Romania: In or Out of the Anglo-American Axis?
From the beginning of his mandate as a President of Romania, Traian Basescu declared himself a supporter of the so-called Axis of Washington-London-Bucharest. The idea was received with a cold attitude by the European powers, especially by the Germans and the French - long time friends of the country. Nonetheless, it became the leit motif of Romania's foreign policy.
But apparently the interest for this friendship axis is almost non-existent from both the UK and the USA. When the Romanian authorities asked for a visa-free entry in England and America for the Romanian citizens, the response was a clear and concise 'no'! But, when the Romanian troops were needed in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere on this globe, the answer was "Yes, Sir!"
Some felt that there is something wrong with this picture. Is Romania a friend country of the world powers? Or merely their hobbyhorse?
For over half a year now, the United States delayed sending an Ambassador in Romania. Ever since Ambassador Crouch ended mission, this official position has been available. Most of the politicians, from both the opposition and the ruling alliance see it to the very least as a sign of indifference towards Romania. What's the point of having an axis, but no Ambassador to work with?
A former Foreign Minister, and member of the Commission for Foreign Affairs of the Senate, Teodor Melescanu said "the situation we are confronting with is not one that makes us content. The presence of an Ambassador is very important for the diplomatic contacts between the two countries."
Vasile Puscas, opposition deputy and former Minister of European Integration declared "from the point of view of the diplomatic principles, when a state delays the appointment of an Ambassador in other country, it means there is no interest toward that respective country; no geostrategic interest, geopolitic or economic interest. Objectively, between Romania and USA functions the Strategic Partnership that would request the presence of an Ambassador."
Anca Petrescu, member of the PRM nationalist party in Parliament believes that "the axis is not compromise, but we should not count only on this axis […] we should not forget the relations we have developed with other states."
Eugen Mihaescu, Vice-President of the Commission of Foreign Affairs in the Senate when asked about this issue said "well, but who is the Romanian Ambassador in Washington? Is the Ambassador of Iliescu! Anyway, the fact that we do not have an American Ambassador in Bucharest is showing the extraordinary interest of the Americans to maintain a good working relation with Romania.
Generally speaking, with all the efforts of our young Foreign Minister, the foreign policy of our country is unchanged, frozen into a refrigerator since the times of Gheorghiu Dej, Ceausescu, Iliescu and now, President Basescu."
But, besides being ignored by the USA, Romania is not in good terms with its European partners, either. This summer was an agitated one; there were catastrophic floods, political disagreements between the President and the Prime Minister and between the opposition and the ruling alliance; the economy also suffered because of the euro and dollar fluctuation, the increasing number of the unemployed people, and the numerous social and civic frustrations.
Olli Rehn, the EU enlargement Commissioner expressed in various circumstances, that if Romania or Bulgaria cannot or do not want to implement the reforms asked by the EU, then their membership should be postponed.
If this were to happen, Romania will lose more than 2 billion euro, money offered by the EU for the socio-political and economical reform of the country.
In this regard, Mihai Razvan Ungureanu stated that the EU officials in spite of their critiques do not have a plan B in case Romania and Bulgaria fail to join the EU in January 2007. Ungureanu said: "Not even the Brussels bureaucracy has considered the accession of Romania and Bulgaria in 2008. There is much trust that the two states will accomplish missions and become members of the EU in January 1, 2007."
Guenther Beckstein, Interior Minister of Bavaria declared to Reuters that the referendums in France and the Netherlands proved that the accelerated enlargement of the European Union would be further criticized by the European citizens. Therefore, the January 2007 or even 2008 is probably premature" for both Romania's and Bulgaria's accession.
With a poor Romanian lobby for the accession, with a political class lacking the stamina to urge clear reforms, with a justice obedient to the interests of various politicians and mafia bosses, the chances of seeing an European Romanian any time soon are indeed very low.
Manuela Paraipan received a Political Science degree in Romania, concentrating on Arab/Muslim domestic and external policy. She has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, World Security Network (WSN), World Press, Yemen Times and other publications. She has also been invited as a speaker at multiple political conferences. In addition to Romanian and English, Ms. Paraipan speaks French, Spanish and Italian. Her web site can be found at www.manuelaparaipan.org