Corneliu LEU - SECOLUL SI DEMOCRATIA
Mariana Cristescu, Damen Passo Doble, Editura Nico, Târgu Mures, 2012

Mesaj din SUA pentru România


As vrea sa nu fiu patetic si nici sa va panichez. Textul de mai jos este o scurta conferinta - sustinuta astazi intr-unul din amfiteatrele Facultatii de Drept - de Wess Mitchell, presedintele CEPA. Detalii despre autorul conferintei veti gasi la finalul acestui articol, la fel si despre CEPA. Dar mai important decat autorul sau acronimul CEPA este textul conferintei in sine. Cititi-l cu atentie! Raspanditi-l, faceti-l sa circule, incercati sa convingeti cat mai multi romani sa citeasca aceste randuri! E mai important ca oricand! Pentru noi toti, pentru Romania, pentru viitorul copiilor nostri!

Romania dupa Razboiul din Ucraina: amenintari si oportunitati

„Va multumesc tuturor pentru ca ati venit astazi aici si pentru oportunitatea de a vorbi aici (Universitatea Bucuresti, Facultatea de Drept, n.m.). Doresc sa multumesc bunului meu prieten Don Lothrop, care a fost un sustinator remarcabil si un mentor al intregii noastre organizatii la CEPA. Multi dintre voi nu realizeaza amploarea impactului pe care Don il are pentru tara dumneavoastra ca ambasador in Statele Unite. Don depune eforturi formidabile in a educa Guvernul SUA, think-tank-urile si comunitatea de afaceri cu privire la potentialul Romaniei si la importanta strategica a acesteia pentru Statele Unite. Don este unul dintre fondatorii Initiativei SUA-Romania la CEPA, iar munca sa privind Initiativa Romania One a fost o sursa de inspiratie pentru noi toti la CEPA, in misiunea noastra de a reprezenta la Washington singurul think-tank dedicat promovarii unei Europe Centrale infloritoare din punct de vedere economic, stabila geopolitic si libera din punct de vedere politic, avand legaturi stranse si durabile in Statele Unite.

Astazi vreau sa vorbesc despre a doua parte a misiunii CEPA: geopolitica.

In cadrul ultimelor opt luni, razboiul a revenit in Europa Centrala si de Est. Cea mai mare tara din Europa de Est, o natiune suverana de 45 de milioane de oameni, ale carei granite au fost garantate de Marile Puteri, a fost supusa unei campanii sustinute de violenta de stat, destabilizare sistematica si dezmembrare, la comanda Federatiei Ruse. Aceasta tara a fost invadata in mod repetat, cetatenii sai au fost ucisi, teritoriul sau a fost ocupat. Peste 3.000 de persoane au fost ucise. Frontierele au fost redesenate. Un avion civil a fost doborat. Iar Occidentul a intrat intr-un concurs prelungit de geopolitica cu Rusia. Europa de Est a devenit, inca o data, in timpul vietii noastre, o frontiera geopolitica si civilizationala.

Iar toate acestea s-au petrecut intr-o tara care se afla la cateva ore de unde ne aflam azi. O tara care imparte o frontiera de 600 de kilometri cu Romania.

De la inceputul acestei crize, politica de securitate a Occidentului a pus accentul pe Nordul Europei Centrale, pe Polonia si pe Statele Baltice. Dar vreau sa vorbesc in aceasta dupa-amiaza despre ce inseamna razboiul din Ucraina pentru geopolitica sud-estului Europei si, in special, ce inseamna aceasta pentru cetateni si pentru Romania ca stat.

Acesta nu este un subiect despre care discutam foarte des. Pentru cei mai multi, geopolitica nu este ceva la care noi, cei din Occident sau romanii, in special, sa fi avut destul timp sa ne gandim. In ultimii 25 de ani am trait una dintre cele mai stabile perioade din istoria omenirii. Ani de pace si prosperitate, liberi de Vechiul Haos al geopoliticii si de razboiul Marilor Puteri.

Europa Centrala a fost simbolul suprem al acelei prosperitati: aceasta regiune s-a bucurat de o siguranta, de o acumulare de bogatie si de o libertate politica mai mare decat in orice moment in cei 1.000 de ani de istorie. In ultimul sfert de secol, Romania a trecut de la stadiul uneia dintre cele mai nenorocite si mai asuprite natiuni captive ale Blocului Sovietic la democratia cea mai de succes din Balcani. PIB-ul a crescut cu 150%. A atras peste 170 de miliarde de dolari in investitii straine. A atins una dintre cele mai rapide rate de crestere economica din lumea occidentala. Si a trecut prin sapte transferuri consecutive, pasnice, ale puterii in Parlament.

Succesul Romaniei a fost posibil prin curajul si ingeniozitatea cetatenilor sai. Dar a mai fost posibil si gratie unui set de circumstante geopolitice de exceptie si rare din punct de vedere istoric. Timp de 25 de ani, pentru prima data in istoria moderna, Romania nu s-a confruntat cu o amenintare militara venita din partea unei puteri din afara. Aceasta a avut un acord de securitate cu cea mai puternica natiune de pe pamant. Si a avut parte de influenta modernizatoare si reformatoare a celui mai mare bloc comercial din lume.

Acest set de conditii a creat un fel de moment „locuibil” pentru toata Europa Centrala, care a permis tarilor din aceasta regiune sa se vindece de ranile comunismului si sa se concentreze pe construirea capitalului uman, a institutiilor politice si a economiilor deschise ale statelor europene moderne. Nici o natiune nu merita aceasta oportunitate mai mult decat Romania, victima statului politienesc condus de Ceausescu.

Momentul de dupa Razboiul Rece a permis Romaniei o suspendare a legilor normale ale geografiei si ale puterii care au dominat cea mai mare parte a istoriei sale si care au supus-o pe ea si pe vecinii sai la ceea ce Churchill a numit „torturile pe care poetii vechi si teologii le rezerva damnatilor”.

Intr-o masura chiar mai mare decat Polonia, Romania a reusit sa uite de dictatele strategice si diplomatice. A muncit din greu pentru a intra in NATO. A adus contributii operatiunilor conduse de SUA in Afganistan. Dar nu a fost nevoie sa-si faca griji cu privire la nivelul de baza/fundamental al geopoliticii, acela de a asigura statul si teritoriul sau impotriva unei invazii, a constrangerilor sau impotriva extinctiei in mainile puterilor ostile. Securitatea teritoriului romanesc, integritatea sistemului sau guvernamental, stabilitatea mediului sau pentru atragerea de investitii si dezvoltare – toate aceste conditii prealabile pentru succesul statului roman modern au fost asigurate in numele sau, in mare masura, de puteri din exterior.

Aceasta perioada linistita a istoriei a fost o mare realizare atat pentru Romania, cat si pentru Occident ca un intreg, care acum pot sarbatori 25 de ani de la tranzitia din comunism.
Dar conditiile care au facut posibila aceasta vacanta de geopolitica se apropie de sfarsit.

Invazia ruseasca din Ucraina reprezinta o provocare directa si foarte violenta la adresa bazelor juridice si teritoriale ale securitatii spatiului european. Aceasta semnaleaza modificari ale peisajului geopolitic din sud-estul Europei care vor modifica, la randul lor, profund si permanent, mediul extern al Romaniei in moduri care vor pune sub semnul intrebarii succesul sau continuu ca stat european democratic in curs de dezvoltare.

Pentru prima data in aceasta generatie, Romania are un pradator in ecosistemul sau. Sub conducerea lui Vladimir Putin, Rusia a reaparut ca un stat nemultumit din punct de vedere teritorial, capabil militar si ideologic antioccidental, cu capacitatile si intentiile de a rasturna solutionarea post-1991 in vecinatatea sa. Razboiul din Ucraina arata ca Rusia este dispusa sa joace acest rol, folosind nu doar tactici de subversiune, luare de mita si intimidare, ci si prin utilizarea fortei militare impotriva vecinilor sai.

In multe feluri, Vladimir Putin este deja in razboi cu Occidentul si castiga. Nu a intampinat nimic in raspunsul natiunilor occidentale care sa-l descurajeze sa foloseasca aceleasi tehnici pentru a teroriza, a destabiliza si a rearanja alte state de-a lungul frontierei de est a Europei.

Renasterea Rusiei vine intr-un moment de slabiciune pentru Occident, atunci cand Pax Occidentalis inseamna din ce in ce mai putin pentru Romania. SUA sunt un aliat prin tratat al Romaniei; sunt si vor ramane ferm angajate in apararea sa. Dar natura influentei Americii in Europa Centrala se schimba: bugetele noastre de aparare sunt in scadere, presiunile strategice de gestionare a mai multor regiuni la nivel mondial sunt in crestere si, teoretic, pe orice plan, iar influenta Americii in sud-estul Europei este inlocuita de alte puteri.

In acelasi timp, motoarele traditionale de integrare occidentala incetinesc. Criza din Ucraina a demonstrat limitele capacitatii UE de a exporta modelul sau de guvernare in spatiile in litigiu impotriva vointei unei Rusii determinate fara a poseda elementele traditionale ale puterii geopolitice. Agenda de reforme a stagnat in multe tari din UE. Populismul si nationalismul sunt in crestere in sud-estul Europei, iar euroscepticismul este in crestere.

Aceste evenimente nu se petrec in vid. Traim intr-o perioada de transformari globale extraordinare. Puterile in ascensiune si cele revizioniste testeaza capacitatea de rezistenta a ordinii occidentale. Forme hibride de autoritarism sunt in crestere. Tacticile beligerante ale lui Vladimir Putin in Crimeea sunt reflectate de agresiunea maritima a Chinei in Marea Chinei de Sud. Niciodata n-a mai fost astfel contestata puterea Americii, si nici rivalii atat de numerosi. Bazele lumii de dupa Razboiul Rece se cutremura/se zdruncina in jurul nostru.

Acum, o multime de romani ar putea asculta toate acestea si ar putea spune: „Sigur, lucrurile par instabile. Ucraina este o tragedie. UE este o harababura. SUA au problemele lor din Asia. Dar Romania este in NATO. Avem articolul 5. Avem trupe americane pe teritoriul romanesc. Avem o economie de succes si un sector energetic in plina expansiune. Acum nu este momentul sa-i perturbam pe investitori cu geopolitica. Vom creste costurile apararii cu cateva procente, dar, in cele din urma, criza va disparea si ne vom putea intoarce la afacerile noastre”.

Aceasta este o imagine tentanta, dar e iluzorie. Cred ca, in anii urmatori, geopolitica de moda veche va incepe sa afecteze Romania in moduri care ar putea prezenta probleme grave pentru dezvoltarea sa economica si politica interna. Bazandu-ma pe tendintele regionale actuale, vad cinci riscuri emergente cu care este probabil ca Romania sa se confrunte:

•  Riscul unei frontiere militare reactivate pe frontul estic: avansarea continua a Rusiei in sudul Ucrainei pune o presiune directa asupra Romaniei. In anii urmatori, Romania trebuie sa se astepte la frecvente incalcari ale spatiului sau aerian din partea fortelor ruse, la hartuire maritima a navelor si platformelor din Zona Economica Exclusiva a Romaniei si la o mai mare agitatie in Republica Moldova si Transnistria.
•  Riscul de a remilitariza Marea Neagra:
Anexarea Crimeii pune Rusia in pozitia de a perturba dezvoltarea energetica maritima si economica a Romaniei. Patruzeci de procente din resursele energetice din ZEE a Romaniei fac acum obiectul unei dispute juridice declansate de Rusia, pe baza revendicarilor vechii frontiere ucrainene. Pana si o atacare fara succes a hotararii din 2009 a Curtii Internationale de Justitie ar putea schimba climatul de risc pentru dezvoltarea sectorului energetic in spatiul Marii Negre si sa impiedice planurile Romaniei pentru independenta energetica pana in 2020.
•  Riscul de incertitudine economica regionala:
Investitorii nu agreeaza razboaiele. Comunitatea Europeana a prosperat din punct de vedere economic, deoarece doua decenii de stabilitate au facut din aceasta un loc sigur in randul pietelor globale emergente. Daca se pierde aceasta stabilitate, veti pierde mai mult din baza necesara cresterii in viitor decat va dati seama. Este exact ceea ce un raport recent al BERD (Banca Europeana pentru Reconstructie si Dezvoltare) a avertizat ca se va intampla in CE in cazul in care criza din Ucraina se va intinde pe durata unui al doilea an.
•  In al patrulea rand, riscul nationalismului regional resuscitat/reinviat:
Pentru prima data dupa 1940, Razboiul din Ucraina a reintrodus in CEE revizionismul etnic teritorial. Nationalistii iredentisti din Transnistria pana in Transcarpatia si in Transilvania au luat act de anexarea Crimeii si sunt incurajati in mod activ de Vladimir Putin si Alexandr Dughin.
•  Riscul de cooptare prin coruptie:
Romania este un „stat camp de lupta” al Balcanilor. Intensificarea concurentei geopolitice creste atractivitatea sa ca tinta pentru puteri straine, care s-ar putea folosi de coruptia din sistemul sau politic ca de o bresa in securitatea nationala.

In toate directiile in jurul Romaniei, ordinea Euro-Atlantica este in retragere. La est, o natiune suverana a fost invadata pentru a impiedica apropierea acesteia de UE; la vest, liderul ales in mod democratic in Ungaria a declarat moartea democratiei liberale; la sud, un stat membru NATO/UE a fost cooptat de bani rusesti si de propria guvernare defectuoasa intr-o asemenea masura incat este pe punctul de deveni un stat virtual capturat.

In acest context, Romania nu mai poate presupune ca conditiile externe benigne, care i-au permis sa prospere in ultimii 25 de ani, vor continua la nesfarsit.
Ea nu mai poate presupune ca nu se va confrunta cu o amenintare externa a intereselor sale sau chiar a teritoriului propriu; ca un aliat din exterior va reusi sa ofere stabilitatea mediului inconjurator; sau ca puteri din afara nu vor folosi vulnerabilitatile Romaniei ca arme strategice impotriva sa.

Acestea sunt riscuri de care Romania nu a trebuit sa isi faca griji in mod semnificativ timp o lunga perioada a vietii noastre. In stadiul sau actual de tranzitie, pericolul pe care il prezinta pentru Romania este franarea dezvoltarii – pericolul ca un mediu extern neospitalier va incetini sau va impiedica cresterea economica ori consolidarea politica a Romaniei intr-un moment de rascruce in evolutia sa postcomunista.

Daca acest lucru suna exagerat, luati in consideratie Romania interbelica: o tara mare, cu resurse naturale din belsug, care a fost cel mai mare beneficiar al Tratatului post-1919 si unul dintre cei mai mari producatori de petrol din lume, dupa SUA. Despre Constitutia Romaniei din 1923 s-a sustinut ca este un „model de idealuri democratice liberale”. In termen de o generatie, acest prim experiment al democratiei romanesti a esuat. Mediul strategic s-a schimbat. Liderii romani au sustras resurse de stat si au pierdut increderea poporului. Investitorii din Vest au disparut. Puteri revizioniste au umplut vidul astfel creat. Romanii au renuntat la democratie. Capturarea statului a survenit rapid, atat din exterior, cat si din interior.

Nu aceasta va fi soarta Romaniei din vremurile noastre. Nu suntem in 1930, iar Romania moderna a construit baze solide pentru un stat de succes. Dar, de asemenea, Romania nu va putea sa se comporte strategic ca si cum am fi inca la inceputul anilor 2000. Imprejurimile geopolitice se schimba, iar Romania va trebui sa se adapteze daca doreste sa reuseasca.

Intr-o masura mai mare decat in trecut, Romania va trebui sa joace un rol direct in asigurarea conditiilor externe care ii garanteaza succesul economic si politic. Acestea includ premisele strategice fundamentale ale statului roman: limitarea prezentei militare rusesti la est de Nipru; mentinerea Marii Negre ca spatiu economic deschis; infranarea revizionismului din bazinul dunarean; mentinerea unei alternative strategice vestice in PSS.

Navigarea in acest nou mediu va necesita cel putin trei lucruri din partea Romaniei, lucruri despre care nu era cazul sa discutam in primele etape ale erei post-Razboi Rece.

In primul rand, Romania va trebui sa aiba capacitatea fizica de a modela mediul sau extern.

•  Conditia prealabila a oricarei strategii viitoare romanesti este un efectiv militar capabil, modern. Astazi, Armata romana este foarte respectata in Romania si in Statele Unite ale Americii. Cu toate acestea, ea reflecta, de asemenea, realitatile strategice de dupa Razboiul Rece: bugete mici, o preocupare cu misiuni in alte zone, cum ar fi ISAF, si o prioritizare a personalului in concordanta cu aptitudinile lui.
•  Unele forte din Romania de azi folosesc acelasi echipament din 1988, cand eu eram in clasa a cincea si Romania era inca semnatara a Tratatului de la Varsovia.
Programul de modernizare pe care Romania l-a inceput in 2007 a stagnat. Din 85 de achizitii planificate, Armata romana a finalizat 15.
•  Acest lucru ar fi justificabil pentru un stat mic. Dar Romania nu este un stat mic; nu este Bulgaria sau Ungaria.
Romania este al doilea cel mai mare stat NATO de frontiera, ancora flancului de sud-est al NATO si, alaturi de Polonia, pivotul strategiei Vestului pentru toata aceasta regiune.
•  Romania trebuie sa-si reevalueze prioritatile de modernizare militara in lumina peisajului conflictului din Ucraina. Este nevoie de reforma si modernizare cuprinzatoare, similar cu ceea ce Polonia a inceput cu un deceniu in urma.
Se cer cheltuieli reduse cu personalul si punerea accentului pe aptitudinile Armatei; mai putin accent pus pe sisteme exotice de arme si mai mult accent pus pe solutii de „area denial” (sarma ghimpata, mine etc.) pentru a consolida efortul Europei de Sud-Est impotriva amenintarilor asimetrice in stilul Crimeii.

In al doilea rand, Romania are nevoie de o strategie pentru transformarea succesului autoritatii sale nationale in autoritate regionala.
•  Romania este cel mai mare aliat al SUA intr-un spatiu de 2.400 km, intre Polonia si Israel. Este singura putere din zona care are marimea, potentialul latent si credibilitatea necesare pentru a proiecta stabilitate in sud-estul Europei.
•  Strategia Romaniei pentru a face acest lucru ar trebui sa se axeze pe construirea de zone cu potential de avantaj national in domeniul securitatii militare, al energiei si al guvernarii democratice.
•  Oportunitatea imediata de autoritate este in energie. Pana in anul 2020, Romania ar putea produce mai mult gaz decat consuma ea si Republica Moldova impreuna. Aceasta este o veste buna pentru CE, dar Romaniei ii lipseste o strategie pe termen lung pentru exploatarea in mod sistematic a acestei oportunitati.
•  O strategie energetica regionala romaneasca ar depasi actuala incurajare a productiei offshore si onshore. Ar fi nevoie de masuri luate acum pentru a atinge un nivel de productie durabil si exportabil la nivel regional. Aceasta ar aborda vulnerabilitatile din infrastructura, ar accelera liberalizarea pietei energetice, ar crea responsabilitate din partea statului si ar crea obstacole in calea achizitiei de active strategice de catre Rusia si China.

In al treilea rand, Romania trebuie sa reuseasca ca democratie. Nu doar sa reuseasca, ci sa reuseasca in mod vizibil.
•  Securitatea nationala si guvernarea sunt strans legate. Acest lucru este valabil in toate tarile – inclusiv in Statele Unite ale Americii.
•  Diferenta in cazul Romaniei este ca mizele sunt mai mari aici. Traiti intr-un mediu ostil. Tocmai pentru ca jucati un rol crucial in succesul Occidentului in aceasta regiune sunteti o tinta pentru fortele din exterior – fie ea Rusia sau China – care ar folosi procesul neterminat al tranzitiei voastre democratice impotriva voastra. Sistemul vostru imunitar trebuie sa fie chiar mai puternic decat cel al altor state.
•  Capacitatea Romaniei de a depasi coruptia este indisolubil legata de succesul sau de esecul nu doar ca democratie, ci ca stat. Pretindeti conducatorilor dumneavoastra o guvernare mai buna – sali de judecata transparente, urmarirea penala in caz de mita, insistarea asupra integritatii si transparentei in spatiul public este unul dintre cele mai patriotice lucruri pe care romanii de rand le pot face.
Tema comuna in toate aceste domenii este conducerea.
Vladimir Putin si Viktor Orban au invocat diferite versiuni ale aceleeasi teze: ordinea democratica pe care am construit-o in Europa Centrala dupa 1989 a fost temporara – ca aceasta poate fi contestata si chiar inlocuita daca suntem dispusi sa incalcam regulile, fie ca se utilizeaza bani murdari, tancuri sau urne de vot.

Succesul Romaniei este contra-dovada esentiala a acestei teze. Romania este o dovada ca idealurile si institutiile occidentale „functioneaza” intr-un moment din istorie in care avem nevoie cu disperare de exemple de succes ale Occidentului la nivel mondial.

Ganditi-va pentru o clipa la cum ar putea arata viitorul Romaniei daca aceasta ar atinge potentialul sau maxim: al 6-lea stat ca marime din Europa, cu 20 de milioane de oameni, si a treia cea mai mare rezerva de gaze in UE, toate acestea ca o democratie consolidata in inima sud-estului Europei, cu institutii stabile, un standard de trai in crestere, investitii stabile din Vest si un sector energetic in plina expansiune. Aceasta este o Romanie cu viziune transatlantica, care ar fi un exemplu puternic de stabilitate, de solutii de energie si democratie in fata vecinilor sai.

Aceasta este Romania de care are nevoie Occidentul, din punct de vedere strategic, in aceste vremuri. Ne asteapta in anii urmatori o competitie geopolitica si ideologica globala mai crancena decat ne-am fi putut imagina oricare dintre noi in urma cu 25 de ani. America va avea nevoie de aliati maturi care sunt capabili sa ofere securitate regiunii lor si sa modeleze succesul ordinii Vestice. Angajamentul nostru strategic si economic va fi cu atat mai mare pentru aliatii care reusesc cel mai mult in aceste domenii. Cu cat Romania va avea mai mult succes, cu atat mai mult Statele Unite vor fi prezente in tara si in regiunea dumneavoastra.

Despre Romania interbelica s-a spus ca a reprezentat o „stare de necesitate”. Aceasta este valabil si pentru Romania de astazi. Sunteti intr-o „stare de necesitate” pentru America si pentru alianta occidentala. Au fost momente in istorie cand cel mai sigur lucru pentru Romania a fost sa pastreze un profil scazut si sa actioneze ca un stat mai mic (neinsemnat) decat in realitate. Acum nu ne aflam intr-unul din acele momente. Acesta este un moment in care romanii trebuie sa fie subiecte mai degraba decat obiecte ale istoriei. Un moment in care sa conduceti in regiunea dvs. – in guvernare, securitate si energie – in ciuda faptului ca totul in jurul vostru se misca in directia opusa.

Eu cred ca Romania este pregatita pentru acest moment. Dispuneti de institutii mai stabile, de resurse financiare mai mari si de aliati mai buni decat dispunea statul roman in perioada interbelica. Ultimii 25 de ani au oferit toate ingredientele necesare succesului dumneavoastra. Tot ceea ce aveti nevoie acum este increderea. Alegerea este a dumneavoastra, in cele din urma. Dar Occidentul are nevoie de Romania pentru a reusi, pentru viitorul vostru si pentru viitorul nostru.
Va multumesc.
Nota: sublinierile imi apartin. Traducerea din textul originar a fost realizata in timp record cu sprijinul unor colaboratori carora tin sa le multumesc si pe aceasta cale. Imi asum eu, insa, in cazul in care apar mici stangacii de exprimare, orice posibila greseala. Pentru conformitate si confruntare cu textul originar voi posta la final si textul  in limba engleza.
 
Despre autor: A. Wess Mitchell is President and Co-Founder of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), a U.S. foreign policy institute dedicated to the study of Central Europe. At CEPA, he leads in the strategic direction of the institute, the intellectual and financial development of major programs, and the executive management of Center resources and staff. In helping to form CEPA, Mitchell has sought to reinforce Central Europe’s position in U.S. global strategy and strengthen America’s diplomatic, commercial and security relationships with key allies in the region.
Mitchell co-founded CEPA in 2005 with its Chairman Larry Hirsch, and has played a critical role in the institute’s formulation and growth as a successful 501(c)(3) startup organization. As President and CEO, he has helped to build CEPA into the largest concentration of expertise on the Central European region in the United States, establishing effective strategic partnerships with transatlantic governments and universities and leading capital growth campaigns that have attracted funding from major corporate, foundation, and private sponsors. Under his tenure, CEPA has become one of Washington’s fastest growing think tanks with a wide following in senior policy circles in Europe and the United States.
Mitchell is a frequent public commentator whose articles and interviews have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Washington Post, BBC, Gazeta Wyborcza, Der Spiegel, Harper’s Weekly, American Interest, National Inter-est, National Review, Orbis, and Internationale Politik, among others. He is a frequent consultant to U.S. and European governments, and has given briefings and lectures at the Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. State Department, Johns Hopkins SAIS University, Har-vard, UC-Berkley and elsewhere. During the 2012 U.S. Presidential elections, he worked for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, serving on both the National Security Transition Team and the European Policy Working Group.
A Texas native, Mitchell began his career as an intern in the office of Congressman Larry Combest. He holds a Masters Degree from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, where he was awarded the 2004 Hopper Award for his work on American grand strategy. He has completed research for a doctoral dissertation, has lived and studied in England and Germany, and is member of the editorial board of International Politics Reviews in London. He is a member of the CEPA Board of Directors and serves on the advisory councils of the Richard G. Lugar Institute of the German Marshall Fund, the Slovak Atlantic Commission, the Prague Center for Transatlantic Relations, Atlantische Initiative Berlin, and the Alexander Hamilton Society of Washington. He is currently completing his second book, examining U.S. global alliances and 21st Century geopolitics, with Professor Jakub Grygiel of Johns Hopkins University SAIS.
Textul conferintei in limba engleza. Autor: Wess Mitchell
Romania after the Ukraine War: Threats and Opportunities
Thank you all for coming today and for the opportunity to speak here at Universitatea Bucuresti, Facultatea de Drept. I especially want to thank my good friend Don Lothrop, who’s been an outstanding supporter and mentor of our entire organization at CEPA. Many of you here may not realize the extent of the impact that Don is achieving as an ambassador at large for your country in the United States. Don is making a tremendous difference in Washington in educating the U.S. government, think-tanks and business community on Romania’s potential and its strategic importance to the United States. Don is a founding father of our U.S.-Romania Initiative at CEPA, and his work on the Romania One Initiative has been an inspiration to all of us at CEPA in our mission as Washington’s only think-tank dedicated to promoting an economically vibrant, geopolitically stable and politically free Central Europe with close and enduring ties to the United States.
Today I want to talk about the second part of CEPA’s mission statement: geopolitics.
Within the course of the past 8 months, war has returned to Central and Eastern Europe. The largest country in Eastern Europe—a sovereign nation of 45 million people whose borders were guaranteed by the Great Powers—has been subjected to a sustained campaign of state violence, systematic destabilization and dismemberment at the hands of the Russian Federation. This country has been repeatedly invaded, its citizens have been murdered, its territory has been occupied. More than 3,000 people have been killed. Borders have been redrawn. A civilian airliner has been shot down. And the West has entered into a prolonged geopolitical contest with Russia. Eastern Europe has once again in our lifetimes become a reactivated geopolitical and civilizational frontier.
And all of this has happened in a country that is a few hours’ drive from where we sit here today. A country that shares a 600-kilometer border with Romania.
Since this crisis began, most of the focus in Western security policy has been on North Central Europe, on Poland and the Baltic States. But I want to talk this afternoon about what the Ukraine war means for the geopolitics of southeastern Europe and in particular what it means for the people and state of Romania.
This is not a topic we discuss very often. For most of our lifetimes, geopolitics is not something that we in the West or Romanians in particular have not had to think very much about. For 25 years now, we have lived through one of the most stable and transformative periods in human history. Fat years, years of peace and prosperity, free from the Old Chaos of geopolitics and Great Power war.
Central Europe has been the ultimate symbol of that prosperity: this region has enjoyed greater safety, wealth accumulation and political freedom than at any point in 1,000 years of history. In the past quarter century, Romania has gone from being one of the most wretched and oppressed of the captive nations of the Soviet Bloc to the most successful democracy in the Balkans. Its GDP has increased by 150 percent. It’s attracted more than 170 billion dollars in foreign investment. It’s acheived some of the fastest economic growth rates in the Western world. And it’s gone through 7 consecutive, peaceful, parliamentary transfers of power.
Romania’s success was made possible by the courage and ingenuity of its people. But it was also made possible by an exceptional and historically rare set of geopolitical circumstances. For 25 years now, Romania has, for the first time in modern history, not faced a military threat from an outside power. It has had a security covenant with the most powerful nation on earth. And it has had the modernizing and reforming influence of the world’s largest trade bloc.
This set of conditions has created a kind of “goldilocks” moment for all of Central Europe that has allowed the countries of this region to heal from the wounds of Communism and focus on building up the human capital, political institutions and open economies of modern European states. No nation deserved this opportunity more than Romania, the victims of the Ceasescu police state.
What the post-Cold War moment gave to Romania was a suspension of the normal laws of geography and power that have dominated most of its history – that have subjected it and its neighbors to what Churchill called “the tortures which ancient poets and theologians reserved for the damned.”
To an even greater extent than Poland, Romania has been able to forget about the dictates of strategy and statecraft. It’s worked hard to get into NATO. It made contributions to U.S.-led effort in Afghanistan. But it has not had to worry about geopolitics at the most fundamental level, of having to secure the state and its territory against invasion, coercion or extinction at the hands of hostile powers. The security of Romanian territory, the integrity of its governmental system, the stability of its environment for attracting investment and growth—all of these preconditions for the success of the modern Romanian state have been provided for Romania on its behalf, largely by outside powers.
This tranquil period of history has been a great accomplishment for Romania and for the West as a whole that is worth celebrating at the 25th anniversary of the transition from Communism.
But the conditions that made this vacation from geopolitics possible are ending.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine represents a direct and very violent challenge to the legal and territorial foundations of the European security order. It signals changes to the SEE geopolitical landscape that will profoundly and permanently alter Romania’s external environment in ways that will challenge its continued success as an emerging democratic European state.
For the first time in a generation, Romania has a predator in its ecosystem. Under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, Russia has reemerged as a territorially unsatisfied, militarily capable, and ideologically anti-Western state with the capabilities and intentions to overturn the post-1991 settlement in its neighborhood. The Ukraine war shows that Russia is willing to play this role using not only subversion, bribery and intimidation but by using military force against its neighbors.
In many ways, Vladimir Putin is already at war with the West, and he is winning. He has encountered nothing in the responses of Western nations that would dissuade him from using the same techniques to terrorize, destabilize and rearrange other states up and down the length of Europe’s eastern frontier.
Russia’s resurgence comes at a moment of weakness for the West when the Pax Occidentalis is wearing thin in Romania’s neighborhood. The United States is a treaty ally of Romania that is and will remain staunchly committed to its defense. But the nature of America’s influence in Central Europe is changing: our defense budgets are shrinking, the strategic pressures of managing multiple global regions are increasing, and by virtually any measure, America’s influence in SEE is being supplanted by other powers.
At the same time, the traditional motors of Western integration are slowing. The Ukraine crisis showed the limits of the EU’s ability to export its model of governance in contested spaces against the will of a determined Russia without possessing the traditional elements of geopolitical power. Inside the EU, the reform agenda has stalled in many EU countries. Populism and nationalism are on the rise in SEE and euroskepticism is growing.
This is not happening in a vacuum. We live in a time of extraordinary global upheaval. Rising and revisionist powers are testing the resiliency of the Western-led international order on every frontier. Hybrid forms of authoritarianism are on the rise. Vladimir Putin’s strong-arm tactics in Crimea are mirrored by Chinese maritime aggression in the South China Sea. America’s power has never been stretched thinner or our challengers more numerous. The foundations of the post-Cold War World are shaking all around us.
Now a lot of Romanians might listen to all of this and say: “Sure, things seem unstable. Ukraine is a tragedy. The EU is a mess. The US has its problems in Asia. But Romania is in NATO. We’ve got article 5. We’ve got U.S. troops on Romanian soil. We have a successful economy and a booming energy sector. Now is not a time to upset investors with talk of geopolitics. We’ll raise defense spending a few decimal points but eventually the crisis will fade and we can go back to business as usual.”
This is a tempting view. But it’s misleading. In the years ahead, I believe that old-fashioned geopolitics will begin to intrude on Romania in ways that could present grave challenges for its internal economic and political development. Based on current regional trends, I see 5 emerging risks that Romania is likely to face:
• The risk of a re-activated Eastern military frontier: Russia’s continued advance on southern Ukraine places direct pressure on Romania. In the years ahead, Romania should expect more frequent Russian violations of its airspace, more Russian maritime harassment of ships and rigs in the Romanian EEZ, and greater agitation in Moldova and Transnistria.
• The risk of a re-militarized Black Sea: The annexation of Crimea puts Russia in a position to disrupt Romanian maritime energy and economic development. Forty percent of the energy resources in the Romanian EEZ are now subject to legal dispute by Russia on the basis of the old Ukrainian boundary claims. Even an unsuccessful challenge to the 2009 ICJ ruling could change the risk climate for Romanian Black Sea energy development and impede Romania’s plans for energy independence by 2020.
• The risk of regional economic uncertainty: Investors don’t like wars. CE has thrived economically because 2 decades of stability have made it a safe haven among global emerging markets. Lose that stability, and you lose more of the basis for your future growth than you realize. This is exactly what a recent EBRD report has warned will happen in CE if the crisis in Ukraine stretches into a second year.
• Fourth, the risk of resurrected regional nationalism: The Ukraine war reintroduced ethnic-based territorial revisionism to CEE for the first time since the 1940s. Irredentist nationalists from Transnistria to Transcarpathia and Transylvania took note of Crimea and are being actively encouraged by Vladimir Putin and Alexandr Dughin.
• The risk of co-optation through corruption: Romania is a “battleground state” of the Balkans. The intensification of geopolitical competition increases its attractiveness as a target for foreign powers who would use corruption in its political system as a national-security liability.
In every direction around Romania, the Euro-Atlantic order is in retreat. To your east, a sovereign nation has been invaded to prevent it from moving closer to the EU; To your West the democratically elected leader of Hungary has declared the death of liberal democracy; to your south, a fellow NATO/EU member state has been co-opted by Russian money and its own misgoverance to such an extent that it is on the verge of virtual state capture.
In this setting, Romania can no longer assume that the benign external conditions that allowed it to prosper for the past 25 years will continue indefinitely. It can no longer assume that it will not face an external threat to its interests or even to its own territory; that a friendly outside power will be able to ensure the stability in Romania’s surrounding environment; or that unfriendly outside powers will not use its vulnerabilities as strategic weapons against it.
These are not risks that Romania has had to worry about in any meaningful way for most of our lifetimes. The danger that they present to Romania at its current stage of transition is the danger of arrested development—the danger that an inhospitable external environment will slow or impede Romanian economic growth or political consolidation just as it is arriving at a breakthrough moment in its post-Communist development.
If this sounds far-fetched, consider Interwar Romania: A large country with enormous natural resources that was the biggest winner from the post-1919 settlement and one of the world’s largest oil producers behind the US. The 1923 Romanian constitution was said to be a “model of liberal democratic ideals.” Within a generation, this 1st experiment in Romanian democracy had failed. The strategic environment shifted. Romanian leaders purloined state resources and lost the trust of the people. Western patrons vanished. Revisionist powers filled the vacuum. Romanians gave up on democracy. State capture came swiftly, from without and from within.
That will not be the fate of Romania in our time. This is not the 1930s, and modern Romania has built strong foundations for a successful state. But Romania also won’t be able to behave strategically as if it’s still the early 2000s. Your geopolitical surroundings are changing, and Romania will need to adapt if it wants to succeed.
To a greater extent than in the past, Romania will have to play a direct role in ensuring the external conditions that provide for its economic and political success. This includes the fundamental strategic pre-requisites of the Romanian state: limiting Russian military presence east of the Dnieper; maintaining the Black Sea as an open economic space; containing ethnic revisionism in the Danubian Basin; and retaining an active Western strategic alternative in the PSS.
Navigating this new environment will require at least 3 things of Romania that it didn’t have to worry about in earlier stages of the post-Cold War era.
First, Romania will have to have the physical ability to shape its external environment.
• A capable, modern military is the precondition to any future Romanian strategy. The Romanian military today is widely respected in both Romania and the United States. However, it also reflects post-Cold War strategic realities: Small budgets, a preoccupation with out-of-area missions like ISAF and a prioritization of personnel over capabilities.
• Some Romanian forces today use the same equipment they had in 1988, when I was in the fifth grade and Romania was in the Warsaw Pact. The modernization program that Romania began in 2007 has stalled. Out of 85 planned acquisitions, the Romanian military has completed 15.
• This would be justifiable for a small state. But Romania is not a small state; it is not Bulgaria or Hungary. Romania is the second largest NATO frontline state, the anchor of NATO’s southeastern flank and alongside Poland, the linchpin of Western strategy for this entire region.
• Romania needs to reevaluate the priorities of its military modernization in light of the post-Ukraine war landscape. Comprehensive reform and modernization is needed similar to what Poland began a decade ago. Less spending on personnel and more on capabilities, less focus on exotic weapons systems and more practical “area denial” capabilities to strengthen SEE deterrence against Crimea-style asymmetric threats.
Second, Romania needs a strategy for translating its national success into regional leadership.
• Romania is the largest U.S. ally for 1,500 miles between Poland and Israel. It is the only local power that has the size, latent potential and credibility to project stability in southeastern Europe.
• Romanian strategy for doing this should be to build up areas of potential national advantage in military security, energy, and democratic governance.
• The most immediate leadership opportunity is in energy. By the year 2020, Romania is on track to be producing more gas than it and Moldova consume together. This is good news for CE, but Romania lacks a long-term strategy for systematically exploiting this opportunity.
• A Romanian regional energy strategy would go beyond the current focus on encouraging offshore and onshore production. It would take steps now to make production sustainable and exportable at a regional level. It would address vulnerabilities in infrastructure, accelerate liberalization of the energy market, bring accountability to state-owned distribution facilities and create barriers to Russian and Chinese acquisition of strategic assets.
Third, Romania must succeed as a democracy. Not just succeed—but succeed conspicuously.
• National security and governance are intimately linked. This is true in all countries – including the United States.
• The difference for Romania is that the stakes here are higher. You live in a hostile environment. Precisely because you are crucial to the West’s success in this region you are more of a target for outside forces—whether its Russia or China—who would use the unfinished business of your democratic transition against you. Your immune system has to be even stronger than other states.
• Romania’s ability to overcome corruption is inextricably linked to your success or failure not just as a democracy but as a state. Asking your leaders for better governance—for cleaner courts, prosecuting bribes, insisting on integrity and transparency in the public space—is one of the most patriotic thing that everyday Romanians can do.
The common theme in all of these areas is leadership.
Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orban have both put forward different versions of the same thesis: that the democratic order we built in Central Europe after 1989 was temporary—that it can be challenged and even replaced if one is willing to bend the rules, whether it’s by using dirty money or tanks or ballot boxes.
The success of Romania is the ultimate counterproof to that thesis. Romania is proof that Western ideals and institutions “work” at a moment in history when we desperately need examples of the Western success story world-wide.
Think for a moment what the future could look like if Romania achieves its full potential: The 6th largest country in Europe with 20 million people and the third largest gas reserve in the EU as a consolidated democracy in the heart of SEE, with stable institutions, a rising standard of living, steady Western investment and a booming energy sector. This is a strong, Atlanticist Romania that would radiate stability, energy solutions and democracy to its neighbors.
This is the Romania that the West needs strategically in our time. The years ahead are likely to see greater global geopolitical and ideological competition than any of us could have imagined 25 years ago. America will need mature allies that are capable of anchoring their regions in security and modeling the success of the Western order. Our strategic and economic commitment will be greatest to those allies that succeed most in these areas. The more you succeed in Romania, the more the United States will be present in your country and your region.
It was said of Interwar Romania that it was a European “state of necessity.” That is true of Romania today. You are a “state of necessity” for America and the Western alliance. There have been times in Romania’s history when the safest thing for Romania to do was keep a low profile and act like a smaller state than you actually were. This is not one of those moments. This is a moment when Romanians need to be subjects rather than objects of history. A moment to lead in your region—in governance, security and energy—despite the fact that everything around you is moving in the opposite direction.
I believe that Romania is ready for this moment. You have steadier institutions, greater wealth and better allies than the Romanian state of the Interwar Period. The past 25 years have provided all of the ingredients for your success. All you need is confidence. The choice is ultimately yours. But the West needs Romania to succeed, for your future and for ours. Thank you.
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