What are some misunderstandings about Romania

To this book

In view of the immense difficulties with which Romania is confronted in the fourth year after the overthrow of 1989, it is becoming increasingly clear that the country's problems are not only attributable to the Ceausescu regime. The more the shadow of the dictator fades, the more emphatically the difficulties that characterized the country before Ceausescu's accession to power in 1965 emerge. Some of these have intensified recently, such as B. excessive nationalism, which does not want to grant minority rights to the approx. 3 million Roma, 2 million Hungarians, over 100,000 Germans and other, smaller minorities in the country, as well as the now massive rehabilitation of Antonescu, who went from fascist dictator to patriotic savior of the Nation advances. A democratization of the Romanian society is obviously not to be achieved quickly and easily; The free elections in Romania have only proven that the old nomenclature can also come to power with it.

The articles presented here, which were put up for discussion at the symposium "Romania in Europe in the 1990s" at the Free University of Berlin in November 1991, are intended to correct the image of Romania, which was shaped by Dracula, Ceausescu and neglected children's homes, without glossing over it. It is primarily due to the country's older and deeper problems that are discussed in this volume that the initial euphoria and cautious optimism have now given way to disillusionment. Romania, the favorite child of the West petted since 1968 because of its outsider role within the Eastern Bloc, was not courted for its "liberal attitude" or even for its own sake. With the end of east-west tensions, interest in Romania has also been lost. This is not the first time in history that Romanians are shown their role as an object of great power politics.

The contributions of Lothar Maier, Holm Sundhaussen and Sorin Alexandrescu make it clear that historically based disadvantages and serious, never-resolved political, economic, social and mental problems have a long, ominous tradition in Romania, and that the link to the interwar period, favored by many Romanian intellectuals today, harbors more dangers than opportunities. Paul Cornea points out in his lecture that the Romanian democracy until 1938 corresponded to the form, but not the content according to the western model. In clear words, he shows where the path out of the miserable living conditions paired with hopelessness can lead: into dictatorship. Even the West will not be able to face such a "solution" indifferently.

This larger context, in which the history and the current situation of Romania is to be seen, is shown by the contributions of Gábor Hunya, Mathias Bernath and Georg Focke on. They make it clear that Romania not only reflects the well-known structural problems of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, but that very special economic, political and mental difficulties exist, which make the country a special or extreme case. en. Here, too, the latest development has helped the pessimists. The from Sorin Alexandrescu The hope expressed in connection with the September 1992 elections that Romania could move quickly towards democracy has not been fulfilled. Gabor Hunyawhose prognoses for the economic development of Romania were not very optimistic at the end of 1991, realized at the beginning of 1993 that the desired stabilization of the Romanian economy was not achieved in 1992 either.

The main focus is on the specific characteristics of Romania Keith Hitchins, Gabriel Liiceanu, Klaus-Henning Schroeder and Ana Blandiana a. Hitchins deals with the question of the meaning and essence of orthodoxy and uses the example of the relationship between church and society to show the situation of Romania at the intersection of Occident and Orient. He points to a historical and current problem that is mostly overlooked in the West: For the Romanian elite, it has not yet been agreed that cultural renewal is only possible through a quick connection to Europe. Some intellectuals see the cultural roots of Romania in the East, in Orthodoxy, and blame the West for intellectual malformations and alienation. Also deals with this problem area Gabriel Liiceanu, who deals in an autobiographical lecture with the legacy of the "intellectual national coach" Constantin Noica, whose exclusive concept of culture and his definition of the "Romanian soul" earned him not only recognition, but also the accusation of an exaggerated urge to assert national culture and world-forgotten passion. Dealing with Noica's motto, which Gerhardt Csejka once summed up in a nutshell: "You should be proud and far removed from politics", is still one of, if not the central problem of the Romanian elite. The country not only lacks democratically minded citizens who could build a functioning democracy, even the narrow strata of professional intellectuals find it difficult to get used to the business of politics.

The lecture caused violent reactions Klaus-Henning Schroeders which shows how the more recent Romanian linguistics implemented political objectives in its field. His pointedly negative image of Romanian linguistics met with brusque rejection or clear approval in the audience - this lecture probably left no one unaffected. Ana Blandiana at the end of the congress described in very personal, impressive words the situation in her home country, the hopelessness after the long phase of isolation.

With the symposium, the editors wanted to point out the current problems and the specific difficulties of Romania in order to arouse more understanding for this country and its inhabitants. Speakers and discussion participants made it clear that Romania will not cope with the immense problems on its own alone, but that the almost hopeless situation will be overcome with the help of the West, through sufficient loans, through rapid political, humanitarian and cultural support Connection to Europe, could be effectively countered.

The war in the former Yugoslavia has shown so far that it is still possible to live quietly in Western Europe "while the peoples over there in the Balkans clash". If the volume contributes to the realization that the "Fortress Europe" cannot be kept with closed eyes in the long run, and that the western affluent societies ultimately have to deal with the perspectives of the people in the countries of Eastern and Southeastern Europe in their own interest, has it served its purpose.

The contributions

First part: Basic lines of political and economic development

Lothar Maier

Romania and the European Powers (1859-1944)

Holm Sundhaussen

The "modernization" of the Balkan countries in the pre-socialist era: a misunderstanding and its consequences

Gabor Hunya

Recession and Transformation in Romania 1990-1991

Sorin Alexandrescu

Rumania's Belated Take Off. An Essay on Political Transition

Part two: Romanian nationalism

Mathias Bernath

Becoming and being made by a nation. The Romanians in the focus of comparative nationalism research

Klaus-Henning Schroeder

Language theory and nationalism in Romania

Georg Focke

From communism to nationalism - on the special case of Romania

Keith Hitchins

From communism to nationalism - on the special case of Romania

Third part: On the understanding of democracy in Romania

Paul Cornea

La démocratie roumaine dans l'ère post-totalitaire. Legs du passé et inconnues de l'avenir

Gabriel Liiceanu

What does it mean to be a European in the East in the post-war period?

Ana Blandiana

Les racines du mal roumain: de l'angoisse prophylactique à l'indulgence occulte

Summary and analysis of the panel discussion on Saturday, November 30, 1991

Ilina Gregori

The Europe of the nineties. A new picture of Romania?