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Disclaimer: Please note that all opinions expressed here represent the author’s personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect The Political Science Club’s position.
Last week, Romanian Prime minister met with Turkish President Erdogan in the Presidential Palace in Ankara, as part of a tour including Turkey, Kuwait and the UAE. Some Romanian experts & media were disturbed by the fact that she met with R.T. Erdogan, currently facing criticism for imprisoning journalists, human rights related matters or the AK party’s position to the Syrian war. Two days later, President R.T. Erdogan met with Moldovan President I. Dodon as well as with Moldovan oligarch V. Plahotniuc in a visit to the Republic of Moldova. “What kind of message do we send to the pro-European forces of Chisinau when our Romanian Prime minister endorses Russian-friendly R.T. Erdogan?”
Both Romania and Turkey have interesting geographical placements, which makes the two of us quite attentive when making foreign policy moves. This meeting was about reinforcing the strategic partnership signed in 2011 and renew our best intentions to good Romanian-Turkish relations. Romania is interested in maintaining solid relations within the NATO optics. Turkey is a strong member-state, hosting the largest military deposit in Europe. Romania, on its part, hosts an antishield device at Deveselu and two military bases at Mihail Kogalniceanu and Craiova. Couple months ago, there were talks about NATO transferring parts of its military capacities from Turkey to Romania, which, of course, never materialized.
Secondly, there are the Black Sea cooperation interests. Romania actively supports a project called the “3 Seas Initiative” which aims to create a platform of geostrategic importance by reuniting the states with access to the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Seas. In this respect, Bucharest hosted the “3 Seas Initiative Forum” early in September 2018. Although Romania and Turkey do not share a territorial border, we do share a maritime one in the Black Sea. This sea is extremely valuable for couple reasons: 1. it marks the external border of the European Union and NATO, 2. its waters are rich in natural resources, 3. it gave the world the name of this band. Remember it?
© Encyclopedia Britannica
Last but not least, there are the economic interests. Both Romania and Turkey care for bringing investments into the homelands. President R.T. Erdogan stated that his utmost priority is to attract more investments into Turkey, despite the “monetary tightening across the world.” One of his priorities for that matter is Germany, a country he toured in a three days visit in September 2018. The relations between Berlin and Ankara in the aftermath of the failed coup were tense and continue to be icy. All things considered, Turkey hopes to increase its trade with the European Union, just as it expects to see other European-related dossiers advance. Romania will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union as of January 2019 and of course, R.T. Erdogan expressed to V. Dancila his hopes in a prolific cooperation. “It pleases me that you chose to visit Turkey now.” he said. As for Romania, bringing investments into the country is definitely a priority stated and restated on numerous occasions by the executive. Prime minister Dancila’s visit to Ankara was, in fact, just one stop in her tour of courting European and Middle Eastern officials. Timing was not exactly the best for these visits, as the case of the Khashoggi murder in the Saudi consulate of Istanbul unfolds.
All things considered, I find the speech V. Dancila gave in Ankara to be purposely neutral and quintessentially diplomatic. She brought up our “mutual shared values” and our “common interests” without adding any spice, whereas R.T. Erdogan threw in a dash of pepper by saying that he expects Romania to expatriate all Turks connected to FETO to the Turkish authorities. Prime minister Dancila seemed to be rather focused on smoothness . By comparison, during his meeting with R.T. Erdogan, Moldovan President stated that he would very much like to have an object of historical significance moved from Turkey to the Republic of Moldova. For I. Dodon, this was a bold move, given that the history of that object links Turkey, Romania and Moldova together. I’m not quite sure what the Romanian executive’s plan on the long term is, or of its vision concerning strategic partners / the Middle East. At once, there seem to be signals that it is determined to become a regional voice with bold moves such as announcing that it will move the Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but then follows silence.
I definitely believe that Romania can and has the expertise to be an important actor in Eastern/South-Eastern Europe, but there is more to asserting such a position than passing by. If the ultimate goal is to bring investments into the country, the surest ways to do so are to be proactive and goal-orientated. One can only do that by assuming projects and seeing them through, prooving its ability in the power politics play. Or, the executive did not take any noticeable stand on European/ foreign affairs matters except the embassy relocation, did not come up with a plan to boost regional cooperation or strategic cooperation for that matter. Moreover, there is a panoply of different events happening just outside the borders that make it hard to be dormant.