ROMANIA’S TRANSITION TO
DEMOCRACY AND THE ROLE OF THE
PRESS IN INTELLIGENCE REFORM
Since the end of the Communist regime, Romania has tried to consolidate its democracy by gaining acceptance from elites and civil society, reforming and restructuring the economy, and bringing the armed forces and intelligence agencies under democratic, civilian control. Years after the end of the cold war, the postcommunist intelligence community, once persona non grata has, surprisingly, become one of the more trusted state institutions in Romania. Two factors can be credited with this transition of the intelligence services. First, and most interesting, is that civil society, primarily through an aggressive media, helped force the government’s hand and bring about democratic reforms. Second was the imperative throughout Romanian political, economic, and civil society to institute reforms that the European Union and NATO would accept in order for Romania to accede to these pillars of the international democratic system.
To paraphrase Adam Przeworski, after 1989, joining the European and Euro-Atlantic “club” has more or less become the “only game in town” for the Romanian postcommunist governments.1 But EU and NATO accession required, inter alia, complete reform and genuine civilian and democratic oversight of the military and intelligence apparatus. Having new security services, which people could trust rather than fear, was what Romanians wanted too. And while formal oversight mechanisms exist, informal control, mainly through the media, has been the primary oversight mechanism to ensure that both the popular demand for democratic norms and the Western requirements for accession have been fulfilled. The media have exposed scandals and government bungling to domestic and international audiences, thus forcing the hand of the decision makers to institute reforms. This chapter will discuss Romania’s path toward democratic control of its intelli-