This edition of the main Romanian communist newspaper is a reminder of the astonishing personality cult built up around Nicolae Ceauşescu. It celebrates the foundation of a joint-venture production plant with Bulgaria. Todor Zhivkov, the leader of Bulgaria, also attended. Why should such a mundane event be significant enough to demand the attention and presence of two heads of state? Romanian – Bulgarian relations have never been ‘close’. It took a period lasting from the dawn of time until 1954 for both sides to agree on the construction of a bridge over the Danube, linking the two countries for the first time along their 470km joint border.
Nicolae Ceauşescu went to great lengths to give the impression that Romanian-Bulgarian friendship and cooperation was growing and flourishing under his ‘benign’ regime. In fact it was not. The author of this piece vividly remembers a canoe expedition he undertook along the Danube between the two countries in 1984 on the Bulgarian side. The great river was very quiet. There was next to no cross-river traffic, and the Romanian border guards sat in high watch towers, examining their Bulgarian neighbours through binoculars. It was, to say the least, an ‘unfriendly’ co-existence. However, as in most of his despotic reign, Ceauşescu was not concerned with the facts. The façade was far more important. Thus he participates in the ludicrous ceremony of laying the foundations of the factory with the far less despotic (but still no amateur), Todor Zhivkov of Bulgaria.
The style of this newspaper is well-known to Romanians familiar with the communist times. It is known as ‘limbajul de lemn’, the ‘wooden language’.
Translations of selected parts from page 1:
‘A significant illustration of the friendly and good neighbourly relations, manifest in a brotherly Romanian-Bulgarian collaboration’
‘Comrades Nicolae Ceauşescu and Todor Zhivkov have inaugurated the construction of a joint enterprise for the production of heavy machines and tools in Giurgiu and Ruse’
The first three pages of the paper are taken up with repetitive and banal ‘reports’ of this non-event. The speeches of both leaders are printed in full. A joint communiqué is published. Festivities in both towns are described and praised. There is an outstanding photo on page 3 of the two celebrities which looks like a cut scene from some kind of burial in a Godfather movie. Look at the guy on the far left, standing next to Ceauşescu.
All in all, this paper is wonderful. It is so boring, so superfluous, so obviously a set of stage-managed lies, that it not only amuses but delights the modern connoisseur of communist trash.