UA HES Special Event: Contested Ground
The Legacy of the Second World War in Eastern Europe
The ‘Peace of 1945’: Case Study in Consequences: Moldova & Romania
Presentation abstract by Aurel Braun, Professor of International Relations and Political Science University of Toronto and Center Associate, Davis Center, Harvard University, delivered during UA HES Special Event: Contested Ground, at the University of Alberta in Edmonton AB, October 23-24, 2015.
Legacies may not be strictly predictive but they can complicate and foreshadow. In the case of Romania the impact of the “Peace of 1945” continues to be deeply felt even if not always fully understood. From 1939 on a destructive war, horrific atrocities, competing totalitarian movements, political maneuvers and geographic divisions fueled dislocation and disorientation. The “Peace of 1945” in crucial ways embedded rather than resolved key problems and saddled Romania with a toxic historical legacy where she regained some territory, lost others and had a political order imposed largely by external forces that for several decades separated the country from its natural European cultural hinterland.
As well, large numbers of ethnic Romanians were left outside the country’s borders in a Soviet republic, and now an independent state, Moldova, that is bedeviled by a “frozen conflict” that the Kremlin may unfreeze at will. Yalta and Potsdam also left Romanians with a sense of Western abandonment and a legacy of Soviet brutality and hegemonic imposition of communism.
Not surprisingly, Romania looks to the West and the key institutions of NATO and the European Union with both hope and anxiety and seeks hard security guarantees. At the same time Bucharest views Russia with mistrust and even fear, where a very troublesome historical legacy seems corroborated and revived by the Kremlin’s current aggressiveness in a region that is so close and vital to Romania.