Books on Romania
% of GDP
Soviet occupation following World War II led to the formation of a communist "peoples republic" in 1947 and the abdication of the king. The decades-long rule of President Nicolae CEAUSESCU became increasingly draconian through the 1980s. He was overthrown and executed in late 1989. Former communists dominated the government until 1996 when they were swept from power. Much economic restructuring remains to be carried out before Romania can achieve its hope of joining the
Update No: 084 - (29/04/04)
The EU is the issue
Prime Minister Adrian Nastase has reshuffled his cabinet to appoint three "super-ministers" to oversee critical areas during the lead-up to the nation's hoped-for membership of the European Union in 2007.
Economy Minister Dan Ioan Popescu has been given the task of coordinating all economic questions, while Interior Minister Ion Rus will be in charge of all social and administrative questions.
Ioan Talpes, the presidential counsellor for internal security, will have responsibility for European integration, justice and defence.
The reorganization comes at an important time for the country, which must close eight of 30 negotiating chapters with the EU this year.
It is also a year of elections, with municipal, parliamentary and presidential votes scheduled.
The Romanians are watching on with great curiosity the entry of the Visegrad nations and the Baltic states to their north and of Slovenia to the EU in May. They are due to enter in 2007, which gives everyone time to call the idea off if it does not suit them.
For the Romanians themselves it obviously has huge potential advantages. Quite apart from their farmers gaining subsidies and their infrastructure sectors grants, the accession to the EU would confer respectability, enabling the country to attract more FDI and speculative investment. Romania would be put on the map again as by far the largest of the Balkan states.
The EU is naturally rather lukewarm about the whole notion, but will probably go along with it for all that. Romania has huge corruption and a ramshackle bureaucracy. But after all so does Poland, the largest of the Visegrad states. To leave out Romania would be equivalent to sending a negative sign to the entire Balkans that they were not ready yet for EU membership, thus reducing Western influence in the entire region. Sometimes a state is just too big to ignore.
The report asks the country to eradicate corruption and to establish a rule of law by separating the judiciary from politics. "Romania's accession to the European Union in 2007 is impossible unless genuine reforms are fully implemented in the fields of justice and administration," Nicholson said. For the first time the commission asked for anti-corruption measures, especially addressing corruption at the political level, an expression to worry politicians in power.
The commission also asked for measures to ensure the "freedom of the media, especially taking decisive action against the harassment and intimidation of journalists and curbing the economic control of the media which has resulted in self censorship."
Prominent journalist, Cristian Tudor Popescu, chairman of the Press Club, agreed with the observations on harassment and intimidation, but explained in a TV show recently that leading national newspapers are quite independent. The adopted report also demands better monitoring of the actual implementation of the acquis communautaire - the body of EU law - in the field of administrative reform and judicial reform. These two areas have been Romanian's weak points since the beginning of the talks with the EU.
In Bucharest the news produced turmoil in the political class. The leaders of the main opposition parties, Liberal and Democrat, urged the government to resign, or they will proceed with a no confidence call in the parliament. Opposition leaders consider that Romania lags behind Bulgaria, and is "united" from the neighbouring country in the process of integration.
In an attempt to minimalise the crisis, government officials are discussing the bright side of the situation. Romanian chief negotiator, Vasile Puscas welcomed the new "word arrangement" and said that the new approach by the European Parliament towards Romania is "constructive."
Foreign Minister, Mircea Geoana said the decision to reorient the strategy for joining the EU, is a "form of earlier warning," and the government will take this seriously into consideration. But he said that this isn't a dramatic moment, it is just a clear message, already heard.
The Romanian predicament
The Romanians are in a fix. They have had a decade of fitful reform and an unsuccessful economy, knocking along the bottom of the league of transition countries.
Yet Romania is at last picking up. Foreigners, as we shall see, are showing new interest and FDI is due to boom in 2004.
Romania itself had a difficult time of it in the 1990s. Governments were torn for years between the need to put the economy on a sound footing and the need to look after the population, a contradiction that persists today. The preceding governments all went for short-term popularity and were condemned abroad. Four consecutive agreements with the IMF were broken. The country trailed badly behind other countries with transition economies.
It reached rock bottom in 1999 when it faced a possibility of defaulting on its foreign debt.
But things have improved subsequently, GDP growing by only 1.6% in 2000, but by 5.3% in 2001, 4.9% in 2002 and probably 4.6% in 2003.
Government is struggling
The Premier of Romania, Adrian Nastase, has been in office for the last three and a half years. He is a tough intelligent ex-communist who says the right social democratic things, but is having difficulties in turning words into deeds.
Romanian politics is still to a large extent a matter of competition between rival clans within and between the parties. A 'hall of mirrors' is how one Western diplomat described it. A rabid Greater Romania populist, who is both anti-semite and anti-gypsy, is a worrisome figure. He obtained one quarter of the votes in the last general election and one third of them in the last presidential run-off.
This makes it evident why Romania is lucky to have the elder statesman figure of Ion Ilescu as its president. An ex-communist he may be, but no future fascist. Moreover, he has the reputation of being the one figure who would stand up to the former dictator Ceaucescu, even at his dottiest, which was pretty often. Coming from the Bukovina region to the north, he had the support of the Russians, a key reason for his unique position. He is now the guarantor of a democratic future for his country.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Romanian PM welcomes resumption of EU talks
At a meeting recently in Brussels with Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, Romanian Prime Minister, Adrian Nastase, voiced optimism over Romania's closing this year the remaining eight negotiating chapters of the accession talks with the European Union, Rompres News Agency reported.
According to Nastase, two to four chapters might be closed under the current half-year Irish EU presidency.
The chapters on agriculture and trade competition are the toughest, said Nastase, also highlighting the special importance in terms of effects and impacts of the chapters on financial matters.
At the same time, Nastase said that a turning point in the negotiations over environmental issues might be reached in the near future.
Nastase also said that the resuming of talks on the European Constitution is beneficial to Romania, mentioning that the prospects for the Constitution being finalized in the second part of this June or late this June will ease tensions in the EU under the Dutch presidency of the EU, all with positive effects on Romania's complex negotiations.
"Romania is equally concerned about its relations with the European Parliament, both the current and the incoming one, as well as with the national parliaments of the EU member states. There is still great scepticism in the European Parliament right now over the EU enlargement process, and that is why Romania should attach special attention not only to its relations on a governmental level, but also on a parliamentary level," said Nastase.
Premier Balkenende said after the meeting with Nastase that the Netherlands, the country to hold the EU rotating presidency in the second half of the current year, will back up Romania's bid for
EDBI inks accord with Romania's EXIM bank
Export Development Bank of Iran (EDBI) has allocated a five million Euro credit to EXIM Bank of Romania, for further sponsorship of Iranian exporters, Mehr News Agency reported.
This short-term financial agreement was signed by the head of the EDBI and Export Guarantee Fund (EFG), Dr Kohzadi, and the Deputy of EXIM Bank, Vasile Dedu. Kohzadi emphasised that such agreements are concluded with a view to further financing export projects. He stated that the five-million-euro credit line has been granted to EXIM Bank of Romania in order to reinforce purchase of Iran-made commodities and it is under the insurance coverage of the Export Guarantee Fund of Iran.
Atlas Telecom to use Romania for East European operations
US company Atlas Telecom Network, the supplier of semi-mobile telecommunication services (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications - DECT) has decided to coordinate its expansion to Central and Eastern Europe from Romania, reported einnews recently.
Atlas Telecom teamed up with Alcatel and launched last October, in Oradea, the first DECT network in Eastern Europe and is now planning to expand to Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Serbia and Montenegro.
Hungarian, Romanian premiers discuss motorway construction project
The construction of the Brasov-Bors motorway (linking the central Romanian city with the western Romanian checkpoint at the Hungarian border) will help Romania's integration into the European Union, Hungarian Prime Minister, Peter Medgyessy, said in Brussels recently, while expressing hope that this solution will have the EU support, Rompres News Agency reported.
After meeting his Romanian counterpart, Adrian Nastase, Medgyessy explained that the talks had focused on the appropriateness of the motorway extending on to Hungarian territory.
The Hungarian prime minister voiced satisfaction over the Romanian government's decision to re-arrange the monument to the 13 generals [martyrs of the 1848 Hungarian revolution] in a park of the Romanian-Hungarian reconciliation, stressing that the project should be inaugurated in the presence of the two prime ministers.
Nastase said the achievement of the two goals will be an indication of the way the two states are cooperating, their cooperation being based on common projects, not on past sensitivities.
The Gojdu [Gozsdu in Hungarian] Foundation inheritance was another topic for discussion between the two prime ministers, with Nastase saying that significant progress has been made in solving this problem.
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