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SOURCE Democracy Institute
Democracy Institute report on Romanian economy highlights dangers for economic growth and relationship with United States
WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Romania's government faces policy choices that could set it on a course to western-style prosperity or relegate it to the status of an impoverished backwater in thrall to Vladimir Putin's Russia, according to a report released today by the Democracy Institute.
The provocative report, Balkan Tiger or Balkan Backwater? comes days before pro-American Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta visits the USA. It outlines the opportunity that Romania has to emulate regional success stories like Poland, becoming an oasis of free market economics and pro-Western foreign policy.
The report analyzes the implications for American foreign policy, as domestic and foreign actors encourage Romania, an EU and NATO member, to move closer to Russia for political, economic, and strategic support. It argues that it is in America's interest to help Romania – a strategically important, yet fragile, democracy – to achieve the sustainable prosperity it seeks and preserve the vital relationship with the two countries.
Describing the report, its author, Democracy Institute Director, Dr. Patrick Basham, said:
"Romania faces a choice between two policy paths: one leads to a prosperous, market-driven tiger economy built upon environmentally sustainable foundations; and the other leads to a Romania with the status and circumstance of a Balkan backwater, a corrupt political establishment 'leading' an economically impoverished populace."
"There are clear American interests at stake here. Prime Minister Ponta, who many refer to as the Balkan Tony Blair, has a pro-western and pro-American attitude that is currently reflected in his domestic and foreign policies. He is coming under pressure internally and externally, to tread a different path, which could lead towards reduced economic openness and increased reliance on Vladimir Putin's Russia. This would be disastrous for Romania, its people, and its place in the international community."
The report indicates that the choice Mr. Ponta's government must make is most evident in the Romanian parliament's impending decision whether to approve Europe's largest gold mining project, in the Rosia Montana region of Transylvania. The project is opposed, on flimsy environmental grounds, by a small but vocal domestic minority that is funded by aggressive billionaire activist George Soros, publicized by state-run Russian media, and orchestrated by a coalition of foreign environmental NGOs.
In the report, Basham explains that the project will be a standard bearer for a revitalized mining sector, highlighting that Romania is "open for business," encouraging local and overseas investors to seek opportunities in Romania, and boosting growth in currently one of the poorest EU member states.
The report, Balkan Tiger or Balkan Backwater? Today's Threat to Romania's Economic Future – Why It Matters to America, is available for download online at www.democracyinstitute.org
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