This is the second instalment from the series of articles regarding Romanian foreign policy I promised I will publish on this blog. In this article I will discuss and comment the draft 10 year foreign policy strategy which has been recently published by the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Actually the word strategy does not properly describe the document – it is more a list of priorities and objectives for Romania’s diplomacy for the next ten years. In this respect the word strategy is a misnomer – but for practical purposes, I will refer to it as a strategy (the document is meant to ignite a public debate concerning Romania’s foreign policy in the next decade).
When first reading the document one is struck by two important features: the first is the general character of the document and the second one is its scope. It must also take into consideration that this is the first time ever a draft foreign policy strategy has been open to public debate. Furthermore when discussing and considering the document one should bare in mind that it is meant to spark a public debate concerning foreign policy, therefore some of the data and prescriptions for action in the document are given in general terms, not specific. The general character of this particular document allows in principle a serious discussion regarding the priorities and opportunities for Romania’s foreign policy. There are some parts of the document which are not adequately developed – my guess is that these represent issues of low priority to Romania’s diplomacy or issues that are currently shaping, and a stance on the part of Romania has yet to be formulated. The areas of major interest for Romania are very well highlighted in the document, these are: NATO, European Union, alliance with the US, relations with Russia, relations with Moldova, the issues of the West Balkans, the Black Sea region, energy security and participation in international organizations. However the document makes no mention of the resources available to Romania’s foreign policy in order to fulfil its interests and goals in the areas of interest listed.
The strategy mentions that Romania considers NATO as the main organization guaranteeing the security of Europe. Romania has set as one of its foreign policy objectives the promotion of closer ties between EU and the Republic of Moldova, western involvement in the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Transnistria and cultivating better ties with this particular state. In terms of Romania’s relation with Russia, which have cooled lately, Romania aims at building and maintaining a pragmatic relation based on mutual interest and in the larger context of the European Union’s relations with the Russian Federation. As to Ukraine, a country with which Romania has ongoing disputes concerning its maritime borders and the building of the Bastroe canal, Romanian aims are the building of a balanced, stable and predictable relation.
Considering the second feature of the document – its scope – one is surprised that a country like Romania is interested in issues ranging from promoting human rights and democracy to Africa. Such a foreign policy agenda has been usually identified with Great Powers – a thing that Romania is not and does not hold ambitions to become one. However given the anarchic nature of the international system in general, and its current configuration in particular it is useful for a small power like Romania to be at least aware of the current issues at stake in international politics, even if some may hold little practical importance to its national interest. Under the conditions of anarchy a state must always be aware of the issues shaping the system, as at some point in time they may either pose a threat to its interests or offer an opportunity to further those interests. In terms of explicit foreign policy objectives seeks to become a policy shaper in both NATO and the European Union. Other goals identified by the foreign policy strategy include: increasing Romania’s contribution to the security of the international system, increased involvement and diplomatic activity inside international organizations, promoting Romanian economic interests (especially in the energy sector – see the Nabucco and PEOP projects), promoting democracy, security and stability in Romania’s near abroad, maintaining the country’s status as an important partner for dialogue with state from different regions of the world, promoting and protecting the rights of Romanian citizens abroad as well as promoting Romanian culture and identity abroad.
In conclusion, giving an answer to the question in the title is difficult. The document under scrutiny provides a sort of mind map to the issues and challenges Romanian foreign policy and diplomacy has to find adequate solutions to in the near future. Furthermore the document also proves a certain openness to input from individuals and organizations outside the government apparatus. Such a document can offer only a partial answer to whether or not the Government has a coherent action plan in terms foreign policy.