U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Romania, June 1997

Released by the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs.



Official Name: Romania

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 237,499 sq. km. (91,699 sq. mi.); somewhat smaller than New York 
and Pennsylvania combined. 
Cities: Capital--Bucharest (pop. 2.06 million).  Other cities--Constanta 
(350,476), Iasi (342,994), Timisoara (334,278), Cluj-Napoca (328,008), 
Galati (325,788), Brasov (323,835).
Terrain: Consists mainly of rolling, fertile plains; hilly in the 
eastern regions of the middle Danube basin. 
Climate: Moderate.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Romanian(s). 
Population: 22.7 million (est.). 
Annual growth rate: 0.05% 
Ethnic groups: Romanians 89%, Hungarians 7.1%, Germans 0.5%, Ukrainians, 
Serbs, Croats, Russians, Turks, and Gypsies 2.5%. 
Religions: Orthodox 86.8%, Roman Catholic 5%, Reformed Protestant, 
Baptist, and Pentecostal 5%, Greek Catholic (Uniate) 1%, Jewish less 
than 0.1%. 
Languages: Romanian, Hungarian, German. 
Education: Years compulsory--10. Attendance--98%. Literacy--98%. 
Health: Infant mortality rate (1994 est.)--20/1,000. Life expectancy--
men 68.1 yrs., women 74.8 yrs. 
Work force (11.2 million): Agriculture--8%. Industry and commerce--38%. 
Other--34%.

Government

Type: Republic. Constitution: November 21, 1991. 
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state), prime minister (head of 
government), Council of Ministers. Legislative--bicameral parliament. 
Judicial--Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and lower courts. 
Subdivisions: 40 counties plus the city of Bucharest. 
Political parties: Party of Social Democracy of Romania (PDSR); 
Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), a coalition of the National 
Peasant-Christian Democrat Party (PNTCD) and National Liberal Party 
(PNL), plus others; Democratic Party (PD); Hungarian Democratic Union of 
Romania (UDMR); Greater Romania Party (PRM); Party of Romanian National 
Unity (PUNR); and a large number of smaller non-parliamentary parties. 
Suffrage: Universal from age 18. 
Defense (1995 figure.): 3% of GDP. 
Flag: Three vertical bands from left to right -- blue, yellow, and red.

Economy

GDP (1996 current prices): $33 billion.
Annual GDP growth rate: (1996) 4%; (1997 est.) -3%. 
Per Capita GDP: (1995): $1,565. 
Natural resources: oil, timber, natural gas, coal, salt, iron ore. 
Agriculture (23% of GDP--1995): Products--corn, wheat, potatoes, 
oilseeds, vegetables, livestock. 
Industry (33% of GDP--1995): Types--machine building, mining, 
construction materials, metal production and processing, chemicals, food 
processing, textiles, clothing. 
Trade (1996 estimate): Exports--$7.5 billion exports: textiles, 
chemicals, light manufactures, wood products, fuels, processed metals. 
Major markets--Germany, Italy, France, Turkey. Imports--(est.): $9.4 
billion: fuel, cooking coal, iron ore, machinery, wheat, cotton, 
potatoes. Major suppliers--Italy, Germany, Russia, France, UK.  
Exchange rate (1997): 7,000 lei = US$1.

Membership in International Organizations

UN and most of its specialized and related agencies; OSCE, North 
Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), European Bank for Reconstruction 
and Development (EBRD), Danube Commission, Interpol, the Wassenaar 
Group, the Australia Group, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Forum, 
the Central European Free Trade Association. In 1992, signed an 
Association Agreement with the European Union (EU); went into effect on 
February 1, 1995. In 1993 was admitted to the Council of Europe (COE).

GEOGRAPHY

Extending inland halfway across the Balkan Peninsula and covering a 
large eliptical area of 237,499 square kilometers (91,699 sq. mi.), 
Romania occupies the greater part of the lower basin of the Danube River 
system and the hilly eastern regions of the middle Danube basin. It lies 
on either side of the mountain systems -- the Carpathians and the 
Transylvanian Alps -- that form, with the Balkan Mountains, the natural 
barrier between the two Danube basins.

Romania's location gives it a continental climate, particularly in the 
Old Kingdom (east of the Carpathians and south of the Transylvanian 
Alps) and to a lesser extent in Transylvania, where the climate is more 
moderate. A long and at times severe winter (December-March), a hot 
summer (April-July), and a prolonged autumn (August- November) are the 
principal seasons, with a rapid transition from spring to summer. In 
Bucharest, the daily minimum temperature in January averages -7oC 
(20oF), and the daily maximum temperature in July averages 29oC (85oF).

PEOPLE

About 89% of the people are ethnic Romanians, a group that--in contrast 
to its Slav or Hungarian neighbors--traces itself to Latin-speaking 
Romans who in the second and third centuries A.D. conquered and settled 
among the ancient Dacians, a Thracian people. As a result, the Romanian 
language, although containing elements of Slavic, Turkish, and other 
languages, is a Romance language related to French and Italian. 

Primarily a rural, agricultural population, the medieval Wallachians and 
Moldavians maintained their language and culture despite centuries of 
rule by foreign princes. Once independent, the population of the unified 
Romanian state took their modern name to emphasize their connection with 
the ancient Romans.

Hungarians and Gypsies are the principal minorities, with a declining 
German population and smaller numbers of Serbs, Croats, Ukrainians, 
Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Great Russians, and others. Minority 
populations are greatest in Transylvania and the Banat, areas in the 
north and west which belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire until World 
War I. Ethnic Romanians comprised the overall majority in Tranysylvania, 
even before union with Romania, but ethnic Hungarians and Germans were 
the dominant urban population there until relatively recently, and still 
are the majority in a few districts.

Before World War II, minorities represented more than 28% of the total 
population, but during the war that percentage was halved, largely by 
the loss of the border areas of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina (to the 
former Soviet Union--now Moldova and Ukraine) and southern Dobrudja (to 
Bulgaria), as well as by the postwar flight or deportation of ethnic 
Germans. 

Though Romanian troops participated in the destruction of the Jewish 
communities of Bessarabia and Bukovina, most Jews from Romania proper 
survived the Holocaust. Mass emigration, mostly to Israel, has reduced 
the surviving Jewish community from over 300,000 to less than 15,000. In 
recent years, more than two-thirds of the ethnic Germans in Romania have 
emigrated to the Federal Republic of Germany.

Religious affiliation tends to follow ethnic lines, with most ethnic 
Romanians identifying with the Romanian Orthodox Church. The Greek 
Catholic or Uniate church, reunified with the Orthodox Church by fiat in 
1948, was restored after the 1989 revolution. The 1992 census indicates 
that 1% of the population is Greek Catholic, as opposed to about 10% 
prior to 1948. Roman Catholics, largely ethnic Hungarians and Germans, 
constitute about 5% of the population; Calvinists, Baptists, 
Pentecostals, and Lutherans make up another 5%. There are smaller 
numbers of Unitarians, Muslims and other religions.

Romania's rich cultural traditions have been nourished by many sources, 
some of which predate the Roman occupation. The traditional folk arts, 
including dance, wood carving, ceramics, weaving and embroidery of 
costumes and household decorations, and fascinating folk music, still 
flourish in many parts of the country. Despite strong Austrian, German, 
and especially French influence, many of Romania's great artists, such 
as the painter Nicolai Grigorescu, the poet Mihai Eminescu, the composer 
George Enescu, and the sculptor Constantin Brancusi, drew their 
inspiration from Romanian folk traditions.

The country's many Orthodox monasteries, as well as the Transylvanian 
Catholic and Evangelical Churches, some of which date back to the 13th 
century, are repositories of artistic treasures. The famous painted 
monasteries of Bukovina make an important contribution to European 
architecture.

Poetry and the theater play an important role in contemporary Romanian 
life. Classic Romanian plays, such as those of Ion Luca Caragiale, as 
well as works by modern or avant-garde Romanian and international 
playwrights, find sophisticated and enthusiastic audiences in the many 
theaters of the capital and of the smaller cities.

HISTORY

From about 200 B.C., when it was settled by the Dacians, a Thracian 
tribe, Romania has been on the path of a series of migrations and 
conquests. Under the emperor Trajan early in the second century A.D., 
Dacia was incorporated into the Roman empire, but was abandoned by a 
declining Rome less than two centuries later. Romania disappeared from 
recorded history for hundreds of years, to reemerge in the medieval 
period as the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. Heavily taxed 
and badly administered under the Ottoman empire, the two Principalities 
were unified under a single native prince in 1859, and had their full 
independence ratified in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin. A German prince, 
Carol of Hohenzollern, was crowned first King of Romania in 1881.

The new state, squeezed between the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and 
Russian empires, with Slav neighbors on three sides, looked to the West, 
particularly France, for its cultural, educational, and administrative 
models. Romania was an ally of the Entente and theU.S.in World War I, 
and was granted substantial territories with Romanian populations, 
notably Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Bukovina, after the war.

Most of Romania's pre-World War II governments maintained the forms but 
not the substance of a liberal constitutional monarchy. The quasi-
mystical, fascist Iron Guard movement, exploiting nationalism, fear of 
communism, and resentment of alleged foreign and Jewish domination of 
the economy, was a key factor in the creation of a dictatorship in 1938. 
In 1940-41, the authoritarian General Antonescu took control. Romania 
entered World War II on the side of the Axis Powers in June 1941, 
invading the Soviet Union to recover Bessarabia and Bukovina, which had 
been annexed in 1940.

In August 1944, a coup led by King Michael, with support from opposition 
politicians and the army, deposed the Antonescu dictatorship and put 
Romania's battered armies on the side of the Allies. Romania incurred 
additional heavy casualties fighting the Germans in Transylvania, 
Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.

The peace treaty, signed at Paris on February 10, 1947, confirmed the 
Soviet annexation of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, but restored the 
part of northern Transylvania granted to Hungary in 1940 by Hitler. The 
treaty required massive war reparations by Romania to the Soviet Union, 
whose occupying forces left in 1958. 

The Soviets pressed for inclusion of Romania's heretofore negligible 
Communist Party in the post-war government, while non-communist 
political leaders were steadily eliminated from political life. King 
Michael abdicated under pressure in December 1947, when the Romanian 
People's Republic was declared, and went into exile.

In the early 1960s, Romania's communist government began to assert some 
independence from the Soviet Union. Nicolae Ceausescu became head of the 
Communist Party in 1965 and head of state in 1967. Ceausescu's 
denunciation of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and a brief 
relaxation in internal repression, helped give him a positive image both 
at home and in the West. Seduced by Ceausescu's "independent" foreign 
policy, Western leaders were slow to turn against a regime that by the 
late 1970s had become increasingly harsh, arbitrary, and capricious. 
Rapid economic growth fueled by foreign credits gradually gave way to 
wrenching austerity and severe political repression.

After the collapse of communism in the rest of Eastern Europe in the 
late summer and fall of 1989, a mid-December protest in Timisoara 
against the forced relocation of a Hungarian minister grew into a 
country-wide protest against the Ceausescu regime, sweeping the dictator 
from power. Ceausescu and his wife were executed on December 25, 1989, 
after a cursory military trial. Approximately 1500 people were killed in 
confused street fighting. An impromptu governing coalition, the National 
Salvation Front (NSF), installed itself and proclaimed the restoration 
of democracy and freedom. The Communist Party was outlawed, and 
Ceausescu's most unpopular measures, such as bans on abortion and 
contraception, were repealed.

Ion Iliescu, a former Communist Party official demoted by Ceausescu in 
the 1970s, emerged as the leader of the NSF. Presidential and 
parliamentary elections were held on May 20, 1990. Running against 
representatives of the pre-war National Peasants' Party and National 
Liberal Party, Iliescu won 85% of the vote. The NSF captured two-thirds 
of the seats in Parliament, named a university professor, Petre Roman, 
as Prime Minister, and began cautious free market reforms.

The new government made a crucial early misstep. Unhappy at the 
continued political and economic influence of members of the Ceausescu-
era elite, anti-communist protesters had camped in University Square in 
April 1990. When miners from the Jiu Valley descended on Bucharest two 
months later and brutally dispersed the remaining "hooligans," President 
Iliescu, by expressing public thanks, convinced many that the government 
had sponsored the miners. The miners also attacked the headquarters and 
houses of opposition leaders. The Roman Government fell in late 
September 1991, when the miners returned to Bucharest to demand higher 
salaries and better living conditions. A technocrat, Theodor Stolojan, 
was appointed to head an interim government until new elections could be 
held.

Parliament drafted a new democratic constitution, approved by popular 
referendum in December 1991. National elections in September 1992 
returned President Iliescu by a clear majority, and gave his party, the 
NSF, a plurality. With parliamentary support from the nationalist PUNR 
and PRM parties, and the ex-communist PSM party, an NSF/technocratic 
government was formed in November 1992 under Prime Minister Nicolae 
Vacaroiu, an economist. The NSF became the Party of Social Democracy of 
Romania (PDSR) in July 1993. The Vacaroiu government ruled in coalition 
with three smaller parties, all of which abandoned the coalition by the 
time of the November 1996, elections. Emil Constantinescu of the 
Democratic Convention electoral coalition defeated President Iliescu in 
the second round of voting by 6% and replaced him as chief of state. The 
PDSR won the largest number of seats in parliament, but the constituent 
parties of the CDR joined the Democratic Party, the National Liberal 
Party, and the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania to form a centrist 
coalition government holding 60% of the seats in parliament. Victor 
Ciorbea, a former labor lawyer and government prosecutor, was named 
Prime Minister. The new government outlined as top priorities shock 
economic reform (including privatization/closure of state enterprises 
and monetary and fiscal reform), decentralization, and a campaign 
against corruption. 

GOVERNMENT

Romania's 1991 constitution proclaims Romania a democracy and market 
economy, in which human dignity, civic rights and freedoms, the 
unhindered development of human personality, justice and political 
pluralism are supreme and guaranteed values. The constitution directs 
the state to implement free trade, protect the principle of competition, 
and provide a favorable framework for production. The constitution 
provides for a president, a Parliament, a Constitutional Court and a 
separate system of lower courts that includes a Supreme Court.

The two-chamber Parliament, consisting of the Chamber of Deputies and 
the Senate, is the law-making authority. Deputies and senators are 
elected for four-year terms by universal suffrage.

The president is elected by popular vote for a maximum of two four-year 
terms. He is the Chief of State, charged with safeguarding the 
constitution and the proper functioning of public authorities. He is 
supreme commander of the armed forces and chairman of the Supreme 
Defense Council. According to the constitution, he acts as mediator 
among the power centers within the state, as well as between the state 
and society. The president nominates the prime minister, who in turn 
appoints the government, which must be confirmed by a vote of confidence 
from Parliament.

The Constitutional Court adjudicates the constitutionality of challenged 
laws, and decides on appeals from the regular court system concerning 
the unconstitutionality of laws and decrees. The court consists of nine 
judges, appointed for a term of nine years. Three judges are appointed 
by the Chamber of Deputies, three by the Senate, and three by the 
president of Romania.

The Romanian legal system is based on the Napoleonic Code. The judiciary 
is to be independent, and judges appointed by the president are not 
removable. The president and other judges of the Supreme Court are 
appointed for a term of six years and may serve consecutive terms. 
Proceedings are public, except in special circumstances provided for by 
law.

The Ministry of Justice represents "the general interests of society" 
and defends the legal order as well as citizens' rights and freedoms. 
The ministry is to discharge its powers through independent, impartial 
public prosecutors.

For territorial and administrative purposes, Romania is divided into 40 
counties and the city of Bucharest, although the government has proposed 
reorganizing the counties into a total 45 units. Each county is governed 
by an elected county council. Local councils and elected mayors are the 
public administration authorities in villages and towns. The county 
council is the public administration authority that coordinates the 
activities of all village and town councils in a county. 

The central government appoints a prefect for each county and Bucharest 
municipality. The prefect is the representative of the government at the 
local level and directs any public services of the ministries and other 
central agencies at the county level. A prefect may block the action of 
a local authority if he deems it unlawful or unconstitutional. The 
matter is then decided by an administrative court.

The prefecture is responsible for the distribution of revenue from the 
central government to local units. Local budgets are still largely 
limited to the amount of revenue provided by the state through the 
prefect to municipalities. Beginning in 1993, taxes could be levied by 
local councils under a law decree issued by the Prime Minister in August 
1992.

Principal Government Officials

President--Emil Constantinescu 
Prime Minister--Victor Ciorbea 
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Adrian Severin 
Minister of Defense--Victor Babiuc 
Minister of Reform--Ulm Spineanu 
Ambassador to the United States--Mircea Dan Geoana 
Permanent Representative to the United Nations--Ion Gorita

Romania maintains an embassy in the United States at 1607 - 23rd St., 
N.W., Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-4846).

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Romania has made great progress in institutionalizing democratic 
principles, civil liberties, and respect for human rights since the 
revolution, but the legacy of 44 years of communist rule cannot quickly 
be eliminated. Membership in the Romanian Communist Party was usually 
the prerequisite for higher education, foreign travel, or a good job, 
while the extensive internal security apparatus subverted normal social 
and political relations. To the few active dissidents, who suffered 
gravely under Ceausescu, most of those who came forward as politicians 
after the revolution seemed tainted by cooperation with the previous 
regime. 

Dozens of new political parties sprang up after 1989, gravitating around 
personalities rather than programs. All major parties espoused democracy 
and market reforms, but the governing National Salvation Front (NSF--
since July 1993 called the Party of Social Democracy of Romania--PDSR) 
proposed slower, more cautious economic reforms and a social safety net, 
while the opposition Democratic Convention (CDR) favored quick, sweeping 
reforms, immediate privatization, and reducing the role of the ex-
communist elite. The constitution bars communist and fascist parties, 
but three small nationalist parties, PUNR, PSM, and PRM, inherited 
members and tactics from both extremes.

The 1992 local and national elections revealed a political cleavage 
between major urban centers and the countryside. Rural voters, grateful 
for the restoration of most agricultural land to farmers but fearful of 
change, strongly favored President Ion Iliescu and the NSF, while the 
urban electorate favored the CDR and quicker reform. Iliescu easily won 
reelection over a field of five other candidates. The NSF won a 
plurality in both chambers of Parliament. With the CDR, the second 
largest parliamentary group, reluctant to take part in a national unity 
coalition, the NSF (now PDSR) formed a government under Prime Minister 
Nicolae Vacaroiu, an economist, with parliamentary support from the 
PUNR, PRM, and PSM. In January, 1994, the stability of the governing 
coalition became problematic when the PUNR threatened to withdraw its 
support unless given cabinet portfolios. In August 1994, two members of 
the nationalist PUNR received cabinet portfolios in the Vacaroiu 
government. In September, the incumbent justice minister announced that 
he had become a PUNR member. PRM and PSM left the government in October 
and December 1995, respectively.

The 1996 local elections realized a major shift in the political 
orientation of the Romanian electorate. Opposition parties swept 
Bucharest and most of the larger cities in Transylvania and Dobrogea. 
This trend continued in the national elections, where the opposition 
dominated the cities and made steep inroads into rural areas theretofore 
dominated by President Iliescu and the PDSR. The campaign of the 
opposition hammered away on the twin themes of the need to staunch 
corruption and to launch economic reform. The message resonated with the 
electorate, which swept Constantinescu and parties allied to him to 
power in free and fair elections. The coalition government formed in 
December 1996 took the historic step of inviting the UDMR and its 
Hungarian ethnic backers into government. The UDMR was allotted two 
ministries and a number of state secretaries, county prefects, and other 
senior positions. 

Romania has made great progress in consolidating democratic 
institutions. The press is free and outspoken. Independent radio 
networks have proliferated, and a private television network now 
operates nationwide. The reorganized and truncated security services 
apparently no longer intervene in the political process, but residual 
suspicions remain. Parliament established a formal intelligence 
oversight body in June 1993.

ECONOMY

Romania is a country of considerable potential: rich agricultural lands; 
diverse energy sources (coal, oil, natural gas, hydro, and, soon, 
nuclear); a substantial, if aging, industrial base encompassing almost 
the full range of manufacturing activities; an intelligent, well-trained 
work force; and opportunities for expanded development in tourism on the 
Black Sea and in the mountains.

In 1993 the economy reached the end of a decline in output that had 
begun well before the 1989 revolution. The Romanian government had 
borrowed heavily from the West in the 1970s to build a massive state-
owned industrial base. Following the 1979 oil price shock and a debt 
rescheduling in 1981, Ceausescu decreed that Romania would no longer be 
subject to foreign creditors. By the end of 1989, Romania had paid off a 
foreign debt of about $10.5 billion through an unprecedented effort that 
wreaked havoc on the economy. Vital imports were slashed, and food and 
fuel strictly rationed, while the government exported everything it 
could to earn hard currency. With investment slashed, Romania's 
technological infrastructure rapidly fell behind that of even its Balkan 
neighbors.

Since the fall of the Ceausescu regime in 1989, successive governments 
have sought to build a Western-style market economy. The pace of 
restructuring has been slow, but by 1994 the legal basis for a market 
economy was largely in place. The new government has moved rapidly to 
eliminate consumer subsidies, float prices, liberalize exchange rates 
and put in place a tight monetary policy. The parliament has enacted 
laws permitting foreign entities incorporated in Romania to purchase 
land and has identified a large number of government enterprises for 
rapid privatization or restructuring. Foreign investment capital 
continues to flow into Romania, although less than in some other Central 
European countries. 

Privatization of industry was pursued with the transfer in 1992 of 30% 
of the shares of some 6,000 state-owned enterprises to five private 
ownership funds, in which each adult citizen received certificates of 
ownership. The remaining 70% ownership of the enterprises was 
transferred to a state ownership fund, with a mandate to sell off its 
shares at the rate of at least 10% per year. The privatization law also 
called for direct sale of some 30 specially selected enterprises and the 
sale of "assets" (i.e., commercially viable component units) of larger 
enterprises.

Privatization of larger state-owned enterprises had lagged; the Ciorbea 
government has made rapid privatization/restructuring a top priority. It 
has gone beyond the "mass privatization" law of 1995 and identified 10 
large government enterprises for immediate privatization. Meanwhile, the 
growth of new small private enterprises has played a major role in 
reviving Romania's economy. Altogether, the private sector now accounts 
for an estimated 55% of GDP and employs approximately 52% of the work 
force.

The return of collectivized farmland to its cultivators, one of the 
first initiatives of the post-December 1989 revolution government, 
resulted in a short-term decrease in agricultural production. Some 4 
million small parcels representing 80% of the arable surface were 
returned to original owners or their heirs. Many of the recipients were 
elderly or city dwellers, and the slow progress of granting formal land 
titles was an obstacle to leasing or selling land to active farmers.

An acute shortage of foreign exchange and a poorly developed financial 
sector have also been obstacles to rapid economic transition. Outside 
factors such as the collapse of trade with Soviet bloc trading partners, 
economic slowdown in the industrialized West, increases in imported 
energy costs, and large losses from UN sanctions against Iraq and 
Serbia-Montenegro, contributed to a precipitous drop in industrial 
output after 1989.

In 1993 Romania embarked upon an adjustment program that showed some 
results. GDP, which had fallen for three consecutive years, stabilized 
in 1993 and registered 3.4% growth in 1994, 6.9% in 1995, and 4% in 
1996. Estimated GDP for 1997 is a negative three percent, due to the 
government's implementation of sweeping economic reforms. GDP is 
expected to move back into positive growth in 1998. Monthly retail price 
inflation, which averaged 12.1% in 1993 (the equivalent of 256% 
annually), declined to 28% in 1995. However, inflation has picked up 
again in 1996 and early 1997 due to excessive government spending in 
late 1996 and price and exchange rate liberalization in early 1997. 

Subsidies on most basic consumer goods were lifted in May 1993, but 
support for underproductive state-owned industries remained a drain on 
the budget. The government nonetheless managed to cut the deficit, which 
totaled almost 4% of GDP in 1992, to only 1.7% in 1993. By 1995, 
however, the budget deficit had again risen to about 4% of GDP. The 
consolidated deficit, including internal arrearages, climbed to more 
than 10% of GDP in 1996. The new government has adopted a budget that 
will bring the consolidated deficit below 4% in 1997. 

Financial and technical assistance continue to flow in from the U.S., 
European Community, and other industrial nations, facilitating Romania's 
reintegration into the world economy. The International Monetary Fund 
(IMF), World Bank (IBRD), the European Bank for Reconstruction and 
Development (EBRD), and the U.S. Agency for International Development 
all have programs and resident representatives in Romania. Romania has 
also attracted foreign direct investment, which in 1997 rose to $2.5 
billion.

Romania was the largest U.S. trading partner in Eastern Europe until 
Ceausescu's 1988 renunciation of Most Favored Nation (non-
discriminatory) trading status resulted in high U.S. tariffs on Romanian 
products. Congress approved restoration of MFN status effective November 
8, 1993, as part of a new bilateral trade agreement. Tariffs on most 
Romanian products dropped to zero in February 1994 with the inclusion of 
Romania in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). Major Romanian 
exports to the U.S. include shoes and clothing, steel and chemicals. 
Romania signed an Association Agreement with the EU in 1992 and a free 
trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 1993, 
codifying Romania's access to European markets and creating the basic 
framework for further economic integration.

TRAVEL NOTES

Visa and currency requirements: As of March 15, 1995, Romania abolished 
its visa requirement for U.S. citizens planning to visit Romania for 30 
days or less. For those planning to remain longer than 30 days, visas 
are available from Romanian consulates or on arrival when traveling by 
bus, plane or car. Romania requires that tourists be able to produce 
exchange receipts for lei amounts sufficient to have paid lodging costs 
upon departure.

Health: Although no inoculations are required of travelers coming from 
the U.S. or Europe, it is advisable to be immunized against polio and 
hepatitis for travel outside urban areas. Health requirements change; 
check latest information. Further information on health matters can be 
obtained from the Centers for Disease Control's international travelers' 
hotline at (404) 332-4559.

Telecommunications: Telephone service is not dependable outside 
Bucharest. International telephone and telegraph connections are 
generally adequate, but delays may occur in placing calls. Romania is 
seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Transportation: Bucharest's many buses and streetcars are inexpensive 
but crowded. Taxis are fairly inexpensive. A limited subway system was 
inaugurated in 1979. Driving to Bucharest December through February is 
not advised because mountain passes can be hazardous. Driving after dark 
at any time of year also is not recommended because pedestrians, 
animals, or slow-moving vehicles often encountered on the poorly lit 
roadways; otherwise, the main roads are reasonably good. Rail and air 
facilities are available for domestic and international travel. The 
daily Wiener-Walzer express train from Vienna takes roughly 20 hours to 
reach Bucharest.

Tourist attractions: The monasteries of Bukovina, the Transylvanian 
Alps, and the beach resorts of the Black Sea are attractive places to 
visit. The cities of Cluj-Napoca, Iasi, Sighisoara, Sibiu and Brasov 
retain old sections with many civic and religious monuments. Many 
foreign tourist agencies arrange travel and hotel reservations for 
groups or individuals.

National holidays: Businesses and the U.S. Embassy may be closed on the 
following Romanian holidays:  Romanian Labor Day, May 5 National Day, 
December 1 Day after Christmas, December 26 Monday after Orthodox Easter

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Since December 1989, Romania has actively pursued a policy of 
strengthening relations with the West in general and with the United 
States in particular. Romania was a helpful partner to the allied forces 
during the Gulf War, particularly during its service as president of the 
UN Security Council. Romania has been active in peacekeeping operations 
in the past two years in UNAVEM in Angola, IFOR/SFOR in Bosnia, and in 
Albania. 

Romania diligently enforced United Nations' sanctions against Serbia-
Montenegro. While Romania does not belong to any military alliance, it 
is a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe 
(OSCE) and the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), and was the 
first country to enroll in the NATO Partnership for Peace program. 
Agreements conferring associate status were signed with the European 
Community and EFTA in 1992 and 1993, respectively.

The past two years have been a bellwether for Romania's bilateral 
relations with neighboring states. In 1996, Romania signed and ratified 
a basic bilateral treaty with Hungary that settled outstanding 
contentions and laid the foundation for closer, more cooperative 
relations. In June 1997, Romania signed a bilateral treaty with Ukraine 
that resolved territorial and minority issues, among others. 
Ratification of the treaty is expected by July. 

Romania maintains good diplomatic relations with Israel and was 
supportive of the Middle East peace negotiations initiated after the 
gulf conflict in 1991. Romania also is a founding member of the Black 
Sea Consortium for Economic Development. It joined the International 
Monetary Fund and the World Bank in 1972 and is a member of the General 
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Romanian Missions in the United States Embassy of Romania 1607 23rd 
Street N.W. Washington, D.C. 20008 Tel. 202-332-4846

Romanian Mission to the UN 573 Third Avenue New York, NY 10016 Tel. 212-
682-3273

Romanian National Tourist Office 573 Third Avenue New York, NW 10016 
Tel. 212-697-6971

Romanian Cultural Center 200 E. 38th Street New York, NY 10016 Tel. 212-
687-0180

DEFENSE

In accordance with the December 1991 Romanian constitution, the Romanian 
armed forces have the defensive mission of ensuring the territorial 
integrity of the country. The military enjoys popular support, largely 
because of its role in supporting the December 1989 revolution. The army 
is the largest service. Total armed forces strength is authorized at 
225,000 and is maintained through conscription. In 1993 the U.S. 
military began limited training of Romanian military and civilian 
officials through IMET and other exchange programs, emphasizing civilian 
democratic control over the military.

US - ROMANIAN RELATIONS

Cold during the early post-war period, U.S. bilateral relations with 
Romania began to improve in the early 1960s with the signing of an 
agreement providing for partial settlement of American property claims. 
Cultural, scientific, and educational exchanges were initiated, and in 
1964 the legations of both nations were promoted to full embassies.

Responding to Ceausescu's cautious distancing of Romania from Soviet 
foreign policy, particularly continued diplomatic relations with Israel 
and denunciation of the 1968 Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia, 
President Nixon paid an official visit to Romania in August 1969. 
Despite political differences, high-level contacts continued between 
U.S. and Romanian leaders throughout the decade of the 1970s, 
culminating in the 1978 state visit to Washington by President and Mrs. 
Ceausescu.

In 1972, a consular convention to facilitate protection of citizens and 
their property in both countries was signed. Overseas Private Investment 
Corporation (OPIC) facilities were granted, and Romania became eligible 
for U.S. Export-Import Bank credits.

A trade agreement signed in April 1975 accorded Most Favored Nation 
(MFN) status to Romania under section 402 of the Trade Reform Act of 
1974 (the Jackson-Vanik amendment that links MFN to a country's 
performance on emigration.) This status was renewed yearly after 
Congressional review of a presidential determination that Romania was 
making progress toward freedom of emigration. Subsequently, the two 
countries signed a long-term agreement on economic, industrial, and 
technical cooperation.

In the mid-1980s, criticism of Romania's deteriorating human rights 
record, particularly allegations of mistreatment of religious and ethnic 
minorities, spurred attempts by Congress to withdraw MFN status. In 
1988, to preempt Congressional action, Ceausescu renounced MFN 
treatment, calling Jackson-Vanik and other human rights requirements 
unacceptable interference in Romanian sovereignty.

After welcoming the revolution of December 1989 with a brief visit by 
Secretary of State Baker in February 1990, the U.S. Government expressed 
concern that opposition parties had faced discriminatory treatment in 
the May 1990 elections, when the National Salvation Front won a sweeping 
victory. The slow progress of subsequent political and economic reform 
increased that concern, and relations with Romania cooled sharply after 
the June 1990 intervention of the miners in University Square. Anxious 
to cultivate better relations with the U.S. and Europe, and disappointed 
at the poor results from its gradualist economic reform strategy, the 
Stolojan government undertook some economic reforms and conducted free 
and fair parliamentary and presidential elections in September 1992. 
Encouraged by the conduct of local elections in February 1992, Deputy 
Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger paid a visit in May 1992. 
Congress voted down a 1992 attempt to restore MFN status, but restored 
MFN in November 1993 in recognition of Romania's progress in instituting 
political and economic reform. In 1996 the U.S. Congress voted to extend 
permanent MFN graduation to Romania. 

As Romania's policies have become unequivocally pro-Western, the United 
States has moved to deepen relations. Secretary of State Madeleine 
Albright invited her counterpart, Foreign Minister Severin, to 
Washington in April 1997, and Prime Minister Ciorbea met with Vice 
President Gore in Washington in June. The United States maintains Agency 
for International Development (USAID) and Peace Corps missions in 
Bucharest, and provides humanitarian, economic, and technical assistance 
to help Romania in its transition to democracy and a market economy. 

Principal U.S. Officials

Ambassador--Alfred H. Moses 
Deputy Chief of Mission--Michael Einik 
Counselor for Public Affairs--John Katzka 
Consul General -- Susan Jacobs 
Political Affairs Counselor--Robert E. Whitehead 
Defense Attache--Colonel Gary G. Chamberlin 
Administrative Counselor--Charles Kinn 
Economic Affairs Counselor--Richard Rorvig 
USAID. representative--Peter Lapera
Peace Corps Director--Jose Ralls 
Commercial Attache--William H. Crawford 
Principal Officer, U.S. Embassy Information Office, Cluj-Napoca--Nathan 
Bluhm

The U.S. Embassy in Romania is located at Strada Tudor Arghezi 7-9, 
Bucharest (tel. 40-1 210-4042, fax 40-1 210-0395, consular fax 211-
3360). 

A U.S. Embassy Information Office was opened in Cluj-Napoca in January, 
1994 (tel. 40-64 19-38-15, fax 40-64 19-38-68).

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