So let me explain why, in the past week, I have been commenting on the ongoing crisis in this country where I have residence and a mountain home.
Simply that I decided in 2007 – after 8 years in Central Asia – that it was time to return to Central/Eastern Europe and to see -
- how its governance system was developing – ie both the administrative system which has been the focus of my work in various countries over the past 20 years and the wider political system
- what lessons this held for the various tools international bodies have been trying to develop over this period for other “transition” countries eg in “neighbourhood countries”
I was lucky on my return from
Central Asia in that, within a few months, I became Team Leader of a project in focused on training local actors in the implementation of the European Acquis. It proved to be a challenging reinsertion to Bulgaria Europe – not least because of the combination of Bulgarian and Italian cultures (the latter being the main contractor). But I survived – and enjoyed the experience – and . That allowed me to refine the critique I had been working up for some time about EC Technical Assistance. Bulgaria
My next project in 2009 was a not dissimilar one in
– but I could sustain the controlling and internecine Romanian bureaucratic culture for only a month before I resigned in disgust and protest. I was happy to have another Bulgarian project for the past 18 months and to divide my time between Romania and the house in the Sofia Carpathian mountains as I pursued more of a cultural agenda.
Frankly the political antics in both countries didn’t interest me – a political animal if ever there was one as I had given 20 years of my life to regional politics in
. But both countries have been pursuing a neo-liberal agenda – whatever their political rhetoric and labels may occasionally say. And, having spent some time with younger political aspirants in the mid 1990s in Scotland , it was very clear they were being groomed (by American advisers) simply in the skills of political marketing – not of policy substance. Here is one of the best takes on the situation. Romania
One technical question I now have is the extent to which the semi-Presidential system of
is now contributing to the Romanian problems. They are a highly argumentative race – and such a system is doomed to impasse (let alone highly emotional conflict) in the absence of a powerful leader (such as Iliescu) who can informally control everything – despite the minimal powers the role actually gives. Basescu managed (with a sick psyche) to do this for some years but, in the end, political forces and public patience just ran out. Romania
What, I wonder, are the implications for the country’s future constitutional settlement?
Sadly the country lacks the civil society to organise the sort of constitutional process
developed in the 1980s and 1990s. Scotland
I’m driving tomorrow to the heat of
– and then on to Bucharest for a week. Bulgaria is now performing much more positively than Romania - reflected in its financial ratings. Sofia