Studia Politica, vol. VII, no. 1, 2007
According to most accounts from home and abroad, Romania is a corrupt country. Journalists, civic activists and public prosecutors suspect every top politician, past and present, of either committing or planning to commit a felony. As far as any knowledgeable Romanian can tell, the European Commission itself is the inspiration behind the current official anti-corruption drive. Ten years ago, discussion of wider powers for prosecutors and intelligence agents would have seemed inappropriate, even indecent, reminders of the Stalinist secret police, while state prosecutions of conspicuously wealthy politicians evoke memories of communist witch-hunts against owners of private property. How could the European Commission ostensibly support Romania’s use of judicial proceedings so reminiscent of the communist era? After the collapse of state socialism, western leaders were unable or unwilling to recognise that decades of communism had transformed many institutions of state. Courts, Parliament, government and the army had all been shaped by more than 40 years of suppressed civil and political liberties, radical social engineering and inhibited economic activity. The Romanian legal system, designed under communism, still works as an instrument of the state. A citizen is considered as good as guilty from the moment he or she is denounced in the press or prosecutors begin an investigation. The Romanian justice system creates corruption as a necessary enemy of the state. Larger-than-life corruption appears thus to serve a political purpose in Romania’s relations with the EU. It is a smoke-screen that helps both sides to explain away obvious economic and political disparities between this country and the rest of the union. If corruption were uprooted, Romania would become a country much like any other EU member. Corruption has become a political commodity that helps Romanian and European policy makers alike to evade analysis of what is really necessary to achieve representative democracy, the rule of law and liberal citizenship in post-communist Romania.
Romania in Belgian Publications, 1923-1943
This contribution focuses on the presence of Romania and Romanian writers in Belgian publications from 1923 to 1943. The research questions the degree of knowledge and information the Belgian public opinion had on Romania in the interwar period. By combining results from researches conducted in the library of the Université Libre de Bruxelles and Centre d’Archives pour l’Histoire des Femmes (Bruxelles), the author discovers the Romanians who published in the Belgian press and the Belgian authors who showed an interest in Romania during the same period. The article also analyses the main subjects in the Belgian press from 1923 to1943 and makes a review of the books translated into Romanian during the years 1934-1938 in order to demonstrate the francophone dimension of the Romanian editorial projects. The conclusion the author reaches is that the Belgian public opinion had limited knowledge about Romania during the interwar period, the Belgian authors being more focused in domestic politics and on the growing importance of fascism.
Sibiu in the Early XXth Century. Elites Rivalry in A Multicultural City, 1905-1945
The trans-ethnic voting ant the current cooperation between the Saxon and the Romanian communities in Sibiu/Hermannstadt could easily make believe in a perennial peaceful cohabitation. But the ethnic relations at the beginning of the XXth century are rather dissimilar, since they are marked by the strong affirmation of the Romanian community – especially by its political and cultural values – in the cadre of a multi-ethnic state – as Austria-Hungary – and of a Saxon dominated city – as Sibiu/Hermannstadt. The conflict between elites is pointed out by the prejudices enounced and by the symbolic weight of the disputes. More deeply, there is a conflict between two diverging political projects: the preservation of autonomy and of collective rights by the Saxon community, and the political, economic and cultural integration of the city into the recently made Romanian National state, in the aftermath of the Paris Peace Treaties. The two political projects originate – in fact – into distinctive models of citizenship: an exclusive citizenship, promoted by the Saxon community as a heritage from the Middle Ages; an integrative citizenship, preferred by the Romanian state in order to obtain a full allegiance from the new citizens. Since Romania has unexpectedly become a multi-ethnic state and minorities were more educated, urbanized and politically active, supporting the Romanian element became vital. The unsuccessful political strategies of Romanian elites, before 1920 – and of Saxon elites afterwards – lead to external sources of power: the Romanian National state and Nazi Germany. Whether Romanian authority proves to be quite successful, the German influence has disastrous consequences for the Saxon community. The persecutions and vexations following the German defeat in 1945 mark out the beginning of the great migration for the German community in Transylvania, following eight hundred years of coexistence.
Volatility and Stabilization of Governmental Elites. A Comparison of the Romanian Cabinets: 1919-1939 and 1989-2004
The political regime change which occurred in Romania elicited a process of the emergence of new political elites and the application of new patterns in the functioning of the political institutions. Therefore, the governmental instability that characterizes the post-communist period has often been perceived as an effect of the democratization process. Embracing a comparative stance (between the interwar and the post-communist cabinets), the article challenges the idea of a governmental exceptionalism after 1989. Focusing on different patterns of appointment and circulation of the ministerial actors, the paper emphasizes the existence of several elements of convergence with regard to the governmental instability and the volatility of personnel. The paper comprises four sections: after a brief analysis of different factors allowing the construction of a valid comparison between the interwar period and the post-communism, the second part scrutinizes the volatility of the ministerial actors. Thirdly, the paper examines the process of elites’ reproduction in executive portfolios and consequently the accumulation of executive experience. The last section of the article underlines the limits of this stabilization process, which is founded on a politics of elite reproduction in governmental offices.
”Dacianism” and the Avatars of the Post-communist Historiographic Discourse
The study focuses on the analysis of a minor literature selection. My application, being determined by the nature of the selected theme (the major historical literature, which offers important interpretative reference points, usually does not appeal to the repertory characteristic of the historiographic and mythologizing imagery), is also conditioned by a personal concern pertaining to the resurgence, in recent years, of this type of imagery that usually affects the perception of historicity as well as the structuring of civil society. The themes of post-communist Dacianism represent a thin catalog of theories and motives, which primarily aim to the reinvention of the traditional historiographic discourse through the reinterpretation of the older or more recent archaeological discoveries from a Dacianist perspective. The anti-Semitic themes from the post-communist discourse disseminated especially in connection to the instauration of the communist regime in Romania, are connected to the new radicalisms as well. Publishers that promote nationalist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and fictional along with historical Dacianist literature are also responsible for the dissemination of extremist ideas using Dacianist rhetoric. This minor literature, ignored by the academic establishment, but benefiting from a large segment of culture consumers, has had appeal especially among adolescents attracted by the soteriological profile of Dacian heroes. The influence of texts can be explained by the manner in which major themes of the national historical discourse are vulgarized and reinterpreted from the perspective of some rhetoric of crises. The search for heroes in an ancient and hypothetical ”golden age” (we refer to the Pelasgic Empire) is part of the already obsolete repertoire of mythological reconstructions. The refuge in the past (in fact, a sign of maladjustment and the inability for social and identitary reformulation) and sacrifice become the reference points for the socio-cultural behavior proposed in a world, which is considered hostile and conspiring. Anti-Semitic attitudes go hand in hand with the instances of identitary exacerbation produced on the traditional basis of victimology, on the Orthodoxist-Dacianist exaltations. We cannot but to be astonished by the nationalist mixture, which paradoxically combine Dacianism and Orthodoxism, or Dacianism and alternative religions, the latter occurrence being also violently anti-Semitic through its rejection of Judaism as a subversive and unilateral religion. In conclusion, post-communist Dacianism (promoted especially by the Dacia Revival International Society), as an answer to the identitary crisis, fits into the autochtonist historiographic trend, while more radical approaches (see the extremist publications and the books recently published especially by the ”Obiectiv” Publishing House from Craiova) are somehow closely related to both the ”interwar prophetism”, which they vulgarize, and to the legionary mystique too.
Anticommunism in Romania, 1996-2000
This paper analyzes the structure and political impact of a particular anticommunist political culture characterizing the Romanian context. The first part reviews the difficulties facing the anticommunist movement during the early 90s and the role of political bond that this movement played for the civic and political actors of the CDR, i.e. the Romanian Democratic Convention. The paper continues with a review of the policies of decommunization and of open access to archives, only to conclude that their failure is the result of the fact that these policies were never regarded as a state priority.
The Eastern European space proves itself full of instable spots and old disputes between States, regions, populations. The peaceful relations are constructed here by overcoming these legacies of the past, and through cooperation on multilateral levels. The relations between Romania and Ukraine are an example of this twofold trend. Inheriting a disputed border since the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, and large minorities on their territories, the two States signed a Treaty of friendship and good neighborhood in 1997, when Romania was under pressure to fulfill the NATO accession criteria. After that, disputes re-emerged concerning the delimitation of the continental shelf in the Black Sea, and the question was brought before the International Court of Justice in 2004. On the other hand, Romania and Ukraine were partners in the attempts to give a solution to the Transnistrean conflict or in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. Observing the development of the relations between Romania and Ukraine since 1992, when the two countries established diplomatic relations, to 2004, we will argue that these relations follow a pattern of cooperation when conducted in a multilateral framework or when pressured by international organizations, while they are more prone to conflict when no other international actors are directly involved. These empirical findings support a liberal institutionalist approach to international relations in Eastern Europe. This view, together with a traditional foreign policy analysis approach, will be the main theoretical approaches adopted in this article.
Marsilius of Padua or the Pacifying Power. Popular Consent and Divine Will in the 14th Century
The article analyses the issue of political consent in Marsilius of Padua’s treaty Defensor Pacis, in the context of his perspective on the relationship between state and church. Researchers have always shown significant interest in the political writings of Marsilius. This contribution is less interested in evaluating the different interpretative theories on his writings, its aim being to investigate the main concepts of Marsilius’ political vocabulary inherited from Aristotle much too often used with very different meanings. His ideas about consent cannot be understood unless Marsilius’s attitude towards the law is not clarified, as one can see in chapter XII of the first part of the treaty Defensor Pacis. In order to refer to consent, he uses here an expression equivalent to the Roman law maxim ”quod omnes tangit ab omnibus tractari et approbari debet”. The analyses of the first dictio of Defensor Pacis is also revealing for two cases of false consent: in cases when consent does not serve the virtue, and in cases when hereditary regimes prevail over regimes based on elections in the name of an alleged consent of the citizens. The issue of consent – important in the case of sacerdotal power, the main topic of the second part of the treaty – needs to be closely connected to the concept of popular will. This does not make of Marsilius a ”legal positivist”, but merely a „peace keeper”. The latter can be maintained only by consented political forms, according to Marsilius.
Identity Practices of the Romanian Orthodox Church in the Post-communist Era: A Brief Account
Identity is not just about how we understand ourselves as opposed to the others. It is also about how we act. This article investigates the practices related to the reconstruction of the public identity of the Romanian Orthodox Church. After a brief incursion in the communist past, the first under scrutiny are institutional practices, from administrative nominations to formal and informal structures of authority and to structural change. It is followed by an analysis of the progressive reassessment of the Orthodox presence in state institutions (with a particular emphasis on the educational system) and in the political sphere. The final part of the study is devoted to the means of communication employed by the Church to transmit its message and to reclaim a strong position in the agora. As the article is merely a sketch of the practical application of a ”return in the public” sphere of the Orthodox Church, the floor open for discussion.
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