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as an International Donor
What kind of international development aid does the Romanian state have to offer?
Once an EU member, Romania has become part of the worlds most important development assistance donors group.
It has since gone a long way itself from being a recipient to a giver of aid. There is still huge potential - given the long
and winding road it has travelled so far. Public institutions, NGOs and individual experts are already in a position to tell
others, in countries going through similar transformation, how to humanise their child protection systems, for instance,
or how to implement anticorruption policies. And so much more, as youll be able to see in the following pages - which
end with a few recommendations on how Romanias international assistance strategy can be improved. Well also show
you how giving is receiving: international prestige, international influence, economic opportunity.
An editorial supplement by GlobalFocus Center, produced with the support of the United Nations Development Program
(UNDP) and financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania, from its Official Development Assistance budget.
Coordinator: Oana Popescu, Director GlobalFocus Center/ Project Manager: Maria Antic
Editors: Ana Ianu, Simona Catan, Rufin Zamfir/ Contributors: Bogdan Murean, Bogdan Nedea, Leyla Muiu, Manuela Mihalache

Disclaimer: Opinions presented in this special section are entirely their authors and do not represent the official position of the MFA or of any
partner institutions and organisations.


To Give Your Cake and

Eat it!
Our own transition qualifies us to help address one of the most
pressing needs globally: how to embrace transformation and
achieve a genuinely democratic regime. BY OANA POPESCU

rom the Black Sea and the

Balkans, to the north of
Africa, southern Asia and the
Middle East, more and more
states are going through
democratisation processes, regime
change, post-conflict reconstruction or
just fledgling transitions to an uncertain
Exactly 25 years ago, Romania was
embarking on a similar process. In 2007,
once it joined the EU, after having
become a NATO member already, it
completed it successfully. GlobalFocus
Center and Foreign Policy magazine are
proposing a look at how Romania can
become a more powerful and relevant
player on the international scene by
capitalising on its own development
expertise and putting to work not just its
state institutions, but also its already
mature civil society, the business and
academic sectors. To this end, we have
discussed with some of those who have
managed Romanian transition within
some public institutions or NGOs (of
whom some have already begun
exporting abroad the knowledge thus
acquired), but also with their counterparts in Poland, the Czech Republic,
Baltic states or Norway, to learn how
others have done it. We have spoken to
Romanians in high positions in the EU
External Action Service, UN or NATO;
with young people who already have
significant experience in development,
from Yemen to Bolivia.
We are still in the midst of a democratic consolidation phase, but the
success of the first stage and even the
lessons learnt from failure have enriched
us with an experience that nowadays
places us in a privileged position - that of
being able to respond to one of the most
pressing questions of the current global

context: how can a solid state be built

while also effecting regime change? how
can the economy be reformed? how can
institutions be built that will ensure rule
of law, efficient, modern public administration, in countries suffocated by
corruption and nepotism? how to
organise free and fair elections? On many
of these points, we are still struggling at
home. However, even where we have not

It is essential to map
out existing expertise,
especially within civil
society, in an integrated
database available to all
beneficiaries and donors,
in order to clearly identify
available resources, give
professionals access to
career opportunities,
further specialisation
and training and facilitate
international institutional
gone all the way at national level, we have
a rich reservoir of experts and expertise in
organisations and institutions (public or
private, as well as civil society) and thus
the conclusions of Romanias recent
transition can already be passed on to

We also have another rather paradoxical

advantage. We had a more difficult start

as compared to our neighbours, which

makes our experience all the more
relevant to states in our region which are
currently facing problems closer to those
we faced than to the Czechs or Poles and

also relevant to Middle Eastern countries, given Ceausescus affinity to the

likes of Ghaddafi or Mubarak, which
makes the respective transitions
somewhat comparable.
Passing on the expertise Romania has
acquired to states that need it today is, on
the one hand, a moral duty to assist others
as we have been assisted. It is also
Romanias interest to have stable,
democratic, prosperous neighbours, says
Florin Nita, a diplomat in the EU External
Action Service. But at the same time, it is a
powerful foreign policy instrument. The
benefit is in visibility and association of
Romania with the image of a country with
a positive international role, explains
Filon Morar, a diplomat who until recently
was Head of Regional Office UNEST at the
UN Support Mission in Libya. In other
words, international prestige, influence,
visibility, the ability to erase some of the
negative image caused by the problems we
are still facing and instead direct attention
to the progress made (often in the very
same areas!) and shared with others:
anticorruption policies, rule of law, justice
reform, electoral assistance, national
minority rights, reform of child protection
systems etc. At the same time, foreign
policy openings are made, there is political
dialogue, intelligence gathering, because
you can identify the economic sectors
which offer the greatest opportunities and
to some extent its money you give, which
then comes back in the form of contracts if
your intervention is backed by an
economic strategy, continues Florin Nita.
Romania starts out with the benefit of
being favourably regarded by many of the
target states, because it was never a
colonial power, so it is not suspected of
vested economic and political interests,
but also because of the good relations
before 1989, when


Foreign minister Bogdan Aurescu:

Romania doesnt
lecture others; we only
share lessons learnt
GF: What is the profile that Romania wishes to build as an international
development assistance donor?
Bogdan Aurescu: The key elements are rule of law and good governance,
sustainable development, education, social development and coping with
climate change.
We show our solidarity with developing countries through a responsible
and results-oriented foreign policy, but also through sharing Romanian
expertise and the lessons learnt along the democratic transition process, as
well as through an integrated approach to global development assistance.
I would like to emphasise that Romania, as a donor, is not a state that
claims to be teaching others, but rather shares the lessons it has learnt itself,
some even the hard way, some more easily, and this is something which our
partners appreciate.
What is the strategic impact Bucharest seeks to make? What were the
criteria by which beneficiary states and priority areas were selected?
The need to integrate these efforts within the regional context was obvious
from the very beginning. From that perspective, Romania supports bilateral,
regional and thematic initiatives dedicated to the Wider Black Sea region, to
the Middle East and North Africa and will seek to create opportunities for
synergies with regional processes in its neighbourhood, especially with the
Danube Strategy, Black Sea Synergy and Eastern Partnership.
It is in this region that we feel we have an important say and it is from here
that we receive most of the requests for assistance, particularly from the
Republic of Moldova - understandably so, as our top partner in development
cooperation, given the geography, cultural kinship and the special relations
between us.
The states in the Wider Black Sea area have a lot of shared challenges: the
consequences of a centrally planned economy, transition processes to other
models of development, an agriculture that lags behind that of the EU.
Through its foreign policy, Romania actively supports regional engagement
bilaterally, but also at EU level, in order to contribute to confidence building and
removing obstacles on the way to the stability, security and prosperity of its
neighbours. Regional strategies present opportunities for development
through investment aimed at generating economic growth and security, by
putting shared resources to good use (transports, energy, water).
In the Middle East and North Africa, we support states dealing with political
instability. We have reached out to these states upon their direct request for
assistance, given the similarity between their transitions and our own. The

topical areas we cover are institutional reconstruction, electoral assistance,

public services and security.
Which are Romanias strengths as an ODA donor?
As I said, Romania aims to share its expertise and lessons learnt along its
25-year old walk to rule of law and a market economy. Romanias strengths
lie very much with its status as a new type of donor, which allows a common
approach to development assistance, the sharing of its own experience and
using limited funds in innovative ways. We essentially try to do more with less
The assistance granted by Romania takes into account the priorities and
needs defined as such by each of the recipient states. Besides, most projects
are implemented in partnership with different types of actors (international
organisations, civil society, other donors).
We also take special interest in security and conflict prevention. For a
number of years, the MFA has organised numerous trainings in this field and
has dispatched Romanian personnel in EU and UN missions in various parts
of the world that are affected by conflict.
What is the value in becoming a donor rather than a recipient state?
EU accession has brought not only rights, but also obligations, among
which that of making our own contribution to the development of other
countries. However, this is not really a new status for Romania. Many of the
Romanian programmes have been in existence since before 2007 - for
instance a lot of the scholarship programmes which Romania has offered to
foreign citizens. At present, these are multiplying, while also diversifying in
terms of areas of expertise.
We now offer 85 scholarships a year, granted on a competitive basis,
following analysis of applicants submissions, for undergraduate and graduate
study in Romania. The grantees come from all around the world, except the
EU. We give priority to states that dont have formal partnerships with
Romania in culture and education. We also give preference to candidates
applying to study political and administrative sciences, education sciences,
Romanian culture and civilisation, journalism, technical studies, oil and gas,
agricultural sciences, veterinary medicine, architecture and the arts. Studies
are entirely carried out in Romanian, in order to promote the study of the
language among foreigners. A supplementary preparatory year is granted to
those who dont speak the language. Also, the MFA and the University
Francophone Agency manages a PhD and postdoctoral research programme
for francophone researchers. Candidates from southern francophone


Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu


countries are given preference, the aim of the programme being to contribute
to the sustainable development of this region.
In 2007, the MFA organised its own specific development assistance
programme, through the establishment of a specialised structure and
adoption of a strategy. At global level, there is also a clear trend among
non-EU emerging economies to build their own development and international cooperation systems and agencies. Therefore, even in the absence of an
EU requirement, we would have had to develop our own system too.
Which are our first achievements, in the short time since Romania has
been a donor?
Ever since 2007, the MFA has financed a series of capacity-building
projects for public institutions in fields as diverse as law and order, fighting
discrimination, anticorruption and education. In the field of antidiscrimination,
the MFA has given assistance for the legislative framework building and
institutional capacity support to good governance in the migration and asylum
system of the Republic of Moldova, it has contributed to national institutions
capacity-building for the organisation of the population and home census in
the Republic of Moldova, it has financed confidence-building projects between
Kishinev and Tiraspol to foster dialogue between the two, as a first step to the
enlargement of the political stabilisation process. In the field of diplomacy and
international relations, the MFA has organised training programmes for civil
servants in the Republic of Moldova and diplomats in partner countries in the
North of Africa. In the same region, the MFA supports electoral assistance,
administrative reform and integrity programmes.
To help consolidate civil society, Romania has financed fora dedicated to
Ukrainian, Republic of Moldova and other Black Sea region NGOs.
In recent years, Romania has started to raise its profile in the field of child
protection, where we have accumulated significant experience and expertise
which are important and relevant to ODA partner countries. To this end, the
MFA has financed a project named Together for children: a stronger coalition
of Black Sea region NGOs, to facilitate the transfer of Romanian expertise in

childrens rights and child protection to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the
Republic of Moldova. The project has already met with great success in these
countries, where the feedback we are getting via our embassies is positive.
Does the MFA have a plan/strategy to somehow recuperate the large
number of experts working on individual contracts within international
organisations or civil society, in international missions/projects, to
integrate them in a national ODA intervention framework, that can
harness their knowledge and prestige?
Increasing the volume of resources is essential in reaching the goals that
Romania has undertaken as part of its international commitments. The MFA
offers continuous learning and training programmes to its staff in order to
increase the professionalism in development cooperation.
At present, we are making abundant use of Romanias institutional
expertise in various sectors, to consolidate our own projects. Many of these
experts have also been seconded to different positions abroad, after which
they have returned to their home base. Ill give you an example of a
much-appreciated project by our partners, the Mobility Fund for Government
Experts, which allows Romanian civil servants from various institutions to be
sent for training and exchange of experience in other states. The benefit in
involving public experts is that this also fosters networking and cooperation
between our national institutions and those of other states.
For the future, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recently drafted a
legislative proposal to set up a future Romanian department for Development
Cooperation, RoAid. The project can be consulted on the website of the MFA. It
is around this department that we aim to create new opportunities for
increasing resources and putting Romanian expertise to good use. GF


The Opportunity In Crisis

There are a lot of opportunities in Africa for the Romanian private sector and civil society, but
everybody wants to work in New York or Brussels, argues Bogdan tefnescu, head of the

Rural Development Department of the EU Delegation to Uganda. AN INTERVIEW BY SIMONA CATAN

Children in Uganda. Photo: Bogdan tefnescu

What does development assistance represent

for the EU, in particular in light of your
experience in Uganda?
Bogdan tefnescu: To the European Union,
development assistance can be a lot of things. Until
recently, one would factor in existing problems,
existing policies, the overall context and would try to
cover everything: healthcare, education, food
security, financial support. At present, there is a
movement away from this approach and to making
maximum impact although there are fewer
programmes. Each Delegation has three focus areas.
In the case of Uganda, we target specifically
transports (road building, a priority in close relation to
the pan-African corridors that we support), food
security, which I am in charge of and governance. Of
late, more and more states are choosing food
security as a focal area, because it is such an
important challenge. For sure, the 2008 economic
crisis, which has brought all these problems to the
surface, again has played a role in this orientation.
Development assistance is also about how the
EU gets involved. It is normally easier for a state to

coordinate with other EU members. If things worked

totally smoothly, we could do what is called joint
programming: pooling resources and drafting
projects together. We do this sometimes, but its
rather difficult, because each of the member states
has its own priority agenda and calendar. But we are
moving in that direction nevertheless. For instance,
we have a biodiversity conservation project
co-financed by the French Development Agency. We
have numerous local ones, where we try to work
together with the member states: Ireland has turned
over to the European Commission management of
the funds it has allocated to a climate change project,
while the European Commission has entrusted
Austria with implementation of another, in water
supply and waste management.
The third concern for the EU regarding development assistance is policy coherence: external aid
needs to be coordinated with internal policies. For
instance, we dont want development projects to
clash with our trade policies or humanitarian aid. It
may well be that we are implementing a development project in a particular area and then another

organisation comes in with humanitarian aid and

ruins everything, hampering private sector growth.
There are no such conflicting actions where EU
member states are involved, but there may be where
other donors are present, unless there is coordination
of development policies.
Very importantly, focus areas for development
assistance are set together with the recipient state.
We identify the needs together, through negotiations
which also involve civil society, private sector and
other partners and allocated funds become part of
the beneficiarys national institutions budget. Our
role is in monitoring and assessing how the money is
Has Uganda made more progress than its
Uganda has made progress in various areas. One
such area is poverty reduction, where it has
registered a drop in poverty rates from 56% in 1995
to a current 19%. But Uganda is also the country that
has passed a law against gay people which also
makes reporting on perpetrators mandatory. Some


countries have cut down aid or have made it dependent on tougher

conditions. Eventually, the Constitutional Court has declared the law
unconstitutional. Uganda also has a growing private business sector, but it
doesnt compare to Kenya, which presents multiple economic advantages.
But if you compare it to Somalia or South Sudan, it fares much better.
To what extent could Romania get involved in this region as a donor?
Until now, at least, Romania has unfortunately turned its back on this
option to build up its international profile. I see opportunities for the private
sector, as well as for civil society. We have good people, good think-tanks
which should take more of an interest in Africa. Weve had NGOs from
Lithuania, from Slovenia, the Czech Republic, which have won projects here;
there is a lot of support for any involvement by Eastern European countries.
Many are staying away from Africa because of the negative image they have
about this part of the world. Everyone wants to work in Brussels or New York,
nobody wants to go to Nairobi, or Dar es Salaam. Its a mentality issue.
There is a lot of potential for private business in Africa, which companies
from the Netherlands, for example, or Italy are seizing upon, especially since
the EU wants to set up a Chamber of Commerce in Uganda. Many member
states are contributing money, but this money largely comes back to their
own businesses, through the companies that do the local work. For instance,
the Chinese and the Americans, who are competing in this region, are
allocating a lot of funds, but they also participate in building the infrastructure
that the money goes into.
What do individual experts need to know if they wish to work in
development in Africa?
Every area is important: food security, governance, transports. But
governance and human rights in particular have seen a flurry of specialists.
Engineers, on the other hand, are in great demand. They also earn very well,
on 6-month or one-year contracts, to oversee works. But nobody seems to
know about these opportunities. I havent met one Romanian. Technical
experts can either be employed by NGOs or directly by the European
Commission or by the UN.
Romania needs to be better known and promoted in the rest of the world,
but the rest of the world also needs to be better promoted in Romania. The
private sector and civil society need to be aware of the numerous opportunities in Africa. This could also result in higher international visibility for
For an NGO, it is difficult to win a project by itself: to write a solid proposal
and also implement it from beginning to end. But if it associates itself with
another more experienced organisation, from another country, chances for
success increase manifold. Besides, such associations are favourably
regarded by evaluators. It makes no sense to compete against big NGOs, but
rather to cooperate with them, in order to participate in projects. GF

The European Year of Development

Starting with 1983, the European Union has chosen one specific theme each
year, around which conferences, debates, events are organised to draw attention
on the respective subject. The year 2015 is the European Year of Development.
The EU is highly committed to reducing global poverty and aims to inform
European citizens that every euro matters in the effort to improve lives of people
in developing countries, focusing particularly on cooperation in fields like social
solidarity, justice and development policies.
The EU is the largest development assistance donor in the world, with over half
of global assistance coming from its member states (53 bn Euro in 2011).
Around 130 million EU citizens have at least once made a donation to an
organisation that does development work.

at Work
Stories of involvement from Yemen
to Bolivia.


hey work in various international development

sectors and are looking to help, to make a
contribution to reducing poverty in developing
countries. The young experts in the Romanian
International Development and Cooperation
Association - ARCADIA - have unique professional and life
experiences. They are 193 in all, scattered all over the globe,
who believe that their work helps change for the better the
societies where they do it. What brings them together is the
desire to contribute to the... development of this field back
home too! They would like to see Romania become (again) an
important international donor, who will thus put the lessons
of its own transition to good use, explains Mirela Oprea,
president of the association between 2011-2012.
HELLO, WELCOME TO YEMEN! This is one of the few English phrases
you will hear in Yemen. Instead, you are likely to hear machine
gun fire, bombs, gunshots and feel powerless and hopeless.
This is what Ana Maria Dima felt during the six months she
spent in the capital of one of the worlds most conservative
Muslim countries, during its 2011 revolution. Ana Maria
worked as a volunteer in the Office of the UN Operations
Resident Coordinator in Yemen. She worked in a building
riddled with bullet holes, with strict security regulations and
under the sound of gunshots. UN personnel was eventually
evacuated when violence escalated, but Ana Maria was among
the last to leave, living for a while barricaded in her home, with
no light and no certainty. When you know that innocent
people are dying only a few feet away, when you hear, see and
feel that there is nothing you can do for the others and even
little you can do for yourself, you understand the limits of the
impact that international development makes, for all the nice
discourse and good intentions, she says.
early marriage rates are as high as 30%, with dire consequences on education, nutrition and the role of women in society.
Diana Tonea wrote a project, got the funding and, together
with the International Medical Corps organisation, implemented her proposal: a school course in gender violence,
reproductive health and AIDS, for students in Eastern and
Northern Cameroon. Diana tells of being able to adapt, of
facing the unpredictable in daily situations and of how a
simple lantern is one of the most precious assets for an aid
worker, in isolated rural areas, with no public lighting or
frequent power failure. But, if you walk with a lantern at
night, people will know youre a stranger. You will draw
attention to yourself, she was told - so Diana learnt to do


without lamps or lanterns and to see in

the dark - effectively to study during the
day the road that she would take at night.
IN HARMONY WITH ONES KIN This is a fundamental principle of the indigenous Chuwis
and Yampara populations in Bolivia.
Roxana Nan found out during her
internship with the Cooperazione
Internazionale organisation in Bolivia, in
2009. She learnt about their rights and
claims, about their community structure
and their outlook on living together.
Somewhere at 4,300 m above the sea, in a
house made of clay, without windows,
they were debating the new Constitution,
education and laws that needed to be
passed. These communities are governed
by general consensus, not by majority
rule - only when everyone agrees can
decisions be implemented. You cannot
but wonder about the meaning of
evolution, progress... Can we, Westerners,
come in and attempt to change these
peoples mentalities for the sake of
progress? How can you keep indigenous
culture while supporting the economic
and social development?
THE HUMAN TOUCH Sabin Murean works in
peacebuilding and conflict transformation, an area where human relations,
patience and empathy are essential to
achieving the kind of social transformation envisaged. He has worked in the
Phillippines, Sri Lanka and the Sudan and
has learnt one important thing: money
alone is not important. Many times, its
not what these countries devastated by
conflict need; which, however, doesnt
stop things from happening such as one
guy popping up and asking how can we
spend two million euro in six months? We
have some money left from other
humanitarian projects which needs to be
spent by the end of the financial year!
But in postconflict areas, its peacebuilding troops that are needed to protect
civilian lives, people who will live side by
side with those whom they help, not just
monitor everything from an office 10,000
km away. It also takes time, because
transformations will never take place as a
result of a single 6-month or one-year
LOCAL LESSONS In an attempt to understand
the all too frequent shortsightedness of
those who are allegedly working toward
Africas development, tefan Cibian has

Diana Tonea, Haiti

Sabin Murean, with mates in the Phillippines

School in Bolivia. Photo: Roxana Nan

learnt three important lessons. Firstly,

financial aid from international donors is
not always what the beneficiaries want.
Western preconception that direct
financial donations to developing
countries would help solve local problems
has been proven wrong in Uganda, among
other places, which, in 2010, showed little
interest in EU financial support. Secondly,
communication between international
donors and recipient communities is often
poor; that is why employing locals as
much as possible can prove more efficient.
Lastly, the relation between state and
non-state actors is often disregarded by
the international community.
MINORITY RIGHTS After graduating from
university in Romania, Ana Oprian
went to Turkey on a Romanian government grant, bringing along her experience in working with the Roma, but also
with Muslim, Turkish-speaking minorities. She started as a fundraiser for Roma

community problems in Turkey, until a

devastating earthquake in Bam, Iran, led
her into emergency humanitarian aid
missions. On top of rebuilding projects
and food distribution, Ana was also in
charge of psychosocial support centres
for 350 children in 5 temporary camps,
where 850 families were living in the
wake of the disaster. She shared their
home for one year and then moved to
Pakistan, following another earthquake,
in this region. She spent nearly 3 years
and a half there, of which 7 months in a
military camp in Kashmir, working with
the Pakistani army. They managed to
carry out several programmes to rebuild
schools, hospitals, buildings, as well as
to organise training programmes for
women. Ana then also coordinated
similar projects in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Syria. She now works as part of the
team of the Council of Europe Special
Representative of the General Secretary,
on Roma issues. GF


Eradicate extreme
poverty and hunger

Improve maternal health

Achieve universal
primary education

Combat HIV/AIDS,
malaria and other

Promote gender equality

and empower women

Ensure environmental

Reduce child mortality

Global partnership for


Millenium Development Goals, adopted in 2000

From Donor to Recipient

to Donor Again
Development assistance policy in Romania and the
role of the UNDP. BY MARIA ANTIC
ROMANIA JOINED THE UN IN 1955. The country office of
the United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) in Romania was the first opened in a former
Warsaw Pact state, almost 20 years ahead of its
neighbours. Where are we and where are we going,
after 40 years of cooperation with the UNDP, 25
years of democratic transition and 7 years of EU
membership? Anca Stoica, project manager at the
UNDP Regional Centre for Europe and Central Asia,
explains the way forward.
What was the evolution of the partnership
between Romania and the UNDP, especially
after EU accession?
ANCA STOICA: Before 1989, Romania was an
important donor of development assistance to
other countries, especially from the African
continent. But during the post-revolution transition,
it became a recipient of such support. After joining
the EU in 2007, it is once more in a position to
support development beyond its borders.
This is also the context in which the UNDPs
cooperation with Romania has shifted from the
traditional assistance relationship to a new
partnership model, whereby the UNDP is helping
Romania to both strengthen the institutional,

Post-2015 objectives

Efforts to meet the Millenium

Development Goals, adopted globally in
the year 2000, are not by far over.
Progress has been made in poverty
reduction, access to education, gender
equality, infant mortality reduction,
fighting HIV/AIDS, environmental
sustainability and creating a partnership
for development. However, neither
efforts nor results are equally
distributed among the actors involved,
while the economic crisis, climate
change, ongoing conflict and the
emergence of new ones have been as
many obstacles in the way of the MDGs.
The new UN Development Agenda
post-2015 seeks to incorporate the
lessons learnt to continue the work done
under MDGs.

technical and managerial capacities for ODA, and to

implement a part of its response to the partner
countries demand for transition experience and
knowledge. If, before 2007, the country programmes
envisioned assisting Romania with development
gains within its own borders, it is now looking ahead
at how Romania could share these experiences with
other countries, by becoming a strategic regional
leader in such areas as electoral assistance, child
protection and the fight against corruption, and by
targeting its development assistance to countries
that could benefit from its transition experiences.
What lies ahead?
Romanias transition from ODA recipient to donor
has required important investment in a number of
new institutional mechanisms and legal frameworks, and Romania is now on a very promising path
to creating its own development agency. Romanias
experience is particularly important at a time when
the number of emerging donor countries is on the
rise. A regional UNDP programme, spanning
countries across Central and Eastern Europe, will
foster East-East cooperation by creating a platform
that facilitates the exchange of achievements and
best practices. After all, modern development work
is all about linking people with ideas, knowledge and
innovation to achieve transformational change. In
fact, the overall objective of our partnership is that
by end of 2015, Romania will be fully equipped to
implement international aid programmes in
partnership with Romanian NGOs and other state
institutions in priority countries such as Moldova,
Ukraine and Georgia, as well as Afghanistan, Iraq and
other North African and Arab states. GF


Romanian DNA
Romanian justice: from laggard to high achiever and

country brand


The offices of the Anticorruption Department in Bucharest

evelopment assistance
donors and recipients
operate on a global market
where Romania needs to
strive to find its own place.
As with any market, brand recognition is
important to make the product attractive.
Country branding takes account of a
states competitive advantages and the
credibility and expertise of the donor
contributes to the impact its development
assistance makes as much as the amount
of funding it can commit. That being said
and considering that Romania is not a
massive cash donor, SynergEtica
Foundation founder Sandra Pralong says
we need to be able to promote our own
brand, deriving from those areas of
expertise where we excel (...), those where
we have made the most progress during
our transition process, because that is
where we can offer the most valuable
input to those who need it.
It is precisely the remarkable progress
already achieved, despite lingering

challenges and shortcomings, the field of

justice reform, with all of its sub-branches can turn into a country brand. We have
managed to establish and build functioning, flagship institutions almost from
scratch, over a short period of time and
we now have one of the best judiciaries
and legal frameworks. The National
Anticorruption Department (DNA) is one
of the top five anticorruption institutions
in the EU. Its work and that of the
National Integrity Agency (ANI) are of the
utmost interest to other states in the
region, especially those which have an
Association Agreement with the EU
(Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia) and need to
solve their problems with corruption,
money laundering, conflict of interests
(where ANI is now in the process of
ellaborating a unique business intelligence solution meant to prevent conflict
of interests before it actually happens, by
corroborating several databases). The
Romanian model is particularly relevant
because of its recent memory of reform

during the pre-accession period (hence

the US and EU member-states like
Finland, the Netherlands etc are funding
projects which are implemented by
Romanian organisations), but also
Mihaela Ivan-Cucu, an expert in
international law, considers that the
Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (MCV) has proved to be an
advantage from this point of view,
thanks to the clear benchmarks which it
has set, but also to the bilateral exchange
of experience it facilitates. Due to the
very problems it has had to overcome
along the road, Romania has learnt
valuable practical lessons which it is
already sharing even with senior donors
and Western partners. We are talking
mostly about designing, setting up and
managing institutions, according to local
cultural specificities, legal tradition,
institutional expectations and possibilities and the EU is internalising these
lessons in its quest to better support
candidate-states in meeting European
The Justice Ministry has the ability to
transfer this kind of knowledge and is
already offering an almost all-inclusive
package of expertise in public policy and
anticorruption legislation, penitentiary
and detention system, trade law and
regulation, especially in asset recovery
etc. It has received requests from
Western Balkans and Eastern European
states, but also from Egypt, Tunisia,
Botswana, Afghanistan and even from
Western states, either directly or through
international organisations or the MFA.
Romania remains to this day one of the
few countries that have a fully configured and updated judiciary at the
highest international standards, on all
four pillars: criminal and civil law,
criminal and civil procedure. If you ask
me what the Justice Ministry can offer, I
will tell you that first and foremost, the
experience of building up the main
pillars of the judiciary. We are not
thinking of giving lessons to anyone, but
were also no longer the laggard student
in the back of the class, says Cornel
Clinescu, who is among those ellaborating and coordinating anticorruption
strategies and their implementation in
the Ministry of Justice. GF

| 10

The PRO Etnica 2014 intercultural festival in Sighioara, on its 12th edition

Teaching Respect
With 20 national minorities, Romania has developed

valuable experience in respecting their rights - which it

could now share with other countries. BY ANA IANU
xenophobia and racism and a region prone to ethnic
conflict, Romania is a model of respect and support
for national minorities rights. Under conditions
placed by the EU on meeting the political criteria for
accession, but also thanks to genuine political will at
home, Romania has built a legal and institutional
framework that has proved to be functional. In
keeping with international instruments - the
Framework Convention for National Minorities
Protection and the European Charter for Regional or
Minority Languages - as well as with a series of
national laws and decisions, the state offers its ethnic
minorities political representation, representation in
local public administration, linguistic rights. There is
still criticism about some implementation aspects
and not all legal provisions are rigorously applied in
practice - but shortcomings are reported and
acknowledged by state authorities. At its extreme,
rights and privileges granted to national minorities

have determined the emergence of ethno-business a concept that designates some peoples illegitimate
efforts to obtain the right to political representation
and subsequently to state funding, by abusing the
system. NGOs are formed which allegedly represent
one specific ethnic minority and the founders can then
open a signatures campaign and run for parliament although in reality they have no relation whatsoever
with the respective ethnic group. For instance, in the
2002 census, 600 Romanian citizens had declared
themselves of Macedonian origin, but in 2004, three
different organisations claiming to represent
Macedonians ran in national elections, totalling
30,000 votes!
Notwithstanding the excesses of a very generous
framework, Romania has 20 different national
minorities in all (not formally recognised as such
though, since there is no law that explicitly mentions
them) and a lot of success stories which it can pass on
to others.

Unlike other areas of democratic reform, where

existing models can be applied irrespective of the
political and institutional system of the state in cause,
there is no universal recipe in the field of minority
rights, because each country has its own specificities.
The question that might be asked regarding
Romanias credibility as a source of expertise while it
still has unresolved problems reveals important
answers about the value of the peer-to-peer relation
in the transfer of democratic expertise. It is up to the
beneficiary to judge the merit of the expertise being
offered, according to Drago Mateescu, a professor
at the Economic Studies University in Izmir, Turkey,
specialised in minority rights. Romania can use both
its positive and negative experience of the past years
and can share it with others using European
instruments available, in bilateral or multilateral
projects. It may well be that beneficiary states,
especially those in the Western Balkans or the EU
neighbourhood, are more readily willing to learn from
a country like Romania, which has only recently gone
through the democratic transition and EU accession
process and who is more aware of the stumbling
blocks than others may be. The lessons of Romanian
transformation must, of course, be tailored to the
local needs, political system, constitutional
framework, minority representation and their official
recognition. Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina, for
instance, will only take whatever conclusions can be
applied to their own case - which can be quite
complex, since Turkey does not recognise any ethnic
minority, while Bosnia and other Western Balkans
states are faced with hard security problems:
territorial disputes, self-governance, independence,
the coexistence of several ethnic minorities.
Romanias expertise still remains valid though, in the
case of what we could comparatively call soft
problems: linguistic rights and political representation. Parliamentary representation is an important
part of the protection of national minority rights and
the Romanian experience is not only relevant in its
own region, but all over the world, from Africa to
wherever there is a democratically elected parliament
and the concept of political representation, because
the aim should be to grant the same fundamental
liberties to national minorities everywhere, believes
Vizi Balazs, professor of International and European
Law at the National Public Administration University
in Budapest.
No matter if Romania offers its expertise to Turkey,
Serbia or Egypt, it should share its achievements as
well as its mistakes, to help others avoid making
them. Another essential element is that all relevant
actors should take part in this process, especially
national minority representatives in Romania and in
the partner state - first of all, because they are in a
position to offer the best input, but also because in
any such mentoring process, the involvement of
those who directly stand to benefit from it is crucial
to the success of the project. GF

| 11

Protecting Child
Protection Reforms
The memory of international scandals generated after 1989 by the inhuman conditions
in orphanages as well as by illegal adoptions is still fresh in our minds. We may thus
have failed to notice that in recent years, Romania has come to be mentioned as a
model of good practices worldwide and its progress in the field of child protection
enjoys widespread recognition. tefan Drbu, country director of Hope and Homes
for Children Romania describes the steps taken so far and what remains to be done.


What have we done well in
Romania in the field of child
protection system reform?
tefan Drbu: In the early
2000s, there was no alternative care for
institutionalised children, built around
the family model. There was a single
option - childrens homes, which in fact
were anything but a home. If you look at
the numbers, youll see there were
100,000 at the time in around 470
old-style orphanages. Now there are
only 8,800 in 160 such institutions. As
compared to 13-14 years ago, we now
have maternal care centres, emergency
temporary care centres and family-type
homes. Moreover, there were no restrictions on
admissions into childrens homes, even a 5-month
old baby could have been institutionalised, whereas
now there is a 3 year-old minimum age threshold,
which demonstrates better understanding on the
part of the state of the importance of the family
environment for a childs development.
What remains to be done?
We now have around 23,000 children in
different family-styled forms of care, 18-19,000 in
maternal care, 9,000 in childrens homes and
others in placement with families. For us, every
child who is still in a childrens institution is one too

A repeat of past success

many! Also, the problem is that we have an almost

constant number of 64-65,000 children in the
system, every year of the last 10.
At the same time, we cannot claim to have a
well-functioning child protection system when
almost 60% of the ones still institutionalised are
those with special needs. There is also no
pretending that child protection is a priority when
we are not using structural funds to develop
alternatives within the system or innovative
services. And there can be no accurate monitoring
of childrens evolution when social workers, who are
supposed to be the foundation which the system

The context that allowed the profound change in the child protection system in
Romania to happen was almost ideal in order to remove all obstacles down the road.
Pressure from abroad, political will at home to really solve all problems, plenty of
resources, deeply motivated human resources, enough time on our hands and the
kind of problem that touches and moves the large majority of the population - all this
makes a good recipe for success, I believe. A repeat of this success story and even
keeping up the good work is very difficult though, given the very different
circumstances of the present: almost no external pressure, few good people who have
stayed in the system and getting fewer by the day, shrinking funds, an ever smaller

rests upon, are themselves social cases, because of

low pay and lack of resources to carry out
investigations in the field.
What we need is to gradually reduce the number
of children in the system and help them stay with
their own families. The big challenge were facing at
this point is a paradigm change: from a reactive to a
proactive one, to prevention. To a mother of six, who
ends up in a critical situation, the state offers only
one option: to leave them in its care, with the
additional financial burden of cca 316,000 euro
over eight years (which is the time that a child
spends inside the system, according to statistics).
The better option would be to offer protection to
mother and children alike, helping her find a job,
extending financial support to her for one
year and, on a case by case basis, perhaps
paying her rent for one or two years.
Although this initial form of support may
seem to add up to a higher amount, it is in
fact much less than the state would spend
if it directly took the six kids in its care. At
this point though, we do not have any such
scheme of aid in place and this is exactly
the new phase we should enter.
But we are already talking about the
possibility of exporting our reform
experience abroad...
The above are examples of challenges
that lie ahead for us. But if we look back
well see Romania is an extraordinary case
study, because it has made it so far so soon. We are
a model of good practices for many of the states in
our region and in the world. They have a lot to learn
from us because they are still very far from fully
embarking on a reform process. We have a centre
in Romania for training and exchange of experience,
we host representatives of public institutions and
NGOs from other countries, from Bosnia, Belarus,
the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Bulgaria to
Africa or Latin America. GF

number of NGOs working on this issue.

We are slowly but surely heading toward a new crisis of the system. Conditions in
state institutions are still very far from meeting a childs most basic needs. Abuse,
violence, improper medication and a waste of public money are all problems that are
getting worse with every day. The number of children that vanish from the system and
we later find them walking the streets of European capitals is increasing as well. A
European Agency for Social Innovation, Roma and Child Protection with its
headquarters in Bucharest would be a solution, because it could recreate the same
conditions that led to the remarkable success of 10 years ago.
- Valeriu Nicolae, Regional Advocacy Director, World Vision International

| 12

Change in the New Libya

An NGO based in Timioara has reformed the penitentiary system in Benghazi.

ver since the beginning of the

Libyan revolution when
Benghazi proclaimed itself
the first free city in Libya, the
team of the Intercultural
Institute in Timioara has been willing
to support and cooperate with Benghazi,
from one city to the other which regards
itself as the pioneer of the national
liberation movement. Transition to a
democratic regime was confirmed by the
first free elections being held in 2012.
Despite the difference in geopolitical
context, the Libyan transition has many
structural elements in common with the
Romanian situation immediately after
the 1989 regime change.
Romanian penitentiary system with
its very good human rights record is
nowadays recognised internationally as
a model of good practice. That has
prompted the European Commission to
fund the project in Human rights-based
reform in the Libyan penitentiary
system which the Intercultural Institute
has proposed.

Comparative learning. The project team

has avoided proposing a model which

would be copied and implemented as
such in Libya. The partnership was
about comparative learning, encouraging critical thinking and building a
relation based on trust between Libyans
and Romanians. The pilot project was
implemented in the Kuwayfyiah
penitentiary in Benghazi, the largest in
the country. Given its success, Libyan
authorities are thinking of extending it
to all other detention facilities. These
were hard hit during the revolution, after
mass prison breaks and damage to
infrastructure. The Romanian project
managed personnel training and partial
infrastructure modernisation within less
than one year. It benefitted from
involvement by civil society and the
National Penitentiary Administration as
well as from the support of the Roma-

nian Embassy in Libya.

The programme included study trips in
Libya and Romania; courses in human
rights; English and French language
courses for staff in order to facilitate
communication with immigrant
detainees who do not speak Arabic;
providing the penitentiary with IT
infrastructure and building a software to
record detainees data. Funding for the
project came out of EuropeAid, the
European fund for democracy and
human rights promotion and it is the

first of this sort that was obtained by a

Romanian organisation. It is not,
however, the first international cooperation project for the National Penitentiary
Administration. In 2013, it has received
study visits from the Republic of Moldova
and Armenia and it has signed a protocol
for cooperation with the Croatian
penitentiary administration.GF
Daniela Crciunis Project Manager at the
Intercultural Institute in Timioara

| 13

Romanian participation in reforming the

police and armed forces of others


n December 1989, Romanian army numbered 200,000 troops who

had not fired more than 5 bullets since the beginning of the year. The US
Strategic Partnership (1997) and then NATO accession (2004) were
essential elements for advancing political, economic, military and
administrative reform and security structures changed faster than any
of the other institutions - cutting down the number of troops, moving to
an army of professionals, civilian control, interoperability, a common
security and defence policy with the other members of the Alliance. All
this was largely thanks to NATO precise instructions, but also to military
hierarchy and strict procedures, as well as to close cooperation with American and
British partners. Its a solid, well documented experience, whose lessons its
artisans can now impart with others, NATO partner states that need to make the
same adjustment and have a similar starting point. We can export, as valuable
experience, both good practices and lessons learnt the hard way, says Hari
Bucur-Marcu, former head of the NATO Operations and Planning Office, who
admits that internal reform was not without difficulties - corruption, resistance to
change, lack of political will or budgetary resources, lack of planning, clearly
defined goals and priorities, without which there is no military strength, no matter
the budget you have at your disposal.
From his leading position in the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in
Georgia, Col (r) Costel Simion adds its important to teach others not to repeat
our mistakes - for instance, when we needed to cut down on the number of
troops and cash compensation was given out for voluntary resignation from the
army, we ended up with many of the best people leaving. The Carol I National
Defence University organises NATO-certified courses for military personnel in the
Republic of Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan,
funded by NATO and the US, to introduce them to the North-Atlantic Alliance
structures and support them in restructuring their own armed forces and military
education. The Director of the Crisis Management and Multinational Operations
Centre, Col Furnic Pascu, argues that these programmes are also important
because they demonstrate that Romania is a security provider, not just a
consumer. Unfortunately, formalising similar courses for civilians under the
structure of a Post-Conflict Reconstruction Centre in Bucharest, which had been
proposed for many years, never materialised.
For the same purpose of asserting its role as a security provider, Romania has
become one of the most active contributors to combat and stabilisation missions
abroad, a profile which it then sought to consolidate by extending this expertise
into civilian missions - with police and gendarmerie forces and recently involving
NGOs too. The niche is very generous: lacking hugely in collective defence capacity
and relying mostly on NATO, the European Union is placing the strongest accent
on civilian missions. However, these are also faced with shortages of trained
personnel available to serve in difficult areas, with still problematic civil-military
coordination etc. Under the circumstances, Romania is already considered to be
among the high performing member-states, together with Austria, France, Italy
etc, second only to professionals like Germany , the UK or Scandinavians

Romanian troops in Afghanistan

(according to a European Council on Foreign Relations report from 2009).
Romanias main merit is in the numbers of troops committed and ECFR draws
attention on the fact that we still lack adequate pre-mission training programmes,
a national roster of available civilian experts, joint civil-military exercises and we
have weak planning and inter-institutional coordination. The growth potential is
extraordinary though and with it, the gain in international prestige.
Sorinel Preda, until recently a civilian police officer with the UN Peacekeeping
Operations Department in New York believes that Romania could aim higher:
focus on bilateral assistance, which brings more visibility for the country and is
more efficient, rather than just on missions under mandate from an international
organisation, because Romanians are often better communicators and tend to
understand better the local situation. He says results tend to be poorer when the
mission is under the umbrella of a larger organisation, as the mandate is intensely
politicised and needs to be negotiated among more stakeholders, usually coming
out diluted from this process; money runs out along with political will; donor
dependence forces the head of the mission to report what the former wish to
hear; the states contributions with troops or civilians are voluntary, so one can
end up with less qualified people. Provided that Romania is able to propose
concrete projects, which meet both the beneficiaries needs and the donors
priorities, the availability of funding is very much there and shouldnt be hard to
tap into.
A few additional elements could also improve the conditions for participation in
international missions, according to opinions expressed by many of the military
and police personnel: better human resources policies and elliminating corruption
and cronyism, so that the experience of returning staff could be made the best
use of and those who have received job offers from the UN, EU, OSCE or other
positions abroad would receive full support from their institutions, rather than
being replaced by cronies. GF

| 14

Small Is Smart
How Central-Eastern Europe passes on its political and
economic transition experience BY RUFIN ZAMFIR AND MARIA ANTIC

hat can you do that matters if

you are a small country, with an
economy that is not yet fully
reformed and a society still looking to find
its place in the world? Not a lot; but important things nevertheless. Building a visible
and credible country profile is an effort
which small countries need to make to
stay in the geostrategic game.


legacy and make it work for you! is the
principle that shaped Pragues development assistance policies. Human rights
and democratisation, Vaclav Havels
legacy turned trademark, continue to be
the areas the Czech Republic enjoys global
recognition for, following the smart way in
which it has projected its own experience
abroad. It acts in two main directions,
with two different categories of beneficiaries: on the one hand, states making the
transition from totalitarianism to
democracy (the Republic of Moldova, the
Western Balkans and more recently,
Burma), where the transfer of expertise is
backed by government to government
dialogue and on the other hand, a few
states which still have totalitarian regimes
(Cuba, Belarus), where assistance is
delivered at grassroots level. Working in
non-democratic countries, where Czech
actions are received with hostility by the
ruling class is an absolute priority for my
country, says Jiri Sitler, the Czech
ambassador to Bucharest. It derives from a
deep moral duty to the population of these
countries, as well as from pragmatic
considerations: the democratisation of a
state - even one situated at thousands of
kilometres from your own country - helps
protect your own security.
With an NGO sector strongly supported
by the government and serving as one of
the flag bearers for the countrys potential

(Czech NGO People in Need implements

Czech development assistance in 28
states around the world), with dedicated
legislation and implementation strategies, with state-civil society coordination
bodies, the Czech Republic proves that it
is possible to punch above your weight
even without a massive budget. On top of
this, you can also get a side benefit: Czech
reputation as a supporter of democracy
helps it save face when it faces embarrassing corruption or Roma rights
scandals at home!

POLAND Follow your interest! is

Warsaws motto. The fact that a lot of
Polish development assistance goes to
China appears less surprising when you
realise that one fundamental target of
Polish aid is economic development and
Poland ranks seventh in the EU in terms
of trade exchange with China. So it
doesnt just do charity; it seeks to
promote its own interests. Only 10% of all
allocated funds is distributed by the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the rest being
managed by different other ministries,
depending on their destination.
The 10% that comes from the MFA
traditionally goes to democracy promotion and sharing the transition experience. The main recipients are the states
of the Eastern Partnership, where Polish
NGOs work in partnership with local civil
society. There is a lot of room for
cooperation between Romania and
Poland in Ukraine or the Republic of
Moldova, thinks Patryk Kugiel, a Polish
Institute of International Affairs analyst.
Polish strategy (which is complemented
by an adequate legislation package and
tight communication with the business
sector) relies on an internal network of
policy analysis think-tanks, whose studies
are implemented at institutional level.

All countries in the Visegrad Group

(with the associated Visegrad Fund, which
pools resources and coordinates ODA)
have built actual idea generators in
foreign policy, acting at the same time as
instruments of visibility, organised around
the same priorities as their development
assistance: Krynica Economic Forum and
Wroclaw Global Forum in Poland, GlobSec
in Slovakia, Forum 2000 in the Czech
Republic, the Soros Foundation and
Central European University in Hungary.

LATVIA More to the north and at a

proportionally smaller scale, Riga focuses
its development assistance policy on
doing what it knows best. Mara Simane, a
former Director of the association of
Latvian NGOs working in development
adds that it is important that emerging
donors focus their work on areas where
they still have internal problems and
where the experience they accumulate
this way can simultaneously benefit
them. Just like in the Czech Republic or
Poland, the Latvian NGO sector is an
important part of ODA transfer, working
jointly with the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs. It is essentially a virtuous circle:
experts have been able to specialise in
state institutions, where the system
encouraged them to be competitive.
When the state could no longer afford to
pay them according to their high level of
expertise, they moved to the private
sector, where from they continued to
support state policy through their
activity. Additionally, civil society
participation in development assistance
(and the associated benefit of access to
NGO contacts and networking) has also
raised domestic awareness of ODA and
has served as a platform for Latvia to
raise external awareness of its involvement in global matters.
There is little cooperation between Romania and its neighbours in the field of
development assistance, according to all
those interviewed, who have expressed
their hope that Bucharest will take its
place as a major regional player in this
area, once national ODA policies reach
maturity. GF

| 15

espite the traditional tension

ruption institutions), rural development,
peans who have not suffered the same
between cooperating closely
child protection in the Republic of Moldova
pains of a meandering transition, similar
with your neighbours and
and in visa liberalisation, antidiscriminato that of their neighbours. At first,
the bilateral problems that
tion and personal data protection in
Romanian NGOs were not interested in
often develop, the direction
Georgia. Ghinea explains how NGOs can
cross-border projects and sustained efforts
of Romanias cooperation with its non-EU
export their competencies even when they
had to be made to encourage them in this
neighbourhood is clear: transfer of the
dont dispose of generous funds: we aim to
direction. It was all worth it though,
Europeanisation experience. The
get funding from other states which have
because BST now cooperates with various
challenges these states face are the same
made the Republic of Moldova a priority.
think-tanks on issues as diverse as
as those which Romania has managed to
We are working on a quality control project
anticorruption, security studies, monitorovercome (corruption,
ing the activity of the Parliawell-functioning rule of law
ment, minority rights,
institutions, implementing
community organising - there
the EU acquis) and it is also
is practically no field where
in Romanias interest to have
Romania lacks the necessary
European neighbours, with
expertise. Demand, however,
whom it is easier to negotiate
still exceeds available resourcor trade, says Paul Ivan, an
es. The maximum impact and
are prime
expert with the European
visibility have been achieved
Policy Centre. The loss of
beneficiaries of Romanias success or failure.
in the Republic of Moldova and
enthusiasm for enlargement
Alina Inayeh believes they
within and outside the EU
could increase even more,
has indeed led to a slowdown
provided that cooperation with
in reforms, but at the same
public authorities improves,
time, it makes Romanias
especially with the Ministry of
support even more valuable.
Foreign Affairs. The MFA has
This is essentially
so far not capitalised enough
something that happens
on the network of contacts and
naturally, there isnt even a
competencies that lie with civil
need for an official policy in
society or on the funds
this sense, were simply
available from other donors.
structurally similar, we face
The situation is somewhat
similar problems and we have
different in the Western
been through this process a
Balkans. On the one hand, some
relatively short while ago,
Romanian NGOs have gained
explains Cristian Ghinea,
local recognition thanks to the
Director of the Romanian
projects they have implementCentre for European Policy (CRPE). The
in education financed by the Estonian
ed. On the other hand, Romanian and
fact that we are still struggling with some
government, which has also funded the
Bulgaria are seen as the laggards whom
problems is a plus, rather than a minus,
same kind of project in Romania. The
only a favourable political context helped
Alina Doroftei further explains, a diplomat
CRPE director appreciates that the current
become members of the EU, despite their
and rapporteur of the EU Advisory Mission
system of annual open calls through which
negative performance in negotiations to Ukraine. Although we are a small actor,
the MFA disburses its official development
with the unintended consequence of the
we have the comparative advantage of our
assistance, using the UNDP as a channel,
accession process becoming tougher, much
recent experience, which Western states
ensures competitiveness and transparency.
more demanding on the Western Balkans.
dont have. Hence, the openness our
The only issue, he says, is that too little of
If Romania were more involved in the
partners have shown to us getting involved,
the overall Romanian ODA is disbursed
region that could change though, according
especially since we are not there to impose
through the MFA.
to Mihaela Osorio, Political Advisor to the
a certain model of doing things, we just
Alina Inayeh, director of the Black Sea
EUSR and EUFOR Commander (the EU
present our achievements and the
Trust (BST), an 8-year old regional
missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina). In
stumbling blocks we came up against, in a
initiative of the German Marshall Fund,
Bosnia, where it has a military contingent
confirms that more and more Romanian
stationed, Romania could make more of a
Ghinea calls this the ju-jitsu strategy: a
NGOs are developing projects in the
contribution to non-controversial areas,
small donor turning its weakness from the
European neighbourhood. Even more,
under the umbrella of international
recent experience of mistakes as strength,
Romania receives the largest funding
organisations: demining, institutional
in the form of lessons learnt. That explains
from BST; not because the latter is
development of the armed forces, ellimiwhy Romania is most present abroad in
headquartered in Bucharest, but because
nating ammunition in excess, minorities,
areas where reforms are still a work in
we are the only ones capable of impleeconomic reforms - fiscal, labour market
progress in the country. CRPE has ongoing
menting large projects and we have the
reforms and boosting foreign investment.
projects in the field of rule of law (ensuring
most relevant experience in the region,
the independence of justice and anticorunlike the Baltics and the Central-Euro-

Help Thy

Countries in the region

| 16

Back to
Former Arab students in
Romania would like to study

democracy at the same


here were two Romanianspeaking ministers in the first

Libyan government after
Ghaddafis demise. The
Iranian ambassador to Qatar
has a PhD earned in Bucharest.
Said Sadek, a Political Sociology professor
in Cairo lists topic after topic of interest for
the new students of democracy to learn
from Romania: security, border protection,
fighting terrorism, justice reform, lustration,
training judges, anticorruption, policing
(training and technical support)... if
Romanian judges would be interviewed by
Egyptian press or would participate in
conferences and talk about how things were
done in Romania, that would show our
people that it can be done and it could put
pressure on our own institutions... After the
Arab Spring everything is to be done here.
You can also show us how to open up the
media market, have private television
channels... and how to build political parties
and elections campaigns. You may know we
have 85 parties, none of which can really be
taken seriously. You can tell us how we can
promote women candidates more... how to
reform our education... how you replaced
the communist curricula from your
textbooks. Were struggling to do the same
with religious dogma, but our universities
are still weak, it would be useful for them to
cooperate with Romanian ones.
Sadek recalls the popularity that
Romania gained through the scholarships it
offered to foreign students before 1989.
Some of the former students are now in
high positions in the public and private
sphere. There are thousands throughout
the Arab world who now have mixed
families and also a nostalgia for the places
of their student years, who have projected a
positive image of Romania everywhere in
the region and would be happy to facilitate
the countrys getting involved in social and
economic projects, in education or tourism
- given there is also institutional support

Pro-democracy protests in Egypt

from Bucharest. MENA (Middle East and
North Africa states )have expressly
requested assistance from Romania in
learning to steer through transition,
because they see our experience as being
closest to what they are going through. A
few years ago, upon opening an office in
Tunisia, the German Marshall Fund
proposed to partner with Romanian
authorities to build a bridge between the
Black Sea and the Middle East. The idea
was favourably received, but there was no
practical follow-up; only the MFA has
channelled some of the official development assistance to that region.
Transfer of knowledge at government
level is often complicated by excessive
bureaucracy and domestic politics. On the
upside though, that opens a lot of opportunities for the Romanian business sector and
civil society, soft power instruments that
can complement diplomatic and government-to-government action. The experience accumulated at home could thus be
more easily adjusted to the target country.
One option would be to work in specialised
teams on emerging files, through a flexible
mechanism that would help streamline
communication between state institutions
and private entities involved in international projects, suggests Manuela Paraipan,
foreign affairs analyst, who has been
working on the Middle East for the past ten
years. A former ambassador to Bucharest
once proposed a joint endeavour by
Romanian institutions and foreign
embassies whereby reunions of former
Arab/Asian/foreign students in Romania
would be organised every few years, where
they would be able to bring their families,

visit and discuss potential projects.

Romanias economic presence in the
region before 1989 has left indelible marks
and a legacy that endures to this day: from
turnkey cement factories, to Ana Aslan
products and tractors - which Egyptians
still prefer today, be they even secondhand, to new ones manufactured elsewhere. Meanwhile, Romanian businesses
sector, prompted by the crisis to seek out
new opportunities, outside the domestic
market and the EU, have taken the first
timid steps in the region. Some have been
successful already (IT companies in the
Persian Gulf, construction companies in
Iraq); many others could use some support
in identifying existing opportunities and
the right contacts.
To know that a specific country in the
MENA is seeking expertise in the justice
field or education, you need to be part of
international networks of influence. This
doesnt need to be a state-coordinated
effort, says Manuela Paraipan; cooperation
from the government is enough. To start
with, a communication instrument widely
used in the EU, such as a regularly updated
website, administered by a non-profit
organisation, is enough to bring civil
society or businesses in contact with
diplomatic institutions, potential partners,
local collaborators and employers and can
serve as a channel to distribute information
about regional initiatives and/or interests.
When it comes to areas like public administration, justice, intelligence, cross-border
cooperation in conflict situations, anticorruption, agriculture or IT, Romania is in a
position to offer expertise to MENA states and also to sell this expertise! GF

| 17

Five Directions For Development

Official development assistance is an incentive meant to bring together actors, resources and
projects in a meaningful way. Five external action directions, widely agreed upon and

consistently pursued could help augment Romanias international profile.

When we think of Romanias

participation in post-conflict
reconstruction and stabilisation, Afghanistan and Iraq are
the first that come to mind.
Another experience, however,
is equally telling for the
expertise we already possess: the EU
Mission to Georgia, where Romanian
diplomats, troops, police and civil
society experts in law and human rights
have made up over 10% of the European
contingent ever since September 2008
and they are widely appreciated.
The lessons learnt during the first year
in Georgia are that we need to be better
prepared for the launch of such missions. We need to be ready to contribute
not just military, but also more civilian
armoured personnel carriers. We need a
national roster of experts ready to be
deployed on short notice. We need to
draw upon existing expertise in areas
relevant for todays complex missions
- from constitutional law and legislation
reform to energy, the military, elections
monitoring and reform and fighting
illegal trafficking. These specialists need
regular training programmes and
incentives - including those provided by
a favourable legal framework - to
participate in missions that would
increase the countrys prestige and
visibility. This would bring continuity
and efficiency to past efforts, thus
confirming our commitment to international peace and security. Which is why
we should also contribute more to UN
missions too, not just those under EU
coordination or coalitions of the willing.

Over the past 7-8 years,

Romania has consistently
engaged in partnerships, it
has hosted training programmes and exchanges,
conferences and seminars in
elections assistence and
training for countries in the Black Sea
area, Central Asia, South Caucasus,
Africa and the Middle East. Recent

controversy about Romanian diaspora

voting in national presidential elections
should not obscure the big picture: we
have a rich elections experience, with all
its hiccups, as well as its successes,
which can be most useful to others - and
we also have the experts to deliver it. We
have built a solid reputation in this field,
which we should consolidate and expand

Drawing upon our own

difficult reform experience,
but which is considered an
overall success, we have
already developed several
assistance projects for
penitentiary reform in
Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, achieving
better human rights standards administrative capacity. In Libya, an EU-funded
project brought together an NGO, the
Romanian Intercultural Institute and the
National Administration of Penitentiaries. Upon the beneficiarys request, the
project was then extended into a training
programme for national civil servants in
Romania, financed by the Libyan
national government. Building a profile
in this field could facilitate access to
more EU funding and establish Romanias reputation as a provider of democratic reform and human rights assistance.

The government scholarships programme for foreign

students must continue and
Romanian universities must
be encouraged to offer
quality programmes to
potential applicants. For
sure, this cannot happen in the absence
of highly performing Romanian geenral
education. Romanian universities offer
French- and English-language concentrations. Medical school is as attractive
to foreigners as it has traditionally been.
For instance, 1,500 Tunisian students
are learning medicine and pharmacy in
Iai, Cluj, Trgu-Mure, Bucharest and


Timioara. Romania could aim to

become a hub for students in the region
too. This could be a good way to support
the emergence of pro-European elites in
Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and we would be contributing to
stability and development in the region
while also promoting the values that
have brought us into the EU. Hungary
and Poland have been successful in
similar endeavours. There is no point in
trying to compete with our neighbours,
but we should instead focus on identifying those areas where we enjoy a
comparative advantage.

Healthcare assistance is vital

because it often comes at
times of extreme urgency and
need, either as humanitarian
aid after a natural disaster or
armed conflict that affects
civilian lives too. With support
from the Ministries of Defence and of
Healthcare, Romania could install a field
hospital in close proximity to conflict
areas and offer specialised care that
would be met with enthusiastic appreciation by the population and authorities. Unfortunately, no such decision has
been made in the cases of Libya or Syria,
although Romanian private hospitals
and companies would also stand to win.
When the government received the
wounded in Libya to treat them in Romania, the programme was later extended
at the expense of the Libyan government, in Romanian private hospitals.
Other Libyan patients opted for treatment in health resorts. Additionally, why
wouldnt the Cantacuzino Institute
access European funds for research into
Ebola prevention or why wouldnt it
produce vaccines that would make a real
impact on medical campaigns in Africa?
Filon Morar is a career diplomat. He was recently
Head of Regional Centre UNEST of the UN
Support Mission to Libya - and at present he
works in the UN system.

| 18


Romania was an important development

donor (among other things, through
scholarships it gave to foreign students,
Egyptians, Tunisians, Iraqis, Albanians,
who are now as many Romanian speakers
occupying high positions in their home
countries). Romanias participation with
troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia,
the Sudan, the Congo have also contributed
to the countrys notoriety and to it gaining
good knowledge of the local environment.
All these comparative advantages and
the expertise it has, Bucharest can sell to
its Western partners - big donor states, with
longstanding development programmes,
generously funded. Civil society, the private
environment and public institutions in
Romania could thus make a contribution
beyond their strictly financial means,
making the most of their highly qualified
human resource, while at the same time
they would be enhancing their own project
management capabilities.
There is already remarkable openness on
the part of these (potential) partners - from
government donors (i.e. the well-known
Norwegian or Swiss funds, as well as the
Americans, Dutch or Finns), to foundations
(such as the German Marshall Fund). All of
these hail and promote East-East cooperation, between countries that have already
gone through democratisation processes
and others currently undergoing similar
To this end, you need to sit down with the
donor-states, plan your agenda in coordination with them as to what youre going to do
and where, says Kai Brand-Jacobsen, a
British-Canadian-Norwegian who has settled
in Romania and does peacebuilding out of
Cluj. Reaching this level of maturity ought to
be Romanias next target. The year 2015 is the
European Year of Development, but also the
year when Millenium Development Goals are
reassessed and redefined as Sustainable
Development Goals - a window of opportunity for Romania to better and more visibly
project its strengths internationally.

Important steps have already been

taken. Once an EU member, Romania has

starting to pay towards the common EU

budget. It also contributes to other international organisations and it has financed
projects selected on a competitive basis,
according to its foreign policy priorities:
initially, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia
and Serbia were the sole recipients, to which
were added later the countries in the Wider
Black Sea region, MENA, Iraq, Afghanistan

and Palestine, with focus also moving away

from the Balkans. Moving beyond our
immediate vicinity has brought us credibility that we are genuinely concerned with
supporting democratic transitions and
human rights everywhere in the world,
believes Filon Morar. We have won international acclaim on democratisation, rule of
law institution-building (following the
model of the Romanian National Integrity
Agency ANI, National Anticorruption
Department DNA, National Antidiscrimination Council CNCD); there is essentially not
a single area where we lack expertise; we
may just not have as much capacity as
needed! we hear from Alina Inayeh,
director of the GMFs Black Sea Trust in
In 2012, Romanias overall development
assistance amounted to almost 112 m euro,
of which 75% was going to multilateral
assistance and 25% to bilateral. The
economic crisis has since shrunk this
budget, which is why it is more important
than ever to increase spending efficiency.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is preparing
to set up a dedicated department to manage
money spent through the MFA; legislation
regulating the domain is in the process of be-

ing approved by individual line ministries.

There is still a lot of room for improvement. Experts recommend allocating more
of the budget bilaterally, rather than to
multilateral projects and international
organisations, because this would increase
efficiency and visibility of Romania as a
donor. This holds particularly true as NGOs
are complaining of a lack of strategic
planning, of cross-party, inter-institutional
agreement on fundamental foreign policy
lines, correlated with economic and
business sector interests and which would
not change with the domestic political
agenda - if all this were in place, then
development assistance could follow the
same direction and be mutually reinforcing.
Last but not least, it is essential to map out
existing expertise, especially within civil
society, in an integrated database available
to all beneficiaries and donors, in order to
clearly identify available resources, give
professionals access to career opportunities,
further specialisation and training and
facilitate international institutional
partnerships - a mission which GlobalFocus
Centre has already undertaken. GF
Oana Popescu is Director of GlobalFocus Centre