Romania–United States relations

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Romania – United States relations
Map indicating locations of Romania and USA


United States

Romania – United States relations are bilateral relations between Romania and the United States. U.S.-Romanian diplomatic relations were formally established in 1880, with the appointment of Eugene Schuyler, a renowned and talented diplomat and historian, as the first American diplomatic representative to Romania. One hundred and twenty-five years after Schuyler first took up residence in Bucharest, the U.S.-Romanian bilateral relationship has matured into a strategic partnership that encompasses a wide range of political, military, economic and cultural ties. Particularly after Romania embraced democracy in the 1990s, U.S.-Romania relations broadened and deepened, leading to U.S. support for Romania’s entry into NATO and setting the stage for its full integration into Europe. Today, Romania is a strong ally of the United States, and the two countries work together to build democracy, fight terrorism and promote regional security and stability.

According to the 2012 U.S. Global Leadership Report, 43% of Romanians approve of U.S. leadership, with 12% disapproving and 45% uncertain.[1]

Informal contacts between Romania and the United States can be traced back to the earliest days of American history. Captain John Smith, who later emigrated from England to Virginia, is believed to have fought in Transylvania against the Ottomans around 1601-1603, and Benjamin Franklin wrote of a meeting with a Transylvanian priest, Samuel Damien, who visited Philadelphia while traveling around the world. News about Romania occasionally appeared in the United States as early as the 1700s, while Romanian publications also discussed developments in America, first publishing the works of Benjamin Franklin in the 1800s. In 1846, one of the future leaders of the Romanian Revolution of 1848, Simion Barnutiu, translated the American Declaration of Independence. A number of Romanian immigrants to the U.S. fought in the American Civil War, and one, Gheorghe Pomut, attained the rank of Brigadier General. Commercial and consular contacts can be traced back to the 1830s and 1840s, after the Romanian principalities had begun to win increased autonomy from Constantinople. In 1843, the first U.S. commercial ship anchored at Braila Harbor in Romania’s Dobrogea area. In 1858, the United States appointed its first U.S. Consul, Henry Romertze, to the town of Galati to assist with naval travel, and in 1867, Louis J. Czapkay, the first American Consul to Bucharest, was appointed.

Following Romania’s independence in 1878, U.S. Secretary of State W.M. Evarts upgraded America’s representation in Bucharest to that of a Legation by appointing Eugene Schuyler as Diplomatic Agent and Consul General on June 11, 1880. Schuyler wrote Secretary of State Evarts thanking him for the appointment, saying “The history and condition of Rumania have long interested me, and I feel highly honored to be the first on the part of the United Statesto begin regular diplomatic relations with that country. Ishall leave nothing in my power undone to further the good relations between the two countries.” The following year, Schuyler’s rank was upgraded to that of Resident Minister. Shortly after Schuyler’s arrival in August 1880, Romanian General Sergiu Voinescu left for the United States on a mission to convey news of Romania’s independence to American officials, including President Rutherford B. Hayes, who received him that November. Back in Bucharest, Schuyler, then one of America’s most distinguished diplomats who was known for having translated Turgenev and Tolstoy into English and for his biography of Peter the Great, applied his talents to the task of developing U.S. and Romanian relations. During the next four years, Schuyler negotiated a bilateral commercial treaty, a consular convention as well as another for the protection of trademarks, promoted bilateral trade, wrote countless dispatches on Romanian political and economic issues, traveled extensively, mastered Romanian, and gained the respect and admiration of leading Romanians. Schuyler left Romania in August 1884 after the U.S. Congress failed to appropriate continued funding for diplomatic missions in Greece, Serbia and Romania as part of a cost-saving measure. The mission in Bucharest was thus downgraded to a consular post, which it remained until Congress authorized the reopening of the Legation in 1891. Nevertheless, Schuyler’s successful tenure laid the groundwork for a strong bilateral relationship that was to grow and mature over the coming decades.

Romanian and American commercial ties grew significantly in the latter part of the nineteenth century and first part of the Twentieth. American exports to Romania, for example, increased twentyfold between 1891 and 1914. Mean-while, American writers were becoming more widely read in Romania, with the publication of Walt Whitman, Mark Twain and Bret Harte. Romanian culture also began to make inroads in the United States, where George Enescu’s music was first played in New York in 1911. The 1913 New York Armory Show brought great acclaim to Constantin Brancusi, who exhibited five of his sculptures there. Also in 1913, Charles Vopicka, an American businessman of Czech origin, was appointed Minister to Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia. He served until 1921, advocating on Romania’s behalf both during and after the Great War. He pushed for the emancipation of subject peoples, including Czechs, Romanians and Yugoslavs, from Hapsburg control. Expelled from Bucharest in 1917 by the German occupation authorities, Vopicka returned to the United States, where he gave more than forty speeches on Romania’s behalf, before joining the Romanian government-inexile in Iasi. Vopicka’s activism on behalf of U.S. and Romanian relations, along with the awakening oftheRomanian andAmerican community in the United States in response to the war, helped strengthen ties between the two countries. Political, economic and cultural ties and exchanges continued to expand after the end of World War I. In January 1923, George Enescu left on the first of his many tours and visits to the United States, where his music was widely embraced. In November 1925, Romanian diplomat Nicolae Titulescu visited Washington, D.C., where he met with President Calvin Coolidge. The following year, Queen Marie traveled across the United States by train in a widely publicized visit and attended the Chicago World’s Fair. The same year, the “Friends of the United States” association was established in Bucharest with the participation of such prominent Romanians as Titulescu and Enescu. In 1932, the Ford Motor Company opened a sales office in Romania, and in 1934 established an assembly plant in Bucharest. And in 1939, Romania opened a pavilion in the World’s Fair in New York.

Romania’s declaration of war on the United States in December 1941 led to a break in diplomatic relations, which resumed again in 1946 when the U.S. recognized the Romanian government led by Petru Groza. Romania’s absorption into the Soviet camp led to deterioration in the bilateral relationship, as successive Romanian communist leaders imposed a totalitarian system and strict limits on contacts with Americans and other Westerners. However, bilateral relations with Romania began to improve in the early 1960s under Gheorghiu-Dej 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. Ceausescu’s calculated distancing of Romania from the Soviet foreign policy line, including Bucharest’s diplomatic recognition of Israel and denunciation of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia paved the way for President Nixon’s 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 1973 state visit to Washington by the Ceausescus. 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 its 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 JacksonVanik and other human rights requirements unacceptable interference in Romanian sovereignty. While political relations remained strained throughout this period, the U.S. worked to maintain contacts through cultural and educational exchanges. The American Library in Bucharest, established in 1972 by the U.S. Information Service, offered a window to American culture throughout this period, while visits by such preeminent artists as Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck and Arthur Rubinstein brought American music directly to the Romanian people. At the same time, gifted Romanian athletes such as Nadia Comaneci and Ilie Nastase, and Romania’s decision to take part in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics despite a boycott by other Soviet bloc countries, generated some positive publicity for Romania in the United States.

After welcoming the revolution of December 1989 with a visit by Secretary of State James 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 progressofsubsequentpolitical and economic reformincreased that concern, and relations with Romania cooled sharply after the June 1990 riots by 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 MFN status to Romania permanently. As Romania’s policies became unequivocally pro-Western, the United States moved to deepen relations. President Clinton visited Bucharest in 1997 during the Constantinescu presidency. 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 NATO in November 2002 and formally joined NATO on March 29, 2004 after depositing its instruments of treaty ratification in Washington, D.C. 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. 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. During Secretary Rice’s December visit, the two countries signed a ground-breaking agreement providing U.S. forces with access to Romanian military facilities, setting the stage for a new era in U.S. and Romanian defense cooperation.

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External links[edit]

Media related to Romania – United States relations at Wikimedia Commons