Romanian Embassy Closed, Shifting Gears to New Romanian Government With AM-Romania
Dec. 26, 1989
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Ambassador Ion Stoichici and a few aides struggled to conduct diplomacy from the barricaded, egg-splattered Romanian Embassy Tuesday, consulting with U.S. officials and helping Romanians who want to return home.
The embassy was closed while the staff shifted gears and loyalties from the deposed Nicolae Ceausescu to the revolutionary National Salvation Committee, which televised pictures of the executed despot and his wife Tuesday morning.
''We have the same feelings as other Romanians,'' said Stoichici, who declared his loyalty to the new government on Saturday, before the outcome of the fighting was clear.
Another embassy officer, Vasile Leca, said ''all the staff ... fully support the National Salvation Committee. We condemn the crimes that were done to the Romanian people by Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu.''
Stoichici and Leca refused to allow a reporter inside the embassy, speaking instead through iron bars on a window in the consular section.
Splattered, frozen eggs coated the white brick walls of the embassy, a turn-of-century mansion on Sheridan Circle along Embassy Row.
Wooden police barricades and yellow plastic tape stretched alongside the sidewalk where scores of Romanians braved frigid temperatures over Christmas weekend to vent their rage against a symbol of Ceausescu's 24-year rule.
The ambassador said his first order of business was to ''work to improve relations with the United States,'' which had grown increasingly critical of Ceausescu's human rights policies.
''Last evening, the State Department informed us that they recognized the staff of the Romanian Embassy'' as the representative of the new government, said the ambassador. He said he was in telephone contact with State Department officials.
A State Department official said no meetings were scheduled between Stoichici and American diplomats, ''but we remain in contact with them as much as we can.''
''They are in telephone contact with us, but when we call them, they don't answer,'' said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Press calls to the embassy were not answered, either.
Romanian consular officials were also accepting, through the barred window, visa applications from Romanian-Americans who wanted to return home.
''I want to go back to help the people who are suffering. I would like to offer blood, money, anything I can,'' said Ilie Aurelian, a Romanian emigre artist who lives in Springfield, Va. His wife is part of Romania's Hungarian minority and subject to official persecution under Ceausescu. They emigrated from Romania five years ago.
Ioan Buburuzan, 38, a taxi driver and artist from Brooklyn, N.Y., was also at the embassy seeking a visa to visit his father in the village of Turdaa, in the Klug region of Romania. He emigrated eight years ago.
Buburuzan said his only regret is that Ceausescu and his wife had been executed so quickly.
''I wish they had put him on trial. That would have given the people a chance to see his crimes. And some of the evidence might have been embarassing to people who are still in power now,'' said Buburuzan.
Aurelian disagreed, saying it was necessary to kill Ceausescu to prevent security forces from rescuing him and restoring him to power.
''So now the killing has stopped. That is good,'' said Aurelian.
U.S. officials also regretted the secret trial.
''We would have preferred it if there had been a public trial,'' White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said.