Romania, Moldova and the U.S.-Romanian Relations
By Nicholas Dima
On December 1 Romania celebrated one hundred years since the modern reunification of the country. The nation traces its history back to the old kingdom of Dacia that existed two thousand years ago before the Roman conquest of the land. Then, throughout the middle ages, the Romanian nation lived primarily in the principalities of Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania. The medieval Principality of Moldova included the current Republic of Moldova. In the course of history, however, two Romanian-inhabited provinces, Bukovina and Bessarabia (Northern and Eastern Moldova) were annexed by Austria and respectively, by Russia. At the end of the First World War and based on their Romanian majority the two provinces reunited with Romania. Thus, modern Romania, like most Eastern European nations, came into being at the end of the war. The Principle of self-determination of Nations, formulated by the U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, was the cornerstone for rebuilding Eastern Europe.
Subsequently, the Paris Peace Treaty brought a period of stability and tranquility to the continent. During the inter-war period Romania maintained very good relations with the United States and with her traditional Western European allies. While Austria renounced any further claims, the newly created USSR sought continuously to re-annex Bessarabia. Thus, following the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact of 1939, the Soviet troops invaded Romania and annexed again not only Bessarabia, but also northern Bukovina.
It is worth reminding that Malborne Graham, an American diplomat, published an article in 1944 titled “The Legal Status of the Bukovina and Bessarabia” (American Journal of International Law, October 1944). He wrote that this disputed area of Eastern Europe represented “the most critical territorial problem bequeathed to the present generation as a direct legacy of the age-old Eastern Question.” This territorial problem is still pending.
In 1989, after the dismemberment of the USSR, Moldova declared its independence. However, to this day the truncated land that makes the current Republic of Moldova is still manipulated by Putin and by his men in Chisinau. Consequently, the population has suffered and continues to suffer political oppression and economic hardship. Reminding this historical context on June 26, 1991 the U.S. Senate passed Resolution 148. Here are a few excerpts:
…To express the sense of the Senate that the United States should support the right to self-determination of the people of the Republic of Moldavia and northern Bucovina... Now, Therefore, be it Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that the United States Government should--
(1) Support the right of self-determination of the people of Soviet-occupied Moldavia and northern Bucovina and issue a statement to that effect; and
(2) Support future efforts by the Government of Moldavia to negotiate peacefully, if they so wish, the reunification of Romania with Moldavia and Northern Bucovina as established in the Paris Peace Treaty of 1920, the prevailing norms of international law, and in conformity with Principle 1 of the Helsinki Final Act...”
Since 1944 when Graham wrote about the old ‘Eastern Question” and since 1991 when the U.S. Senate addressed the same question, this issue has remained unsolved. Nevertheless, since 1991 the Romanian-American relations have expanded steadily while Moldova has remained under Moscow.
As for the American-Romanian relations and according to official Bucharest sources:
…‘Romania shares the US commitment to transatlantic security, and fully supports endeavors to improve the effectiveness of NATO and strengthen its capabilities to address the current challenges. This can only be done by reinforcing the core pillar of the Alliance, which is collective defense, backed by a credible deterrence. Thus, we are particularly appreciative to our U.S. ally for its strong political support and substantial contribution to projects such as the multinational brigade hosted by Romania, the enhanced maritime presence in the Black Sea or the Combined Joint Enhanced Training Program’...
The 2014 Russo-Ukrainian war, the Russian annexation of Crimea, and the very current renewal of Russian aggression in the Sea of Azov require a new approach. It is high time for Washington to redefine its policy in the region. On December 1, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Romania on its centennial. It is a beautiful gesture, but it is not enough. America should realize once and for all that Romanians and Moldovans are the same people! It is in the strategic interest of the United States to do so!
Romania is currently a member of the European Union, a solid member of NATO, and a staunch American ally. In the new political climate and the new geo-political configuration of Europe, Romania is one of the main pivots of U.S. policy in Eastern Europe. And Romania’s location by the Black Sea enhances her significance for America and the West in a region threatened by instability and aggressive neighbors. It is time for a new policy and approach.
Nicholas Dima, Ph.D, is a former professor and author of numerous books and articles including the autobiographical memoir, Journey to Freedom, a description of the effects of communist dictatorship on a nation, a family and an individual. He currently lectures and is a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis of the online-conservative-journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.
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