30 years after the end of Romania's dictatorship

The Romanian Revolution, which culminated in the overthrow and execution of dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, began in the city of Timișoara shortly before Christmas 1989. More than 1,000 people died in the uprising against the state. While the Romanian press asks whether the people of Romania have truly put the dictatorship behind them, international voices draw attention to positive developments.

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The Irish Times (IE) /

A glimmer of hope for the rule of law

It has taken a long time but recent developments in Romania give cause for optimism, the Irish Times says:

“Twelve years after Romania joined the EU, it has yet to establish the truth about how its democratic state took shape. Building on such shaky ground has undermined Romania's justice system and eroded trust in a state that has shielded Ceaușescu's successors at the expense of the victims of 1989. ... Yet Romania is ending 2019 as a regional bright spot for the rule of law, which is under attack from populist leaders in Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and elsewhere. Civil society and huge protests helped stop the Social Democratic Party (PSD) from crippling Romania's anti-corruption laws, and boosted the liberals who last month ousted Iliescu's old party from power.”

G4Media.ro (RO) /

A distorted system of values

Communism has engendered a fundamental antipathy towards state institutions that now threatens democracy, writes journalist Dan Tăpălagă, founder of the news website G4Media.ro:

“Communism left us with a burdensome legacy: a lack of respect for laws and rules; corruption as a way of life. Children were infected with the virus by their parents: the art of stealing and cheating the system. The distrust of institutions, the state, the future, has been passed on from one generation to the next. ... Communism accustomed us to a distorted system of values. A lack of trust in their own future is driving people out of these [ex-communist] countries, which are threatened by depopulation and ageing. This is perhaps the greatest danger for the new democracies in Eastern Europe in the long term.”

Adevărul (RO) /

We can rely on civil society

Romanian society has freed itself from post-communism, writes journalist Ion M. Ioniță in a blog in Adevărul:

“Over the past 30 years the people have forced the elites to obey them in key moments. When the majority saw that Romania was in danger of going off track, that the representatives of the political class were heading in the wrong direction, the reaction came immediately. Massive street protests, punishment with devastating election defeats. Without this civil and political presence, Romania would not have put post-communism behind it. ... This is the great change that required enormous effort over the past 30 years - but it's now irreversible.”

Newsweek România (RO) /

Save your crocodile tears

Calls by politicians to punish those who committed crimes under the Ceaușescu regime are a mockery, writes journalist Răzvan Chiruţă in Newsweek Romania:

“Ceremonies, fake tears, new promises of justice from politicians who were themselves responsible for the misery of the last 30 years: for example the special pensions for former intelligence officers. ... The criminal investigation into the revolution was also delayed in order to protect former party activists and Securitate employees. ... Politicians of all stripes should remain silent these days - including the new ones who are not directly to blame. Through this period at the very least they should leave us alone and not join in the chorus of crocodile tears that comes over us every year.”

Contributors (RO) /

Between cleptocracy and civic society

Romania is at a crossroads, lawyer Ioan Stanomir writes in Contributors:

“After 30 years, Romania faces a question that is fundamental for its future: what type of state do we want to build, and what relationship should this state have with its citizens? State reform must lead us out of the impasse in which we find ourselves as a nation. The continued existence of clientelist structures and the kleptocratic order threaten our people's dignity. ... After 30 years, civic commitment is the alternative to lethargy and moral decay. With a sense of citizenship and daily courage, the people can rediscover their instinct for solidarity and dignity.”