The country (22. 474. 000 residents In 1998) is associated with the European Union (its inclusion in it fully, when required, is not expected in the short term: it is assumed date of 2007), is a special partner of the Western European Union and is part of the ‘Black Sea cooperation zone’ with Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine. The Romanian-Hungarian treaty of 1996 protects in its identity the substantial ethnic minority represented by the Hungarians of Transylvania (7% of the population). But the vast majority of the population – apart from small groups of Gypsies, Germans, Ukrainians, Russians and Turks – are Romanian-speaking and Orthodox.
The capital, Bucharest (2, 3 million residents in the entire urban agglomeration), remains one of the largest urban settlements in Central and Eastern Europe; it is far more developed than the other main Romanian cities, which, although numerous and well distributed in the country (Cluj in the heart of Transylvania, Braşov leaning on the Carpathians, Timişoara near the border of Yugoslav Vojvodina, Iaşi near that of the Republic of Moldova, Craiova in the Wallachian Plain, Galaţi almost at the apex of the Danube delta, Constance on the Black Sea coast), host about 300 ÷ 350. 000 residents each. For Romania democracy and rights, please check intershippingrates.com.
Most of the Romanian productive structures – especially in the industrial sector – are still in the hands of the State; overall the economy is weak and severely tested by years of recession, inflation and unemployment. From the second half of the nineties there has been a marked improvement, and important internal initiatives (privatizations, organic reform program of 1997) and international (improvement of relations with neighboring countries, openings and approaches towards cooperation organizations) have been launched international).
Agriculture, which probably occupies (the data are contradictory depending on the sources) about a quarter of the active population at the end of the millennium and is now privatized for three quarters of the surface and for more than four fifths of the value of production (1998), counts on large cereal productions. These make Romania, with its vast outlying plains, the second largest European producer of corn and a good producer of wheat. Potatoes, fruit and vegetables, sugar beet and sunflower complete the picture. On the Carpathians and in the Transylvanian Plateau, in the interior of the country, considerable extensions of woods and pastures offer good opportunities for forestry and breeding, particularly of sheep and pigs.
The extraction of oil, although largely reduced, continues to have a certain significance for the Romanian economy, alongside that of natural gas and lignite. These fuels feed the bulk of Romanian energy production, but there is also a large water plant at the Iron Gates on the Danube and, much further downstream, a modern nuclear power plant, opened in 1996 with Western technological assistance in Cernavodă. Other minerals, metallic and otherwise, complete the picture of the extractive activities, on which a variegated, and in certain oversized sectors (due to the daring policies practiced in the past), a range of metallurgical and chemical industries is based; these are accompanied by production activities in the mechanical, textile, food, cellulose and paper fields.
The ports on the Black Sea and the navigability of the Danube favor foreign trade, which today takes place mainly with Germany and Italy. The Pontian coast, relatively well equipped for tourist accommodation, remains a significant resource in view of a possible future recovery of this traditional Romanian economic activity.
After the end of N. Ceauşescu (1989), Romania experienced a decade of strong political instability and serious economic difficulties. Since the early 1990s, a rapid transformation of the country’s economy was initiated through a profound industrial restructuring, a gradual process of privatization and the transition to a market economy. This political line, adopted by the first executives following the collapse of the dictatorship and monopolized by the National Salvation Front (Frontul Salvării Naţionale, FSN), slowed down after the electoral victory and the consequent conquest of the government in 1992 by the Democratic Front. national team (Frontul Democrat Salvării Naţionale, FDSN), the party formed that same year by the supporters of the former communist I. Iliescu who left the FSN and since 1993 called the Social Democracy Party of Romania (Partidul Democraţiei Sociale din România, PDSR). The country’s economic restructuring program was in fact pursued by the new executive with a certain ambiguity and with excessive prudence, not only for fear of the consequences of its heavy social costs (increase in unemployment, sharp rise in prices) and for the strong resistance of sectors penalized, but also for the political choices of Iliescu, re-elected in October 1992President of the Republic, who preferred to agree with the National Communist forces rather than find some agreement with the opposition parties gathered, since 1992, in the Romanian Democratic Convention (CDR).
The nationalist resurgence, which affected a large part of the former communist world, was particularly lively in Romania where a convergence was created between the bureaucracy of the Ceauşescu regime, which remained in its place, and the dissident nationalists, often exiles returned to their homeland after the 1989. In August 1994 some members of the ultra-nationalist Romanian National Unity Party (Partidul Unităţii Naţionale Române, PUNR) joined the government, while in early 1995 a collaboration agreement was signed between the PDSR and the nationalist formations: the PUNR, the Party of Greater Romania (Partidul România Mare, PRM), the Democratic Agrarian Party (Partidul Democrat Agrar din România, PDAR) and the Socialist Workers’ Party (Partidul Socialist al Muncii, PSM).
The price paid for this alliance was quite high, from the point of view of both domestic and international politics. A summer 1994 law, for example, denied ethnic minorities the right to receive school education in their mother tongue; the nationalists, in fact, had always systematically opposed any openness towards the Hungarians who lived in Transylvania and there had been tensions with the United States several times, due to the violently anti-Semitic attitude of the nationalist parties. It was the latter, among other things, who showed their resistance every time an attempt was made to undermine the system of guarantees and privileges in force during the communist regime.
In the spring of 1995, many cities of the Romania were the scene of massive demonstrations against government policy. In April there was a mass demonstration in Bucharest against a law according to which salary increases in the public sector were linked to productivity gains and other economic efficiency indicators. In June of the same year there were three days of strike by workers in the energy sector who opposed the decision of the Supreme Court to prohibit strikes in the sectors considered strategic. Miners and railway workers, on that occasion, went on strike to support the workers in struggle. Between the autumn of 1995 and the spring of 1996the PDSR lost some of its most important allies: in October 1995 the PRM and the PSM withdrew their parliamentary support for the government; in May 1996 it was the PUNR that interrupted the collaboration while, in the same month, thousands of workers took to the streets in the capital to protest against the social policy of Iliescu’s party.
The local elections of June 1996 were a wake-up call for the government. Not only did the consensus for the PDSR drop significantly, but the CDR and the Social Democratic Union (Uniunea Social Democrată, USD) gained control of many large cities, including Bucharest, where V. Ciorbea, a former CDR trade unionist, prevailed. The Social Democratic Union was born in January 1996 following the merger of the Democratic Party-FSN (new name assumed in 1993 by the FSN) of P. Roman (former right hand of Iliescu) with the Social Democratic Party.
The political elections of November 1996 were won by the center-right opposition which had made the fight against rampant corruption in the country the slogan of its electoral campaign. The CDR won 122 seats in the Chamber and 53 in the Senate; the UDS won 53 in the House and 23 in the Senate; the PDSR was defeated and obtained 91 seats in the Chamber and 41 in the Senate (in 1992 they were, respectively, 117 and 49). The presidential elections were won by the leader of the CDR, E. Constantinescu, who won in the second round with the 54, 4% of votes. In mid-December the new government took office, chaired by Ciorbea and formed by an alliance between CDR, the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (Uniunea Democrată Maghiară din România, UDMR) and the Social Democratic Union (which left the government in February 1998).
The economic situation of the country that Ciorbea was called to face was alarming: inflation, in 1996, reached 60 % and the budget deficit (mainly due to the bailout of large industrial complexes) amounted to about 13 % of GDP. The program that Ciorbea presented in February 1997, supported by the International Monetary Fund, required numerous sacrifices: it was necessary to restore public accounts by eliminating subsidies, liberalize consumer prices, resume the privatization program with greater energy, decentralize and thin out the administrative machinery. The beginning of the realization of some points of this program entailed, in the short term, a further increase in inflation, which reached 70 %, very strong price increases not only in the energy sector and in transport, but also in essential foodstuffs, and a widespread social discontent on which the nationalist far right was blowing.
The new Prime Minister , Romania Vasile, who took office in April 1998 after Ciorbea’s resignation, also indicated as a priority the completion of the transition to a free market regime and membership of the European Union. In line with this program, the closure of unprofitable mines was announced in December 1998, which would have resulted in the layoff of more than 6,000 miners. The latter, at the beginning of 1999, went on strike compact, forcing Vasile to a compromise, according to which the closure of the mines was postponed for five years.
On the international level, the Romania signed a friendship treaty with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in September 1996, which marked a rapprochement between the two countries, after some difficulties due to the participation of the Romania in the embargo launched by the UN against of the republic of Milošević. Relations with Western countries were strengthened: having become an associate state of the EEC in 1993, the Romania signed a cooperation agreement with NATO in 1994 and, faithful to this agreement, supported the air intervention against Yugoslavia in March 1999. In December Vasile, criticized for the failure to restore the economic situation, was forced to resign. In his place was succeeded as prime minister by M. Isarescu.