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2004 | 2005


March - 2005


Finally, the West seems to be taking some of the responsibility for Romania's failings over the last fifteen years.
And Romania is leading the way in putting into combating its exploitation by Western employment and business practices, as well as highlighting the disparities that exist between what politicians and businesspeople say in public, but undertake in practice.
European firms have benefited from the migration of cheap labour to supply its low-profit industries, such as agriculture, for half the wages of their own citizens, (although, as we see in our report on page 16, Asians suffer more). But there are moves from both unions in the EU and, especially, in Romania for ensuring that its own people win greater representation and a fairer deal when working abroad.
Many Western businesses and entrepreneurs enjoy the recklessness of the local business environment and stoke the fire of the black or uncompetitive markets, rather than ensure the playing field is kept level. Although one could argue that this could make 'business sense', it is teetering on the wrong side of legality.
But this situation has now seen Romania leading the way in investigating and renegotiating deals with Western firms that had been made without a tender or under dubious conditions. These uncompetitive transactions may have been initiated by the local Government, but international firms who have not needed to secure a business arrangement with Romania in order to survive, have willingly entered into deals that may have not been clear, transparent and fair.
The West likes to take the moral high ground yet often fails to practice what it preaches. In public some Western political figures and businesspersons state their support for a free press and journalistic independence in Romania, yet privately they refuse to grant interviews with the print media unless they can see the copy before it goes to press. This hypocrisy is totally at odds with the actions of Romania, where its president is willing to go on television unedited for two hours, answering any question thrown at him.
At last, the Western consumers of the illegal sex trade, heavily supplied by eastern Europe, are being forced to take responsibility for fuelling the demand. In the UK, solicitor general Harriet Harman has indicated that measures will be introduced to prosecute men who have sex with underage or trafficked girls, in a move to criminalise the usage of human traffic.
Meanwhile in Canada, a high profile case has now gone to court to determine whether or not a dereliction of duty took place among its own social care system when a couple who adopted a Romanian child sent her back to a life of poverty in her native country.
Over the last fifteen years, as consumers of Romania in terms of adopted children, sex workers and cheap labour, the West must introduce further measures to ensure that no exploitation takes place in bringing these 'products' from their source to market, rather than exacerbate the black trade that it consequently criticises Romania for encouraging.
In some ways, when the West attacks the nation for its record on corruption, it is only being faced with the Romania it deserves.