Romania’s not-so-friendly relations with Russia are under further strain following a car accident involving a Russian diplomat.Romania on Wednesday asked Russia to lift the diplomatic immunity of a Russian official whose vehicle hit and injured a young woman on a pedestrian crossing in Bucharest.
A day earlier, Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean summoned Russian Ambassador Oleg Malghinov to his ministry to express his “deep concern about the grave injury to a Romanian citizen.”
The 19-year-old student is in hospital following the October 21 accident. The vehicle driver claimed diplomatic imunity and refused police requests to be tested for alcohol.
Both Romania and Russia have ratified the 1961 Vienna Convention that forms the legal basis for diplomatic immunity.
Analysts say that Moscow is most unlikely to allow the Russian diplomat to be investigated and prosecuted in Romania.
“It is not common to lift the immunity of a diplomat working abroad. Bucharest only risks to further damaging its already poor relations with Russia with such complaints,” political analyst Emil Hurezeanu said.
Russian relations with Romania, now a NATO member, have been strained since Bucharest in 2010 agreed to host interceptor missiles as part of a US defence shield in Europe.
In August 2010, Romania also ordered the tit-for-tat expulsion of a Russian diplomat, a day after a Romanian embassy official was told to leave Russia for spying.
Historically, relations between the two countries have tended to switch between grudging co-operation, neutrality and even hostility.
Even during the Soviet era, Romania was seen as a relative maverick inside the Communist bloc, and since then the country has been one of the region’s most enthusiastic US allies.
Romania and Russia share some standpoints. They both agree on Kosovo, whose independence from Serbia they have refused to recognise.
But they back opposing sides over the issue of Transdniester, the breakaway republic inside Moldova, which was part of Romania from 1918 to 1940 before the Soviet Union annexed it.
Bucharest is a strong supporter of the Nabucco project, which aims to reduce European reliance on Russian gas by opening an alternative supply route from Azerbaijan and other Central Asian countries.
The Nabucco project is in direct competition with the Russian-backed South Stream pipeline.