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Designing political and diplomatic relations during the Crimean War. Evidence from the Romanian-Russian encounters (1853-1856).

At the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century Europe enlarged greatly. Wide territories, considered peripheral, entered the European system of international relations, joining a common system in this way. The most important of these was undoubtedly Russia. By the end of the 17th century the diplomatic contacts between this immense country and the Eastern European countries only had a sporadic character. These relations were generally characterised as short-term. From many points of view Russia was still farther from Europe. Having a single sea exit, at the White Sea (less navigable because of the almost permanent glaciers, Russia couldn't claim to be a great European power. The Baltic Sea was dominated by the Swedish, whereas the Black Sea by the Turkish. It was clear for all the European countries that Russia could not become "European" unless it solved the issues regarding the access to the main two points that allowed its "communication" with Europe (Brie, Horga, 2009: 26-27). The Romanian Principalities have always attracted the political interest of the surrounding empires, because of their geographic location. Situated between the Black Sea and the Carpathian Mountains, they formed the only mandatory passage by land of the Russian army towards the Danube, the Balkans and Constantinople. The three great absolutist empires--the Russian, the Habsburg and the Ottoman one-,which ruled The Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, had a decisive role regarding the continental area they were actually controlling, although the other powers sometimes prevented them from accomplishing their objectives. As far as Russia was concerned, its evolution had been spectacular. By the 1711 campaign (Ciachir, Bercan, 1984: 5), Peter the Great had marked the expansion direction towards the Balkan region, which was continued, strengthened and subsequently established by the provisions of the Treaty of Kuciuk-Kainargi (1774),--which established Russia's prevailing role over the Romanian Principalities--, the Treaty of Iasi (1792), the Treaty of Bucharest (1812), the Treaty of Adrianople (1829), the Treaty of Balta-Limani (1849) (Berindei, 1991: 13). After the Revolution of 1848 had been defeated, the Eastern Question was the first matter in the international political life. The conflict between the great powers in general, and between Tsarist Russia and the Ottoman Empire in particular, was generated by the desire to dominate and enclose new territories by the monarchies from centre and Eastern Europe (Ciachir, 1987: 72). Taking into consideration the weakness of the continental European powers, warned out by the revolutionary conflicts, Russia, "the gendarme of Europe", led by its tsar Nicholas I reopened the "Eastern question" decided to wipe out the Ottoman Empire and conquer Istanbul. Those who reopened the Eastern Question were the Russians. They claimed gratitude for the help given to the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg one in repressing the revolutions of 1848 from Wallachia (Berindei, 1995, 58). The war broke out between Russia and the Ottoman Empire as a consequence of the latter's refuse to accept the request of the Tsarist Empire referring to the so-called "protectorate over the Orthodox Christians" (Zorin, Semionov, Skazkin, Hvostov, 1962: 566). Threatening for the entire Europe, Russia's expansion had to be stopped by the Prut (Cliveti, 1988: 34). In this way, what had begun as a Russian-Turkish war changed into a conflict that involved all the European powers. By June 1854 the territory of the Principalities had been occupied by the Russian army (Bezviconi, 2004: 168). This conflict remained in history under the name The Crimean War and involved in its whirl England (Chirica, 1999: 132), France and Sardinia--who fought on the Ottoman Empire's side. At the beginning Austria and Prussia kept neutral (Cliveti, 1997: 279-305). As the American historian Riker wrote the Crimean war made the cause of the Moldo Vlachs a European matter" (Riker, 1940: 41).

The tsar considered that it was the right moment to solve in a trenchant manner the division of the Ottoman territory. In this way he intended to regain the leading position in the international political life. By the statute of "rescuer" of the "monarchic establishment" against "the unceasing increasing waves of democratic tendencies" (Xenopol, 1997: 242), the Tsar wanted to restore his image as an emperor--protector of the Christians from the Ottoman Empire. Politically, this meant keeping "under his protectorate" Moldavia and Wallachia, Serbia and Bulgaria. Because he sought events that would require or explain his actions and he didn't find any, he caused a diplomatic scandal regarding some religious matters, using Prince Alexander Sergheevici Mensicov. The minister of the navy sent to Constantinople by Tsar Nicholas had to impose to the Ottoman Empire "one way or another, the Russian protectorate" over all the Christians from the Ottoman Empire (Chirtoaca, 2005: 57). "The main idea was that, no matter what war would have broken out, in alliance with Turkey or against it, the Ottoman Empire had to be crushed and divided, the part of the Romanian tribute being assigned to Russia" (Tarle, 1952: 10). In this respect, Tsar Nicholas published a manifesto in June 1853 in which he declared that "he and his ancestors had to protect the Orthodox Church in Turkey" (Osiac, 1999: 125). After the Sublime Porte refused Mensicov's conspicuous proposals and the relations between Russia and the Ottoman Empire broke off in May 1853, on 20th June 1853 the tsar and the Russian government decided to occupy the Romanian Principalities (Ciachir, 1961: 81-86), in this way trying to force the Sublime Porte to accept the proposals submitted to the sultan through Mensicov.

Russian's intrusion in Moldavia on 4th July 1853 and taking over the Bucharest on 25th July 1853 was the moment that forced the Romanian leaders to take attitude for or against Russia, and for the Sublime Porte, Great Britain and France a "casus belli". Russia was violating the Treaty of 1841 by which it pledged not to violate the territory of the Principalities (Berindei, 1995: 88). Unlike 1848, when Russia justified very well its intervention, in the summer of 1853 the only principle that represented the basis of the intrusion and the occupancy of the Romanian Principalities was "that in order to assure the Turkish execution of the older treaties signed with Russia, which were at present violated by the sultan, the tsar had to occupy the Danube Principalities--Moldavia and Wallachia" (Ciobotea, Osiac, 2008: 131). In this way Russia became the only dominating state over the Danube area, which had become a geopolitical border between Christian Europe and the Muslim Ottoman Empire since 1395 (Berindei, 1997: 14).

Actually, the Turkish intrusion in the Principalities was clearly established through bilateral treaties between Russia and Turkey as well as through collective treaties between European powers. The Treaty of Adrianople in 1829 stipulated a single opportunity for the Russians to intrude on the territory of the Romanian Principalities, in case their rights were violated by the Turkish. The Balta-Limani Treaty, concluded after the revolutionary year 1848, gave the Ottoman Empire and Russia the possibility to intervene in order to re-establish order (Constantiniu, 1989: 71-77), in case that certain social tension would appear in the following seven years. Since in the Principalities no special social event that would have motivated the legitimacy of their territories intrusion by the protecting and the suzerain powers has been signalled, their occupation was Russia's declaration of war against the Ottoman Empire.

By invading the Principalities, Russia did not only want to force Turkey to accept the requests arrogantly addressed to it through general Mensicov in June 1853 (Boicu, 1972: 80). Although the Russian foreign affairs minister, count Karl Robert von Nesselrode, wrote to Halcinski, the general consul in Bucharest, that the occupation of the Romanian Principalities wasn't supposed to cause any administrative change, in fact Russia wanted to annex the two Romanian states. In this way it wanted to repeat the situation between 1828-1834 under the pretext of their reformation and modernization. The measures taken by them were obvious, contrary to any official declarations. The two rulers, Barbu Stirbei of Wallachia and Grigorie Ghica of Moldavia, who represented by their titles and prerogatives the statute of individualized political entities for the two countries, were forced to cease their relations with the Sublime Porte. They were also asked to suspend their tribute to the sultan. In exchange it had to be given to the protecting power. The two rulers reacted in different ways: Barbu Stirbei agreed to submit to the tsar, while Grigorie Ghica remained faithful to the Sublime Porte (Boicu, 1973: 129). The ruler of Moldavia notified the Turkish about the Russian's intentions ever since army groupings were being made on the Bessarabia border as well as about the summons received through consul Halcinski referring to their submission to the Russians (Stan, 1999: 266-267). He also informed Gardner, the British consul in Iasi, about Russians' aggressive intentions and facilitated his connections with his country's ambassador in Constantinople.

After he learned, through Resid-Pasha about the requests and the obligations imposed by the Russians, the Ottoman Empire asked the Romanian rulers to abandon their thrones because, under Russian occupation their rule could no longer be legitimate. This orientation of the suzerain power, expressed by its foreign affair minister, was also shared by the ambassadors of the Great Britain and France in Constantinople. Moreover, the two great Atlantic states agreed even to withdraw their consuls from the Principalities.

At the Romanian rulers' request to remain at the lead of their countries, the High Porte conditioned it by asking them to pay the tribute, in this way understanding that the Principalities were part of the empire. Three months after the Russian intrusion on the Romanian territory and after the alliance between the Westerners and the High Porte against Russia was diplomatically outlined, Barbu Stirbei and Grigorie Ghica abandoned their thrones on 11th/23rd October 1853, respectively on 14th/ 26th October 1853, withdrawing in Vienna (Berindei, 2003: 423)' Their gesture was peaceful, because they were temporarily withdrawing in the capital of the state that was promoting a diplomatic, neutral solution of the Russian-Turkish conflict and at the same time the dissociation from the Russian occupants. On the 8th November, Tsar Nicholas decided that the Romanian Principalities had to submit directly to the Russian administration: general Budberg was appointed president of the two countries Divans and extraordinary and plenipotentiary commissioner at the lead of the Principalities.

Each Principality was ruled by an Extraordinary Administrative Council that had a vice-president at its lead: general Uzurov and later Osten--Sacken in Iasi and the general consul Halcinski in Bucharest. The Russian leaders of the administration of the Principalities began to appoint and move to higher ranks the pro-Russian boyars, of which the most faithful were Ion Slatineanu, loan Alexandra Filipescu, Emanoil Baleanu and Constantin Cantacuzino (Stan, 1994: 388). That is why in Moldavia and Wallachia the society was divided between pro-Russians, which occupied the best seats in the administration, and the pro-Westerners and pro-Turkish, who wanted their states to enter a new international legal period by abolishing the Russian protectorate. The latter, among which the boyars Costache Creteanu and Costache Racovita, the exiled Fourty-Eighters as well as a big part of the participants or the partisans of the 1848 revolution (Stan, 1994, 388), tried to attract the Suzerain Porte on their side and to reopen a new revolution in Oltenia region during the double Russo-Turkish occupation between 1853-1854. The exiled revolutionaries amplified the activities for propaganda and for discovering the political-diplomatic circles-as well as the public opinion regarding the Romanian problem--, hoping that soon a united and independent Romania would become a reality. "By creating an independent state by the south Danube--as Dumitru Bratianu wrote to sir Robert Peel on 14th/26th April 1855--, whose initiative you daringly took, you are bringing back to life 5-6 million people" (Berindei, 1995: 116). The exiled Fourty-Eighters have particularly tried to impose a revolutionary tinge to the war against Russia and this couldn't be allowed at that time by the western powers, especially by Austria and Prussia, whose memories of the events between 1848 and 1849 were very vivid (Balaceanu, 2002: 14).

The occupation of Question but also as an overturn of the European political forces relations. The diplomatic way for Russian's withdrawal from the Romanian countries, promoted by Austria, wasn't adequate (Paslaru, 1997: 214-225). That is why the only remaining solution was the war which spread all over the European continent. The Romanian Principalities entered this wide conflagration as integrated part and as an essential factor in its disposal, maintaining the integrity of the Ottoman Empire depending on them (Barbu, 1992: 39-52). The Russian protectorate over the Principalities, which under the new circumstances was reducing the Ottoman suzerainty to a nominal state, and the protection of the Orthodox Christians in Turkey were weighing heavily in the balance of powers in the south-eastern Europe between Russia and the Western world. After the Russian army crossed the Prut the events precipitated. The great European powers, through their political representatives, as well as the Romanians, considered the Russian invasion a peril for the European political destiny, as well as for the existence of the Romanian state. Therefore they united their efforts and adhered to the idea of establishing stability, tranquillity and a peaceful rhythm in Europe. Reactivating the problem of "the sick empire" or that of "the empire with clay legs", by someone who desired political and territorial heritage, like Russia against a European concordat, established at the beginning of the fifth decade of the 19th century, couldn't remain without consequences.

Facing the Russian peril, the representatives of Great Britain, France, Austria and Prussia in Constantinople signed a collaboration protocol between 16th-25th July 1853. They agreed, together with Resid-Pasha, that through collective demarches at Vienna Russia would be convinced to evacuate the Romanian countries and Ottoman suzerainty should be re-established over them. The European action against Russia had already been accomplished by the end of 1853. On 20th December 1853, France announced its diplomatic agents through the foreign affairs minister that in Vienna an agreement between Austria, France, Great Britain and Prussia had been concluded, by which the litigation provoked by Russia's intrusion in the Romanian countries had a "European character" (Stan, 1999: 290).

The first measure taken by the Atlantic powers was blocking the Russian shores of the Black Sea by the French and the English, by which the Russian ships were forbidden to sail, this being considered "as a guarantee equivalent with the parts of the Turkish territory occupied by the Russians, which-according to Napoleon III-would ease the process of peace, because it could become an exchange object" (Tarle, 1952: 357). In this respect, Kiselef corresponded and had a very dynamic activity with emperor Napoleon III and Brunnov with the British foreign affairs minister, lord Aerdeen. But the attempts to determine Russia's withdrawal from the Principalities in exchange of another treatment of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea didn't prove efficient. Therefore, the war area widened, involving England and France. At the beginning of 1854, at the same time with the passage of the Russian troops over the Danube and Paschevici's appointment as commander of all the troops at Russia's west border, including those from the Romanian countries, Austria began to rebel against Russia. In the meantime, England advised the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, to join the war against Russia. Because Friedrich Wilhelm IV and Franz Iosef hesitated, England and France decided not to wait and rushed the war declaration" (Tarle, 1952: 383). In parallel with the actions of the British and French diplomacies, meant to determine all the western powers to become united against Russia, the latter tried to prevent it from happening. On the 15th January 1854, Russia proposed Austria and Prussia a kind of alliance, a neutralization agreement by which they would detach from France and Great Britain. In this way it justified any counterattack in case the two Atlantic countries would have attacked Austria and Prussia. At the same time Russia proposed a peace plan according to which: the previous Russo-Turkish treaties regarding Moldavia, Wallachia and Serbia should be recognised; the Sublime Porte should present a special authentication regarding the application of religious liberties and orthodox immunities; the Romanian Principalities should be evacuated and their administration according to the Treaty of Adrianople should be re-established; the Treaty of 1841 referring to the integrity of the Ottoman empire should be valid (Cernovodeanu, 1992: 81-96). All these proposals showed very clear Russia's expanding tendency, masked by its request to internationally recognise its protectorate over Moldavia, Wallachia and Serbia.

On 8th/20th April 1854, in Berlin an offensive and defensive military alliance between Austria and Prussia was concluded, by which Austria sent troops at the northeast and south-east borders of its empire. By the half of June the Russia's Danube campaign was almost liquidated. Austria concluded two conventions with the Ottoman Empire according to which the Habsburgs got the right to occupy temporarily the two extra-Carpathians Romanian countries (Boicu, 1972: 99-100). At the beginning of July, after raising the siege on Silistra and the Russian army withdrew on the north of Danube, France elaborated the peace terms for Russia, very quickly accepted by Austria. Among the four terms, the first one stipulated the Russians' complete evacuation from Moldavia and Wallachia and the replacement of the Russian protectorate over the Principalities with a common protectorate of the great powers. Shortly after it announced all the powers about its intentions, Austria started to occupy the Romanian countries, the Russian army having withdrawn from them since June.

All these diplomatic and political conflicts, along with those in progress on the Danube front, prove how integrated in the European political sphere were the Romanian countries between 1853-1854, the end of war and the establishment of peace depending on them. In the diplomatic formulations of peace made by the French and British, at the same time with the military pressures for withdrawing Russians from the Principalities, clear provisions for proposing a new, international, political and juridical statute to Wallachia and Moldavia were included. In this way more objectives were solved: the stability of the European south-east, peace in this area of Europe, stopping Russia's annexation policy, maintaining the status quo in the Eastern Question, correcting Russia's statute of great power in the Black Sea area, the regulation of navigation and European commerce on the Danube, reconsidering the exclusive possession of the Danube's egress by the same power. With regard to the attitude of the great powers, that was nuanced and sometimes pendulous. The European powers didn't adopt a constant attitude towards the Romanians' requests. It varied upon their own interests, although, because of the Romanians they couldn't ignore the problems from the Romanian Principalities. Some of the powers, such as France, Russia, Prussia and Sardinia, were in general in favour of accomplishing the Romanian wishes. England has shifted from an attitude to another. The Ottoman and Habsburg Empires were on constant hostile positions. But even France and Sardinia took into consideration, for several times, the possibility of exchanging the Principalities to obtain compensations in Italy from Austria, while Russia was mainly interested in counterattacking England, Austria and the Ottoman Empire and in enhancing its prestige in the extra-Carpathians Romanian countries. At the end of 1854--after Austria crossed on the side of Western Powers, in the Crimean War--the diplomatic negotiations were around the four points (Boicu, 1975: 130), which were written in the English "Memorandum" of 16th/ 28th December and were imposed as terms in the peace negotiations with Russia. The conference in which the four points were debated took place in Vienna. In the Austrian capital the representatives of the great powers expressed unanimously their points of view regarding the disturbance of the geopolitical situation by Russia. Therefore, on 28th December 1854 they sent General Mihai Gorceacov, who, in the meantime, had evacuated the territory of Wallachia and Moldavia, a peace project containing almost all the European policy problems. The following were stipulated: the annulment of Russia's exclusive protectorate over the Romanian Principalities and over Serbia; the collective guarantee of the great powers for these countries was imposed; the Russian--Ottoman treaties referring to the privileges and immunities of the mentioned countries were annulled, new regulations that pleased both their interests as well as those of the suzerain power and Europe's, being imposed; a provision from the Treaty of Adrianople was annulled, by which the inferior course of the Danube was removed from Russia's control; The Ottoman Empire's place in the concept of European balance was adjusted, by revising the Treaty of London from 13 th July 1841and abolishing Russia's supremacy; Russia was asked to give up its protectorate over the Christians from the Ottoman Empire in favour of a special legislation for respecting their identity (Osiac, 1999: 133).

In reply, Russia didn't give in to these proposals and tried to save the situation in the war with the allies in Crimea peninsula. At the same time, the tsarist projects of protectorate over some countries and Christian communities were crumpled in the international public opinion. Under these circumstances, the first Conference of Vienna took place between the plenipotentiaries of Austria, France, Great Britain, Ottoman Empire and Russia on 15th March/4th June 1855. On that moment all the great powers, excepting Russia proposed the restitution of the Sublime Porte's suzerainty in the empire's provinces challenged by the tsar and the settlement of the collective protectorate for the Romanian Principalities, for their quality of having independent and national administration, national military force and a defensive system created with the help of the Sublime Porte and Europe.

The end of the Crimean war led to the adjustment of the Great Powers' positions, such as France getting closer to Russia. Through all these measures Wallachia, Moldavia and Serbia became strong autonomous and national entities, due to the fact that their immunities and privileges were transferred to the European public law (Boicu, 2001: 127). From this point until Europe's becoming aware of the political and state unity of the Romanians from Moldavia and Wallachia was only one step, because this matter had been issued on 26th March 1855 within the Conference of Vienna. Also in Vienna, but in a new Conference, held under the circumstances of the allies' victory in Crimea, on 1st February 1856 a protocol was signed by the plenipotentiaries of Austria, France, Great Britain, Ottoman Empire and Russia's representative, by which the measures discussed in the conference in the spring of 1855 were stipulated, with a rectification of Russia's frontier in Bessarabia area. Ever since 1853, a Belgium representative, Blondeel von Cuelebroeck, considered the fall of the Ottoman Empire as imminent and therefore, in order to avoid a European political catastrophe, he proposed the creation of a buffer state between Russia and the Ottoman Empire (like a Belgium), by releasing Moldavia, Wallachia and Serbia and turning them into neutral, independent states. Blondeel noticed that the Principalities matter was always the main problem of the moment. Bucharest had become "one of the most interesting theatres of the epoch" (Platon, 1992: 56) and the Principalities' union, even if it had meant ceasing the suzerainty relations with the Sublime Porte, it would have had much more important consequences in the European political plan. In 1855, the secretary of Belgium's legacy at Constantinople, which followed Blondeel, Joseph Jooris, as well as Belgium's general consul at Bucharest, Jaques Poumay, remained at the same conclusions.

The latter even added that the political destiny of the Principalities (this "granary of abundance" for the tsarist troops, "neighbourhood of all the Russian invasions against Turkey, the secret and the goal of all aggressions") "will have to exercise a great influence on the European relations and commerce" (Platon, 1992: 57). Towards such a consensus all the great European states were orienting. In the European international system back then, Russia, Turkey and Austria, even if they had perfectly understood the historic place of an independent Romanian state, couldn't give up the advantages they had obtained in the previous centuries by dominating the Romanian space and implicitly, all the European south-east.

The union of the two extra-Carpathians Romanian states became for the western states a guarantee, the new state being capable to counterattack Russia's expansion and also protect its own territory, if it remained close to the Sublime Porte. The national Romanian state had to represent--according to count Walewski, the foreign affairs minister of France--"the barrier that closed Russia's access to this part of the East" (Ciobotea, Osiac, 2008: 141). The unionist formula, supported by France, against adversities from the Ottoman Empire and Austria, and with Great Britain's reticence was stipulated as a virtual solution in the Peace Treaties of Paris on 18th/30th March 1856, although it was not stated correctly (Bucur, 1991: 525-529).

Under these circumstances the sessions of the Paris Peace Congress began under count Walewski's presidency between 13th / 25th February 1856--18th/30th March 1856. The following states participated at this Congress: France, England, Sardinia, the Ottoman Empire, Austria and Russia. Prussia was missing because of England's disapproval. The delegates of the great powers present at the Congress pronounced themselves in favour or against the union of the Romanian Principalities, depending on their own interests and according to the domination policy and economic influence each had in this part of Europe (Timofte, 1996: 189-206).

After long debates, on 30th March 1856 the Peace Treaty was signed in Paris, by which the following had been established regarding the Romanian issue: the abolishment of Russia's protectorate, established by the peace of Adrianople; the Romanian Principalities were removed from Russia's dominion and put under the seven powers guarantee, but remained under the Sublime Porte's suzerainty; creating a commission in Bucharest formed by the representatives of the signatory states, having the duty of supervising the country's internal state and making proposals regarding the reorganization; the south of Bessarabia, formed of Counties Cahul, Ismail and Bolgrad were to be reassigned to Moldavia; the freedom of navigation on the entire Danube and for all the riparian states; creating a temporary Commission of the seven powers, having the duty of assuring the navigation on the part of the river between Isaccea and its flowing into the Black Sea; creating Ad hoc Divans having the right to pronounce in the union matter. Their summons was done by the Ottoman Empire, with the participation of all the great powers representatives in Constantinople; evacuating the Austrian troops; the right to have a national army; the freedom of legislation and the freedom of worship and others (Ionaccu, Barbulescu, Gheorghe, 1971: 329-331). However, even if the Congress didn't accept the union, through its decisions allowed the unionist movement to accomplish it and it also internationalised the Romanian matter.

In conclusion, from a political point of view, during the military conflicts between 1853 and 1856 the Romanian Principalities came to the fore of the international diplomatic relations. This happened not only because their occupation by the tsarist troops was the immediate cause of the war and their fate was a fundamental aspect of the Eastern Question solution, but also because Europe acknowledged the fact that it had to be reconciliatory, to recognise and guarantee the rights of the Romanian people in order to end the outburst tensions, the battlefield against their expansionist policy, for the national freedom of the suppressed people (Istoria militara a poporului roman, 1997: 347).

The Romanians' attitude, as well as the pressure put by their representatives in the western public opinion, determined the great powers of that time to adopt a peaceful solution in solving the Romanian matter, by accepting the union of the two Romanian principalities, the extra-Carpathians one. The solution was salutary for the force balance at that time as well as for establishing a durable political balance between the great political and military powers. In choosing this way to solution the stability of the continent from a political point of view, the outbreak of a continuous national war triggered by the Romanians that could motivate other people from the south-eastern Europe to fight for emancipation and freedom was also taken into consideration.


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Article Info

Received: July 2 2015

Accepted: November 16 2015

Elena Steluja Dinu, Ph.D., "Babes-Bolyai" University of Cluj-Napoca, Faculty of History and Philosophy, Phone: 0040264 405300, Email:
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Title Annotation:ORIGINAL PAPER
Author:Dinu, Elena Steluta
Publication:Revista de Stiinte Politice
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:4EXRO
Date:Dec 1, 2015
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