Fact Check: Zelenskyy Did NOT Praise Romanian President Klaus Iohannis For Putting Ukraine's Interests Above Romania's

Fact Check

  • de: Jurnaliștii Lead Stories
Fact Check: Zelenskyy Did NOT Praise Romanian President Klaus Iohannis For Putting Ukraine's Interests Above Romania's Misinterpreted

Did Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy say that his Romanian counterpart, Klaus Iohannis, placed the interests of Ukraine above those of Romania? No, that's not true: Zelenskyy thanked Iohannis for helping Ukraine survive during the Polish blockade of agricultural exports during his annual press conference on December 19, 2023, but did not make that statement.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) posted by TikTok user @bobbydtiktok on December 24, 2023, titled (translated from Romanian to English by Lead Stories staff) "What is happening now is incredible!"

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

TikTok screenshot

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Jan 4 13:48:25 2024 UTC)

The man speaking in the video shared a screenshot of an article (archived here) with the following headline:

Zelensky Praises Romanian President Iohannis For Putting Ukraine's Interests Before Those Of Romania

The article, published on December 22, 2023, on a website called thebalkan.press, quotes pieces of Zelenskyy's end-of-year news conference but the quotes don't match the claim in the headline.

In the two-hour-long conference, Zelenskyy spoke about additional military mobilization and external support for the war in Ukraine, negotiations with Russia and the blockade of grain exports.

He did not say that Romanian President Iohannis put the interests of Ukraine above those of his own country.

Several platforms live-streamed the conference. C-SPAN (archived here), The Guardian and Sky News accompanied the video with the English translation provided in real time by an interpreter, while The Independent kept only Zelenskyy's original speech in Ukrainian.

In reply to a journalist's question about future relations with Poland considering the country's ban (archived here) on Ukrainian grain exports, Zelenskyy also mentioned Romania. Starting at 1:06:51 in the Ukrainian-only conference, Zelenskyy said (as translated):

Thank God Romania emerged, sensible Romania. Its president Iohannis helping my country, our farmers, to survive. He also had challenges, he had strikes there, but he demonstrated his ability to remain a strong person. I think he has shown an image of a strong person who said values above prices.

In the English live version, the interpreter renders the last sentence slightly modified, as heard starting at 59:55 in the Sky News livestream:

I said first it's about values, then about the value of goods.

News about Zelenskyy's statements about Romania was also published by the Interfax Ukraine news agency website, in an English version (archived here):

Thank God, smart Romania appeared and the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, just helped me. He helped our farmers survive. And he had such difficulties, he had strikers. I think he showed the manifestation of a strong man who said: 'Values first, and then there are prices'.

The same or a very similar version was published by other Ukrainian media that covered this topic, according to a search (archived here) conducted by Lead Stories staff on December 25, 2023, in Google News' index of reliable news sources, using the keywords "Слава Богу, з'явилася розумна Румунія" (the Ukrainian translation of "Thank god a smart Romania appeared").

The official website of Ukraine's presidency published several summaries (archived here) of Zelenskyy's main declarations. The article mentioning Romania (archived here) only states: "The Head of State thanked Romania for supporting Ukraine and helping Ukrainian farmers survive."

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