A few ZIUA journalists went to Cyprus a short while ago trying to trace the Trigranit Company, which is about to grab a huge piece of central Bucharest and build a real estate project called the Esplanade. As reported yesterday, we discovered that, instead of offices, the address of the company was actually the shelter of a lawyers' house, founded by Kypros Chrysostomides, a minister of justice and public order in Cyprus. One daughter of the same minister is member of the board.
When going to check on the Register of Companies in Nicosia, we were surprised to see the Trgranit record had vanished. Given this, the Esplanade project in Bucharest is about to be declared of national interest, so we decided to announce Romania's Embassy to Cyprus about our findings and even hand in copies of the documents belonging to the Trigranit shareholding.
Since we were abroad and since it was about a justice minister's involvement, we thought we should announce our visit to see if we needed protection. The taxi driver that took us to the lawyers' house asked if we were going to the "mafia men" and offered us physical protection. On the other hand, the documents we had just paid the Register of Companies for could be of great interest to the embassy experts, since in every embassy there is an undercover officer from Romania's Foreign Intelligence Service, meant to collect information of interest.
Diplomat behind the fence
Monday, June 2, 2008, midday. Accompanied by Alexandru Morarescu from the Bucharest Bar of Lawyers, we approached the Romanian Embassy in Nicosia, a building housing a consular department. It was during the working hours, as posted on the fence. But the gates were locked. We rang the bell and a young man came out, obviously bored. We told him we wanted to talk to the ambassadress or some other official. We handed in our recommendation cards. He explained to us from behind the fence: "Bad luck for you! Mrs. Ambassadress is not here because of a delegation from the ministry." We replied we could talk to someone other official willing to hear us say what we had uncovered. "You may not go in without permission from the ambassadress! And she can't be reached now", he replied. When we asked who he was, he just said he was "a diplomat". Then he introduced himself as Calin Mitri, a secretary of the third rank. But he wasn't interested in our information, insinuating he could not see us. His was behaving like some doorman subordinate to the ambassador rather than like a diplomat.
So we went to the opposite wing of the building hopeful we could find someone in the Consular Department. Apart from a clerk at he desk where four Romanians working in Cyprus were queuing, there was no one available. So we had to leave after waiting for a cab in the street for about quarter of an hour.
Waiting in the hotel
Some 3-4 hours later, Ambassadress Andreea Pastarnac phoned lawyer Morarescu. She apologized in an excessively polite manner, claiming she had been "between two delegations." We said the door was supposed to be open during working hours, no matter the mission's agenda, for an embassy was no personal residence, but an institution available for Romanians having problems. She replied she had few employees who could hardly manage. We told her what we wanted and she said someone would reach us at the hotel in a short while. That was all. It is just that no one came to the hotel, although we waited till late in the night.
Lingerie in the open
But the time we waited was not in vain. We could notice on the first floor in front facade of the embassy building lots of personal clothes waving in the wind, together with the flags of Romania and of the European Union. And there was even laundered lingerie. The image that represents Romania in Cyprus.