Marius Ghincea, Program Director for the Institute’s Foreign and Security Policy Cluster published a highly circulated analysis on the state of Romania’s foreign service in Libertatea, the most-read newspaper in Romania. Below, you can read an English summary of the analysis. The original piece can be read here.
The Romanian diplomacy finds itself at a critical juncture, grappling with a shortage of resources and a lack of ambition. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responsible for representing Romania’s interests on the global stage, is hindered by an inadequately motivated and remunerated staff. Meanwhile, the political landscape in Bucharest largely neglects foreign policy, with parties failing to recruit and train politicians with the necessary expertise. The intersection of these challenges has left Romanian diplomacy mired in a state of precariousness and irrelevance.
Current State of Romanian Diplomacy:
At the heart of the issue lies the insufficient material resources allocated to foreign policy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs faces a debilitating lack of funding, impacting its ability to effectively represent Romania’s diplomatic, cultural, and political interests. The situation is exacerbated by a bureaucratic impasse, with the Ministry seemingly blocked between the political elite’s lack of ambition, inadequate resources for initiatives, and networks of sinecures and nepotism that have infiltrated the institution.
The Human Resource Dilemma:
While those in the foreign service may enjoy relatively better compensation, they grapple with a dearth of necessary resources to fulfill their duties adequately. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ staff is not only insufficiently motivated but also faces remuneration challenges that fail to align with the weight of their responsibilities. This disparity contributes to a systemic issue where the very individuals tasked with representing Romania abroad lack the necessary support and incentives to excel in their roles.
Political Indifference to Foreign Policy:
Compounding the problem is the apparent indifference of political parties in Bucharest toward foreign policy matters. The political arena lacks the capacity and interest to attract or cultivate politicians with genuine expertise in this field. The oversight is striking, considering the intricate and nuanced nature of international relations in the contemporary world. Without a concerted effort to prioritize foreign policy, Romania risks relegating itself to the fringes of global discourse and influence.
Multifaceted Challenges Require Multidimensional Solutions:
Addressing these challenges necessitates a “multidimensional” approach, as per diplomatic parlance. However, the core predicament remains the acute lack of material resources, and the ripple effects of this deficiency are felt throughout diplomatic activities. A holistic strategy must involve internal reforms related to diplomat selection, the elimination of detachments, and improvements in continuous training programs for diplomats.
Financial Realities: A Call for Increased Funding:
A key proposal emerges from a stark statistical comparison. Romania currently allocates a mere 0.09% of its GDP to foreign policy, significantly below the regional average of 0.2%. To put this in perspective, defense policy commands at least 2% of GDP, aligning with Romania’s international commitments within NATO. Doubling the budget for Romanian diplomacy to reach the regional average would have a marginal impact on the state budget but could yield significant improvements in the financial constraints within which Romanian diplomacy currently operates.
The central call to action is a clear one: the government must prioritize and increase the budget for diplomacy to 0.2% of GDP. This financial injection is not merely a fiscal adjustment; rather, it represents a strategic investment in Romania’s global standing and influence. The increase in resources should be coupled with internal reforms, including a meticulous review of the diplomat selection process, the elimination of detachments, and an enhancement of continuous training programs for diplomats.
Political Parties: Active Contributors to Diplomacy:
The responsibility to fortify Romanian diplomacy does not rest solely on the government. Political parties must actively contribute by incorporating foreign policy into their agendas. This involves the recruitment and training of party members and leaders with expertise in foreign affairs. By fostering a cadre of individuals well-versed in international relations, parties can contribute meaningfully to the development of comprehensive programs aligned with their respective ideologies.
Ambitious Visions for Romania’s Global Profile:
Furthermore, political parties must not only engage with foreign policy but also champion ambitious visions for Romania’s global profile and international objectives. This requires a departure from the current trend of neglect and indifference toward diplomatic matters. By actively shaping and promoting comprehensive foreign policy agendas, political parties can break the cycle of irrelevance and precariousness that currently plagues Romanian diplomacy.
The Importance of Competent Experts and Coherent Programs:
The crux of the matter is the need for competent experts in foreign policy and coherent political programs. Without a cadre of individuals well-versed in the intricacies of international relations, political parties risk perpetuating a vicious cycle that undermines the efficacy of foreign policy initiatives. Competent experts are essential not only for crafting informed and strategic diplomatic approaches but also for ensuring the continuity and effectiveness of these initiatives.
In conclusion, the revitalization of Romanian diplomacy requires a concerted effort on multiple fronts. Increasing the budget for diplomacy is a crucial first step, but it must be complemented by internal reforms, political engagement, and the cultivation of expertise within political parties. The challenges faced by Romanian diplomacy are multifaceted, and addressing them demands a comprehensive, multidimensional strategy. By investing in its diplomatic capabilities, Romania has the opportunity to assert itself on the global stage and secure a more influential role in shaping international affairs.