Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Political Science

The Long Way to Europe

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Political Science

The Long Way to Europe

Article excerpt

Visiting Targoviste in a quiet autumn afternoon, it is a fairly pleasant surprise especially when coming from the noise and frenzy of Bucharest. The city suggests a patriarchal and comfortable climate, it is reasonably clean and it can still be driven across during rush hours. If the visitor is willing to ignore the new, cheap and weird buildings, appeared overnight like elsewhere in Romania, then the visitor will discover plenty of streets with houses from between the wars period, some refurbished, some in a poor state, but offering altogether a worthy architectural display.

The people on the streets are not necessarily in hurry, thus offering a feeling of comfort to the passing traveler. The old town center, tiny, beautiful and currently being restored, stresses the long term identity of the city. The new center, horrible and impersonal as any other built during the socialist period, at least seems to be functional. If the PHARE funded project of restoring the Old Court comes to an end, another sightseeing area will be acquired by the city.

Nevertheless the first impressions might be superficial since the traveler staying more than a day in the city, realizes that the tranquility and comfort comes with a price: the lack of economic dynamism. This is a fact even when the city is compared to the other two neighboring capital cities, Ploiesti and Pitesti, that Targoviste competes with when it comes to funds and investments.

The relative calm and fluid movement is firstly owed to the fact that the city lacks the urban frenzy given by a high density of SMEs, a fact verified by statistics. At 7 PM the city goes to bed as there is not much to be done in the public space. This might seem insignificant, but it is actually an important indicator: to attract young labor force, especially a highly qualified one, not only the high wages count in.

It is also very important the type of social life, the feeling that new events occur in the community, that there is an emulation and even a proposal of alternative culture offering the educated citizens the feeling that they live in a cool, interesting place. Without it, there is the drive of skilled labor force to migrate to the neighboring centers like Bucharest, the skilled people that the local officials count on in developing the boasting "European economy of knowledge".

This is a phenomenon occurring not only in Romania, but also in other EU states, a state of facts which should worry the local authorities especially in regions like south Romania where the density of cultural or historical sites is rather low and it will remain like this regardless the efforts in restoring the existing ones. After all, even if the article focuses on Targoviste, the issues are to be found all around Romania, and it is therefore useful to extract theories appropriate for other communities sharing the same status.

A well thought local strategy should answer an edgy question: how could be increased the appeal of certain localities or regions by accelerating the local cultural density, where "culture" means not only a list of museum and statues, but a broader term covering events and unconventional networks where people meet to perform symbolic quality exchanges. The cities or the areas that will not be able to become "interesting" from this perspective, will slowly lose the challenge of development, especially through the medium and long term human drainage. There is a need for new, unconventional ideas to compensate these shortcomings inherited.

The richest city in southern Romania?

At this moment, the local officials point the difficulties they are facing, such as local economy, the level of historical development inherited or the lack of budgetary resources. However the issue of local autonomy should be revealed in order to understand which are the local resources raised by the city and to make sure that the local authorities are not facing impossible tasks. …

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