US and Romania – First Signs of
Tension in the Bilateral Relationship
By George Vişan
A recoil from democracy in Eastern and Central European countries would be an indirect blow to American soft power and prestige.
Translated By George-Cristian Samoilă
7 December 2012
Edited by Molly Rusk
Romania - Adevărul - Original Article (Romanian)
During the ministerial conference of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a serious message about what America perceives to be a decline of democracy in Europe.
Romania is listed in the same paragraph as Russia and Hungary among countries that are having political problems. It is fair to say that Romania is far from being like Russia, where Vladimir Putin's regime destroys any form of opposition, and from Hungary, where we are already talking about a recoil from democracy with anti-Semitic tendencies. However, the association with these countries, which suffer from internal political problems, is an unhappy one. It is a direct criticism by the United States about the way that Romanian internal politics function.
Since the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, the U.S. has invested considerable resources in transforming the former Warsaw Pact members from enemies to allies. In U.S. foreign policy, the democratization of Central and Eastern Europe constitutes an important element of Washington's commitment to the old continent's security. The democratic regimes that developed after the fall of communism were fundamental to the integration of the Warsaw Pact countries into NATO and the European Union. The U.S. used the example of democratic revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe to encourage similar revolutions in other regions, but also to question different authoritarian regimes. A recoil from democracy in Eastern and Central European countries would be an indirect blow to American soft power and prestige.
The evolution of the Romanian-American bilateral relationship is in danger of being affected by events in Romania. A first sign of concern was the summer crisis generated by the [Romanian] President's suspension, when the U.S. intervened to preserve democratic institutions. This intervention was interpreted as partisan by one sector of the political elite and by the Romanian public, but it was part of an American foreign policy that supports democratic regimes and institutions in Central and Eastern Europe. The U.S. only asked that the current legislature be obeyed; it did not indicate which way to vote. In this context, the elections on Dec. 9, and particularly the following events, have the potential to influence the U.S.-Romanian Strategic Partnership, which was redefined in 2011.
Another political crisis as severe as the one in the summer of 2012 would place the Romanian-American bilateral relationship on unstable ground. There is potential for a cooling of this relationship in the short and medium term. Romania's credibility, which was quite high prior to the summer of 2012, would diminish further. Washington may come to the conclusion that Romania has an unpredictable trajectory, and the progress registered in the bilateral relationship during the last decade could be erased.
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