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Helsinki Commission Briefing Highlights Romania’s Road to NATO and the EU

Washington-The United States Helsinki Commission will hold a briefing on a broad range of human rights issues in Romania, including the status of ethnic minorities, the growth of civil society, the fight against corruption and progress in democratic development. Such issues are likely to influence the political scene in the run up to the 2004 national elections in Romania.

Romania: Moving Toward NATO and the EU
Wednesday, October 1, 2003
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
2212 Rayburn House Office Building

Panelists:

Dr. Renate Weber, Chair, Open Society Foundation, Bucharest, Romania
Livia Plaks, Executive Director, Project on Ethnic Relations
Dr. Vlad Tismaneanu, Director, Center for the Study of Post-Communist Societies, University of Maryland

Romania has made significant strides in its first decade free from the yoke of Ceausescu’s repressive regime. Yet much remains to be done in promoting respect for human rights and consolidating democratic institutions and the rule of law.

The United States Helsinki Commission is mandated to monitor the implementation of Human Rights and other provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords among signatory States to the Helsinki Final Act. The Commission has engaged the Government of Romania on specific issues relating to freedom of speech and the press, religious liberty, anti-Semitism, religious and ethnic minorities including Roma, property restitution and combating corruption.

Romania began its transition from communism in 1989 with the overthrow of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Today, Romania is a constitutional democracy with a multiparty, bicameral parliamentary system. President Ion Iliescu was re-elected in 2000 along with Prime Minister Adrian Nastase’s Social Democratic Party (PSD) in elections viewed to be generally free and fair. The country emerged in 2000 from a punishing three-year recession, maintaining an annual growth rate above four percent; however, widespread poverty persists while corruption and red tape hinder foreign investment.

Romania is a candidate for European Union accession. On May 8, 2003 the United States Senate ratified the NATO Protocols of Accession for Romania and eight other countries. Romania is a strong ally of the United States and provides steadfast support for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan where an Army battalion serves on the ground. Romanian military personnel also provide logistical support for U.S. efforts in Iraq.

In 2001, Romania’s Foreign Minister Mircea Dan Geoana successfully led the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as its Chair-in-Office.

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