Continuity and discontinuity in Romania’s defence strategy during the 100 years since Romania’s Great Union (MAS conference in partnership with the Romania’s National Defence Ministry)

On the 20th of November it was held the “Continuity and discontinuity in Romania’s defence strategy during the 100 years since Romania’s Great Union” Conference, organized by the Defence and Security Monitor (MAS). The event was all about a unique space across the actions dedicated to the celebration of the centenary which just passed since Romania Made Whole, offering an objective and conscient occasion to debate the meanings, expressions and evolution of the national security concept, during this century. Furthermore, as we have revealed during the event, the debate could not enjoy the entire importance of the subject if it was not related to the foreseeable or presumed meanings of the future security, a future of multiple uncertainties and interdependencies.

Across the four panels, classified upon the major historical eras of the last century, were approached the defining elements of the conceptual differences and intellectual convergences of national security, through the defence policies, national institutions, significant people, major causes, relevant contexts and preferred solutions, each of them being the essential reference of the Romanian strategic thinking of today’s national defence and security.

The leitmotif of the messages transmitted by conference’s participants was that, during the past century since the Romania’s Great Union, the national security meant, firstly, a succession of major crisis lagged behind thanks to the strong character and loyalty of some great people who considered that the national values were more important than any other stances of their existence. This is where maybe the most important conclusion of the event came from: today, more than ever, we need a profound analysis of national security’s contemporary meanings, to define the profile of a country which can mean more than it assumes and can do more to the regional security even than it assumes.

And the people are the key of the future security’s success, whether we are talking about the Romanians who are living in this country, whose health, education, motivation, wealth and, mainly, whose number the national security, in existential nuances, depends on, or we are talking about Romanians’ leaders, the ones who are burdened with the huge responsibility of a nation’s destinies which, until now, found the way the carry on inside their own identity surrounding area. The essential context of such a conclusion comes from the fundamental difference between contemporary Romania and the 100 years ago one. The contemporary Romania is way more united than the one from the interwar period, from the structural standpoint. This is the bright side. But, demographically speaking, the prevailing Romania is, paradoxically, the victim of the huge benefits of European Union’s integration. The massive migration of the population who is still blooming, the brain drain, especially among the young people who are primarily leaving for abroad studies, as well as the dramatic decrease of natality are framing the dimensions of the future national security.

Since the very beginning of the conference, we have established the cognitive referential of the entire debate, starting from the psychosocial character of anxieties, which is plays a central role in security’s realist and constructivist paradigms. The concerns referred to the defence and security concepts’ transformation during decades, and even if fear can be defeated, Romanians’ concerns remain. Hence, the national security is a fundamental concept, unfortunately unequally approached by the Romanian public considering its value. Romania’s future security axiological and ideological priorities establishment must start from somewhere, in a world whose evolutions are more and more difficult to understand and predict.

This can be the moment when Romania can establish were it has been, where it is today and where it wants to get, as a country with a more and more sound European identiy and Euroatlantic profile, yet prisoner of its own concerns about the perennial instability of East-West’s breach, that history and geography gave us. The success depends on our capacity, of the people in this country, to transform the concerns in character and the competence in authority, especially the authority to promote Romania’s security interests.

History lessons from Romania’s security and defence strategies

1. History lessons must be learned without falling for transforming some unfortunate events succession in fatality.

2. The peace after the Great War was based on an American concept which was going to decisively influence humanity’s evolution ever since: Wilson’s doctrine of nations self-determination.

3. History was a succession of military alliances: the bilateral defensive alliance between Romania and Poland against the threat from the East (not erga omnes); the Little Entente, with Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia’s participation; the Balkan Pact, with Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkeys’ participation and with its confined format, Romania, Yugoslavia and Turkey. All these alliances were sufficient politically speaking, than military. Romania was the only partner which never imposed political caveats for military cooperation. Ulterior, there were written down Romania’s successive participations at the two belligerent alliances in the World War II and our country’s integration in the Warsaw Treaty, for the Romanian state to be, today, a NATO member. The historical events have proved that in situations of major conflict the alliances are extremely volatile, and the neutrality cannot be an option. Hence, it makes us understand which is the burden of the huge responsibility of the military and political leaders, in crisis situations, regarding their own nation.

4. Crimea’s huge role in Romania’s national security, starting from the premise that one controlling Crimea, it controls the Black Sea. Gheorghe Bratianu shows that Crimea belongs to Romania’s strategic space and is influencing its major security decisions. This was going to decisively show, for example, in the major political change from the World War II when, immediately after Germany abdicated Crimea in April 1944, in May it was built a political coalition which led to the major change from 23 of August 1944.

5. Falling in Red Army’s sphere of influence. Romania’s natural resources played an important role in shaping big powers’ interests in Romania. The resources can be a great advantage if there is also a capacity to negotiate the rights and the situation across the international scene, but also a disadvantage as long as resources’ surrounding area creates geopolitical lines which can increase some military conflicts.

6. In Romanians history, we can observe a certain symmetry and symbiosis between the diplomatic process and the military one. As for Romania, even with some obvious asymmetries, these two elements were better integrated, for our country to get out of some major crisis situation, then anyone could have ever done it. Despite Romanians’ romanticism, for the national security issue they were cold-blooded in protecting their national sovereignty, even if sometimes they had to give up to some territories. When we got out of the Cold War, the mutual coordination and information between the diplomacy and the army have ensured the avoidance of some very negative consequences against the national sovereignty.

7. Communist’s regime isolationism after 1968. This is the period wherein, for the first time in our history, it was elaborated a national security law, which, at that time, it was called the defence doctrine (Law 14 from 1972). The surrender was declared as illegal and the war of the entire nation became the national defence concept. The doctrine was national, to be customized in comparison with Alliance’s Doctrine from Warsaw, despite Soviet’s complaints.

8. The armed forces and intelligence services offered coherence for Romania’s pro-western path and had a decisively contribution to our country’s accession to NATO and EU. The political decision for Romania to enter the “Coalition of the Willing”, to fight terrorism, led by the US, was extremely appreciated in Washington and has opened our country’s door to the Euroatlantic integration.

9. The security and defence strategic language of the political and military leaders was permanently refined, reaching the semantic synonymy imposed by the coherence need of our common security space.

10. The history is writing down, but it is also carving out. Starting from the security and defence history lessons of the last century, emerges the question:” how will Romania look like in the next 100 years?”. It is necessary to objectively understand the actual national security contexts, the possible evolutions and the predictable scenarios of the future security.

Regional and global security assessments

The recent crisis from the East and South of the European continent are a serious threat against its security. This is also increased by the emergence of a new strategic competition on the Eastern flank and with complex challenges on the Southern one, which Europe must firmly approach. The regional conflicts and crisis from areas like East Europe, Western Balkans, Middle East and North Africa tend to get interconnected, existing the possibility to create some cumulative effects, which are asking for the adaptation of the defence and security strategies, at a national level, but also of the main international organization with a calling on the security domain, especially NATO and EU. The aggressive stance of some official and non-official actors continues to be manifested through actions which are generating instability at a regional and global level.

Major national security vulnerabilities

1. The demographic issue whereof, apparently, some prefer the silence. History proves us that there is no territory with emptiness. If a nation did not had children, then each time others’ children came there. During history, many nations disappeared due to the loss of the demographical race. In the absence of a demographical fundament to any national security strategy, this is a space useful just to academically debate some abstract topics and visions which will never be objectively supported with resources.

2.“The detachment of the West”. West’s mirage seems to fall apart. The distribution of anti-EU and anti-NATO messages across the Romanian society is a major threat to the national security.

3. In our region the neutrality is not possible. Neutrality’s cliché will be spread, in the foreseeable future, by those who have an interest in weakening Romanians’ trust in their allies. History has showed us that every time a dominating power comes out of this area, another one shows up. The power emptiness idea is not tenable in this space.

4. The politicization is a vulnerability factor of the national security. It has happened also during the great governances of the history, as it has happened also during the World War I, and it is today too. The army, intelligence services and the national security institutions should not be politized. These must be led by people who can make policies, as national security policies, but not politics, as partisan politics.

5. The weak governance. The governance capacity is one of the defining reference points of the national security. It is not about a specific government, but about all the governments who are alternating to manage country’s future.

The imperatives of the present’s national security analysis

1. Adaptability to security environment’s complexity.

2. Fixing and promoting the decisive factor of Armed Forces’ operational capacity, starting from the fact that Romania can become a stability element and a regional security provider.

3. Gaining and valorising strategic predictability and credibility. Romania firmly allocated 2% from GDP for defence. It emerges the imperative of major endowment’s programs approval, to respond the operational demands and to ensure the national defence industry’s’ development.

4. Valorising the cooperation tools in bi- and multilateral formats, especially in a regional plan.

5. Valorising a historical opportunity. Romanian EU Council presidency can lead to a reset of the regional forces balance, if Romania will know how to take on this strategic advantage. A better cooperation between NATO and EU is the key of the European security.

6. National security is a national cooperative and agreed effort. The regional security, especially the evolutions from the Ukrainian space or the Western Balkans, is a priority for our country; to that end, numerous initiatives are initiated and supported.

7. Security is inefficient in the absence of a national resilience capacity. The resilience must have a central place on the public and institutional security agendas.

The “Continuity and discontinuity in Romania’s defence strategy during the 100 years since Romania’s Great Union” Conference accomplished its aim to avoid the exaggerated rhetoric and forces generalizations. Furthermore, it was remarkable speakers’ moderation, who avoided the triumphalist tonalities and the fatalist tendencies, often present in the national security and defence speeches. There were contoured, with national touches, the successive profiles of the Romanian security and defence practices and concepts, and there were also listed the evolution premises of the significance of these concepts, in a security environment which is more and more disturbing and volatile comparing it with Romania’s role across the international security architecture.

The debate is still opened. The unique moment of Great Union’s centenary created its favourable context. The dialogue and national security building space is to be charged with significances and content for the security of the future generations of Romanians.


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