American Journal of Geophysics, Geochemistry and Geosystems, Vol. 1, No. 4, October 2015 Publish Date: Aug. 3, 2015 Pages: 133-148

Dobrogea: Geography, History, Geopolitics and Geostrategy Past, Present and Perspective

Romeo Bosneagu*

Navigation and Naval Transportation Department, Navigation and Naval Management Faculty, "Mircea cel Batran"Naval Academy, Constanta, Romania


As European country and NATO member, Dobrogea assures the interface of Romania with the Southeast of Europe as well as with Near and Far East. Therefore, as a result of the political and military changes from the Black Sea’s basin, the geopolitical and geostrategical importance of this geographical region raised up and in future it will develop more.


Dobrogea, Geography, Romania, Geopolitics, Present, Perspective

1. Introduction

The Romania's geostrategic importance and of Dobrogea, implicitly, has determined Romania to adhere to NATO in 2004 and to be accepted in the EU in 2007. Today, Romania is part of the eastern flank of NATO in Europe.

The sovereignty, independence and integrity of Romania are conceived having in view the national geographical space, where Dobrogea has its geographical, geopolitical and geostrategical importance. The geopolitics and the geostrategy are essential for the act of government of a state and for Romania these have at the base the national and international space geography, close and far off. The terms having defined value from the political equation – the military power of the states and the geographical factor generate the geo-political and şi geo-strategical mediums where the states are moving, they define the geographical and military areas where the actions of political power, economical, financial, ecological and military are designed, respectively, the influence and interest areas. Particularly, the geopolitics has in view the interferences with the political medium, although, the influences of the geographical factor to the human communities are more extensive. The connection is not directly achieved, but, through the significations associated with a multitude of factors, such as: social, economical, demographic, military, cultural, ideological, technical, etc. Coherently, it can be saying that the geopolitics studies the political play between the states, being conditioned and explicitly upon the geographical basis. The geographical factor subordinates a multitude of elements that implicitly generates a variety of political, military and strategical significance, that directly depend of: the geogra-phical settlement, population, the border lines and their structure, the relief, the hydrographical network, the riches and the efficiency of their utilization, the material resources and the ecological condition. Currently, the concept of region is not clear. The theoretical approaches are heterogeneous, depending on the school that performs analyzes as regards the regions, their political and geopolitical role, the factors taken into consideration. Even from lexical point of view, the approach of the terms region, "regionalization" reflects this variety of meanings and approaches. For example, it talks about the region, regionalization, regionalism, areas building, regional integration, sub-regionalism, Region (regionness), about the differences between the region and spaces that are not and can not be considered regions (regionhood). Thus, despite a rich literature on this topic, which attempts the explanation, understanding, predicting the emergence, the regions growth and development, there is not a theory that could encompass a credible explanation for the variety, the specific of all the regions (Bogzeanu, 2012). In this work, we approached the topic of Dobrogea as a geographically distinct region with millennia history, with a geostrategic importance which has not diminished, but it had increased till today. To illustrate the existence of Dobrogea as a Romanian region we present below:

a.   the map of Greater Romania (1920-1944) with its historic provinces (figure 1)

Figure 1. Greater Romania Historical Provinces, 1920-1944.



b.   the map of Romania between 1956-1964, with

Dobrogea as an administrative region (figure 2).

Figure 2. The administrative division of Romania during 1956-1964.



2. Dobrogea - Geography

Dobrogea is outlining as a distinct geographic space towards the remainder Romania, having specific features, comprising in an entity land, seaside, sea, river and delta, as well, each of these geographic spaces having a specific history. This region stretches between 45030 latitude from north, 43040 latitude from south, 29050 longitude at east and 27030 longitude at west and it has a surface of 15.571 km2 (figure 3).

Figure 3. Dobrogea Psysical Map.

Source: processing from

Dobrogea is an ancient precincts of civilization, with distinct influence as regards the Romanian nation forming and development and of the Romanian political structures, as well. The Romanian people millenary settlement in this region was happened due to: its favourable geographic characteristics found here, the lands' positioning among water, circumstances that have encouraged the living, food procurement, defence and trade in this region.

During its history, because of the geographic position, this land was exploited by various peoples, and then, after the independence war, Dobrogea became again a Romanian land. Also, the necessity of its geographic knowledge, of the development from political, social, economical point of views, and of its defence, as well, became acutely. It can be shown that this phenomenon is continued in present, too, but in a new manner of approach. In the context of the contemporary political and military phenomenon, considered after the end of the cold war and of some doctrinary options as regards the states' military policy, the conception regarding the national defence includes the defence of Dobrogea region in a new vision, as well.

For the Romanian state, Dobrogea and its sea-borne space presenting political and economical interest, represent through their importance, the exit gate to the Planet Ocean – that represents the future' s resources space. Romania can be integrated into the united Europe as an unitary territory from physical, geographical, historical, ethnical, linguistic, cultural and military point of views.

The best example is the integration of the Danube – Black Sea Canal in the European inland waterways network. The river route between Rotterdam and Constanta is the shortest link between North Sea and Black Sea, by the rivers Rhine, Main, Main-Danube Canal, the Danube and the Danube -Black Sea Canal (figure 4, 5).

Figure 4. European inland navigable route Black Sea-North Sea.

Source: processing from

Figure 5. European inland corridor Danube - Rhin - Maine with major ports.


The European inland waterways network is characterized as follows: it focuses the inland navigation from nine big rivers (Danube, Main, Rhine, Rhone, Marne, Seine, Moselle, Saon, and Loire) and 18 inland canals; it liaises the inland waterway between 18 European countries; crossing eight European capitals; the river cargo ships perform the cargo and passenger traffic between 15 seaports and over 40 river ports; provides water communications through inland between the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea and Black Sea.

In brief, the European inland waterways has the following configuration (Figure 6): Danube-Black Sea, Poarta Alba-Midia Canal - Navodari or Sulina Channel; Danube to Regensburg; from Rhine - Main-Danube Canal from Regensburg to the North Sea (Rotterdam); from the Rhine-Main-Danube canal by Central Canal German – Elba Canal – North Sea – Kiel Canal – Kiel Bay; from Baltic Sea, or through Oder-Spree and Odel-Havel Canals to Szczecin (Baltic Sea); from Frankfurt by the Rhine-Rhone Canal and the Marne-Rhine Canal to Le Havre (English Channel); by the Rhine – Rhone-Rhine Canal, Moselle-Saone Canal, Burgundy Canal, French Central Canal – Loire – Nantes-Brest Canal to the Atlantic Ocean; by Rhine – Rhone-Rhine Canal, Saone-Moselle Canal – Burgundy Canal, Rhone to the Mediterranean Sea.

Figure 6. European inland waterways network.


3. Dobrogea – History

Throughout its millenary history, Dobrogea has experienced several periods of historical development that we can call sui generis: Thracian Dobrogea period, Dobrogean Coasts Greek colonization, Roman Dobrogea period, Byzantine Dobrogea period, Ottoman Dobrogea period and modern Dobrogea - an integral part of modern and independent Romania. Each of these periods has its own characteristics, but which have developed as a result of these places history integrating into European history of the Black Sea Basin.

Thracian peoples were the first known ancient peoples who lived on the present-day Romania territory, and on the Romanian Dobrogea present territory, appointed by ancient historians Gets or Dacians. Starting with the 7th century AC, the Black Sea coasts (Pontus Euxinus), including Dobrogea coasts are colonized by Greeks, who bilded major ports-cities here: Aegyssos, Halmyris, Axiopolis, Argamum, Histria, Tomis, Callatis. Then, this territory came under the control of ancient Macedonians, Dacian Kings or Mitridates the VIth Eupator (134-63 AC), King of Pontus in the 119-63 AC period. In the year 28 AC, Dobrogea falls in the Roman rule within the Roman province of Moesia Inferior. It should be mentioned that, between 55-44 years AC, Dobrogea and the Greek port-cities were included in the Dacian state of Burebista. The first barbarian people appear in Dobrogea in the 3rd century AD (Goths, Gepids, Avars, etc.). In 395, Dobrogea enters in the Byzantine Empire structure (Eastern Roman Empire), under the name of Scythia Minor (Boşneagu, 2004).

We present below a map of Dacia (figure 7), included by Ortelius into the historical section of the book of maps Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. This Ortelian work is distin-guished by richness of information and texts inspired from ancient authors (here, it is attempted for the first time the geographical placing within the course of the river Sargetia, of the place where ….king Decebal has buried his treasure, being an information that will appear on the following maps, too), but also, by insertion of Ovid's verses, liable for the praise of the Getae's bravery (the presentation in English of this map is taken from the website - National Museum of Maps and Rare Books, The map was engraved in copper, hand-made coloured, accompanied by an explicative text in Latin language. It includes populations settled down on the Dacia's territory, The Dacians' Hearth and on the right side of the Danube, too, territory occupied and mostly controlled mostly by the Getae-Dacians. At left, below, there is the title and, on the bottom of the page, there is inserted a caption comprising Dacian localities, waters and mountains with their old naming. At right, on top, there is a dedication by which A. Ortelius is mentioned as librarian to the Bavaria duke's court. On the bottom of page, there are recorded 4 verses written by Ovid in his 'Pontices'. The present map was also achieved in 1624 in the A. Ortelius' book of maps, included a Latin text and published in Anvers (the map no. XXX), entitled Theatri Orbis terrarus Parergon…Antverpiae (the presentation in English of this map was taken from the website - Bucharest, Romania, National Museum of Maps and Rare Books


Anvers approx. 1595 chart.


The emperor Justinian the Great, the Ist (525-563 AD), a Christian Byzantine emperor, who tried to bring together the two Roman Empires, had fortified the fortresses located along the Danube. There were restored over 90 fortresses, out of which around 50 in Dobrogea: Abrittus, Aegyssus, Axiopolis, Callatis, Carsium. Durustorum, Noviodunum, Odessos, Tomis, Troesmis, Ulmetum, Bassidina, Diniscarta, Padisara, Residina, Sacidava, Zaldapa, Zisnudava, A Silva, Castellonovo, Gemellomuntes, Maurovalle). He made changes in the church field once with the military reorganization. In Scythia Minor, they were 15 bishoprics subordinated to Tomis Metropolitan Church. After the year 534, Dobrogea is invaded by Huns, then by Avars and Bulgarians, and the region gradually decades (Rădulescu, Bitoleanu, 1998).

The Romanian academician Mircea Maliţa is among the first Romanian scientists who speaks about the "Dobrogean Silk Road" hypothesis. He was among the first specialists who were able to study a mysterious Chinese map which indicates Dobrogea as a land crossed by one of the Chinese trade routes. The map is now in the History Museum from Beijing and comes from the Tang Dynasty, who ruled China between 618 and 907 AD. On this map it appears a mysterious route belonging to the Silk Road, that detours the Caspian Sea and the northern Black Sea and in the inferior side through Dobrogea to Byzantium. It is not known exactly who made this map, which are its foundations, and for how long it func-tioned this secondary road. It is known that many Asian merchants arrived in Crimean peninsula, where they often descended to Constantinople on merchant ships board. But, this map is the first evidence of a land route that would have been part of the ancient Silk Road through the present Dobrogea region. In figure 8 it is shown a map of the Silk Road (300 BC-100 AD), where the author has traced "the Dobrogean Silk Road".

Figure 8. Ancient Silk Road 300 BC – AD 100.

Source : processing from

Between 1185-1320, Dobrogea falls under the domination of Vlach-Bulgarian Tsarat (Regnum Bulgarorum et Valachorum). Dobrogea becomes independent under the name Principality of Cărvuna, called into the modern historiography "The Despotate of Dobrogea". During this time, in this area it was spoken the "dician" idiom (Vâlsan, 1927), mentioned as dialect of Romanian language and influenced by Greek language (perceptible influence by some names of plants or animals and particularly fishes, through naming of sailing and fishing tools). In 1357, Dobrotici (Dobrotiţă) (figure 9) declares itself despot of Cărvunei (1347-1386). The new state is named Dobrogea, after Dobrotici name. In 1366, the Byzantine Emperor Ioan Paleolog the Vth visited Rome and Buda and trying to obtain help in his campaign against Dobrogea, is captured in Varna. A new campaign led by Amedeo the VIth of Savoy and supported by Venice and Genoa, attempts to free the emperor. After Amedeo’s conquering of some southern cities, Dobrotici negotiates the peace releasing the emperor and married his daughter with Michael, the emperor’s son (Rădulescu, Bitoleanu, 1998).

In 1369, Dobrotici, together with his ally Vladislav the Ist, prince of Romanian Country helped Ivan Straţimir to return to the throne of Vidin. On this occasion, Drârstor (Silistra) and Chilia had been passed to the Romanian Country. In 1379, Muntenia and Dobrogea fleets blocked Genoese fleet in front of Constantinople. The Despot of Dobrogea included territories belonging today to Bulgaria (in the south) and to Romania (in the north), with a mixed population in the seaports, composed of Bulgarian, Romanian and Tatars as well as Greeks, Armenians and Genoveses. The capital was in Cărvuna (Kavarna, Bulgaria) and the fortress at Kaliakra (figure 10). Over the existence, its borders had been several times modified, including Constanţa and Mangalia seaports (ancient cities Tomis and Callatis, as well), where the Genoese had representatives.

Figure 9. Dobrotici (Dobrotiţă) Statue in Kavarna.

Photo: author, 2014.

Figure 10. Caliacra fortress entrance.

Photo: author, 2013

In 1386, Dobrotici dies and Ivanko or Ioan succeeds him to the throne, who accepted the peace with Sultan Murad the Ist of the Ottoman Empire and signed a commercial treaty with Genoa. Ivanko died in 1388 during the expedition of the Great Vizier Çandarli Ali Pasha against Tarnovo Tsarat (and Dârstor city belonging then to the Romanian Country). After the expedition, more than a half of Dobrogea territory entered under the domination of the Ottoman Empire, while the Northern Dobrogea will be part of the Romanian Country. Between 1352-1359, the Romanian Country take into possession the Danube’s mouths, with Obluciţa (Izmail) and Chilia cities as well as the Serpent’s Island. In 1388/9, the Romanian king, Mircea the Old joined Dobrogea to the Romanian Country. In 1393, Bayezid the Ist conquered the southern of Dobrogea and attacked the king Mircea in his territory, but without success, and in 1395, Mircea regained the lost territories with the help of the Hungarian King (figure 11).

Figure 11. Iacopo Caftaldo Map.


The third Ottoman occupation took place between 1397 and 1404. In 1402, it begins at Ankara a period of anarchy in the Ottoman Empire after the defeat by Timur Lenk of Bayezid the Ist. In 1403, Romanian king Mircea occupies the Genoese fortress Licostomo from the Danube’s mouths, regaining Dobrogea in 1404. After this event, he will involve into the dynastic struggles from the Ottoman Empire. After King Mircea's death in 1418, his son Mihail the Ist, resumes battles against the Turks and in 1420, he lost his life in a battle. In that year, the Sultan Mehmed the Ist conquered Dobrogea, the Romanian Country remaining only with Danube Delta, but not for long time. A map of Johannis Baptista Homanni, dated (1663-1724), is included within the context of that age representations (figure 12).

The exaggeration as regards the Serpent’s Island remained till now, and the delta is drawn like a large island, crossed by several arms. The Dobrogea territory is designated as Romania, many mistakenly interpreting this information, respectively, the direct reference to Dobrogea having an old affiliation to the Romanian area. The map was scanned from Romulus Seişanu’s work - Dobrogea, the Mouths of the Danube and Serpent’s Island. Monograph. Studies and documents. Universul Newspaper Publishing House,1928, pg. 24 (Constantinescu, 2006).

As regards the entry moment of Dobrogea in the Turkish definitive domination, the historians opinions are divided (Iorga, 1898). The great Romanian historian, Nicolae Iorga thinks that this territory had definitively come under Ottoman rule in 1416. Also, there are a number of historians who considered that Dobrogea fell gradually under Ottoman rule, in multiple stages (figure 13). After the conquest of Dobrogea, the Ottomans turned it into a Sangeac of Rumelia province, after that, in 1599, was established Silistra Elayet, which included (all) Dobrogea, Budjak and Edisan.

Figure 12. J.B.Homanni Map.

Source: II Romania shorelines in cartographic documents, Ştefan Constantinescu

In the XVIIth century, they have been added much of Bulgaria and European today Turkey to this Elayet. In 1864, the territory remained from Silistra Elayet was converted into the Danube Vilayet (northern Danube parts being annexed by the Russian Empire) (Iorga, 1898).

Figure 13. W. Faden Chart, 1795, published in London-European Dominions of the Ottomans, or Turkey in Europe.

Source: IIRomania shorelines in cartographic documents, Ştefan Constantinescu; this map was obtained from W. F. Institute of Archaeological Research, being public domain

Under the Ottoman rule, Dobrogea, in addition to Muslim Turks and Tatars settled here and increasingly numerous, further comprising a local population composed of Romanian, Bulgarian, Spanish Hebrew, Armenian, Gagauz, Greeks, Gypsies. The Romanian Dobrogean natives, who called themselves Dicieni (that name comes from Vicina fortress and mentioned in the medieval chronicles), (figure 14), were raia (the Ottomans subjects), and consequently, they had to pay like everyone else, the haraci (tax for others than Muslim population), while, the Romanians came from the city of Sibiu, Moldavia or Romanian Country, named mocani (shepherds) were partially exempted (Nicoară, 2006).

For the Ottoman Empire, Dobrogea had a high strategic importance by: maintaining a permanent and safe offensive base against Poland and Russian states, being in process of centralization; ensuring a permanent link with the Crimean Khanate, provider of auxiliaries troops; control of the commercial road passing through Dobrogea, coming from Poland and crossing Moldavia; supervision of the Romanian Principalities attitude, that were in a continual rebellion; the control of the Danube River, an important trade route and difficult obstacle, especially for a large army.

During more than four centuries of Ottoman rule, an unverifiable but important number of Christians passed to the Muslim religion, to escape of this tribute, thus, a part of Dobrogean Turkish-Muslims are originally Christians, in fact. Begining with 1840, the Germans were settled in Dobrogea, known as Dobrogean Germans and they have established a number of new localities. In 1940, most of these inhabitants having German origin, respectively, around 16,000, have left the territory of Dobrogea.

Figure 14. Dobrogea medieval map where appear the names of ancient towns, Tomi (Tomis), Pangala (Mangalia), Caliacra, Cavarna, Dizia (Vicina) etc.

Photo: author, Kavarna Museum, 2013.

In 9 thof May, 1877, after the Romanian’s Independence War, Romania declared its independence. In 1878, Romania was recognized as an independent state through the Peace Treaty from Berlin and her authority over Dobrogea was restored, as well. Also, through the port of Constanţa Romania realised its exit to the Black Sea. Instead of these, Russia obtained the Danube’s mouths and takes into possession the southern Bessarabia counties, that had been previously returned to Romania through the Peace Treaty from Paris, in 1856.

During the Romania's communist era (1947-1989), the economy of the region grows, new industries appear, shipyards, maritime and river ports are being modernized, it is constructed the Danube-Black Sea Canal, it is developing an intensive agriculture, and it begins the mineral resources exploitation of the Romanian Black Sea continental shelf.

Since 1989 (the year of the Romanian Anticommunist Revolution), Dobrogea is part of the Romanian national process of building of a democratic capitalist society in Romania, in this process existing minuses and achievements, as well.

Figure 15. Romania's administrative organization.


The geopolitical advantages of the modern Dobrogea consist of its geographical position, its links with Europe, its population, its economic strength, energy and mineral resources.

Today, Dobrogea includes: 1) the Constanţa county, located in the south-eastern part of Romania, having a surface of 7071 km2 (representing 3% from the total surface of Romania), respectively, being the eighth largest counties of the country. At December, 31th, 2012, the Constanta County included: 8 cities and 3 municipalities, 54 communes and 189 villages, having a population of 684,082 inhabitants, a turnover of 47.661 billion Romanian Lei, an agricultural production of 2,747.5 Romanian Lei (, 2011), and 2) the Tulcea County, located in the northern part of Dobrogea, with an area of 8,499 km2, a population of 213,083 people, a turnover of 5.405 billion Romania Lei, an agricultural production of 1.496 billion Romanian Lei. At the same date, the Tulcea County included: 5 cities, 1 municipality, 46 communes and 133 villages. (,2011).

The actual Romania's administrative organization, respect-tively in judeţe (counties), where appear the Dobrogean Constanta and Tulcea counties, too, is shown in figure 15.

The Romanian Black Sea coasts (244 km), together with the Bulgarian Black Sea Coasts (378 km), (out of a total of 4,047 km of Black Sea coastlines), is part of the EU's eastern maritime facade, Dobrogea being a Europe's maritime border region with Near East. The Romania's Black Sea exit is done via its seaports, respectively: Constanţa (the eastern extremity of the European transport corridor on European inland waters of Danube-Rhine-Maine), Mangalia, Midia and Sulina river port (the eastern extremity of the Danube European corridor).

In 2009, the International Court of Justice ruled unanimously the maritime delimitation between Romania and Ukraine (figure 16), leading to a greater involvement of Romania in the commercial exploitation of Romania's Exclusive Economic Zone in the Black Sea.

Figure 16. Delimitation of maritime spaces between Romania and Ukraine chart, Hague, 2009.


4. Dobrogea – Geopolitics and Geostrategy

The military and geopolitical situation in the Black Sea had become particularly tense after the illegal annexation of Crimea peninsula by Russian Federation in 2014. Now, Russia uses Crimea ("natural carrier" of the Black Sea) to strengthen the threatening presence to EU, not only in Black Sea, but also in the Mediterranean Sea, too. Hence, Russia monitors the actions of NATO in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea and undertakes military action in response, according to its geopolitical interests in these areas. The distances from Black Sea to the important strategic points are: to Suez Canal, approx. 650 km; to the Caspian Sea, approx. 350 km; to White Sea, approx. 1,300 km; to Persian Gulf, approx. 1,300 km; to the Mediterranean Sea (Gibraltar), approx. 1,300 km; to the North Sea, aprox.1,300 km, meaning relatively short distances for current military possibilities (figure 17).

The geopolitical position of Dobrogea can be inferred only after the definition of the inclusion sphere of the geographical factor, as well as only after making evident of the components, the political, military and strategical significant, real and potentially, then, making a selection of those that concern the Great Powers or other states. Being confirmed during history, the fluctuation of the connection between geographical, political and military factors makes evident an unquestionable truth. Namely, the same components of the geographical factor have acquired during time various political and military significances, even if more of them remained constant.

In Ancient times and Middle Ages, the Black Sea area was for a long time a region with obvious geopolitical significances. In the course of the history, it was controlled by Greeks, Genoveses, Turkish and by Moldavians and Russians, as well.

Figure 17. The distances from Black Sea to several important areas.

Source: processing from

In the Modern Age, it became again an area of major interest, fact that led to the modification of the geopolitical position of the Romanian Countries, too. In fact, the three geographical elements, having a major importance, that define the position of Romania in Europe are: the position to Danube's Mouths, the access to Black Sea and the Carpathian Chain. These three elements have major geopolitical significances and their possession generates special advantages. Two of these elements define and confer content for the geographical space of Dobrogea: Danube's Mouths and Black Sea.

The Danube – Black Sea Canal became a very important objective, particularly, it had been created a riverine way of communication between North Sea and Black Sea, once, the canal Rhin – Main – Danube was completed. Both terminals of these, respectively, Danube Delta and the Canal are on the Romanian state territory, namely, in the geographical space of Dobrogea. Romania will dominate Danube's Mouths, inclusively the Canal, only if it will keep Dobrogea in possession. The Black Sea communicates to the Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea through Bosphorus and Dardanelles narrows, (also, to Azov Sea through Kerci narrow), assuring in this way the access of Romania to the Planet Ocean. Considering the geopolitical perspective and having in view their strategical importance, these arguments will essentially contribute to the increase of the share and importance of the Romanian state and they simultaneously confirm as clear as possible that Dobrogea could have its own statute, when we talk about the geostrategical and geopolitical position.

The geographical space is only one of the defining elements of the geopolitical position, the second element being represented by the forms and political significances that define it. From this perspective, too, the history demonstrates in a convincing manner that, during time, the political structures had been superposed over the geographical space, existing an obvious connection between them. The geographical decisive moment was always doubled by a political and military decisive moment. We are settled in a region where the neighbouring influences had interfered from three directions: from Central Europe, from South of Balkans, from East, respectively from Euroasian steppes. In all the situations, the history shows us that, the forces that have penetrated from South and exerted influence, they had been superposed and intersected. Consequently, the conquest from South had always begun through the Pontic Basin domination. That who possessed the Black Sea had necessarily felt to extend the domination over the Carpathian area, too. The Romans had proceeded in this manner, Dobrogea being transformed into a roman province, event closely followed by the conquest of the proper Dobrogea. Later, during the Middle Age, the Ottoman Gate had acted in the same manner, in 1417, Dobrogea being transformed in Pashalic, then, the ottomans took over the fortresses Chilia and Cetatea Albă (1484), and, finaly, at the end of the first reign of Petru Rareş (1527-1538), they took over the South of Moldavia.

Continuing the historical retrospective, we can affirm that the references are real and they demonstrate the truth that the Romania's geopolitical advantages actually generate the biggest dangers directly for it. First of all, the neighbouring with the Russian Empire signified a source of insecurity for the Romanian Countries and later then, for the Romanian state. In 1812, through the Peace from Bucharest, Russia annexed the Romanian territory between Nistru and Prut rivers, named it Bessarabia, province that they had dominated until 1918. In the political context, resulted after the events happened between 1917-1922, the Soviet Union has abided the same imperial aims and, between 26th-28th of June 1940, it addressed to the Romanian state notes of the nature of an ultimatum through which it claimed Bessarabia and North Bucovina, too. At that moment, being isolated from political and military points of view, Romania was obliged to resign and, thus, the soviet Russia had temporary deprived the Romanian state of two key geopolitical positions: the Danube's Mouths and North Carpathians. After the Second World War, the Soviet Union had maintained these positions. In 1947, through the Peace Treaty from Paris and clearing up the state frontiers, a protocol, signed between Molotov and Petru Groza, confirms the state frontier between the two countries from the Black Sea area, meaning the Serpents’ Island passed by to the Soviet Union. The parliaments of these two countries had never analysed nor ratified the mentioned protocol.

The teasing of the Soviet Empire determined the creation of some new entities and a new neighbouring for our country. The Moldavia Republic and Ukraine formed up, Moldavia Republic comprising only a part of the Romanian territory ravished in 1940.

Based on the decree of the Supreme Soviet, signed by Stalin on 2ndof August 1940, Ukraine inherits a series of Romanian territories, respectively, the South of Bessarabia and the North of Bucovina, in fact, the access to two important geopolitical positions: the Danube’s Mouths, the access ways to Central Europe, being added the Serpents’ Island, too. Besides the economical availabilities, Ukraine owns a military imposing arsenal, inclusively nuclear armament. The geographical and political neighbouring of Romania have influenced many times our destiny, fact confirmed by the whole historical evolution. It is proper to point out the influences and direct interests in Dobrogea, in the perspective of the millennium end and the beginning of the next millennium. The last years emphasize spectacular changes in this sense. One of these changes, maybe the biggest one, is directly neighbouring ceasing with Russia. But this maintains Transnistria bridge head, the 14th Army in Moldavia Republic and the strategical superiority in the Black Sea. The relations between Romanian state and Ukraine are still in a beginning phase – referring to the diplomatic terms – although they passed over two decades from their establishment and, also, in this period, respectively in 1997, it was signed „The Convention regarding the relations of good neighbouring and co-operation between Romania and Ukraine". The relations are still in a beginning phase because, not only of the Romanian territories being under Ukraine’s jurisdiction, but also, of other problem, not negligible at all, respectively, the delimitation of the exclusive economical area from the Black Sea (solved through the Decision of the International Justice Court from Hague, in 2009).

The return of these territories into the natural border-lines would strengthen very much the geopolitical and strategical advantages of Dobrogea and, implicitly, the position of Romania. In South, the relations with Bulgaria are going to normality. In 1992, between the two countries, it was signed "The Convention for friendship, co-operation and good- neighbouring between Romania and Republic of Bulgaria". In this Convention is stipulated that do not exist mutual territorial pretensions, although, they will follow new meetings in order to find a definitive and correct solution as regards the maritime frontier.

In order to outline the image of the political frame in the area, it is shown that the respective countries are in a difficult transition process, that generates many economical, social and moral problems. In order to surpass the situation, these are in a real race, that includes a fierce competition between them, too. This is the reason why this geopolitical space is considered rather precarious, still being in a dispute.

However, there are some encouraging co-operation signs and the argument is consisting in the foundation of the Black Sea Economical Community (C.E.M.N.).

In June 1992, at Istanbul, the six riparian states: Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, to which Albania, Armenia, Azerbaidjan, Greece and Moldavia Republic have adjoined, signed the convention for O.C.E.M.N. foundation, being similarly with U.E.O. Serbia has adhered to O.C.E.M.N. through the decision of the Ministers Council of External Affairs, held in Erevan (18th of April, 2003). The observers to O.C.E.M.N. are: Austria, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Tunisia, France, Germany, the Conference of the Energy Chart, the Black Sea Committee, the European Committee, the Black Sea International Club, Czech Republic, Croatia and Belarus.

The partners for the sectorial dialogue with OCEMN are: Hungary, Great Britain, Montenegro, Jordan, Iran, Slovenia, Japan, the Danube Committee, the Conference of the Maritime Regions, Outlying to Europe, the Union of the Road Carriers Associations from OCEMN region and the Black Sea Universities Network. In 1998, at Yalta, it was signed "the CEMN Chart", that had come into force in 1st of May, 1999 and became the fundamental document of the organization.

This initiative is radically different towards the various regional groups, formed and unfold under the pressure of some powers from the inter-war period and, partly, post-war period. The exchanges revival in a area that has about 340,000,000 inhabitants will assure an economical market, without facing an unfavourable international competition. These 11 states - members are considerably different, from the point of view of population and economical potential, too. At one pole is situated Russia, followed by Ukraine and Turkey, those three countries representing approximately 3/4 from the entire population and over 85% from the raw national product of the community. At the other pole are situated other 7 states, meaning 12,5% from the entire population and 14% from R.N.P., only Greece being evident through a high R.N.P. per inhabitant. Romania is situated between those two poles, and, excepting Turkey and Greece, all the others states are in a phase of the economical wane.

Based on the co-operation of the states from O.C.E.M.N., among the main fundamental objectives (such as: bilateral and multilateral co-operation development and diversification according with the international legislation principles and norms; improvement of the affairs environment and the individual and collective initiative promotion of the enterprises and companies directly involved into the economical co-operation process; the development of the economical co-operation; the intensification of the mutual respect and of the trust, the dialogue and the co-operation between states- members of O.C.E.M.N.), is the installation for communications of an optical fibres network between Istanbul-Varna-Constanţa-Odessa-Sevastopol harbours, that will be connected with the underwater network EMOC (Est Mediteranean Optic System) to Greece, Italy and Israel and with subsequent extension to Western Europe, Near and Middle East. In the energetic field, the goal is to realize the interconnection between the western and eastern energetic systems and those from the South of Russia, in order to assure the advantages of the time difference. The main form of co-operation is bilateral agreements. In the competition of the great powers for the Eastern Europe control, the political and geostrategical dowry of Romania confers itself a peculiar statute, that might be consequently revaluated. In this context, the geopolitical and geostrategical position of Dobrogea acquires special significations, that might determine deep changes in the military domain, too. In this sense, one of the major conclusions resulted is the fact that Dobrogea is a geographical space having a strategical importance, stated as an area of military operations (a geographical military space, having a special and complex structure, that offers three environments for the military operations interference and generates specific elements of the military art, as well). In conclusion, it is framed into the south-east Operations Area, that includes Dobrogea’s terri-tory, the aerial space and the territorial waters, adjacent to this, and also, the maritime space of national economical interest from the Black Sea.

The advantages offered by Dobrogea to the geopolitical and geostrategical position of Romania, the interest interference at the level of some great powers, and respectively of the neighbours, as well as the evolution in the domain of military art, in the theoretical plan and even actional, made evident by some local strifes, determine a certain value of the statute of this operations area.

The NATO’s interest increasing for Dobrogea space could bring back of present interest this arena of the European great powers disputes. The interest interference, generated by the geopolitical and geostrategical enviable position of Dobrogea, could determine an aggression having as political and military purpose this territory conquering. In conclusion, we can appreciate that the position of Dobrogea as regards the independence, sovereignty and integrity defence of Romania will be very important, with many shades of specificity, that will determine in future many investigations in the plan for territory preparing, the optimization of the fight systems' organizational structure, the units training, endowments and also, the logistics of these, as well as the improvement of the military art's elements.

5. Conclusions

1.   The concept of region is not clear. The theoretical approaches are heterogeneous, depending on the school that performs analyzes as regards the regions, their political and geopolitical role, the factors taken into consideration.

2.   Today, for better regional development and absorption of the European funds, Romania is organized in eight regions of development (not administrative – the current Romania's administrative organization is shown in Figure 15), where Dobrogea is part of the Region 2 - South East (figure 18).

3.   As regards the geopolitical, security and international relations analysis at regional level (in the international accepted terms), Dobrogea is analyzed as part of Romania and at its turn, in the Black Sea region.

4.   Since antiquity, Dobrogea was highlighted as particularly important region by its strategic position between the Danube and the Black Sea, being in the way of many inter European and inter Asian-European trade roads. This fact made this Thracian and Geto-Dacian region to be conquered and throughout his history, to enter in the composition of some large empires (Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman), as well as, its shores to be colonized by the Greeks, Genoese etc., to be occupied and plundered by the migrating peoples. Each time, by its natural force, Dobrogea always reborn and became more powerful.

5.   Among the Romanian historical provinces and from the point of view of the territory (representing around 6.5%) and of the population (4.5%), Dobrogea is one of the smallest one, but it represents a geographical, historical and geopolitical reality, well delimited, varied and complex.

6.   Dobrogea region is the Romanian area where the Romanian population has developed along the centuries, based on the local population, the Romanians "dicieni", with the contribution of Romanian population from north and south of the Danube.

7.   Dobrogea is the region where, along the centuries, they lived many different peoples, being today an example of peaceful and civilized coexistence of the Romanian people with the national minorities, being respected by law and local traditions, as well.

8.   The perpetuation of the frozen conflicts in the Black Sea area and the Western Balkans instability creates additional pressures for Romania. The inter-ethnic tensions and the regional imbalances from the countries that are in proximity, can lead to some regional conflicts.

9.   So, throughout its history, the Romanian port of Constanta (the biggest port from the Black Sea, one of the top ten ports in Europe), located on the west coast of the Black Sea, at 179nM from the Bosporus narrow and at 85 nM from Sulina (figure 19), benefits of a favorable geographic location, being situated on the routes of three Pan-European Transport Corridors: the IVth Corridor, the IXth Corridor and the VIIth Corridor (the Danube). The Constanţa Port has a major role in the European intermodal transport network, located at the intersection of trade routes linking the landlocked countries markets from Central and Eastern Europe with Caucasus region, the Central Asia and the Far East. Near the port of Constanţa are located two satellite ports, Mangalia and Midia, which are part of the Romanian maritime port complex.

Figure 18. Romania – The Development Regions.

Source: The Government of Romania

Figure 19. Constanţa – The entrance in the older harbour.

Photo: author, 2013


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