and Roșca Stănescu is one of their promoters in Romania, on its website correctnews.com and its partner sites, constantly using them to attack not only the Romanian state and its institutions, but also the EU, the USA and NATO as a whole.
In fact, Veridica.ro has recently written about how Russian propaganda is trying to present the “Afghanistan episode” so as to discredit NATO unity and portray smaller countries as future targets of a similar virtual treatment by the US and NATO.
PURPOSE: To induce a xenophobic feeling among the population, under the pretext of an “invasion” of refugees; to undermine trust in President Klaus Iohannis and, in association with him, the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the ruling coalition.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The title of Sorin Roșca Stănescu's video is a false one and deliberately misleads the reader. Romania does not bring Afghan refugees in general; it will select individuals who have supported the Romanian military. For the most part, they are either translators or trainers, and we are talking here about a small number of individuals, by no means groups of refugees.
Moreover, invoking the Constitution is motivated by the very same idea of receiving large groups of Afghan refugees. The invoked Article 3, paragraph 4, of the Constitution , which states that “foreign populations cannot be displaced or colonized on the territory of the Romanian state” has nothing to do with the individual reception, on a case by case basis, of former collaborators of the Romanian soldiers in that theater of operations, loyal people who even risked their lives to help Romanians in that country. In addition, the colonization and resettlement of populations are concepts unrelated to the reception of refugees, governed by the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol amending it; Romania has been a signatory to both documents since 1991.
Moreover, Romania has so far not been a major destination for refugees and immigrants, being seen by them rather as a transit state. According to the General Inspectorate for Immigration , the highest number of applications for a form of international protection registered in Romania was 6158 in 2020 (the previous record, in 2017, was 4820). Most asylum seekers were indeed from Afghanistan, but they were only 2384 people, a little more than a third of the total.
THE NARRATIVE BENEFITS: the Kremlin, in an attempt to disinform the Romanian public about an imminent “invasion” of Afghan refugees in Romania.