The most important element of the Romanian security and defense policy in recent years has been the entry into NATOin 2004 and the strengthening of relations within the Atlantic Alliance in 2014 following the worsening of the crisis in Ukraine. This factor has contributed to strengthening relations between Bucharest and the United States and has offered Romania a well-defined place in the new international equilibrium. The country hosts a US military base, the Mihail Kogălniceanu, north of the port city of Constanta, on the Black Sea. Romania, which has launched a program to modernize its armed forces, is an important US ally also on a global level: it has participated in operations in Iraq, until their conclusion, and in those in Afghanistan, where today it deploys 650 soldiers as part of the Resolute Support mission. For Romania defense and foreign policy, please check relationshipsplus.com.
The Synergy of the Black Sea
Launched in February 2008 following a meeting in Kiev between the foreign ministers of the E u and the countries bordering the Black Sea, the Black Sea Synergy comes within the framework of the Neighborhood Policy (E np) of ‘European Union, with the specific purpose of expanding cooperation between the countries bordering the Black Sea, and between them and the E u. Thus the E np, which focuses on individual countries, has been complemented by a regional dimension also for the Black Sea area. The declared objectives of the initiative are to stimulate economic growth, support regional stability, facilitate practical projects in areas of common interest and encourage the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the region. The Synergy identifies specific partnerships for the achievement of its objectives, focusing on the transport, energy and environment sectors. In the coming years, the Synergy could be extended to the areas of higher education, public health and activities to combat organized crime. At present the E uit has also prepared a cross-border cooperation program for the governments of the European countries bordering the Black Sea (Romania and Bulgaria). In the two-year period 2009-2010, the Synergy suffered an apparent setback, above all due to the lack of funds, destined instead for bilateral partnerships. However, progress has been made in cooperation in some areas and for specific projects. In March 2010 the EU launched the partnership linked to the Synergy, for a shared battle against the pollution of the seabed and coasts of the Black Sea. However, the initiative was again endangered by the action taken by Russia in the Crimean peninsula, which separate from Ukraine and join Moscow in March 2014. the annexation is not recognized by the E u, led Brussels to review the cooperation projects in the region, with obvious repercussions on Synergy Black Sea.
The complex issue of the Roma minority
Roma, often improperly defined with the heteronyms ‘gypsies’ and ‘nomads’, are just as often associated with Romania. It is estimated that only 30% are nomadic, while most of the 12 million Roma around the world (official figure which, given the difficulties encountered in the various countries’ censuses, is likely an underestimate) reside in the country of destination. Furthermore, the Roma-Romania assonance is purely coincidental since the origin of the term is unknown: according to some scholars it derives from the Dom ethnic group of the north-western region of India. In addition, for the whole of the first millennium AD, the presence of Roma populations was not found in the territory corresponding to present-day Romania. During the first centuries of the second millennium it seems that the Roma have moved further and further west from India, to expand throughout the European continent, but stopping in particular in the rich principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. That of the Roma was a story of lack of assimilation, discrimination and poverty that saw them marginalized and expelled from the various states in which they tried to settle. In particular, with the affirmation of the nation-state, the space for an ethnic group that is partly nomadic and partly sedentary, but in any case extraneous to nationalistic logic, has been progressively reducing. The violence thus extended until it reached the attempted extermination perpetuated by Nazi Germany. There has never been a common sense of belonging among the Roma, although the first congress of the International Union of Roma was held in London in 1971.
Despite the dispersion, the state that today counts the largest number of Roma is precisely Romania, heir to the territory once controlled by the Danubian principalities. Thanks to the secular presence, the Roma population here has taken root more than elsewhere: for example, they speak almost only Romanian and do not know the Romani language. According to official data, in Romania, Roma make up 2.5% of the population, but it is estimated that they can reach two million (or almost 10%) and that they do not declare their ethnic origin to avoid discrimination. Considering the significant problems of relations with the Roma community, in 2001 the government of Bucharest launched a national strategy to improve their living conditions, increasing their schooling and social integration in general: an attempt which, however, did not have a positive outcome.
On the political level, the Roma remains the only ethnic minority underrepresented in the country, having a weight in the institutions equal to 0.36%: a similar importance to ethnic minorities almost ten times lower in numerical terms. With the end of the Cold War and the first entry in the E u then, the Roma minority started to leave the country in the direction of the states of Western Europe in an increasingly consistent. This is creating an element of friction between Bucharest and other European capitals, which in recent years have repatriated thousands of Roma.