The victory of pro-European forces at the 1996 elections in Romania brought to an end the post-Communist regime and was viewed in the West as one of the few really hopeful turning-points in Balkan politics after 1989. The new government quickly embarked upon a policy of reconciliation with Hungary and the Hungarian minority in Transylvania, concentrating its efforts on the bid to join NATO. No popular backlash occurred when NATO accepted Hungary's application in July 1997 and Romania's was turned down - but enthusiasm for post-nationalist initiatives waned. If the West insists that Romania ought to join an international liberal system largely unaided, and under terms which pay scant regard to Romanian conditions, then the politics of ethnicity might enjoy unexpected staying power in Bucharest.
Gallagher, Tom (1999) The West and the Challenge to Ethnic Politics in Romania, Security Dialogue 30 (3): 293–304.