Director of the Institute of Political Sciences and International Affairs (ISPRI) of the Romanian Academy Dan Dungaciu told AGERPRES on Monday that the findings of the November 2022 edition of Romania’s Security Barometer, to be released today at the Library of the Romanian Academy, highlighted a return of the Romanians to a “by ourselves” paradigm, although they remain pro-Euro-Atlantic.
“The security barometer reveals a series of extremely important aspects. The first is the return to a ‘by ourselves’ paradigm, namely a pragmatic attitude towards regional and global developments. The process of ‘dispelling’ the West, its institutions, which started in Central Europe almost a decade ago and also by many of the countries in the West, is starting to be noticed in the perception of the Romanians. For them, the European or global arena is a place of national, particular interests, in which Bucharest must play the same way,” says Dungaciu.
He added that “Romanians want a Romania more focused on their own agenda, a Romania that also demands, instead of just giving.”
“As an aside, the current so-called debates about welcoming Romania in the Schengen area only confirm their fears. Does joining it depend on treaties, documents, laws, etc. or on the national/local interests of some? Obviously, the latter answer seems the correct one and the Romanians see it. This tendency of national re-centering was sharpened by the war.”
Regarding the concrete attitude towards the war in Ukraine, Dungaciu said that “the Romanians join the camp identified by the European Council for Foreign Relations as the ‘pragmatist’ camp, as opposed to the ‘moralist’ camp (total victory against Russia, at any cost), i.e. those who want peace including through concessions from Ukraine.” He added that Romanians have not become pro-Russian or pro-Chinese, whom the trust the least, but have remained pro-European and pro-NATO.
“It should be noted that, at the European level, the so-called camp of pragmatists was more numerous even in May 2022 at the European level! It should be noted, however, that all this change in attitude is not done in other frameworks than the Euro-Atlantic ones. The Romanians have not became either pro-Russian or pro-Chinese, whom they trust the least. Romanians have remained pro-European and pro-NATO – more pro-European than pro-American – but they have also become more… pro – Romanians.”
The confidence of Romanians in the national institutions as well as in NATO and the EU decreased from one year before, with the population of Romania certainly remaining pro-Western and pro-European, according to the barometer.
Thus, to the question “do you consider that things in Romania are heading in the right direction?” 87.1% answered NO, and only 12.% of the respondents choose YES.
Things are explainable, given that, after two years of the pandemic, the year 2022 began with a large-scale war in the region and continued with more than significant increases in the price of all types of energy, with inflation, etc., according to the pollsters.
The trust hierarchy did not change much from the previous years, but even the institutions that regularly command high trust have an image marked by the difficulties of the last year: the Church – 65.6% in 2022, compared with 70.16% in 2021 and the Army – 66.4% in 2022, compared with 86.63% in 2021.
This complex mix of crises also led to a decrease in trust in NATO (53.64% in 2022 as against 67.36% in 2021) and the European Union (39.76% in 2022, as against 59.18% in 2021), according to the barometer.
Despite all these problems, the population of Romania definitely remains pro-Western and pro-European: 68% are optimistic about the future of the European Union in the short term, 78% are optimistic about American support for Eastern Europe and only 10% of the respondents think the EU should disappear in the future.
Also, 74% of the participants said that “it is better inside the EU than outside it.”
According to the barometer, there is an obvious critical attitude towards the local/national elites and towards the Brussels elites, with the public distributing the blame for the out-of-control energy price as follows: the leaders of Romania (47.7%), EU policies ( 28%) and the war in Ukraine (23.9%).
If Romania were to be attacked, 36% of respondents said they would participate in the country’s defence, 33% were undecided, 29% said they would try to leave with their families.
Regarding the war in Ukraine, 51.5% of the participants believe that Russia is to blame for the war in Ukraine and that the main obstacle to peace is Russia. 25% believe that Russia is to blame, but Ukraine is also partly to blame for the war, and 16% claim that peace cannot be reached in Ukraine because of the US and 8% because of the EU.
The majority of those asked – 70% – believe that the most important thing now is to stop the war, and 28% said that it must be continued until Russia is defeated, the study reveals. Also, nine months into the crisis, 74% of Romanians said that we should continue to receive refugees from Ukraine, if necessary.
The survey also shows a decrease in trust in the main Western powers compared to the same period last year, but that does not necessarily mean a strategic reorientation of the Romanian public, the pollsters note: USA 44.1% in 2022, down from 70.1% in 2021; the UK 41.8% in 2022, down from 61.9% in 2021; Germany- 39.5% in 2022, down from 69.5% in 2021, and France 44.6% in 2022, down from 70.9% in 2021.
The same survey, however, shows a massive drop in trust in Russia (0.1% in 2022 as against 41.2% in 2021) and in China (17.1% in 2022 as against 45.3% in 2021).
According to the barometer, “we are thus witnessing a form of synchronisation of the public in Romania with the increasingly obvious European tendencies of the public gravitating toward national interests.”
“Although we are not witnessing a strategic reorientation of the public in Romania, the idea that Romania should be pragmatic, have an agenda and take care of its interests first and foremost (51.1%) appears more and more acutely within the Euro-Atlantic framework, but not outside it,” according to the pollsters.
The November 2022 edition of Romania’s Security Barometer, a nationally representative survey carried out by computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI), was conducted by the Laboratory for the Analysis of Information War and Strategic Communication (LARICS), in partnership with the Institute of Political Sciences and International Affairs (ISPRI) of the Romanian Academy, September 29 – October 10, on a sample of 1,001 people, with a maximum allowed error: +/- 3.1%, at a confidence level of 95%.