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Romania - US Relations

Cold during the early post-war period, U.S. bilateral relations with Romania began to improve in the early 1960s with the signing of an agreement providing for partial settlement of American property claims. Cultural, scientific, and educational exchanges were initiated, and in 1964 the legations of both nations were promoted to full embassies.

Responding to Ceausescu's calculated distancing of Romania from Soviet foreign policy, particularly Romania's continued diplomatic relations with Israel and denunciation of the 1968 Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia, President Nixon paid an official visit to Romania in August 1969. Despite political differences, high-level contacts continued between U.S. and Romanian leaders throughout the decade of the 1970s, culminating in the 1978 state visit to Washington by President and Mrs. Ceausescu.

In 1972, a consular convention to facilitate protection of citizens and their property in both countries was signed. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) facilities were granted, and Romania became eligible for U.S. Export-Import Bank credits.

A trade agreement signed in April 1975 accorded most favored nation (MFN) status to Romania under section 402 of the Trade Reform Act of 1974 (the Jackson-Vanik amendment that links MFN to a country's performance on emigration). This status was renewed yearly after congressional review of a presidential determination that Romania was making progress toward freedom of emigration.

In the mid-1980s, criticism of Romania's deteriorating human rights record, particularly regarding mistreatment of religious and ethnic minorities, spurred attempts by Congress to withdraw MFN status. In 1988, to preempt congressional action, Ceausescu renounced MFN treatment, calling Jackson-Vanik and other human rights requirements unacceptable interference in Romanian sovereignty.

After welcoming the revolution of December 1989 with a visit by Secretary of State Baker in February 1990, the U.S. Government expressed concern that opposition parties had faced discriminatory treatment in the May 1990 elections, when the National Salvation Front won a sweeping victory. The slow progress of subsequent political and economic reform increased that concern, and relations with Romania cooled sharply after the June 1990 intervention of the miners in University Square. Anxious to cultivate better relations with the U.S. and Europe, and disappointed at the poor results from its gradualist economic reform strategy, the Stolojan government undertook some economic reforms and conducted free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections in September 1992. Encouraged by the conduct of local elections in February 1992, Deputy Secretary of State Eagleburger paid a visit in May 1992. Congress restored MFN in November 1993 in recognition of Romania's progress in instituting political and economic reform. In 1996, the U.S. Congress voted to extend permanent MFN graduation to Romania.

As Romania's policies became unequivocally pro-Western, the United States moved to deepen relations. President Clinton visited Bucharest in 1997. The two countries initiated cooperation on shared goals, including economic and political development, defense reform, and non-traditional threats (such as trans-border crime and non-proliferation).

The two countries stepped up cooperation on a wide range of goals, including economic, political and defense reform. Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Romania offered its full support to the U.S. in the Global War on Terror. Romania was invited to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in November 2002 and formally joined NATO on March 29, 2004 after depositing its instruments of treaty ratification in Washington, DC. President Bush helped commemorate Romania's NATO accession when he visited Bucharest in November 2002. On that occasion, in his memorable "Rainbow" speech to tens of thousands in Revolution Square, he congratulated the Romanian people on their progress towards building democratic institutions and a market economy following the fall of communism. Romanian troops serve alongside U.S. troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

In March 2005, President Traian Basescu made his first official visit to Washington to meet with President Bush, Secretary of State Rice, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and other senior U.S. officials.

In March 2005, President Traian Basescu made his first official visit Washington to meet with President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and other senior U.S. officials. Later in the year, both National Security Director Stephen Hadley and Secretary Rice visited Bucharest, meeting with President Basescu and other senior Romanian leaders. In December 2005, Secretary Rice visited Bucharest to meet with President Basescu and to sign a base use and access agreement that allows for the use of Romanian military facilities by U.S. troops, setting the stage for a new era in U.S. and Romanian defense cooperation. The first proof of principle exercise took place at Mihail-Kogalniceanu Air Base from August to October 2007.

Romania was a staunch ally in the Global War on Terrorism, providing troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq and promising to keep Romanian soldiers in both those countries as long as necessary. President Basescu repeatedly underscored the centrality of Romania's strategic alliance with the United States and senior Romanian political leaders, including the President and Prime Minister, fully supported the presence of U.S. military facilities on Romanian soil. Romania has made its airspace, ground infrastructure, and naval facilities available to U.S. and NATO forces engaged in the global war on terrorism and senior government leaders promised to continue to do so in the future.

Its entry into NATO in the spring of 2004 and its accession in to the Euroean Union in 2007 spoke volumens about the progress it had made to date and reflected its hopes for the future.

During the 2005 presidential campaign, President Traian Basescu repeatedly made reference to what he called a "Bucharest-London-Washington" axis. He clearly intended to emphasize that his government would seek to strengthen Romania's "strategic partnership" with the U.S. and Britain. Such assertions have raised eyebrows in Brussels, Paris, and Berlin. Nonetheless, Basescu refused to back off his robustly pro-American stance. When pressed by the media as to what such a special relationship would entail, Basescu has pointed to the importance of a U.S. role in the Black Sea region and Romania's solid commitment to the NATO alliance. More fundamentally, however, Basescu and his advisors have stressed that this policy orientation is grounded in shared democratic values, including a commitment to combating dictatorship and promoting freedom.

On February 04, 2010 Romania's President Traian Basescu said his country had agreed to host medium-range ballistic-missile interceptors that form part of a new U.S. shield system. Basescu said at the end of a meeting of the Supreme Defense Council that "Romania has been officially invited by U.S. President Barack Obama to be part of the missile-defense system." On May 03, 2011 President Traian Basescu said that Romania and the United States had agreed to deploy elements of a future missile-defense shield at a southern base in Romania. Basescu said in a televised address that the antimissile shield would be deployed at Deveselu, about 30 kilometers from the Bulgarian border. The airbase, which will remain under Romanian command, will host an average of 200 U.S. troops and up to a maximum of 500. Basescu stressed that the shield was not directed against Russia. Romania and the United States have been negotiating for more than a year on the deployment of ballistic-missile interceptors, which should be operational by 2015.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2012 19:26:29 ZULU