Last fall I was a staunch supporter of Romania’s 2007 entry into the EU, mostly because they could clearly benefit from the resultant stability and I wanted my friends here who are sporting hard-won university degrees and toiling away at shit jobs for 170 euros a month to have the opportunity to go elsewhere for work. Also, it would make the sales of my book skyrocket! Admittedly, these are narrow-minded and selfish reason, but there you go.
Now, having lived here for cumulative year, traipsed through the majority of the country, seen the sorry state of the infrastructure, gotten first-hand experience at how widespread corruption is and suffered through such bureaucratic traumas as buying a used car and picking up a package at the post office, it’s pretty clear that Romania is not ready. Not even close.
I’ve lost all faith. And it appears that I’m in good company. When President Traian Basescu herniated a disc and needed a minor operation to repair it, not a particularly life-threatening procedure, did he demonstrate national confidence and seek treatment here? No, he went to Vienna. Why? Well, maybe it has something to do with the fact that doctors here are paid less than waiters in Rome and most of the ones with any talent jump at the first opportunity to work in a country that pays a respectable wage. Or perhaps he was trying to set an example for his anti-corruption platform; the few doctors that do remain in Romania often refuse to provide treatment until the patient has given some kind of ‘gift’ – sadly, it is often the people that already have a higher than average base income that succumb to greed and demand bribes.
The official reason given is that, while Romania has the necessary tools to perform this operation at Bagdasar Hospital, the country doesn’t have a qualified surgeon. But wait, isn’t this a minor procedure? And didn’t the director of the Bagdasar Hospital say it was indeed possible?
Which brings us to the suspected reason for the president’s duplicity, that being the director of Bagdasar Hospital is part of an opposing political party. Oh, well then, that’s OK! But President, doesn’t political pettiness like this demonstrate that the administration here isn’t stable and diplomatic enough to play with the big boys?
On a completely separate note, entry into the EU historically coincides with a jump in the economy for the country in question, with a years long lag in salary adjustment. Sure, opportunities for people wanting to leave will mushroom, but EU membership is going to hammer the people who remain in Romania, at least in the beginning.
I’m open to input here, is Romania really ready?