Protocol gifts to visiting foreign dignitaries rarely make headlines, but this one certainly did: upon his visit to the White House on Tuesday, Donald Trump offered Romanian President Klaus Iohannis a baseball cap with the inscription “Make Romania Great Again”.
While it was clearly a reference to Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again”, in the context of Romanian history it also has an entirely different meaning.
“Greater Romania”, a national concept that first emerged in the mid-19th century as part of the Romanian national awakening, in the interbellic period it became a pan-nationalist symbol.
After the territorial gains following World War I, Romania’s territory (freshly incorporating Transylvania, Bukovina and Bessarabia), was at its highest ever at 295,049 square kilometres compared with the present 238,397 sq km.
After the end of communism in 1989, the name was even picked up as the name of a nationalist party. In its most extreme interpretation, “Greater Romania” also includes current Hungarian territories temporarily occupied by Romania 100 years ago at the end of World War I.
The Trump-Iohannis meeting on Tuesday was in no way related to these pan-nationalist ideas, instead focusing on defence and economic issues. Romania said it was willing to host more U.S. troops as a NATO ally. The topics also included Romanian ambitions to meet the U.S.’s Visa Waiver program, 5G mobile communications and offshore oil platforms.
Title image: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis dons “Make Romania Great Again” baseball cap gifted by U.S. President Donald Trump.