Broadcasted on 5 May 2018
Roelie Post: The Life of a Whistle-Blower
In the European Commission and the European Parliament many lobbyists are active who all try to get things done. Mostly people with status. One of the mightiest lobbyists was the previously mentioned François de Combret. He was banker, and director of Renault.
Since the nineties he was the figurehead of the French organisation Solidarité Enfants Roumains Abbandonés, SERA. Officially SERA had as goal to improve the situation in children homes in Romania, but in fact SERA was mainly an adoption organisation.
And within the European Commission it was known that many adoption organisations had a dubious reputation. Proof of this is a confidential note written in 2000 by the European ambassador in Romania, the Greek Fokion Fotiadis. And this note was addressed to Landaburu, as Director General responsible for the enlargement of the European Union.
The international adoption system is indeed very lucrative. There is a corrupt system of child trafficking under the guise of intercountry adoption, whereby more than 200 uncontrolled and in many cases dubious NGO’s are involved. There is a strong suspicion that also the political top in the country is involved. Also, some embassies in Bucharest say that there are strong indications that the system is infiltrated by paedophile networks.
But the lobby by De Combret and others continued. De Combret felt stronger after the departure of the principled Commissioner Verheugen. De Combret wrote March 2005 a letter to Roelie’s direct boss, Wenceslaz de Lobkowicz:
My conviction is that we have today an historical chance to solve a problem. In Brussels the Commission for Enlargement has changed. And in the European Parliament is also another, well-willing rapporteur.
Dear Wenceslaz, this is the new political situation, which is simple and complicated. Simple because it is clear that the situation of the orphans is tragic, very complicated because the margins within which the Romanian government can manoeuver depends of the Commission and the Parliament.
In this context, dear Wenceslaz, I am glad to meet you.
De combret and De Lobkowicz would have this meeting on 18 April 2005. But when Roelie Post found out about it, she warned that officials of the European Commission were being played against each other by De Combret. A mail from Post to her colleagues:
This meeting risks a negative effect. Like again letters from De Combret and media campaigns directed against the European Commission and Romania, as well as personal actions in the European Parliament. Considering the problematic relation between SERA and the Commission it is necessary that we internally are on one line.
Post requested that she and her colleague were present at that meeting. From the minutes that se made of that meeting, appears that there was a tensed ambiance.
De Combret had strong criticism towards the Commission, because adoptions from Romania were forbidden. And he attacked Roelie Post in person by stating that she was since too long in her position and had too much influence in the European Commission.
But Roelie’s boss, De Lobkowicz, was clear about the wrongdoings in adoptions. He called it trade in children, and compared this with trade in drugs and arms. He also was irritated about the exaggerated dramatization and rhetorical emotion of De Combret in relation to the Romanian children.
An angry De Combret ended the meeting.
It was tactic from De Combret. He did not shun any means to create the image that despite all improvements there were still huge problems in the Romanian orphanages. And that the only solution for that was intercountry adoption.
He put pressure on the top, the French top in in the European Commission. With all kind of scandal stories and dramatic stories about… let me give an example: that a child had eaten the hand of another child, at night, because of hunger. Cannibalism in the Romanian orphanages. After we had checked that, it appeared not to be true.
The temporary stop on adoptions was changed in 2004 into a Romanian law that permanently forbid intercountry adoptions.
But the pro-adoption lobby did not accept that.
De Combret at its head.
He started a campaign with adverts in French magazines with terrible stories about wrongdoings in Romanian children homes. With as message: Romania better re-allows intercountry adoptions.
Member of the European Parliament Ana Gomes calls that blackmail.
I remember there was a Mr. Francois de Combret, who was very much steering that campaign to blackmail Romania.
He pretended doing good for the children in the children homes, but in fact he made money by exporting children to rich families.
Just before the European Parliament would take a final decision about the accession of Romania to the EU, De Combret argued in a Hearing at the European Parliament for adoptions from Romania.
He uses strong words.
What is at stake, is the happiness of the child. The fate of the child is even worse than it was in the orphanage.
If we close the orphanages, their fate is even worse than it was in the orphanage. Therefore, international adoption is absolute necessary.