Romania’s Ministry of Defense presented a draft law on Monday, July 12, that stated in the case of a “declaration of the state of mobilization, or of war”, Romanians abroad would have 15 days to return to Romania for possible conscription into the armed forces.

The law stipulates that Romanians living abroad must, within 15 days, contact the military centre in the territorial-administrative unit where they had their last residence within Romania. The draft law further gives instructions as to how Romanian citizens, who have served in foreign countries’ military service will be qualified and what to do if a citizen is unable to immediately return to the country.

Romania, a post-socialist state with a population of around 19 million, is facing geopolitical challenges on several fronts. Russia’s challenging of primacy in the Black Sea has put the nation at risk, as has the war in neighboring Ukraine. There has been concern that if Russia were to launch a military assault against Moldova, the largely Romanian-speaking country of 2.5 million wedged between parts of Romania and Ukraine where an estimated quarter of the population holds Romanian citizenship, via the Russian-backed breakaway region of Transnistria, that NATO and EU member Romania would be dragged into the conflict.

Since the country ended mandatory conscription in 2007, there have been concerns in Bucharest that the military was substantially weakened. Considering this, the law importantly allows that during peacetime, male and females, aged 18-35, who are Romanian citizens permanently reside in the country, who have not completed active military service or reserve service, will be able to voluntarily apply to the Ministry of National Defense to participate in a four month basic military training program.

The shift towards a military posture is not unique to Romania. Latvia has announced new requirements on how citizens are to be conscripted. Like Romania, Latvia had discontinued mandatory military service, but given the heightened tensions with Russia, elected to put into place clear processes for forced military conscription.

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