The de-satellization of Communist Romania (or Romanian road) was the gradual loss of control by the Soviet Union over Romania. Although Romania remained a member of both the Warsaw Pact and Comecon, it was not to be a docile member of either.:189
After the establishment of a Romanian Communist Party-dominated government in 1945, the country soon became an unquestioning Soviet satellite. Decisions regarding foreign and economic policy were taken in Moscow and loyally executed by local Communists. The period of unchallenged Soviet domination lasted until 1955.
A long-standing ambition of Communist leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej had been the withdrawal of all Soviet troops from Romanian territory. This was finally achieved in 1958: that year, on 25 July, the Romanians announced that all Soviet troops had left Romanian territory. The withdrawal of the Red Army in 1958 was the major development in Romania between 1956 and Dej's death in 1965. Under the 1947 peace treaty, the Soviet forces garrisoned in Romania were meant to help defend the supply lines to Soviet bases in Austria. After the Austrian State Treaty in 1955, that pretext was moot, and the Romanians suggested the reconsideration of the Red Army's need to maintain a presence in Romania. Nikita Khrushchev's reaction was hostile, and following the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 it was "agreed" that the Red Army would have to stay in Romania. At a Warsaw Pact meeting in May 1958, on account of Khrushchev's desire for improved relations with the West, it was announced that the Red Army would leave Romania. Its withdrawal began in early July and was completed by the end of the month. This was the first major step towards desovietization and desatellization. There was to be no turning back. The withdrawal also undoubtedly meant to dilute Romanian disgust at the execution of Imre Nagy in June, who was flown back to Hungary in a Romanian plane. In 1963, street and other names were changed back to their Romanian originals or – if the originals were politically unacceptable – to Romanian rather than Russian names. The Russian Institute in Bucharest was closed and within a few years, Russian had ceased to be the second language taught in Romanian schools. In December 1964, Soviet advisors – including those in the intelligence and security services – were withdrawn from Romania. Gheorghiu-Dej died in March 1965. His successor, Nicolae Ceaușescu, pursued national self-reliance with "demonic frenzy".:185–186, 189 Furthering desatellization, the SovRom corporations – through which the Soviets had exercised almost exclusive control over Romania's economy – were dissolved in 1954. Romania's appeal to nationalism was incompatible with satellite status. The Soviet withdrawal of 1958, together with the Sino-Soviet split, gave Romania the opportunity to realign its position within the Comecon. In April 1964, Romania formally declared its independence from the Soviet Union's control and its plans for Romania's future. These plans called for an agricultural and natural resource orientation for Romania's economy. The term "People's Republic" usually pointed to a satellite status, so the 1965 Constitution of Romania changed the country's official title to "Socialist Republic". In the 1960s, the reference to the "Soviet liberators" in the national anthem was dropped.
Further developments (1965–1984)
The Nicolae Ceaușescu era, which began in 1965, saw political power in Romania become nationalized and personalized. In 1962, Soviet economists proposed to subordinate East European economy, including that of Romania, to a supranational planning body of the Comecon. Starting with 1964, the Romanian leadership's stance on international issues was frequently markedly different from that of the Soviet Union. Romania publicly criticised the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and refused to participate, formally approached the European Economic Community for trade preferences in 1972, and repeatedly took independent positions in the United Nations. In 1973, Romania became the first Warsaw Pact country to conduct most of its trade with non-Communist countries.
In 1967, Comecon adopted the "interested party principle", under which any country could opt out of any project they chose, still allowing the other member states to use Comecon mechanisms to coordinate their activities. In principle, a country could still veto, but the hope was that they would typically choose just to step aside rather than either veto or be a reluctant participant. This aimed, at least in part, at allowing Romania to chart its own economic course without leaving Comecon entirely or bringing it to an impasse. Under Nicolae Ceaușescu, Romania plotted the most independent foreign policy of all Warsaw Pact countries. This independence was reflected in Romania's commercial, political and military relations. Unlike Poland and Hungary, Romania did not have Soviet troops on its soil. Starting in 1962, Romania also stopped participating in Warsaw Pact troop exercises. The least active member of the Comecon, Romania was a member of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Romania owed much of its economic leeway to oil and grain, which freed it from Soviet economic leverage.
In 1974, Romania denied a Soviet request to build a railway from Odessa across eastern Romania to Varna. This broad-gauge railroad could have been used to transport major army units to Bulgaria. Romania's stance was against the usage of its territory by allied forces. Between 700,000 and 1,000,000 troops would have been required to occupy Romania, a force difficult to maintain over a long period of time even for major powers. While being a Warsaw Pact country, Romania demonstrated its willingness and ability to diverge from many Soviet international policies. Romania condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and was the only Warsaw Pact country to participate in the 1984 Olympics. In addition to not participating in Warsaw Pact maneuvers and sending athletes to compete in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, no Soviet bases were allowed within the borders of Romania. Romania was the only Warsaw Pact member that did not allow the stationing of foreign troops on its soil, Soviet or otherwise. Nicolae Ceaușescu maintained Romanian independence by separating the Romanian Army from Soviet indoctrination and training, ended its previously subservient role in the Warsaw Pact and prevented Soviet officers from interfering in the decisions of Romanian personnel. A neighbor of the USSR, Romania had no Soviet troops. Although it did participate in joint Warsaw Pact air and naval exercises, it did not allow such exercises on its own territory. Romania was "aligned but independent". Soviet trade subsidies during 1960-1978 for the other 5 Warsaw Pact states ranged from $4.6 billion (Bulgaria) to $23.7 billion (East Germany). For Romania, Soviet trade subsidies during this period were negative, with a total of $0.5 billion paid in net implicit trade taxes.
Romania's foreign policy during de-satellization
Whilst Romania and the USSR signed the Soviet-Romanian Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance in 1970, Romania also pursued its independent policies. Thus, Romania was neutral during the Sino-Soviet dispute and continually had a friendly relationship with China, recognized West Germany in January 1967 and continued to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel after the Six-Day War. Romania was also one of the countries that acted as mediators in Egyptian-Israeli talks that led to the Camp David accords (that the USSR opposed). Similarly, even though other Eastern Bloc countries broke their relations with Chile after the anticommunist coup in September 1973, Romania refused to sever diplomatic relations.
In 1979, following the Soviet-backed Vietnamese invasion of Democratic Kampuchea, Romania became the first Warsaw Pact member to cast an anti-Soviet vote in the United Nations General Assembly. Romania also continued to recognize the Khmer Rouge as the legitimate representative of Cambodia in the UN; also, Romania had been one of the ten countries that had maintained an embassy in Cambodia during Pol Pot's reign. That same year, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and Romania voted in favour of the UN General Assembly resolution calling for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Soviet troops, Romania broke with its Warsaw Pact allies and abstained. And one month later, at a meeting of communist states in Sofia, Romania joined the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) in refusing to endorse the invasion.
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- ^ Country data- Romania