Romania in the 1960’s

Romanian politics in the 1960s were characterized by a gradual move away from the USSR, culminating in the so-called declaration of independence in April 1964 and with the decision, made public in August 1968, to fight against a possible invasion. This trend has established itself, in some respects, as a belated reflection of de-Stalinization: Cruščëv’s condemnation, at the XXII Congress of the CPSU, of Stalin’s interference in the internal life of the people’s republics offered the Romanians the opportunity to affirm their own autonomy from external interference. But other factors definitely favored this new course of Romanian politics; the need for Romania not to adapt to Comecon’s economic projects, that relegated it to the subordinate role of a poorly industrialized country, and the growing strength of a new class of politicians and technicians, who could not accept that the country would develop according to the guidelines of the 1950s. The Romanian Workers’ Party (PMR) underwent substantial transformations, bringing already in 1960 to 850,000 members (from 600,000 in 1955), mostly workers, technocrats, managers. At the same time, the III congress of the PMR (1960) highlighted the aspiration for a real independence of the country; the managing group (Gheorghiu-Dej, Apostol, Ceauşescu, Stoica, Maurer, Bodnaraş, Draghici, Moghioroş) showed remarkable homogeneity, expanding the Central Committee which expressed it from 92 to 110 members, with the inclusion of technicians. With the electoral campaign of February-March 1961 people began to speak of “socialist patriotism”, which on the internal level meant asking for the collaboration of large sections of the people and intellectuals in the party program; since 1962 the registration was granted “without distinction of social class”, even to peasant elements remained until that moment on the margins of political life and to personalities of the parties who disappeared with the advent of the new social system. From the end of 1960 the Romanian government, dissatisfied with the response given by the Soviets to the request for economic aid and non-interference in Romanian internal affairs, began to establish closer relations with the West (economic agreements with Italy and the USA of 1961), with the “heretical” communist countries, China and Yugoslavia, and with the Third World (Gheorghiu-Dej and Maurer’s trip to India and Indonesia in August 1962). The crises (Berlin, Cuba) slowed down but did not interrupt this policy, veiled in June 1962 (Moscow summit of the Warsaw Pact) only by the ambiguity of the official statements; nor were the two leaders of Comecon in Bucharest (December 1962) and Moscow (February 1963) able to settle the nascent disagreement. The declaration made public the terms of the disagreement, which the fall of Khrushchev and the Vietnam War were not enough to settle. Relations with the West, especially with France, intensified further, while the non-communist diplomatic missions present in Bucharest were gradually elevated to the rank of embassies. Not even with the death of Gheorghiu-Dej (March 19, 1965) did relations with the USSR change, since the new leader Ceauşescu (v.) continued in the politics of autonomy, trying indeed to remove it from international politics and to tie it to the interests and traditions of the country.

The IV congress of the PMR changed its name to the Romanian Communist Party; also changed the denomination of the state (Socialist Republic of Romania), which was given a new constitution. In essence, the party was made more representative but also more disciplined and powerful. Together with the restructuring of the party (April 1966) the beginning of the new political leadership saw the birth of the National Scientific Research Committee, the General Union of Trade Unions, the Academy of Socio-Political Sciences “Ştefan Gheorghiu” (replacing the Party High School), of the Romanian Automobile Club, of the Institute for the Study of the International Economic Situation; and finally the approval of laws regarding the regulation of abortion, divorce and pensions. The national party conference of December 1967 therefore launched an economic policy which, following the example of other socialist countries, granted administrative autonomy to large local units made up of several companies (Industrial Unions), without however ever accepting the logic of the market (law on prices of December 16, 1971) and maintaining a centralistic approach (creation of the Supreme Council for economic and social development in March 1973). On the international level, the visit of Ciu En Lai to Bucharest in June 1966, the frequent exchange of visits with the Yugoslav leaders, the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Federal Republic of Germany (January 31, 1967), the double meeting Romanian-Soviet in Moscow (March and December 1967), interspersed with the visit of Foreign Minister W. Brandt to Bucharest (3-7 August 1967). In 1968, foreign policy overshadowed the approval of laws regarding an administrative restructuring of the country (connected with the new economic policy), teaching, the establishment of the Romanian Bank for Foreign Trade, the adoption of a new penal code. In May de Gaulle made an official visit to Bucharest; at the same time the Romania developed cordial relations with Dubček’s Czechoslovakia, with which it signed a treaty of mutual assistance in August. In May de Gaulle made an official visit to Bucharest; at the same time the Romania developed cordial relations with Dubček’s Czechoslovakia, with which it signed a treaty of mutual assistance in August. In May de Gaulle made an official visit to Bucharest; at the same time the Romania developed cordial relations with Dubček’s Czechoslovakia, with which it signed a treaty of mutual assistance in August.

On 21 August a joint session of the Central Committee of the PCR, the State Council and the government approved a resolution in defense of the autonomy of individual socialist nations, when the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact countries – with the exception of the Romania – was in full swing: Ceauşescu declared that the country was ready to defend itself against any aggression. The following day the Grand National Assembly adopted a Declaration on the Basic Principles of the Foreign Policy of the Romania, which was officially transmitted to governments around the world and to the UN. The emergence in the country of the theory of people’s war as self-defense against a preponderant enemy led to a series of initiatives, such as the creation of patriotic guards and a defense council, the law for the preparation of young people for the defense of the homeland and, in December 1972, the law on the organization of national defense. In 1968 there were some signs of liberalization, such as the rehabilitation of several victims of the Stalinist regime, some concessions made to the Hungarian and German ethnic minorities, a certain freedom granted to intellectuals and the foundation of the Socialist Unity Front in which the main mass organizations, public and professional, and the workers’ councils of ethnic minorities.

Then Ceauşescu returned to take part in the summits of the Warsaw Pact and the Comecon (March-April 1969); he also went to Moscow and Warsaw (May 1969), to exchange views with Soviet and Polish leaders, and again to Moscow for the international conference of 75 communist parties (June 5-17, 1969). On August 2, 1969, Romania Nixon arrived in Bucharest for a significant official visit. The 10th Congress of the PCR took place from 6 to 12 August of the same year, which decided to continue building a multilaterally developed socialist society. While maintaining its place in the Comecon and in the Warsaw Pact, the Romania therefore remained on fringe positions which only at times appeared clear to political observers and which, despite the Romanian-Soviet mutual assistance treaty of 7 July 1970, in which however the Romanians were able to safeguard their positions, they led to a new moment of tension in the summer of 1971, when an armed intervention of the Warsaw Pact in Romania seemed possible. Inside, at the same time, the period of liberalization ended, and at the same time some pro-Soviet elements were eliminated. The Czechoslovakian question was no longer raised, but the leadership of the PCR took an attitude of support for the revisionism of the Western Communists (Italian, French, Spanish), reiterating that “the diversity of historical, national and social conditions is reflected… on the forms of socialist construction of each country “. Good relations have been maintained with Albania, and in collaboration with Yugoslavia, the construction of a hydroelectric plant at the Iron Gates was carried out, in operation since 1973. In general, the Romanian leaders have tried to forge closer relations with the Balkan states, including non-communist ones such as Greece, to achieve the denuclearization of the region. The Romania maintained its neutrality between the USSR and China, and further developed contacts with the West and the Third World: Ceauşescu made an official visit to Beijing in 1971, and three times to the USA in the period 1970-75. ; Ford reciprocated the visit in 1975. Romania was among the most ardent supporters of the European security treaty, intended as a guarantee for its independence, also assuming in 1980 an attitude of condemnation of the Soviet invasion of Afghānistān.

1977 was characterized by two notable events: in March, an earthquake that caused thousands of deaths and damage valued at two billion dollars; in August, an unprecedented strike by the miners of Petroşani (Jiu valley), which led to an increase in the salaries of the category and the removal of the minister and deputy ministers held responsible. In November 1977, due to delays in reconstruction after the earthquake, further changes were made in the government structure; in the economic field, the phenomenon of low productivity and absenteeism was highlighted, which contrasts with the ambitious development programs. 1978 (during which Ceauşescu carried out important missions in the USA, in China.

Romania in the 1960's