Monday, April 9, 2007

A Country of Extremes

Romania is certainly a country in transition. After many years of authoritarian rule, it's still trying to get out from under its Communist shadow. The country's acession into the EU is a sign that major changes have already occured in Romania since 1989, and is a tribute to Romania's great promise. But, there are still considerable strides to be made. The EU is putting pressure on Romania to strengthen the country's economy, improve health standards and streamline the government (among other things). All of this may seem a good thing, but the stresses caused by EU policies are certainly causing mixed results. Like I said, Romania is in a period of transition, and it's certainly too soon to make any assessments of its progress. In any case, policies are starting to trickle down from Brussels; it will be interesting to see how they affect the Romanian way of life over the coming years.

There is quite a large discrepancy in American society between the so-called "middle class" and everyone else. And, although I don't have any first-hand experience of it yet, I've heard that Romanian society suffers from even greater inequality. While areas like Bucharest may be pushing forward and developing quickly, smaller villages (where the way of life hasn't changed in perhaps centuries) seem to get lost in the tumult. In the cities you may see the newsest cars and most fashionable clothing, while surrounding areas may lack electricity or even motorized vehicles. This is why I say Romania is a country of extremes. Of course it's impossible for change to occur everywhere uniformly. But the transition must be especially hard for areas that have done things the same way for countless generations. I mean, there is something to the old addage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." But then again, sometimes if you don't "fix" it, it becomes hopelessly obsolete. I suppose this is the same conundrum any developing country faces--go with the trend (at the risk of losing your heritage), or be left beind. Given the pros and cons of each, I sometimes wonder which option is the best.

Here are some recent articles you may find interesting:

** Romania's Shepherds Wrestle With EU Norms

** Romania's on the Rise

** Romania's stormy welcome to the European Club

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