Romania Report


Main Actors

In most cases of dealing with external and internal conflicts and crises, Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) represents the focal point of coordination and cooperation at the national level, as it is uniquely equipped to integrate both the EU and NATO paradigms. The Ministry of Defence (MND) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs are also regular participants in the WGAs. The presidential administration and the Supreme Council of National Defence (CSAT), as the highest coordinators and decision-makers, represent the highest level of integration and the bearers of the political message in addition to supervising the strategic planning documents, such as the National Defence Strategy (President of Romania 2015). Other bodies that often play a role are the ministries of Transport (infrastructure), Energy, Economy and Education; the intelligence services; and the general secretariat of the government (as an integrator, making sure that the prime minister has a 360-degree view of important issues at stake).
The parliament (Chamber of Deputies) has been slower to catch up owing in part to its lack of an autonomous strategy and analysis capacity. Despite its nominal mission of exercising oversight of government policies, the relevant professional support of the parliament most often will simply request the necessary information from the line ministries, which obviously will not process that information in a critical way. However, there are exceptions (which have increased in frequency with the exercise of the presidency of the Council of the EU), such as in the cases of the Committee on European Affairs and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. However, these exceptions have to do with the quality of the parliamentarians and advisers involved rather than with any institutional facilitating conditions. In addition, most governments have traditionally passed a significant (and most often unjustified) number of emergency ordinances, thereby bypassing the formal legislative process and decreasing the importance and influence of parliament. Last but not least, parliamentarians are seldom qualified or eager to understand international affairs, which is a job they prefer to leave to the MFA.
Civil society has functioned as an echo chamber for the establishment for a long time, having been deliberately structured as such since the beginning of its development. As the country was nearing NATO membership, it had not yet developed a functional civil society with healthy debate around security issues, as per NATO requirements. To fulfil this condition, the security establishment of the time (especially the intelligence agencies) created supposedly ‘independent’ thinktanks and NGOs, but in reality they were almost exclusively populated with offshoots of the system (e.g. retired staff, former diplomats and political cronies) tasked with reiterating the messages of the main institutions. This has made it very difficult for other truly independent outlets to emerge and gain in substance and influence, as donors are also few and virtually no public money is allocated to them. However, as the complexity of issues has increased, the need to reach out to partners that can make a real contribution has made at least some of the previously reluctant institutions much more open to consultation and cooperation.
One area of external action that is sometimes (though more indirectly) linked to the prevention of conflicts and crises as well as to post-conflict reconstruction is economic diplomacy. A WGA has permanently functioned much less here than in other fields, partly owing to persistent disagreements over whether the primary stakeholder should be the MFA or the Ministry of Economy. As a result, the interinstitutional structures have faced constant change as well as the complications that inevitably come with being subordinate to two ministries. With few exceptions, the diplomats in charge of economic diplomacy have had little if any training in trade, economics or business. As a result, the success of Romania’s economic diplomacy, including as an instrument contributing to stability and peace, differs from country to country depending on the individual diplomats’ talents and capacity to learn and understand the needs of bilateral business and economic relations.
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