Romania has been in the news lately, as hosting the big NATO conference April 2008.
1. The site of the conference:
Parliament stands alone.
A large area was demolished for this purpose, cleared of traditional Bucharest neighborhoods, by Former President Nicolae Ceaucescu, see http://www.ceausescu.org/. He was later executed by firing squad 12/25/1989. There are many sites with negative coverage as to Ceaucescu at http://www.dictatorofthemonth.com/Ceaucescu/May2007CeaucescuEN.htm. However, we noted special shrines to him at his grave at Ghenciu Military Cemetery; and in the lower floors of the Peasants' Museum. That one is like a shrine.
In an effort to look more European, Ceaucescu modeled Bucharest according to Parisian style -- an Arch of Triumph and radiating roadways, and broad boulevards lead to isolated huge Parliamentary buildings. That Parliamentary area is where the conference was held.
The urban clearance area is still largely vacant. Acre after acre.
2. Feral dogs dogs dogs.
People forced from their homes could not take their pets into the new housing offered.
In clearing the old city neighborhoods, and moving people to government housing, we understand that the people could take no pets - thus the thousands upon thousands (by now) of stray dogs, including cockers, pekingese, shelties, beagles and poodles, as well as the large yellow mixes, many Heinz 57 by now, but still many identifiable as essentially specific breeds. Foraging.
Dogs, dogs. Even up in the mountains now. Chasing cars, looking for food.
They tell you never to put your hand down to pet, offer no kind words, even to the cute. Is there no solution here, no humane help to be given without slaughter.
3. European Union. Separatist interests.
We like the Financial Times for balanced, neutral accounts of our world, so this is from that UK publication's March 7, 2008, Special Report: Find it at http://www.ft.com/intl/reports/romania2008
Romania joined the EU in January 2007, after our visit, and when the horsecarts were still a norm. With EU membership, Romania qualifies for, but is not guaranteed unless it shows it can draw up and execute enough projects to qualify:
- infrastructure (roads and what else?),
- social and environmental purposes (what is that? horrible industrial smog south of Cluj Napoca,
- farm sector "taking them on" whatever that means. The peasants? a living wage? or assimilation of The Roma or Gypsies -- but their tradition is non-assimilation, working in a transient way. Is there a future in merely offering self-employment, having been cast off regular work for so long, see Gypsies, Roma .
Yet, political factions are warring - as is expected when cash is around. As in the US, with our ubiquitous political pork. No claim of superiority here.
In Romania, as perhaps here if there is no clear direction after the 2008 election, paralysis politically is around the bend, with warring groups squaring off. Like here. Lack of experience in "project design and management," coping with new conditions - sounds like us, here, all parties, all candidates - the world is marching on despite our misinterpretations and corruptions. Is there any real difference between east and west..
4. Separatism. Romania on Kosovo:
Unilateralism in separatism.
Teodor Melescanu, defense minister, see http://untreaty.un.org/unts/144078_158780/5/8/1317.pdf is dismayed about Kosovo as departing from the tried-and-true process of changing borders through negotiation; and turning instead to unilateralism, and with approval from the United States, much as President Bush used unilateralism as a tool to get what he wanted.
Romania also has other reason for concern if groups succeed in separation out unilaterally - separatist interests - there is a large Hungarian population in Romania. What if they want to reunite with Hungary? See a review of the Hungarian minority, also known as the Magyar, in Romania at http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/mar/assessment.asp?groupId=36002.
Positives for Romania: It has indeed weathered Communism, Fascism,