Romanian Foreign Policy in the Context of Transatlantic Divergences

Article excerpt

Abstract: There were at least four situations in which European and American stances over how international politics should be conducted clashed and in which Romania was pressured to take one side or another: International Child Adoptions, Kyoto Protocol, International Criminal Court and War in Iraq. Why did Romania decide to align sometimes with the US and other times with European countries? This paper uses the explanatory power of three leading theories of international relations to explain this puzzle. Firstly, it shows that systemic forces of power relations are suitable for explaining state behaviour, but only in security-related matters (neo-realism). Secondly, it shows that public opinion is not translated into government policy either because public interest is lacking or information about public's preferences is not available (liberalism). Thirdly, it shows how inter-subjectively shared meanings, identity recognition and socialisation of new norms offer the most compelling explanations about Romania's behaviour in the four situations of transatlantic divergences (constructivism).

Keywords: transatlantic relations, International Criminal Court, Iraq, Romanian foreign policy


Rejoining the transatlantic family after almost 50 years on the dark side of the Iron Curtain did not bring Romania the desired peace of mind. As certain American and European international policies became excruciatingly divergent, Romania (like many other former communist countries in the region) was caught in the middle and pressured to take one side or another.

This paper tries to answer key questions such as 'What prompted Romania to align sometimes with the US and other times with the EU when these two major allies defended antagonistic positions?', 'Did Romania take a course of action out of fear of losing the support of the stronger ally or fear of being confronted with retaliatory measures?', 'Did Romania cunningly calculate the costs and benefits of each action in order to maximise the benefits?' or 'Were Romania's policy decisions the projection of an ongoing process of societal transformation or the manifestation of evolving identities and interests?'. There are few research papers addressing these questions, situation which allowed unsubstantiated and inconsistent interpretations dominate our understanding of Romanian foreign policy.

Before answering these questions, I first describe briefly the context in which Romanian foreign policy making takes place. I look at Romania's past and present stances in foreign affairs, I try to determine what role Russia still plays in Romania's foreign policy making (if any) and I analyse the nature and gravity of transatlantic divergences. Subsequently, I employ the explanatory power of three dominant IR theories (neo-realism, liberalism and constructivism) in order to generate explanations about the Romanian foreign policy in four case studies where American and European stances clashed and Romania had to support one side or another (International Child Adoptions, Kyoto Protocol, International Criminal Court and War in Iraq).


Communist and post-communist years

Romania's foreign policy under the communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was famous for its anti-Soviet features, which made Romania an awkward partner of the West (especially of the US) and a unique case of communist-capitalist fusion in the international affairs of those times. Despite the dreadful nature of its domestic politics, Romania was shown 'a world-wide respect it had seldom enjoyed in its history' for 'splendid performances' abroad (Brown, 1988: 263; Shafir, 1985: 193). This aspect is of particular significance for the purpose of this paper as it indicates that Romania's relations with the transatlantic community were not completely frozen during its communist history.

The discourse of Romanian foreign policy makers during the postcommunist period did not only catalyse the undisputed choice for a Euro-Atlantic agenda but also constructed Romania's identity in relation 'to the other' Russia and the Balkans (Hosu, 2002: 1-17). …


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.