By Douglas Williams, Publisher

This is a special issue because it is a special time of year in a number of different ways. Politically, historically, seasonally, and personally…

First a little unseasonal gardening – bear with me, indulge me momentarily va rog. So a month or so ago I decided I’d finally had enough of looking out at my tiny lawn and feeling bad. It was completely choked with weeds such that there was a greater area covered with weeds than with grass. The grass was literally greener on my neighbours’ side of the fence. So I decided to do something about it and popped along to Brico Depot and bought some tough gloves, a trowel, some grass seed and some lawn fertiliser. Love that shop. A few hours later I had a couple of bin bags full of weeds. One particularly stubborn weed with strong, deep roots had been occupying a whole corner, removing it had been an epic battle of man versus weed. I thought of Klaus Iohannis the re-elected President of Romania. I looked out today, the seeds and the fertiliser have done the trick, there’s now a lovely thick green lawn. I thought of President Iohannis again. 

I’ve spoken with Romanians about their newly reelected President and his first term and often their reaction can best be described as “underwhelmed”. This surprises me and it seems to surprise most of my foreign friends who take a similar view to me that he is precisely what Romania needs. For better or worse so much of politics these days is about the “optics” – how things look – and Iohannis is nothing if not presidential in stark contrast to the alternatives. He’s also viewed domestically and internationally as this country’s best chance of curbing endemic and all pervasive corruption. He is like a breath of much needed fresh air when seen next to the usual “bent as a dog’s hind leg” suspects. In choosing Iohannis, for sure the Romanian public have confirmed their belief in the EU project but they have also said they want the weeds removed and that can only be for the good. 

So that was the politics and we at OZB sincerely congratulate President Iohannis on his victory. I hope we can get a chat soon.   

Historically, well: thirty years ago this month a series of profound changes swept across the world and things were never to be the same. Here, in the space of one chaotic week, a brutal dictatorship was overthrown in what was viewed by many as nothing short of a Christmas miracle. The thing that the good folks across Romania had been hoping and praying for came to pass on Christmas Day 1989. When it happened, people could scarcely believe it. We’ve spoken with a plethora of people from academics to journalists to young Romanians about that tumultuous week and its ramifications. 

Seasonally, well, it’s the Holiday Season and that can mean “how exciting” or “Oh God!” I sincerely hope it’s the former for all dear OZB readers. OZB’s Dana Tudose Tianu reports on the varied and challenging role of the holiday dinner peacemaker, and we also get advice on choosing the perfect bottle of Romanian wine this Holiday Season from Robert Marshall.

Oh, and finally, personally: By the time you read this I will have passed the half century and, yes, it’s all downhill from here, so I’m told. Somehow I made it through… 

I’m proud to present this magazine to you and I’m grateful to all those who have worked on it and contributed. Our next magazine will be our February issue due out late January as we are taking a break this Festive season. I hope you enjoy reading this OZB, and I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season, safe, warm and filled with good will and joy. Merry Christmas from all the OZB team and all the best for 2020.

O zi buna     

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