May 22, 2013
On May 16, George Friedman visited Romania, where he spoke about the country’s geopolitical imperatives at a time of distress for the European Union and NATO. For many reasons, Friedman’s visit was the highlight of my week. Probably the most important message that should earned the attention of the public and leadership is that national security is intimately linked to business – and this is valid for every country in the world. In that sense, Romania has to work on offering a predictable investment environment to its partners. For instance, if indeed Romania wants to maintain and grow its strategic partnership with the United States, then it has to work on making its business environment open to U.S. investment.
Of course, George Friedman also spoke about the troubles afflicting the eurozone and advised Romanian leadership to be cautious in its efforts to accede to the currency union. The European Union still needs to address its own problems, and the union is ultimately a collection of sovereign nation states with their own policies – therefore, another clear message is that Romania should trust itself to design its own policies. After listening to Friedman, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said that “it was the most interesting presentation of the situation in Europe and of Romania’s part,” underscoring that Friedman impressed him much when he said that Romania’s biggest problem is the country’s lack of confidence in itself.
On the margins of the conference, there was also a book launch – the very first translation into a foreign language of a Stratfor book. The book is a collection of George Friedman’s geopolitical weeklies when he visited Central and Eastern Europe in 2010. Considering the buzz around the conference and the reactions that followed, I considered the visit a success.
Friedman’s visit comes at an interesting juncture for Stratfor, which officially launched a newly redesigned website on May 20. The redesign does a good job of underlining Stratfor’s strengths – especially with the “timelines” feature, which allows readers and researchers to see how any particular event fits into the firm’s broader coverage.
The two major events of my week may not be of global significance – consider that this was a groundbreaking week for the Arctic Council and important developments marked Brazil’s oil and gas sector. However, as a Romanian citizen and someone who has grown alongside Stratfor over the last seven years, these moments stand out, because they are, in many ways, personal.Antonia Colibasanu