Editorial to Geostrategic Pulse 268 - Instead of jumping to conclusions – hopes: at the...closed gate of thunderstorms…

Instead of jumping to conclusions – hopes: at the...closed gate of thunderstorms…
Corneliu PIVARIU

Moto:  “The light is on for those who see, not for the blind”.
Mihai Eminescu – Romanian poet

The title is inspired by the one of the books published by a lesser known Romanian writer, Eusebiu Camilar – The Door of Thunderstorms, published in 1957, whereby the author presents episodes of Romania’s history, a country for centuries on end at the  point where the interests of great empires such as the Russian, the Ottoman, the Austro-Hungarian ones. The empires, as they were in the feudal or the beginning of capitalism epoch vanished yet the diverging geopolitical interests continued to manifest themselves in Romania’s area until now and will further exist in the foreseable future.

I have pondered for a long time whether to publish or not these lines having in mind especially the articles signed in this issue by great personalities of the contemporary life in Romania. The fact that, prior to the celebration of the Centennial of the Great Union,  I served for almost 50 years Romania’s active life and that during that time I had the chance of consucting dialogues with great Romanian and international personalities made me think I have the moral and civic duty of telling, to those who want to read in a different way than the commonplace paradigms, some opinions at this great Romanian Kin’s identitarian and national anniversary. 

The 1918 Great Union was a ”stellar moment” for Romania, achieved by Romanian visionary and patriotic politicians with international support yet above all with the blood sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of Romanian soldiers, anonymous in their sacrifice yet eminents by sacrifying their life on the sanctuary of imortality as a kin. It was a strictly national objective, not directed agains anyone of the world’s family of nations.

In fact, Romania paid in blood, probably more than other nations, its achievements of unity and independence and the strategic mistakes of the political class of the different historical periods of the 100 years as well.
After 1918, two essential moments marked in a dramatic way Romania’s contemporary history: The Second World War (where Romania lost around 800 thousand people, military and civilian) while the end of this universal scourge marked the fall into the then USSR arch of influence (with the acceptance – it should be said and reiterated – of the other Moscow’s allies during the war)  – and the socialist political orientation. The second moment is represented by December 1989 events when, on the backgound of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s and the Communist Party’s removal from power, the orientation towards a democratic society and free market has been resumed, going into a transition period which even the dead’s spirits and the aspirations of those who remained to achieve it would have wanted to be very short yet proved to be longer than we wished. The greatest achievements of the almost 30 year post-December period are Romania’s joining NATO (29th of March, 2004) and the European Union (1st of January, 2007).

During the almost 50 years of communist dictatorship, some hundreds of thousands more Romanians perished (the exact figure is difficult to quantify), great part of the intellectual elite, generals, valuable politicians who could not survive a terror regime set up in 44 penitenciaries, 72 forced labour camps, 63 deportation centers, compulsory domiciles, 10 psychiatric hospices with political real cause. We can ask ourseves if Soljenitsin’s gulag was more terrifying than the gulags set up during communism in a space called Romania.

After The Second World War, Romania could not come back to its territorial configuration consecrated by the Great Union and, moreover, the Kremlin leadership took care that, through arbitrary drawing up the frontiers (and in 1952 by imposing the establishment of the Hungarian Autonomous Region, which changed the name in Mureș Autonomous Hungarian Region in 1960 and was abolished in 1968 only by the administrative territorial  division into counties) to leave several possibilities of using the neighbours’ and minorities’ possible discontents and aspirations – especially of the Hungarian one – for achieving its political designs in Romania and in the area.

During the socialist period we notice two important moments: the withdrawal of the Soviet troops (June-July, 1958), while they remained in the other socialist countries until 1990; the 1968 moment – the invasion of Czechoslovakia, when Romania was the only socialist country that did not take part in , followed by an independent policy from Moscow, by the development of relations with democratic Western countries  and by a pervasive economic development (with great sacrifices and hardships for the population) promoted by Nicolae Ceaușescu.

After December 1989 events, when some outside forces sought including Romania’s dismemberment – something that succeeded later on in cases of former Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia – we went through the Târgu Mureș events of March, 1990, another plot of tearing Transylvania away and of manipulating, through a part of international media, the reality of those events. In fact, a feature of the almost last 30 years is represented by the action of our Hungarian co-nationals to gain territorial autonomy on ethnic criteria, backed almost continuously by Budapest  although, according to Brussels’ assessments, the rights the Hungarian minority enjoys in Romania exceed those applied in the European states and, even more, the ethnical Romanian citizens in the areas with Hungarian prevailing population are subject to numerous discriminations. When Hungary further acts and prepares actions for condemning the Treaty of Trianon, a treacherous declaration in favor of the Transylvanian Hungarians’ ”cultural and territorial autonomy” was signed on 12th of October, 2018 in Cluj Napoca and the actions aimed at Romania’s dismemberment, especially  by creating an independent Transylvania, will go on, as the separatist options gain ground in the European Union and Brussels proves unable to articulate a real management of the Union.

The evolution of the Romanian political class after 1989 was badly influenced by the socialist past and, thereafter, by the political evolutions in Europe and in the USA. I think it would be wrong not to mention the influence Moscow still exerts in Romania with persuation in many fields of the political, economic and social life. Unfortunately, most of the valuable intellectuals avoided and further avoid to directly involve in the political life and that resulted in a political class which, in general, is not able to meet the population’s expectations and desired evolutions. The most eloquent example is represented by the four president who could not stand above times, each of them due to different reasons: the first – as a result of the socialist-communist education he received especially in Moscow; the second – an university professor (lecturer) who declared himself defeated by the former Securitate; the third – conditional on his training as long-haul commercial navy officer and with a political instinct that kept him in power for two mandates and who knew how to maneuver abroad for gaining support; the fourth – a mayor of a provincial town unexperienced with real politics.

In Romania indeed, a semi-presidential state, the president has no decision-making  competences of first importance, especially in the economic field, he cannot either fire the prime minister or dissolve the parliament (except under particular conditions), precisely for avoiding the emergence of a new dictatorship. Yet that does not mean the president cannot be a factor for congealing the people’s aspirations and to create, within the political class, a consensus for Romania’s future durable development. It is exactly this kind of project which is absent now.

The separation of powers is affected by the struggle of the four powers although there are numerous cases when the magistrates’ powers (judges and prosecutors – the latter being included amongst the magistrates according to a model which is not to be found in other European Union’s coutries) is used by forces and interests which are not beneficial to the Romanian state in achieving its specific objectives, sometimes under the pretext of fighting corruption (predominantly the domestic one, without touching any  of the great corporations). Some thousands judges and prosecutors enjoy a special status in the society as a result of the importance of their work and dispose of a power they believe that many do not realize yet they have. In 2018 only a law on the magistrate’s accountability was issued at a time when judgements of the European Court of Human Rights against Romania placed that latter on the first place as number of condemnations per capita or on the third place after Turkey and Russia (with much bigger populations). The much touted Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification on justice set up by the EU is used more as a Brussels’ political instrument (or by some countries) against Romania and not for the initially declared purpose.

The citizen still does not get enough respect and state, instead of being the citizen’s  servant, has still the mentality of being above him.

The current situation in Romania is due first of all to us: some of us remained with a prejudicial obstinacy in the Byzantine reflex of ”complaining to the Sublime (High) Porte” which was replaced by obsequios low-bow to Moscow’s, Brussels’,  Washington’s Portes or to other great European capitals. The forest could have not been cut if the axe had not the handle carved from the very wood of the forest, a proverb says, or we still have enough traitors, some of them in rather important positions, including abroad, of whom the magistrates have not yet the courage of dealing with.

After 1990, unhappy with the general situation in the country and seeking a better life, more than 4 million Romanians left the country for the EU, USA, Canada and other countries and in their greatest majority they are physicians, professors, engineers, researchers, technicians and highly qualified workers. It is the biggest contemporary population exodus from a country after the one provoked by civil war in Syria. The danger of this situation was not correctly interpreted by the political class either. Let alone taking effective measures to prevent the weakening of the national being of the people!

The situation of the education is more than alarming. We had 24 ministers of Education during the last 28 years, most of them concerned about changing the law of education. According to public data, 42% of the under 15 pupils are functional (workable) illiterates. The relatively recent step of granting 6% of the GDP to education must be followed by decisive measures so that education become a top national priority.

Romania – a country able to easily secure food for a population of 90 million people - has imported during the first ten months of 2018 only food products from the EU worth 5 billion euro.

The situation of the development of infrastructure, roads, railways, energy is deplorable. During the almost 30 years since the fall of communism we were not able to build a highway crossing the Carpathians and our country is the laggard in Central and Eastern Europe with 783 km of highways. Romania has the same number of kilometers of railroads – approximately 11,000 km – as it had 100 years ago (in 1989 we had 24,000 km), and the average circulation speed for the passenger trains is 45km/h. In exchange, we are well placed in what the Internet speed is concerned, on the fifth place worldwide.

The post 1989 period is characterized economically by the foreign capital’s taking over the subsoil resources, the public utilities and banks, as the Romanian capital was not supported for dealing with the situation. In a recently published article, an Ernst&Young research is quoted whereby the takeovers (mergers and acquisitions) in the economies of the former socialisr countries are analysed and clasified in three cathegories, takeovers by foreign capital, takeovers where the buyer and the selled are indigenous and takeovers from abroad which finds out that Romania is on the first place in what takovers by the foreign capital are concerned, 67% and by far on the last place in what takeovers from abroad are concerned, with 3% only. No country in the region witnessed such a discrepancy, of more than 22 times, between what the indigenous capital ceded to foreign capital on its own markets and what it managed to take over from the foreign capital  on the latter markets. The foreign capital externalizes to their origin countries pre-tax profits of at least 35-40 billion euro yearly.

So that’s Romania’s real  end-result in brief at the anniversary of the Centennial of the Great Union. We could be proud of the achievements of the past yet at the same time we must be aware of the current problems and think of the future with solutions adapted to both the actual situation and into perspective.

The current international situation is a complex one and important changes are taking place in the international order at a time when Romania, consumed with petty domestic disputes, is quite inexistent. No one but us will act for our sake except strictly within specific interests. The abovementioned gate of thunderstorms of the Middle Ages must be shut and an oasis of stability and prospetity must be created in order to attract investors.

Romania may have the future it deserves if it wants to act in this regard. Another 30-40 years will be probably needed for that.

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