Centre for Romanian Studies

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Theft of a Nation, Romania since Communism. (Furtul unei Natiunai)

November 11th, 2004 · No Comments · Books




Paperback 320 pages (November 1, 2003) £16-50
Publisher: C. Hurst & Co
ISBN: 1850657165
Hardback: xxii, 424pp. (Jan. 2005),£45.00

Romanian Publication (in Translation )
Humanitas Publishing House, Bucharest November 2004

‘This is a unique work on an important, but neglected, subject. It deals with the transition from totalitarian to democratic rule in Romania and examines the question of why the promotion of reform of the political and economic system in Romania has proved to be more difficult than in most of the other countries of Central Europe. In doing so, the book makes a significant contribution to the political history of Romania and Central Europe, as well as to the literature on the dynamics of political and social change in the region.’ ––Professor Dennis Deletant Since 1989 Romania has gone from communist isolation under the megalomaniac Nicolae Ceausescu to being a key player in America’s war against terrorism. This strategically-placed country has become a front-line state for nervous Western governments keen to secure oil routes from the Middle East. It joined NATO in 2004 and the European Union is welcoming it into membership by 2007 on flexible terms despite a serious democratic deficit and glaring economic weaknesses. Tom Gallagher analyses how the country is seeking to transform its image while many of the key legacies of dictatorship have remained intact. Problems that have made the country a byword for misrule – a corrupt ruling elite, unaccountable intelligence services, and nationalist extremists adept at exploiting social misery – remain largely unresolved. Only in 2000, it was in Romania that the best electoral performance so far of any of Europe’s radical extremist movements was obtained. The reconciliation between the West and a predatory ruling elite which rules by strong-arm methods, has damaging implications for Western security. The mishandling of Romania has tarnished the EU’s reputation for strengthening democracy in the Balkans, the key regional arena for its emerging new foreign policy.This book argues that another serious miscalculation by the West has been made as it scrambles to find local allies in a troubled neighbourhood. It predicts that Romania will be a future trouble-spot unless efforts to resume much-needed reforms are undertaken.

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Book Description

Romania had the chance of a fresh start politically after the collapse of the brutal and macabre dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989. Instead bad governance has persisted within an incomplete democatic system with disastrous results for many millions of people.

Tom Gallagher explores why continuity rather than change has been the dominant feature of political life after 1989. He provides an inspring portait of the post-communist leadership centred around Ion Iliescu, Adrian Nastase and their clients and allies, showing how defense of private or group interests has usually been their primary concern. He shows how they promoted bogus nationalist movements in order to cover up systematic misuse of state resources. The failure of the non-communist democratic alternative, centred around Emil Constantinscu, Romania’s President from 1996 to 2000, to break this pattern of misrule, is closely examined.

The author warns hat NATO and EU membership are unlikely to provide the impetus for national recovery unless convincing local partners are found, prepared at all times to defend Romania’s national interests. The danger that Romania wll become a Latin American-style island of backwardness inside hte EU is a real one as the ruling PSD agrees entry terms that severely weaken Romanian agriculture, industry and commerce. Incisive portraits of the political elite, the security services and the new economic oligarchy are provided in this study. Tom Gallagher is convinced that Romania can break free from the communist past and enjoy close and fruitful links with the West only if strong reformist movements emerge from increasingly self-aware sections of society that reject the political practices of the past.

Problems that have made the country a byword for misrule – such as a corrupt ruling elite, unaccountable intelligence services and extreme nationalists adept at exploiting social misery – remain largely unresolved. Only in 2000m it was in Romania that the best electoral performance so far of any of Europe’s radical extremist movements was obtained. As NATO and the European Union expand eastwards, the success of the most important shift in European security since the end of the Cold War is bound up with the outcome of necessary reforms in Romania.



Furtul unei natiuni. Romania de la comunism incoace
Editura Humanitas, Noiembrie 2004, seria istorie
432 pagini,
ISBN 973-50-0848-3

Romania vazuta de Tom Gallagher e una fara retusuri. In instrumentarul cercetatorului nu exista nici minciuni cosmetice, nici partipriuri de conjunctura. Miza unei asemenea carti sta tocmai in capacitatea autorului de a ramane echidistant si de a trata subiectul cu detasarea specifica profesionistilor. Tom Gallagher a vizitat Romania si a ajuns s-o cunoasca in amanunt. Nimic nu ii este strain, de la mazilirile pronuntate de Inalta Poarta la excursiile mineresti in centrul Bucurestiului. Furtul unei natiuni nu cuprinde retete de insanatosire sau sfaturi rostite din varful buzelor. Volumul inseamna in primul rand o cantitate enorma de informatii sistematizate impecabil. Gallagher a cotrobait prin arhive, a consultat colectiile ziarelor, a petrecut sute de ore pe Internet, a discutat cu oameni din miezul evenimentelor si a aflat tot ceea ce il interesa. Rezultatul este, fara dubiu, impresionant. Cititorul roman avea nevoie de un demers neutru si meticulos, de un ghid prin trecutul indepartat sau recent, de o minienciclopedie a succeselor si esecurilor nationale. Exact asta ii furnizeaza Furtul unei natiuni. Nu stim cati dintre puternicii de azi sau de ieri vor parcurge cartea si se vor programa pentru un examen de constiinta. Este cert insa ca publicul va avea ocazia sa vada nu doar cum ne privesc altii, ci in special cat mai avem de mers pana cand vom atinge limanul normalitatii.

Tom Gallagher

Profesorul Thomas Gerard Gallagher (n. 1954) a studiat la Universitatea din Manchester si a scris o teza de doctorat cu titlul „Teoria si practica autoritarismului in Portugalia“. In prezent el preda la Universitatea din Bradford, unde este de ani buni seful catedrei de studii despre pace. Manifesta un interes statornic pentru Romania, pentru regiunea balcanica si pentru Europa de Sud-Est, fapt dovedit de cartile publicate pana acum: Romania dupa Ceausescu: politica intolerantei, Democratie si nationalism in Romania, 1989-1998, Europa proscrisa: Balcanii de la otomani la Milosevici, De la tiranie la tragedie: Balcanii dupa Razboiul Rece, Balcanii in noul mileniu: in umbra pacii si a razboiului. Totodata, Tom Gallagher editeaza impreuna cu G. Pridham volumul Experimentul democratic: schimbarile de regim in Balcani, iar impreuna cu A. Williams lucrarea Socialismul sud-est european. Ultimele cercetari despre tara noastra ii asigura informatiile necesare pentru Furtul unei natiuni. Romania de la comunism incoace, in afara cartilor pe care le-a publicat, universitarul britanic este o prezenta frecventa in revistele de specialitate, dintre care mentionam Journal of Communist Studies & Transition Politics, European History Quarterly, Security Dialogue, History Today, The National Interest, Democratization, Balkanologie, Ethnic and Racial Studies etc. Invitat la numeroase conferinte de profil istoric, Tom Gallagher calatoreste la Zagreb, Praga, Budapesta sau Garmisch-Parterkirchen, unde vorbeste despre probleme de balcanologie, initiative politice regionale, etnicitate si democratizare.


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