October 20, 2014

The Romanian Background

Continuing a series of articles with analysis of the position of the neighboring countries in the context of the situation in Ukraine and their reaction to the Russian aggression, let's look at the policy of Romania, which a part of analysts for a long time had considered a hidden enemy of our country. Despite the complicated history of the Romanian-Ukrainian relations and the forthcoming presidential elections in that country, its national elite demonstrates responsibility for security situation in the region and prudence in determining priorities of domestic and foreign policy.

February 24 this year, immediately after the victory of the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, the Romanian Foreign Ministry issued a statement confirming the full support of the European aspirations of the neighboring country and the Ukrainian people. The signed on the 10th of March this year by the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Romania bilateral Agreement on confidence-building and security, once again officially confirmed Bucharest's support to state sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine, and declared continuation of the joint dialogue on protection of rights of national minorities. This legal instrument has become a form of recognition of the new Ukrainian authorities. Besides, President Traian Basescu was one of the first leaders of states who already on May 25 were greeting P. Poroshenko on his victory at the presidential elections, having recognized it «free and proper».

Тraian Basescu
Тraian Basescu was one of the first leaders of states who already on May 25 were greeting P. Poroshenko on his victory at the presidential elections
 
Photo http://www.euromag.ru/

However, in December this year ends T. Basescu's second five-year presidential term, and, according to the Constitution of Romania, he cannot run for a third term. The results of his activities are contradictory — the self-proclaimed champion of the struggle against corruption, but with a sibling in jail, T. Basescu is hated by some and adored by others. However, the majority of Romanians actually perceives T.Basesku with reserve: looking into the future, the electorate is interested who his successor will be.

Development of the domestic political situation in Romania is determined by the electoral presidential campaign's entering the phase of active agitation while maintaining the uncompromising confrontation between the current President T. Basecscu and Prime Minister Victor Ponta, up to the readiness to break the pact of institutional cooperation between them.

According to the World Service of «Radio Romania». the finale of the presidential race will be drawn between Social Democrat V. Ponta and Liberal Klaus Yogannis.

Victor Ponta
Victor Ponta
 
Photo http://forum.bakililar.az/ 

The candidate of the left segment of the political spectrum, leader of the disciplined Social Democratic Party, which controls most of the levers of power, candidate V.Ponta (current Prime Minister) has an important logistic (administrative) advantage, plus the support of some media. But, according to Romanian standards, 42-year-old V. Ponta is too young to become a virtual winner of the presidential elections. According to the Romanian analysts, he has not tested himself at all stages in his development as a politician. However, almost all polls show that V. Ponta is a favorite of the presidential elections scheduled for November 2.

K. Yogannis
K. Iohannis Photo http://www.moldnews.md/

According to the forecasts of local and foreign political analysts, the only real rival in the second round for the Prime Minister V. Ponta can be K. Iohannis. In the case of the second round (together with V. Ponta) sociologists predict support at the level of 46  %.

M. Ungureanu
M. Ungureanu
 
Photo http://news2000.com.ua/

Created in the summer of this year competitive Christian-Liberal Alliance, consisting of two main opposition right-wing parties — the National Liberal and Democratic Liberal — determined the leader of NLP K.Yogannis as a candidate in the presidential elections (the representative of DLP K. Predoiu, by agreement between the two parties, will be a candidate for the post of Prime Minister). The mayor of the Central Romanian city of Sibiu K. Yogannis (ethnic German) took second place in the polls. His image is that of a competent mayor, effectively managing his city, and a balanced politician. In particular, inhabitants of the cities of his native Transylvania are ready to vote for him. In the right-wing coalition will also participate the Party «Civilian Power» (recently joined the DLP). It is headed by former Prime Minister of Romania, M. Ungureanu.

Calin Popescu-Tericeanu
Calin Popescu-Tericeanu Photo http://www.vesti.ru/

In the confrontation with the only candidate from the left-wing forces (V. Ponta) electoral support at the level of 7-8 % have the leader of the Liberal-Reform Party Calin Popescu-Tericeanu (former Prime Minister and current Speaker of the Senate) and the Head of the «People's Movement» Party Elena Udrea, now being openly supported by the current President of Romania T. Basescu (the Party in the recent elections to the European Parliament received 6.2  % of the vote). Taking into consideration possibility of a second round, the voices of the supporters of these parties may be crucial in ensuring the victory of the center-right candidate.

Elena Udrea
Elena Udrea. Photo http://www.politika.bg/

Despite the sharp domestic political competition, leaders of Romania and rating candidates for the post of the head of the Romanian state during the struggle against the regime of V. Yanukovych and the Ukrainian-Russian conflict in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine, demonstrated and demonstrates consistent support to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, assessing the policy of the Kremlin, in particular, Moscow's military, logistical and financial assistance to separatist «republics» and terrorists as a direct threat to European security and national interests of Romania. The official Bucharest and the Romanian establishment understand the importance of a stable Ukraine for maintaining the geopolitical balance of power in the Black Sea region, for guaranteeing the security of Romania itself included, and are ready to postpone «till better times» solving of some traditionally problematic aspects of the bilateral relations.

In the difficult pre-election period, the Romanian government continues to build «the environment without Russia». trying to implement the alternative to Russian energy transit and infrastructure projects and trying to find reliable/strategic foreign partners. It was in Bucharest that a most important by its results Summit in the format of «16 + 1» (Prime Ministers of 16 countries of Central and Eastern Europe + Prime Minister of the State Council of the PRC) took place. During the visit of Prime Minister V. Ponta to China (August 31 — September 2 this year) was discussed the program of strategic partnership between Romania and China, questions of Chinese companies' participation in implementation of investment and business projects in Romania, opening of a branch of one of Chinese state-owned banks.

Romanian government continues to build «the environment without Russia»
Romanian government continues to build «the environment without Russia»
Photo http://www.beltsymd.ru/

Experts believe that in the economic aspect, the Romanian leadership is ready for the process of overcoming certain difficulties due to limitations in the import of Russian gas (average annual level of gas supplies from Russia is 22-24  %), and intends to take all necessary measures to reduce its cooperation with Moscow in gas industry to a minimum. In this context, in Romanian political circles again become urgent the questions of AGRI project and of the construction of wind power plants in the south-east of the country.

The government is also preparing to respond adequately to the Kremlin's decision to ban the import of goods and food products from the EU (in the joint structure of trade, the share of Romanian exports to Russia is 2.8  %, import — 4.1 %) by activating the chosen by V. Ponta policy of diversification of markets (getting access to markets of Asia and the Middle East), as well as giving adequate compensation funds to the carmaker «Dacia» (if it suffers losses due to the increased EU sanctions against Russia).

Analysts suggest that the total loss of the Romanian producers due to the application of EU sanctions against Russia and Moscow's counter-measures can be around 40 million Euros (loss of farmers — 23-24 million Euros, loss of companies involved in the production of components for the mining and petroleum industry — 16-17 million Euros). We hope that our neighbors have information about the Moscow's abilities to influence the activity of some of the leading Romanian metallurgical and energy industries.

Romania has become the first EU member state, which has completed the domestic procedure for the ratification of the Association Agreement EU-Ukraine
Romania has become the first EU member state, which has completed the domestic procedure for the ratification of the Association Agreement EU-Ukraine

The official Bucharest remains an initiative recipient of the EU's programs, to implementation of which it actively seeks to attract not only Moldova, but also Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Georgia. In particular, Romania has become the first EU member state, which has completed the domestic procedure for the ratification of the Association Agreement EU-Ukraine (however, this efficiency was also predetermined by the fact that at the same time, the Romanian Parliament ratified a similar agreement between the EU and the Republic of Moldova). During the vote in the European Parliament for the ratification of the Association Agreement EU-Ukraine (September 16), all 32 deputies from Romania, regardless of their party and factional affiliation, voted for the ratification of the Agreement.

Leaders of all parliamentary parties of Romania speak in favor of the development and deepening of relations with Ukraine, for the practical implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, including the Agreement on Free Trade Area (which is why the Romanian Foreign Ministry leadership expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the implementation of the economic part of the Agreement is postponed until 1 January 2016), support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, condemn the annexation of the Crimea and the Russian aggression against our country.

Among the Romanian political forces represented in the national Parliament, there are no openly pro-Russian lobbyists, although there are some marginal and un-influential pro-Russian social structures in the country.

Therefore, in the search for situational allies in Europe, V. Putin and his loyal «strategists» should not count on the official Bucharest and the Romanian elite who understand that only a sovereign Ukraine is able to ensure regional stability and development of mutually beneficial/strategic political, economic and humanitarian relations between the neighboring countries and in the Black Sea region, including solving the sensitive «domestic» problem for the Romanian political elite — preserving Romanian identity in Ukraine.