Romania recalls ambassador who compared a monkey to African diplomats
Romania is recalling its ambassador to Kenya back to Bucharest and has apologized after its envoy in Nairobi compared a monkey to African diplomats during a meeting he was chairing.
“The African Group has joined us,” Ambassador Dragos Tigau said when a monkey appeared at a window in the conference room, according to the letter demanding an apology seen by CNN.
Confidential documents obtained by CNN reveal outrage from African diplomats who threatened to walk out of meetings attended by the ambassador.
“The African Group would like to condemn in strongest terms possible the insulting, racist and degrading utterances,” wrote Chol Ajongo, South Sudan’s ambassador to Kenya who leads African diplomats in Nairobi.
Another document said that the deputy Russian ambassador “reprimanded” the Romanian official for the remarks who apologized “after some hesitation.”
Two apology letters were sent by Tigau to African diplomats four days apart. Tigau initially said that his comments came during “a long, heated and highly debated meeting” and were an attempt at “relaxing the atmosphere.” He later withdrew that section.
CNN has approached Tigau for comment but has not heard back.
A European diplomatic source close to the Ambassador told CNN that the Romanian ambassador “doesn’t have any racist inclinations” and meant the comment as a joke.
He spoke on condition of anonymity, adding that “if a bird, a lizard, or a snake came out, I’m sure he would have said the same thing,” the source claimed.
Romania’s foreign ministry said that it only learned of the incident on June 8, even though it had taken place at the end of April.
A statement from the Romanian foreign ministry said that it hoped the isolated incident would not affect its “deep relations” with African countries.
“The Romanian MFA deeply regrets this situation, conveys its apologies to all those affected and strongly rejects and condemns all behaviors and attitudes incompatible with mutual respect,” the statement read.