Romania. According to
Countryaah official website, ten years after the fall of communism, Romania
struggled with shrinking economy, growing unemployment and
severe social unrest. To grant loans, the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) that the budget deficit was reduced, and
that the privatization of state-owned enterprises continued
- a policy that led to the mass redundancies during the
year. Over 140,000 railway workers lost their jobs, as did
thousands of miners. Many of those who had to keep their
jobs were forced to wait months for pay.
The year was therefore marked by worker protests directed
at the Christian Democrat-led government, and growing
support for the socialist opposition. Thousands of miners
marched in Bucharest in February - a protest operation that
ended violently: one worker was killed and over 500 were
arrested by police.
In the spring, a promise was made by the World Bank that
a loan of approximately SEK 2.5 billion had been granted.
The money would be used to privatize the crisis-hit banking
system and cover the costs of closing down unprofitable
government companies. The compensation would be paid to
workers who lost their jobs when 29 state mines were closed
In June, new protests broke out among workers and now
also among teachers. The most serious took place in Brasov,
where 11,000 metal workers demanded their outstanding wages.
The government was forced to make a promise to grant a loan
to the truck and tractor factories in the city.
In July, two former ministers were sentenced to 15 years
in prison as responsible for 72 people being killed and 253
injured when police opened fire during the People's
Rebellion against the Communist regime in the city of
Timişoara in December 1989. Both were believed to have
ordered the police to open fire.
In November thousands of workers again demonstrated. In
Bucharest and other cities, demands were made for the
government's departure. Students conducted similar protests.
A study showed that four out of five Romanians were
dissatisfied with the government. The support of the
opposition leader, former president and socialist leader Ion
Iliescu, was nearly three times the support of incumbent
Christian Democratic president Emil Constantinescu. Over 60%
even stated that they were doing better financially under
dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu. With average salaries of
approximately SEK 800, the Romanians are among the poorest
in Eastern Europe.
At the beginning of December, the railway workers went on
a nationwide strike demanding higher wages and against the
layoffs within the loss-making state railway company. Only
through court intervention could the workers be forced back
In December, at its Helsinki summit, the EU decided that
Romania should begin negotiations on membership in the Union
in 2000. The decision was partly seen as a thank-you for
Romania's support for NATO's war against neighboring
Yugoslavia during the spring Kosovo crisis. But the EU
called for a rapid economic recovery and stabilization plan,
as well as urgent action to improve conditions at the
country's home for orphans.
Just returning from Helsinki, the president dismissed the
head of government Radu Vasile, after Christian Democratic
ministers revolted against his party brother. The government
crisis led, among other things. to the IMF withholding
planned loan disbursements.
Romanian central bank governor Mugur Isarescu was
appointed new prime minister, and new foreign minister Petre
Roman, head of government in the early 1990s after the fall
of the Ceauşescur regime.