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The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 14.07.2015

Thoughts Before Leaving Britain

In 1993, when I first came to Britain to study International Relations at the University of Leeds, I did not dream that one day I will be back as Ambassador of my country to the Court of St James's.

I remember that after being appointed to the UK but before arriving to London from Brussels in March 2008, my British friends offered to help with good advices and thousands of pages to read. So, I got the movie The Battle of Britain, with the kind suggestion: "Watch this film and you will understand why we, British, are as we are." I was also advised what models of shoes to wear (Cambridge and Oxford style) and how to dress in traditional British clubs and events. But above all, I was warned to use jokes in speeches: "If you have to deliver a speech and in the first two minutes you do not say a joke, you are considered boring".

Well, I watched many times The Battle of Britain and I have travelled from Southampton to Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, from Cardiff to Kent and Lincolnshire, from Brighton to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Highlands, Belfast and Londonderry, trying to understand Britain and Britons. Only to Scotland I have been no less than 20 times.

In my seven and a half years as a Romanian diplomat on the British soil, I have travelled almost all over in Britain. I did it not only because it is within the remit of an ambassador to become acquainted with the country in which he is accredited, to meet the local authorities and the Romanian communities who live there and bring their valuable contribution to the British economic, social and cultural life. I did it because I wanted to understand the spirit, the soul and the traditions of the British people, to understand why words like "to behave like a lord" and "fair play" were not invented somewhere else, and why Magna Carta was not written in 1215 in a different corner of the world.

I had the opportunity to discover Britain's true values: national pride, high moral standards and an incredible rich history. Because I am married to a History teacher, the love for history is a must in my wonderful family who, so loyally, stood by me in al l good and difficult moments.
Being Ambassador of Romania to London was for me both a privilege and a challenge, because London is a hub of world diplomacy and the meeting point of most important axes of global interests. It is a capital of civilization, culture and European economic liberalism. Today, Britain is one of Romania's best friends, partners and allies in Europe and I did my best to consolidate this relationship. I am most grateful to our British friends for their invaluable support to this endeavour.

The diplomatic environment in London is highly professional and competitive. I was lucky to make many good friends among diplomats accredited to the UK. For the last three years I was the doyen of the European ambassadors in London. I will always keep a fond memory of the cooperation and friendship of my European colleagues but also of many other ambassadors from around the world. Because the Earth is round, I am sure that there is a chance to meet again somewhere else, sometime in the future.

There is an important Romanian community in Britain. Around 6,000 Romanian students are enrolled in British universities and more than 4,000 Romanian doctors and nurses are working in the British NHS. There are Romanian researchers in Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Medicine and IT in almost every important research centre in Britain. Thousands of young Romanians are employed in the City of London or run their own companies in the UK, and there are Romanian workers in every construction site in Britain. Together with my colleagues in the Embassy, we worked tireless and passionately to defend their rights and public image. I want to thank my Embassy team for its professionalism and dedication.

The President and the Government of Romania have now decided to entrust me with a new diplomatic mission. From August 2015 I will take over the job of Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations in New York, with the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

But Britain will always keep a very special place into my heart.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/britain-romania_b_7786920.html

 


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 17.06.2015

In Celebration of Freedom and Justice

2015 is a year of commemorations and during the last few days I had the privilege to attend three symbolic events with profound historic resonance.

On 13 June, it was Her Majesty The Queen's Birthday Parade, with the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards trooping the Queen's Colour to mark the British National Day and their centenary year. It was the 8th Trooping the Colour that I have attended as Ambassador of Romania to the Court of St James's. This ceremony is always impressive because is a homage to those who protect the realm and defend the freedom. This year we also celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of WW2 and the 70th anniversary of the creation of United Nations Organisation. But probably the most acclaimed celebration is of Magna Carta Libertatum.

Since the beginning of 2015, hundreds of events were organized to mark 800 years since Magna Carta was sealed. Two of them were of a particularly poignant significance to me. One took place on 14 June at the Temple Church, in London, the other on 15 June at Runnymede, near Windsor.

The celebration of Magna Carta at the Temple Church was special because during the crisis of 1215 King John had one of his headquarters in the Temple, where he was safe under the protection of the Knights Templar (the other headquarters was in the Tower of London). The King was in the Temple on 17 May when the barons captured London and on 10 June he left the Temple for Runnymede to seal Magna Carta: "John, by the grace of God, King of England, to the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants and all his faithful subjects, greetings. Know that we wish and firmly command that the men of our realm shall have and hold all these liberties, rights and concessions well and peacefully, freely and quietly, fully and completely for them and their heirs of us and our heirs in all things and places for ever...".

But the real hero of Magna Carta was William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke. He negotiated on the King's behalf and insisted that he sealed the Charter on 15 June 1215. After John's death in 1216, William Marshal became Regent to the young King Henry III and in this capacity he reissued the Charter under his own seal in 1216 and 1217, and so ensured its survival. He is buried in the Temple's Round Church and I bowed in front of his tomb. 
At Runnymede, the ceremony took place in the presence of HM The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Cambridge, the British Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, with thousands of people attending. 

Two of the original Magna Carta clauses continue to be of a tremendous importance: clause 39 - "No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseized or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor will go or send against him except by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land", and clause 40 - "To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right to justice." These are fundamental law principles in any modern democratic society, namely that no one should be deprived of their freedom without just cause, and that people are entitled to fair trial by their peers according to the law of the land.

As Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond remarked: "Magna Carta is a symbol of the UK's deeply rooted democracy: a story of evolution rather than revolution". This document has influenced not only the evolution of English history, but also the evolution of world history and continues to be seen as a cornerstone of liberty 800 years after its publication. Maybe its greatest resonance was in the United States of America where Magna Carta was inspirational for the 1791 American Bill of Rights. It is therefore not by chance that at Runnymede an American Memorial dedicated to Magna Carta was erected in 1957 and its rededication ceremony on 15 June 2015 was attended by Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General of the United States and William C. Hubbard, the President of the American Bar Association.

Magna Carta was also embodied in the Universal declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Now the UN prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary, but major crisis challenge the international peace and security, making the UN more relevant than ever, as it is the only global international organization.

Romania will celebrate soon the 60th anniversary of its membership to the UN. Although in 1946, at the Paris Peace Conference, the Head of the Romanian delegation, Gheorghe Tatarescu, declared that "Romania is determined to bring about without delay its total adhesion to the principles of the United Nations Charter, principles which it has already put into practice", our accession was blocked until 1955. But Romania's contribution to multilateral diplomacy is much older, my country being particularly active in the League of Nations, where Nicolae Titulescu, the greatest Romanian diplomat, was twice elected President, in 1930 and 1931. In this capacity, he fought for the preservation of stable borders through the maintenance of peace, for good relations between neighboring states, for the respect of the sovereignty and equality of all nations in the international community, for collective security and the prevention of aggression. In 1926, Romania asked the League of Nations to consider drafting a convention on the punishment of terrorism. As the expansion of terrorism and its appalling atrocities terrify today the civilized world, Romania strongly advocates to creating a universal legal instrument to fight this global threat.

Sealing the Magna Carta was a major event in the journey of democracy. Justice and freedom are at the foundation of our society and it is our duty to act in their defense when the legal international order is challenged. By doing so, we pay tribute to all those who have developed the rule of law to protect us against injustice and abuse of power.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/magna-carta_b_7595432.html

 


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 17.04.2015

Romanians Are Coming... At the London Book Fair

Olympia Exhibition Centre, 14-16 April 2015: more than 25,000 publishers, booksellers, literary agents, librarians, media and industry suppliers from over 120 countries came to London to attend an event considered to be "a Mecca for European publishers, booksellers, rights agents and media trend spotters".

For those claiming "to limit the immigration to the UK to 50,000 per annum, including those from the EU", such a wave of highly skilled foreigners on the Thames' shores might be scary and eventually a strong argument to be used in the ongoing electoral campaign. But for book lovers and not only, the London Book Fair 2015 (LBF) is just more proof that London is more than the capital city of a great country, it is also the meeting point of the world cultures in every possible way.

The initials LBF made their first appearance 40 years ago and since then the London Book Fair has grown in size and importance, being now considered as second only to the Frankfurt Book Fair, with over 1700 international exhibitors this year. Among them, 14 Romanian publishing houses with more than 350 book titles. Only 25 countries have national pavilions and Romania is one of them.

Romania has been a constant presence at the London Book Fair since 2007 and I pay my tribute of admiration to so many writers, publishers, translators and literary promoters who, along these eight years, have showcased the excellence of Romanian literature and established lasting relations between Romania and the UK. This time, our participation at the LBF evokes the virtue of literature as a catalyst of great encounters and revelations. It brings together writers and academics who contributed to create enduring cultural links between the two countries. Our programme revolves around two towering cultural personalities, one Romanian - Ana Blandiana, the other British - Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011). Sir Patrick was a war hero and the most acclaimed travel writer in Britain for decades. He testifies in hundreds of splendid pages the joy of encountering people and landscapes of Romania.

Ana Blandiana is one of the most important post war Romanian authors and a renowned civic rights campaigner. Banned in the harsh times of communism, her verses known by heart by Romanians were a refuge for a truth that could not be acknowledged. After the 1989 Revolution, she became a leader of the civic movement and concentrated most of her energy to the conservation of the national memory: the tragedies, the repression, but also the many forms of resistance, from armed resistance (I come myself from a region where the anti-communist partisans fought in the mountains until the beginning of the sixties), to civic heroism, thus contributing to educating generations of young Romanians about a time of sufferance and redemption.

Books encompass in their covers talent, truth and passion. The ultimate message we get by browsing through the selves heavy with books is that the sense of writing and reading has not disappeared. This is very important because the power of literature is to define both our personal and collective identities. There are few arts that can provide a better access to a nation identity than literature. That is why we have dedicated our programme at the LBF 2015 to the power of the written culture to transcend boundaries and to become the privileged place of great encounters and discoveries. It is probably not by chance that this happens in London.
In a fabulous evening event with poets Fleur Adcock and Vidyan Ravinthiran, together with translators Viorica Patea and Paul Scott Derrick, Ana Blandiana recalled that: "During the communist time, the only choice we had was between rebelling and obeying, because the indifference was worse". She added: "After 1989, the freedom of speech has diminished the importance of words".

Living in Britain for a period when in many occasions Romanians were so unfairly considered by part of the media and by some politicians as being unwanted "immigrants" and eventually responsible for almost everything that goes wrong in this country, I may not entirely agree with Ana Blandiana's last sentence about the importance of words, because I know that defamatory words can kill, maybe not lives but certainly people's dignity.

Romania's presence at the London Book Fair has been an itinerary through our values, feelings, dreams, disappointments, grievances, triumphs. It was also a reassuring reminder that we have many friends in Great Britain.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/london-book-fair_b_7082948.html

 


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 09.03.2015

The Freedom of Speech

In her biography of Voltaire (The Friends of Voltaire, published in 1906), Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote the following: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" (which is often misattributed to Voltaire himself) as an illustration of Voltaire's beliefs. Hall's quotation is often cited to describe the principle of freedom of speech.

I am a great supporter of this fundamental principle of democracy and I expect it is exercised in good faith and without deliberately distorting the obvious truth. An article published on 8 March by the Daily Mail, with the title "Romanian fury over Channel 4 documentary as their MPs ask: What if we made a programme saying all Brits were alcoholics and paedophiles?" doesn't make me question the principle, but the author's good faith and respect for the truth.

I was shocked to read in the above mentioned article that : "Ion Jinga, the Romanian ambassador in London, wrote to Channel 4 asking what the reaction would be if they made a programme saying all Brits were alcoholics and paedophiles. In a letter seen by The Observer, Mr Jinga said: 'We kindly ask you to consider what your reaction would be if TVR, the Romanian public television channel, would launch a campaign of denigration pointed towards the British citizens in our country, generalising cases of alcoholism and paedophilia displayed by some British citizens (cases we are sure you are aware of), and turning them into the general image of all British citizens in Romania."

These phrases are completely untrue, because none of them can be found in any of my letters or statements. On 13 February (four days before the first episode of "Romanians are Coming" was broadcast by Channel 4), I wrote to the producer to express surprise and disappointment at the way the Romanian community living in the UK was presented in the trailer.

The Observer never said it saw a letter from me referring to British citizens living in Romania. In fact, its article published on 7 March 2015, "Romanian ambassador bitter over C4's migrant series" tells that:

"Ion Jinga, the Romanian ambassador in London, has written to the producers of the three-part series accusing them of reinforcing negative stereotypes. The ambassador complained that the programme has "ignored the fact that, in their overwhelming majority, Romanians living in Britain are well integrated into the local society". He further claims that there are more than 4,000 Romanian doctors and nurses in Britain.

Meanwhile three members of the Romanian parliament have written to the British ambassador in Bucharest to claim that the channel was inciting hatred and discrimination. [...]"

I am not aware if Romanian MPs sent a letter to my friend the British ambassador in Bucharest and I never comment on something I do not know. In order to make it all crystal clear, the only comments the Embassy of Romania made after the documentary film was broadcast, which are available on our website, were:

"The Romanian Embassy in London cannot comment on the opinions and life experiences of people presented in the first episode. Both the narrator and the characters in the documentary are Romanian citizens who tell their life stories, which are often sad and touching. The Embassy considers, however, that this first episode is not representative for the Romanian community in the UK, as it illustrates only a small social segment. In their overwhelming majority the Romanian citizens are well integrated into British society and appreciated by the British employers for their professionalism and work ethic. In the context of broadcasting this series, we hope that the next episodes will present a balanced and more representative picture of the entire Romanian community in the UK. The Embassy of Romania in London thanks all Romanian citizens who by their example help to promote a correct image of our community in the UK."

Since I deeply believe that the freedom of speech is sacrosanct, I would highly appreciate a correction of the Daily Mail article (if not an apology).

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/the-freedom-of-speech_b_683...

 


Ambassador’s remarks on the post of professor Anthony Forster, Vice Chancellor of University of Essex regarding the Channel 4 Documentary on 17th of February, “The Romanians are coming”

“I read with much interest your article regarding the amazing contribution Romanian students have made to the life of the University of Essex and of the communities in your region.

As Ambassador of Romania to the UK I have visited over 40 British Universities, meeting Romanian students, as well as the Universities’ representatives. The latter’s message has always struck the same note, that Romanian students are among the best and they work hard in order to expand their professional horizons and make the most of the opportunities offered by the British education system, while at the same time getting actively involved in the lives of their Universities. I am happy to hear that the University of Essex has the same experience with Romanian students.

I have watched the Channel 4 “documentary” with interest and – I must admit – with bitterness and disappointment because of the biased approach used by producers, but also with a lot of compassion for the people pictured in it. Unfortunately, such approaches can only reinforce negative stereotypes about the Romanian community and ignore the fact that, in their overwhelming majority, Romanians living in Britain are well integrated into the local society. In a high proportion they are specialists employed in a wide range of occupations and trades. There are more than 4,000 Romanian doctors and nurses in Britain, whereas thousands of highly skilled Romanians have been employed in the UK’s performing arts, financial, IT or trade sectors. They all bring an honest and valuable contribution to the welfare of this great country. I may also add an increasing number of students (approximately 7000) attending universities, attracted by the quality of the educational programs in the UK.

I believe that picturing only isolated and not representative aspects for the Romanian community in Britain as a whole is profoundly unfair. Against this background, contributions that help create and shape a clearer and more accurate image of the Romanian community in Britain, such as your article, are more than welcome. Thank you.”

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

The post “Romanian students are unique part of our international family“ can be read at: http://blogs.essex.ac.uk/vc/


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 16.02.2015

History and Present: 135 Years of Diplomatic Relations between Romania and the UK

135 years ago, on 20 February 1880, diplomatic relations at the level of legations led by Plenipotentiary Ministers were established between Romania and the United Kingdom. The same day British, French and German diplomatic representatives in Bucharest handed over to the Romanian minister for foreign affairs Notes of recognition of Romania as an independent state. In his speech on that occasion, King Carol I expressed his joy "to see the establishment of the best relations between Romania and Great Britain, hoping that the friendly connections existing between the two countries will be strongly consolidated in the future".

However, 135 years is too short to understand the depth of the relationship between Romania and the UK. If we go right back into ancient history we find that our two peoples were part of the same single political entity in Europe, the Roman Empire, and there is evidence that when the Romans have built the Hadrian Wall Dacian troops from modern-day Romania were among the constructors. Tombs of Dacian soldiers and written stones from the Hadrian Wall in Newcastle prove their presence in Britain for several generations. One of these inscriptions in stone, dated AD 219, says: "Under Modius Julius, legate of the emperor with pro-praetorian power, the First Aelian Cohort of Dacians built this, under the command of the tribune Marcus Claudius Menander."

The British Library's collections include books and maps confirming that cultural and economic links between our countries are much older than their diplomatic relations. For instance, commercial privileges were granted to the British merchants in the 16th century, in a document signed by the British ambassador in Constantinople and the ruler of the Principality of Moldova. 
Since the time of Vlad the Impaler, the Romanian principalities formed the front line between the West and the East, between the Habsburg, Russian and Ottoman Empires, with Romanian Princes fiercely defending their lands against foreign invaders. As the Ottoman Empire crumbled, Romania acquired a vital strategic importance to British interests in the Bosphorus Straits and the Black Sea, so much so that London sent a vast army to Crimea to halt the Russians' advance into the Danube basin, and in so doing created the conditions for the union of Wallachia and Moldova, two of the three Romanian principalities, and the birth of the modern Romanian State on the 24th January 1859 (Transylvania united with Romania on 1st December 1918).

The 19th Century represents an important moment in the evolution of our bilateral relations. In January 1803 the UK established in Bucharest its first official Diplomatic Mission, the British Consulate in Wallachia, and in March 1814 a second British Consulate was created in Moldova. Romania and the United Kingdom signed the first modern bilateral Treaty of Trade and Navigation in 1880 and at the beginning of their diplomatic relations the two countries were also closely linked through their Royal families, Queen Maria of Romania being British by birth and grand daughter of Queen Victoria. At the start of the First World War, Queen Maria strongly advocated entering the war on the British camp and 800,000 Romanian soldiers fought on the Entente side, with more than 335,000 of them making the ultimate sacrifice - 6% of all Military deaths in WW I.

Between the two World Wars, Romanian diplomat Nicolae Titulescu, one of the brightest European minds of his time and twice elected President of the League of Nations, was our ambassador to the Court of St. James's. The bilateral relations were so close that Romania was offered the privilege to acquire one of the most beautiful and prestigious venues in London to serve as residence for its ambassadors, 1 Belgrave Square, where in 1939 Romanian Foreign Minister Grigore Gafencu met First Lord of Admiralty Winston Churchill. A picture of the meeting, which I found in a private collection 70 years later, is on my desk and in 2009 I had the privilege to welcome Lady Mary Soames, Sir Winston's daughter, to the same room in 1 Belgrave Square.

During the Second World War our traditional alliance was challenged because on 22 June 1941 Romania entered the war against the Soviet Union in order to retake the Romanian provinces Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, occupied by Stalin in 1940. Romania and Britain ended the WW II as allies once again, but for the next 42 years cooperation was shadowed by ideological differences. Still, even during the Cold War we pursued cultural exchanges, undercutting policy differences to reach our common heritage, traditions and the common humanity our people share.

Today we are part of a unified Europe once again, our alliance is fully restored and the Strategic Partnership established in 2003 is closer than ever. The UK has strongly supported Romania's accession to NATO and to the EU and has been very much part of our success. The development of bilateral relations is mirrored by the quality of cooperation and diversity of common interests. If in ancient times Dacians built the Hadrian Wall, in 2012 their Romanian descendants were among the constructors of the Olympic Village in London. 7,000 Romanian students fill the classrooms of British universities, 4,000 Romanian doctors and nurses work in the NHS and thousands of Romanians are among those who make the City of London the centre of the international financial and commercial diplomacy. More than 3,000 Britons live in Romania and contribute to its vibrant economic and cultural life.

Last Christmas we marked another anniversary: 25 years since the end of Communism in Romania. This remarkable event transformed our relationship. After decades living under a repressive and destructive regime, Romanians asserted their true values of democracy and respect for human rights, and claimed back their place in Europe.

Romania is today an enormous asset to the EU and to NATO, and therefore to the UK. Now as in medieval times, Romania is a Western country with an Eastern aspect, a partner that offers the EU a gateway to the Black Sea and a security provider in the region. Romania is also the place of a priceless natural treasure and a paradise of ancient architecture, and I can only express gratitude and admiration to HRH The Prince of Wales for his passionate commitment in preserving, for the generations to come, of the nature, traditions and fabulous heritage of my country.

Romania and the UK sit at opposite ends of the continent but our perspectives are startlingly similar. We share a common vision of a more open Europe fit to compete in the global world of the future, and we work together to achieve security and countering terrorism. There is much we can do together to make our vision of Europe a reality and I believe this is the legacy of 135 years of bilateral diplomatic relations.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 06.02.2015

Celebrating 800 Years of Democracy: Magna Carta Libertatum

On 5 February 2015, the four surviving original copies of the 1215 Magna Carta Libertatum - the document that established for the first time the principle of the Rule of Law - were displayed for one day in the House of Lords, itself an institution symbol of democracy. The four original copies, hosted two by the British Library, one by Lincoln Cathedral and one by Salisbury Cathedral, were thus brought together for the first time in history.

This was one of the hundreds of events to be organised in 2015 in celebration of 800 years since this document was sealed on 15 June 1215 at Runnymede, near Windsor, by King John and his earls. Another event is the Global Law Summit to be held in London on 23-25 February. The summit will champion the Rule of Law as the foundation of the best commercial environment for business growth and for fair societal development, grounding the legacy and values of Magna Carta in the increasingly globalised economy of today. Romania will be represented at the summit and the Rule of Law is today a credo in my country. When the Archbishop of Canterbury first drafted the Magna Carta, he certainly did not anticipate the magnitude and consequences of a document conceived to make peace between the unpopular King and a group of rebel barons.

Out of the 63 clauses of the original Magna Carta, only three remain valid today (the other 60 clauses were specific to the middle ages): one protects the rights of the Anglican Church, another confirms the liberties of London and other towns, but it is the third clause which is of a tremendous importance: "No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or sent others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals. To no-one will we sell, to no-one deny or delay right to justice."

This is a fundamental law principle in any modern democratic society, namely that no one should be deprived of their freedom without just cause, and that people are entitled to fair trial by their peers according to the law of the land.

800 years after its publication, this article from Magna Carta continues to be seen as a cornerstone of liberty and a reference against the arbitrary use of power. It was embodied in the 1791 American Bill of Rights and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948, at the Palais de Chaillot, in Paris. Still, there are so many places in the world where the rights to freedom and to a fair trial are denied.

The 1215 Magna Carta is inscribed in the Unesco "Memory of the World Register", but its significance goes far beyond the cultural heritage dimension. It continues to be relevant and inspirational today, because while reflecting the past, it tells us not to forget the present and to prepare the future. Defending justice and freedom is incredibly important when the legal international order is violently challenged by assertive states and when criminal organisations perpetrate terror through barbaric atrocities we believed impossible to imagine in modern times.

We must oppose them with all the soft and hard power and assets at our disposal within the Euro-Atlantic community: diplomacy, military strength, economic force, social model, moral values and education. But above all, we must make it clear that Justice and Rule of Law are non-negotiable ingredients of our way of living. This is the legacy left by the Magna Carta Libertatum.

 Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/magna-carta_b_6624164.html

 


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 01.12.2014 

December as a Special Time for Romanians

In each nation's history there are moments of change, turning points, celebration, despair or triumph. History never steps back but it can be inspirational for the future. Romanians' history begins 1900 years ago and is carved in the stone of Trajan's Column in Rome, commemorating the Dacian Wars. A marvel of its time, the Column has survived almost intact and an impressive real life replica is hosted by Victoria & Albert Museum in London. It is a symbol that lies at the centre of our identity as a Latin people.

For Romanians, December has a special significance. It is a time of triumph because on 1st December 1918 the modern Romanian State - at that time the Kingdom of Romania - has reached its natural borders, fulfilling the multi-secular dream of bringing together all historical provinces inhabited by Romanians. Therefore, every year on 1st December we proudly celebrate our National Day. It is also the time of celebrating Christmas, and few other nations preserve unaltered fascinating ancient traditions from the beginnings of their Christianity as Romanians do.
December was a time of despair in 1947, when King Michael was forced to abdicate and for the next 42 years the country remained part of the Communist block controlled by the Soviet Union. December was a turning point in our history in 1989, when a general uprising broke down Ceausescu's regime and Romania returned to democracy.

Since 1992, every four or five years December is also a time of politics because of the parliamentary and presidential elections. The installment of the newly elected President will take place on 22nd December, the same day when the revolution triggered in Bucharest 25 years ago. History enjoys sometimes playing game with figures.

After the fall of Communism, Romania had as a fundamental priority to integrate into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures and to anchor itself in solid partnerships with the West. My country is today the 7th state in the EU and the 10th in NATO in terms of geographic size and population. It is a security provider in Central and Eastern Europe and it protects the second longest external border of the European Union.

Romania shares with the United Kingdom the ancient times when both were parts of the Roman Empire, the military alliance during the Great War, the links between their Royal families, Queen Maria of Romania - who was a catalyst of the Great Union of 1918 - being British by birth and grand daughter of Queen Victoria, but also the nowadays excellent bilateral relations based on a Strategic Partnership and on the EU and NATO membership.

This partnership is an asset on both sides. Covering initially political dialogue, security, trade and culture, it was then extended to investments, energy and the digital single market for Europe. Our bilateral trade amounted 3.3 billion euro in 2013 and 2.3 billion euro in the first eight months of 2014. The Romanian car Dacia is now better sold in Britain than Jaguar. 5,000 British companies are registered in Romania with a total investment of 4.6 billion euro and the UK takes the fifth place as Romanian exports destination within the EU.

6,000 Romanian students are enrolled in British universities and the annual Conference of Romanian students, professors and researchers in the UK - a project I have initiated in 2008 - became a tradition, the 7th edition being hosted last October by the University of Sheffield. More than 4,000 Romanian doctors and nurses are working in the British NHS. There are Romanian researchers in Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Medicine or IT in almost every important research centre in the UK, and there are Romanian workers in every construction site in Britain. The UK is one of Romania's closest friends and allies in Europe.

In my seven years as a Romanian diplomat on the British soil, I have travelled the length and breadth of Britain not only because it is within the remit of an ambassador to become acquainted with the country in which he is accredited, to meet the local authorities and the communities of Romanians who live there and bring their contribution to the British economic, social and cultural life, but also because I wanted to understand the spirit, the soul and the traditions of the British, to understand why words like "to behave like a lord" and "fair play" were not invented somewhere else, and why Magna Charta was not written in 1215 in a different corner of the world.

I also had the opportunity to discover Britain's true values: national pride, an incredible rich history and high moral standards. From my ancestors in the Carpathian Mountains, where unvanquished free Dacians continued to live long after their country was conquered by the Roman Empire, I learned to respect and cherish these values. Therefore, celebrating in London Romania's National Day makes December an even more special time to me.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/romania-december_b_6244322....

 


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 06.11.2014 

The Fall of the Berlin Wall: Memories from Communism

On 5 November, I hosted at the Embassy a conference commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, "the year that changed the world". The event was chaired by The Rt. Hon. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the British politician with the longest, uninterrupted Ministerial service in Britain since Lord Palmerston in the early 19th century. Guest speaker was Professor Roger Scruton, a fabulous personality, writer, philosopher and public commentator, who from 1979 to 1989 was an active supporter of dissidents in Eastern Europe under Communist Party rule. Memory is one of the most important human attributes, and therefore for me attending such an event was more than a privilege: it was like watching a movie I have played in many years ago.

In 1989, I was a young engineer working in Nuclear Physics at 150km North of Bucharest. The atmosphere in Romania during those days was very tense. Evolutions in other communist countries were spectacular and, like when a heavy, dark cloud was floating in the air, everybody was expecting a storm to happen in Romania, too.

Romania had had one of the long-lasting anti-communist armed resistance. From 1948 to 1961, "the partisans" controlled significant areas in the Carpathian Mountains and my native region, the historic Muscel County, was the cradle of a fierce anti-communist movement named "The Outlaws of Muscel".

I grew up with the stories my grandmother used to tell me about the partisans and the fights conducted by colonel Arsenescu and lieutenant Arnautoiu, the leaders of the group, before they were captured by Securitate in the vicinity of her village, where peasants' stubbornness obliged the regime to allow private ownership of the land - a rare case in Communist Romania.

Then, the Jiu Valley miners' strike of 1-3 August 1977, when 90,000 miners decided to stop working, was the largest protest movement before 1989. The response to the unrest was to isolate or imprison the miners' leaders once the strike had ended, and reneging on concessions. A strict surveillance blocked any contact with the outside world, yet the miners managed to send a letter to the French newspaper Libération, which published it on 12 October.

The movement helped break down the myth of unity between the Communist Party and the working class, something that Solidarity would continue in Poland a few years later. The break with workers frightened the regime, which could depend even less upon the peasants who were forced to give up their land, or the intellectual élite.

Another significant episode was The Rebellion of Brașov, which erupted on 15 November 1987, the day of local elections, when 40,000 workers walked off the job and marched toward the Communist headquarters at the city centre. They sacked the headquarters building, throwing into the square portraits of Ceaușescu, chanting "Down with Ceaușescu!", "Down with Communism!", and singing the anthem of the 1848 Revolution "Awake, Romanian!" - This song is today the national anthem of Romania. A massive bonfire of party records and propaganda burned for hours in the city square.

Securitate forces surrounded the place and disbanded the revolt by force. British historian Denis Deletant refers to that moment as "Ceaușescu's inability to heed the warning signs of increasing labour unrest, plunging blindly forward with the same measures, seemingly indifferent to their consequences." Therefore, the Brașov Rebellion foreshadowed the popular uprisings that would bring down the communist regime in Romania in December 1989.

In 1989 the regime reached its maximum paranoia. My recollection of that time includes a movie produced by an acclaimed Romanian director, Dan Pita, titled "The Last Ball in November". It came on cinemas in November and was immediately forbidden simply because the 14th Congress of the Communist Party was to take place the same month and the authorities suspected the film title was an allusion to the end of Communism.

In the rainy autumn of 1989, sitting cramped in a small flat in our little town and listening to Radio Free Europe on an old radio which worked with batteries, because electricity was provided only during certain hours of the day, I heard on 9 November about the fall of the Berlin Wall.

On 21 December 1989, when the Revolution was triggered in the capital city of Romania, I and my wife were in Bucharest, at the University, where she had to attend a course as a probationer history teacher. While she was in the classroom, I joined a long queue in front of a food store where oranges were sold. It was before the Christmas time, and for common Romanians like me Christmas was the only occasion to find oranges, so I was happy to buy some for our daughter who was two years old and remained at home with our parents.

The huge meeting convened by Ceausescu in the Palace Square with the hope to get the people's support for his repressive measures in Timisoara, turned against him. In the crowd of hundreds of thousands people, like in a Brownian movement, we have been part of the tumult for the whole day. Late evening, in our aunt's flat at the margin of Bucharest, we saw Ceausescu on the TV speaking about an imperialist plot. Nobody believed him. That night we we did not sleep at all. Next early morning we were again on streets and saw tanks moving towards the city centre with soldiers on turrets, wearing rifles and bayonets. The image was scary, like in a war movie. But soon after, long columns of workers from the industrial platforms of Bucharest headed to the University Square and we joined them. This time, the feeling was that we are strong.

When close to the University, we saw again the tanks and soldiers, but this time making their way back to barracks and I knew Ceausescu's regime was, finally, over. We arrived in the Palace Square just in time to see the helicopter with Ceausescu aboard taking off from the roof of the Communist Party headquarters. It was the Revolution, and we were part of it.

All these are now history. A new beginning started in December 1989 for Romania and Romanians. A year later I left the Institute of Nuclear Physics to work for the local administration and at the end of 1992 I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. An opinion poll conducted last September shows that a large majority of Romanians (81.6%) believe democracy to be the main gain of the Romanian society after 25 years since the fall of communism.

Before the WW2, Romania was a regional power, its national currency was one of the strongest in Europe and the Romanian elites were educated in Paris, Berlin and London. Without the 42 years of Communism, Romania would probably be today at the same level of development as France, Germany or the UK. But we have learned to catch up rapidly and 25 years after its return to democracy, Romania is a modern European State and a proud member of the European Union and NATO.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/berlin-wall-communism_b_611...

 


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 27.10.2014 

A Slice of History: Romanian Army's Day

70 years ago, on 25 October 1944, the Romanian Army liberated the town of Carei in North-West of the country. It was the complete liberation of North-West Transylvania from foreign ruling and administration, following the outrageous Vienna Diktat in 1940 arbitrated by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

In the autumn of 1940 Romania was completely isolated on the international arena. Its main allies in the inter-war period were France and the United Kingdom, but in June 1940 France capitulated and Britain was under siege. On 26-27 June, the Romanian government was forced to accept Soviet ultimatums and allowed Moscow to take over Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, both historical Romanian provinces which rejoined the Kingdom of Romania after WW1, in application of the principle of self-determination proclaimed by the US President Woodrow Wilson.

In Budapest, Regent Miklós Horthy, who had established close relations with Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, saw the opportunity and asked his friends to put pressure on Romania to give up Transylvania. The alliance with Nazi Germany had already made possible Hungary's gaining of Southern Czechoslovakia in 1938 and Subcarpathia in 1939. Foreign Ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop of Germany and Galeazzo Ciano of Italy met on 30 August 1940 at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna and simply produced a map detailing what the settlement was to be: North-West Transylvania, a land of 43,492 km² with a population of 2.4 million, was given to Hungary. According to Romanian census of 1930, the population in North-West Transylvania was 2,393,300: Romanians - 1,176,900 (50%); Hungarians - 912,500 (38%); Germans - 68,300; Jewish - 138,800 (one year after the Vienna Diktat, the Jewish population was only 47,400); Other - 96,800. These figures are confirmed by the Hungarian historian Árpád E. Varga who writes: "The census conducted in 1930 met international statistical requirements in every respect. In order to establish nationality, the compilers devised a complex criterion system, unique at the time, which covered citizenship, nationality, native language and religion". 
The Romanian Foreign Minister Mihail Manoilescu collapsed when he saw the map and had to be revived. The Daily Telegraph's correspondent in the Balkans wrote on 8 October 1940 in his article "Hungary wants more. Vienna Diktat was not a settlement at all": "When the time comes for peace-making, a country like Hungary, therefore, will have a natural tendency to cash in as much as possible on the grounds that "if the Axis wins, we keep what we have; if the Axis is defeated or weakened, then the more we have, the less we are likely to lose in proportion.""

In order to retake Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, on 22 June 1941 Romania entered the war against the Soviet Union. On 23 August 1944, King Michael led a successful coup with support from the Army and removed the government of Marshall Ion Antonescu. According to Western historians, the coup shortened WW2 by six months, saving hundreds of thousands of lives.
The Army was under orders from the King to defend Romania against any German attacks. The King then offered to put Romania's military capabilities on the Allied side and the Romanian Army ended the war fighting hard to liberate Transylvania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Austria and Czechoslovakia, from August 1944 until the end of WW2 in Europe. Of some 538,500 Romanian soldiers who fought against the Axis in 1944-45, some 167,000 were killed, wounded or went missing, a contribution ranking Romania fourth behind the USSR, USA and Great Britain in the victory against fascism.

25 October is therefore the Romanian Army's Day. It is also King Michael's birthday. His Majesty is now 93 and continues to be a symbol of honour, dignity and love for his country. It is said that Romanian generals who led the military offensive in October 1944 postponed by one day the liberation of Carei in order to offer the victory to the King's anniversary.

Today, Romania is a security provider in the region and its Army operates at the highest NATO professional standards, protecting our European democratic community of values. The proximity to the Eastern border of the Euro-Atlantic space makes my country both a gate-locker and a strategic opener of roads. Romania is now repositioned on the world chessboard in accordance with its geo-strategic location.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/romania-army-day_b_6051022....

 


Remarks by Dr Ion Jinga, Ambassador of Romania to the UK, at the 7th edition of the Conference of Romanian Students, Professors and Researchers, Sheffield University, 11.10.2014

 

Romania in the European Context  

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am privileged to speak to such a distinguished audience. Let me start by explaining why I argued the EU topic be approached at this conference devoted to students and young academic elites.

First, is because investment in education brings long-term and multiple benefits. Solid education is a crucial driver for a nation’s growth and stability, for its knowledge and skills in responding to challenges in the current global world.

Second, because I think one of the most important assets Romania has is its people, the young Romanians who have graduated or are now enrolled in school or work in the field of research either in Romania, in the UK, in other European countries, or across the Atlantic.

And the third reason is due to the fact that for decades one of the main criticisms against Europe has been the lack of unity and of a single voice when dealing with the rest of the world. You may recall Henry Kissinger’s famous remark – “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?” With the creation by the Treaty of Lisbon of the function of EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, the so-called “Kissinger issue” seems now to be solved. But the same Kissinger declared recently for the German magazine Der Spiegel that “There is a vacuum between Europe’s past and Europe’s future. The problem is that nation states have not just given up part of their sovereignty to the European Union but also part of their vision for their own future. Their future is now tied to the European Union, and the EU has not yet achieved a vision and loyalty comparable to the nation state.”

The economic crisis that started in 2008 has shaken the continent and its consequences reshape now the European thinking in terms of economic, social and political models. But the need to reform uncompetitive structures, to create new jobs, to bring the young generation affected by the crisis at the heart of the European progress are, unfortunately, used sometimes as an excuse to dismantle the European framework rather than as an incentive to create positive energy to ensure progress and development. Old boundary lines, such as North - South or East–West, are reinforced in a debate about good and bad immigrants, rich and poor people, first and second hand citizens, privileged and underprivileged human beings, powerful and weak states.

In the current international context, with the EU institutional framework questioned by the economic crisis and the political debate dominated by the struggle between the national and the European interests, we must find out if the response to the new challenges we are facing is a deeper European integration or the return to nationalism. The increase of the euro-skepticism, the rise of extremist parties that unbalances the political scene, the general disappointment with the system, or the questioning of the fundamental rights such as the right to free movement, are topics which - if not properly settled - will affect our lives on a long term.

Yes, the EU has its attraction diminished, and we could count several reasons which generated this situation such as a deepening of the inequalities, a democratic deficit, a loss of trust in the eyes of citizens or a “lack of imagination” when dealing with the effects of the economic crisis. However, too often the EU is used as a scapegoat in electoral campaigns or by tabloid media.

When speaking about the place my country has in the European arena, I want to point out three dimensions: regional and global challenges, the EU agenda of reforms and Romania’s assets on Europe’s stage.

 

1. Regional and global challenges

We live in a changing world. These changes are not always directed to promote dialogue, peace and stability; in some cases they bring insecurity, authoritarian leaders, terrorist regimes, thus undermining the rule of law and democracy.

We have to accept that the world is now characterized by new security challenges, including extremely violent forms of terrorism. We cannot afford to ignore these threats, including those coming from the virtual space.

If we look to Ukraine, Middle East or North Africa, the conflicts are at our door and we need to understand that security comes at a cost.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Europe acted as if war could not be an option again for the continent. The return and revival of dangerous geostrategic fantasies, the violation of national sovereignty and the breach of international law are again realities in our neighborhood.

The crisis in Ukraine is a test for the EU foreign policy which Europe cannot afford to loose. By signing partnership agreements with the EU, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine aligned on a path of development but the road will not be easy. They will have to fight the demons of the past and the obstacles of the present. Romania is a resolute supporter of these countries, a stabilizing factor and a model to follow in Eastern Europe. The Republic of Moldova is a priority and we will remain firm in assisting this country on its way to the European Union.

Along with our solidarity with the Eastern neighbourhood comes our experience and expertise in the Middle East and North Africa, where Romania supports the transition to democracy.

The success of Europe also depends on maintaining and deepening alliances with its traditional partners. The US plays a most significant role. The Transatlantic Partnership has always been regarded, on both sides of the Atlantic, as a privileged relationship. Historically, Europe relied on the US almost in all important challenges that it had to confront in the 20th Century. Against the background of the hectic beginning of the 21st Century, the EU – U.S. Partnership should continue to provide global leadership and shape our agenda at the international level. According to the most recent German Marshall Trends (September 2014), 61% of Europeans consider NATO essential to their security.

We also face the competition for energy, natural resources and water, global and regional rivalries, cultural differences, the rift between the rich and the poor, ‘rogue states’ and frozen conflicts. All are potential source of conflict and instability. It is difficult to speak now about a new world order. We rather have to deal with a new world disorder which we have to understand and define, in order to be able to manage it. We must develop strategies based on the current realities and be prepared not only for optimistic evolutions, but also for worse case scenarios. Sometimes we have to find new answers to old questions.

In the ’70, Europe represented 13% of the world population. It now accounts for just 7%, produces around 25% of global GDP and is responsible for 50% of global social spending. Power is being re-distributed and, as emerging newly empowered states from Asia, Africa and Latin America project economic and political challenges, the EU countries have to redefine new roles for themselves in a reshaped world.

The future will probably rely more and more on connectivity and fluid networks. The speed and complexity of information has changed, making analysis and filtering essential. In 2010 there were 1.8 billion internet users and 5 billion devices connected online. By 2015 it is expected there will be 2.9 billion internet users and 15 billion devices online. But the technological revolution brings not only opportunities; it also brings threats, as cyber-crime and terrorism. No country is able today to deal alone with such a diversity of problems.

 

2. The EU’s agenda of reforms

For the first time in the EU’s history, through the "Strategic Agenda", the European Union has defined priorities for the upcoming five years. The Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament have to work together towards its implementation. Romania supports the objectives assumed by President Jean Claude Juncker and expects they will be materialized during his term.

Creating jobs and growth should be the cornerstone of this agenda. A major issue is to respond how the young generation is taken into account, how to make them part of the solution and not keep them as part of the problem. With alarming rates of youth unemployment and with priority areas of development that lack trained employees, the EU must invest in education and continuous training of these young people, who do not resonate anymore to the EU values and principles if they have no jobs.

The international environment is affected today by new challenges. Hence, the importance of reforming the European institutions and developing policies adapted to the new realities: the Common European Energy Policy, the Digital Single Market, a knowledge-based society, a strong Common Agriculture Policy, sound European and national budgets. I quote again Henry Kissinger, who once said: “Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world”.

Overall, we need a comprehensive European policy approach: long-term stability, strengthening social cohesion and promoting growth. The EU must be politically and economically strong but at the same time socially balanced and fair.

 

3. Romania’s assets

In the current international context, Romania is being repositioned on the world chessboard in accordance with its geo-strategic location. Its proximity to the Eastern border of the Euro-Atlantic space makes it both a gate-locker and a strategic opener of roads towards the Caspian Sea and the Middle East. Romania has become a security platform which increases its specific-weight in Europe.

By geographic size and population, my country is the 7th state in the EU and the 10th in NATO. Romania is ready to capitalize on its position as a factor of stability and security in Central and Eastern Europe. It is a security provider in the region and for more than two decades it contributed to separating two arches of crisis – one located in Eastern Europe (Transnistria, Ukraine, Caucasus), the other one in Western Balkans (Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina). We protect the second longest external border of the European Union.

Romania has brought to the EU a valuable knowledge and expertise in foreign policy in an area of increasing interest for the whole Europe, especially in the current complex equation of security – stability – energy: the Balkans and the Black Sea region. Perhaps what the former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain said about “far away places of which we know nothing” no longer applies these days, in the era of information and the internet. Nevertheless I believe that things are seen more clearly from a short distance.

Due to our location between the Black Sea, the Western Balkans and the former Soviet Union states, we have a grounded perspective on the region. For instance, we advocated for a more substantiated presence of the EU in the South Caucasus area long before the breaking out of conflict in Georgia in 2008. We have also pleaded to diversify the gas supply and alternative routes to Europe (and therefore to build the NABUCCO gas pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Austria) years before the current crisis in Ukraine started.

Romania has played a significant role in putting the Black Sea and the Danube River on the EU agenda. In the Final Declaration of the NATO Summit in Wales, last September, the Black Sea is considered as an important dimension of the Euro-Atlantic security.

We brought to the EU a market of 20 million consumers, a highly skilled labour force and an excellent investment potential. The country’s growth rate has been 3.5% in 2013, with prospects of 2.5% in 2014 and 2015. Unlike in Western Europe where services have dominated the economy, there are important infrastructure projects to be built in Romania.

Romania has a significant agricultural potential with a large share of traditional methods and organic crops. We have 15 million ha of agriculture land, out of which 4 million ha arable land of best quality. Only France has more – 4.5 million ha. Romania is the second country in CEE in terms of agriculture potential, being able to feed 80 million people but having only 20 million inhabitants. Currently just 60% of this land is used. In a long term it may well turn out that the agricultural land is a strategic primary resource, as some experts warn about the risk of a world food crisis in the next decade.

My country contributes to Europe with a cultural heritage that adds to the richness of our continent. In 2007 the Romanian city of Sibiu was the European Capital of Culture, and 12 other Romanian cities compete for the same position in 2021. The new Romanian cinema has reborn and became very successful with well known films awarded almost every year in Cannes.

And last but not least, we brought to Europe the great potential of creativity, enthusiasm, optimism and the Romanian sense of humour.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Throughout centuries, Europe has been too often going through agony and despair because of its lack of unity, its excessive pride and devastating wars. A united Europe is not only a dream of enlightened minds. It is also an economic, political and institutional evolution which helps our countries to cope with current and future challenges.

Today, apart from the classical euro-scepticism, another kind of “intellectual euro-scepticism” is increasingly visible, especially with the elites. There is a feeling that a “limit” of integration has been reached, and therefore there is a need for imaginative solutions for the future. A major issue is to respond how the young generation is taken into account.

I believe we do not have other choice but to continue to work together as part of the Union, to correct its failures and to build up on its success stories. Maybe the British approach on the EU is more pragmatic than emotional, but pragmatism is what we need when confronting challenges coming from the race for wealth, jobs and resources, in order to secure prosperity for our citizens.

People like Lord Horatio Nelson, Sir Winston Churchill and Lady Margaret Thatcher have fought to keep Britain as a key actor in Europe. In Romania, we believe that Europe needs the UK as much as the UK needs Europe, and we want Britain to stay as a member of the EU. We should not forget that the European Union was able to replace weapons with ideas and battlefields with conference rooms. Apart of maintaining peace and stability among its member states, the UE is a huge economic power, with shared responsibilities at the global level.

60 years ago, a generation of visionary people founded the European Community. When asked whether he was optimistic or pessimistic about the future of Europe, Jean Monet answered: “None of them. I am convinced.” And he added: “The roots of the Community are now strong and go deep in the soil of Europe”.

Thank you.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


The Ambassador of Romania’s speech at the Agerpres-Reuters exhibition on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the opening of the first Romanian News Agency, 14.08.2014

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I am glad to be here today, on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the opening of the first Romanian News Agency, and to mark the establishment of a partnership between Agerpres and Reuters, which I wish to be long and successful one on both sides.

We live now in the era of information, communication and digitalisation.  Information means knowledge. Knowledge means power. Power represents people. Information helps people to exercise power, because more powerful than the blood and money is the power of information.

There are some important common points between diplomacy and mass media: both require talent and clarity of the objectives. Both have to avoid confusion between information and analyses, and between analyses and judgements. Judgements come from the knowledge of the facts and from the experience of the field. Here again, good diplomats cross their paths with good journalists. The question is how to absorb the tsunami of information that is overwhelming us? This is a real danger today.

We need briefings and we need to know how to navigate through information in real time. This makes the difference between a good news agency and other forms of mass media. The key of success in diplomacy, as well as in the media, relies on connection and collaboration. We live in the age of collaboration, where the audience is always in the same room with you and has a voice through the internet and social networks. In 2010 there were 1.8 billion internet users and 5 billion devices connected online. By next year it is expected there will be 2.9 billion internet users and 15 billion devices online. This is breaking down large blocs into smaller fluid networks.

Power and influence depend more and more on a growing network of hyper-connections and communications between nations, political actors, business people, communities and individuals. The progress of information influences social capital, skills and the economic value chain. The speed and complexity of information has changed, making analysis and filtering essential. You maybe know the joke about how many journalists does it take to screw in a light bulb? The answer is: Three. One to report it as an inspired government program to bring light to the people, one to report it as a diabolical government plot to deprive the poor of darkness, and one to win a Pulitzer prize for reporting that Electric Company hired a light bulb assassin to break the bulb in the first place.

Therefore, selecting important information and presenting it in an objective and neutral way is part of the responsibility of professional entities like Reuters and Agerpres, because it gives the mass audience an exposure to what is accurate and to what is of relevance.

I want to congratulate the organizers of this event for the idea of having a photo exhibition here, which is a reminder of what bright minds can achieve even in the most hostile circumstances. I would also note the photos dedicated to the Romanian landscapes in a symbiotic connection between nature and civilization, from the need to develop local communities, to the challenge of preserving the harmony with the environment and nature for future generations.

This exhibition speaks, however, of much more, because the media is one of the main engines of democracy. In the 21st century, gaining positive and consistent media coverage can radically change political decisions and influence opinions. A prestigious press agency ensures the flow of knowledge that is so important for the well functioning of democracy.  The media facilitates development of civil society, community, citizenship and civic sense. In democratic regimes, it establishes the citizen as the most important political actor.

Agerpres has had a long journey to this moment. The first Romanian press agency came into existence on 27th of March 1889, as the Telegraphic Agency of Romania, at the initiative of Petre P Carp, Minister of Foreign Affairs at that time. Built in the aftermath of the newly acquired independence and in the process of a deeply institutional modernization, the Agency had the role to inform the world about developments in Romania. Until 1907, the language of communication was exclusively French. The agency has soon established itself as a prominent provider of national and international news. In 1921, it was restructured by adding the radio branch, in line with latest developments in Europe and its name changed in RADOR.

The communist period covered in a gloomy wave the activity across all media in Romania and consequently has affected the work of the Agency, which has still managed to maintain, if not the daily work, at least the spirit of its initial purpose. This reminds me of a story with a Soviet journalist who walks into the hospital and tells the desk nurse: "I want to see the eye-ear doctor." "There is no such doctor" she tells him. "We have doctors for the eyes and doctors for the ear, nose and throat, but no eye-ear doctor. Perhaps you would like to see someone else?" "No, I need to see an eye-ear doctor," he says. They go around like this for a few minutes and then the nurse says: "Comrade, there is no eye-ear doctor, but if there were one, why would you want to see him?" "Because," he replies, "I keep hearing one thing and seeing another."

Since the fall of communism in 1989, the Romanian Press Agency has gradually regained national and international prestige, through its commitment to quality, unbiased, first-class journalism, as well as the engagement in partnerships and collaboration with other national and international media actors.

Moreover, Agerpres managed to keep up with the quick developments in the fields of technology and communication and to maintain its position at the peak of the Romanian journalism. Now, 125 years after its establishment, Agerpres continues to connect the audiences with the elites through accurate and essential information.  As the British press or Reuters are world media empires, Agerpres is setting up its own kingdom in Romania. The goals that Foreign Minister Take Ionescu laid down for the Romanian press agency in 1921 remain the guiding principles of Agerpres: accuracy, neutrality, fairness and equity.

Thank you.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 06.08.2014 

Commemorating the Great War: A Glimpse on the East Front

A candle-lit vigil at Westminster Abbey, a "light out" event and the planting of 888,246 ceramic poppies at the Tower of London (the number of British and Colonial deaths during the conflict) were part of impressive ceremonies commemorating 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War. Thrilling events were also organized on the high ridge in the Vosges Mountains and in the Military Cemetery near Mons, Belgium. The dimension of the WW I tragedy was so touching described in John McCrae's poem: "In Flanders fields the poppies blow / between the crosses, row by row". The Great War was a global one which included Europe, the USA, countries from Asia, Pacific, Middle East and Africa. About 17 million soldiers and civilians were killed between 1914 and 1918. On the East front in Europe, 800,000 Romanian soldiers fought on the Entente side and more than 335,000 of them made the ultimate sacrifice - 6% of all Military deaths in WW I. Modern Romania was built on their shoulders.

Initially neutral, in the spring of 1916 Romania was insistently requested by France and Great Britain to enter the war in order to relieve the huge German pressure on the West front. Queen Maria of Romania, who was British by birth and a grand daughter of Queen Victoria, strongly advocated entering the war on the Entente side. According to the terms of the Treaty signed with the Allies, Romania had to mobilize its full forces and to declare war on Austro-Hungary. In their turn, France and Britain promised their troops would launch an offensive in Greece and the Russian army was supposed to assist Romania in defending against a combined German-Bulgarian army coming from the South of the Danube River.

Despite a strategically vulnerable position, an ill-equipped army (particularly when compared to its German counterparts) and questionable promises of military support from the Allied Powers, Romania intervened in WW I and in August 1916 entered into Transylvania, where its soldiers were received as liberators because the province was ethnically and historically Romanian. 
As Romanian troops advanced rapidly in Transylvania and British forces pressured Germany on the Somme River, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany told to his aides that "The war is lost" and field marshal Von Hindenburg wrote: "It is certain that so relatively small a state as Romania had never before been given a role so important, and, indeed, so decisive for the history of the world at so favourable a moment. Never before had two great Powers like Germany and Austria found themselves so much at the mercy of the military resources of a country which had scarcely one twentieth of the population of the two great states. Judging by the military situation, it was to be expected that Romania had only to advance where she wished to decide the world war in favour of those Powers which had been hurling themselves at us in vain for years".

Unfortunately, there was no Allied offensive in Greece and the Russians arrived late. The German High Command decided that all other campaigns in the West and in the East would be put on hold while Germany threw her main weight against Romania. Meanwhile, Bulgarian and Turkish armies joined the German forces and Romania was simultaneously attacked from three sides.

The Government was forced to withdraw from Bucharest to Iasi, in Moldova. To protect the retreat, a fierce resistance was organised on the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains, between my native town Campulung Muscel and Brasov. In order to make the resistance impenetrable, the Romanian High Command brought there the 70th Infantry Regiment from Campulung, formed by inhabitants of the region, who had their families living in villages just behind the front. They successfully stopped the advance of much better equipped and trained German Alpine Corps (one of the German commanding officers was the future marshal Erwin Rommel) towards the Capital city of Romania and the centre of the country. When the front on the Jiu River on the West broke, the 70th Regiment was ordered to retreat, undefeated. In the impressive Mausoleum on the Mateias Mountain, in 21 crypts are placed the relics of over 2300 soldiers, reminding us of the great battle which took place there in the autumn of 1916. 
In the summer of 1917, the Romanian forces regrouped in Moldova were to attack in support of the Russian offensive (Kerensky). The Romanian Second Army, under the command of general (future marshal) Averescu, succeeded in breaking the Austro-Hungarian front in the Battle of Mărăști in late July. Their success, however, could not be exploited due to the disastrous results of the Kerensky Offensive. German general Von Mackensen promptly launched a counterattack at Mărășești, announcing his superiors "Gentlemen, I will see you in two weeks in Iasi!", while the Austro-Hungarian army attacked the Oituz Valley, leading to fierce fighting. Both offensives were repelled with heavy losses by Romanians, who in some occasions fought only with the bayonets. Their motto was "Here does not pass!" The Battle of Marasesti is considered "The Romanian Verdun", as almost 22,000 Romanian soldiers lost their lives there. As a result of these operations, nearly 1,000,000 Central Powers troops were tied down there, prompting The Times to describe the Romanian front as "The only point of light in the East". 
In the First Word War, Romania resisted even when it was isolated and surrounded by enemies. 100 years later, my country is a member of the EU and NATO. Romania is now a security provider in the region and a contributor to the collective security umbrella of the North Atlantic Alliance. Europe continues to be complex and diverse, but today is united in its diversity. Therefore, when commemorating 100 years since the outbreak of of the Great War, we pay our tribute of respect to all those who, all over of a bleeding continent, gave their lives for their countries. And we say: "Never again a war in Europe".

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

 


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 04.06.2014

Freedoms and Freemen

Last weekend I was in Chester and Liverpool to meet local authorities and business people interested in developing economic cooperation with Romania. Liverpool John Lennon Airport hosted the launch of a project that could increase trade, and air travel, between the city and Romania. The event was organised by Romania Gateway 2018, a UK company to support Romania in improving absorption of EU funds and use public and private sector investment for large-scale regeneration and infrastructure projects. The initiative received enthusiastic support from local authorities in Cheshire West and Chester, and from members of the Parliament.

I met Councillor Bob Rudd, Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Mike Jones, Leader of the Council, Councillor Alan McKie, Councillor Stuart Parker, Graham Evans, Conservative MP for Weaver Vale and Dr Sajjad Karim, Conservative MEP for North West England. I told my interlocutors that in ancient times Romanians' ancestors were among those who built the Hadrian Wall, and now we build together bridges and open gateways between our countries to promote their interests in the world.

I had an inspiring conversation with Dr Sajjad Karim MEP. He is committed to contributing to build a strong United Kingdom that takes on a leadership role in Europe and we both agreed that cooperation with Romania could be an important asset to his plan. He gave a remarkable example of political elegance and fair play when saying: "I apologise for what the UKIP said about Romanians. It was disserving both the UK and Romania. It was something one never does to friends and Romania is a long standing friend of the UK". Later, he posted on Twitter: "After awful bigoted un-British electoral campaign referring Romanians by @UKIP I have reached out to repair with Romanian Ambassador."

In an interview for The Bay Radio, Lancashire, Dr Karim stated: "We have a long historical bilateral relationship with Romania upon which we can build. Network is essential and despite a lot of negativity in the recent months regarding Romanians, Romania is an old friend. The type of ignorance that we have seen displayed in many of our newspapers and indeed spouted by some of our politicians has simply disserved a great nation like the UK. Romania not only has tremendous potential but it is a country that has a lot of expertise and an educated population that does have an outward looking nature. It is exactly the type of people we as a nation can work with. Many Romanian people are deeply upset about the way they have been portrayed in the UK all the recent moths. It is essential that today we reach out and try to repair this relationship."

He was right to say that we have long historical connexions. The ancient name of Chester was "Deva". Deva is today the name of a Romanian town in Transylvania and this is not by coincidence. Chester was founded as a Roman fort with the name Deva Victrix in the year 79 by the Roman Legion II Augusta. In 88 AD, the Emperor Domitian ordered the Legion II Augusta to the lower Danube, at the border of the Kingdom of Dacia (nowadays Romania). After the conquest of Dacia in 106, Legion II Augusta had its garrison in Deva, Romania. In the old Dacian language, "Dava" means "fortress".

I have always been fascinated by history, because if we know the past, we can understand the present and eventually anticipate the future. In the old docks area in Liverpool (the beautiful town of The Beatles), alongside impressive memorials dedicated to those who gave their lives for freedom during the Battle of the Atlantic, there is also the Legacy Sculpture commemorating migration from Liverpool to the new world. It is estimated that approximately nine million people emigrated through the port, many of them being British. The bronze statue shows a young family and is a tribute to all those embarked on a brave and pioneering voyage to start a new life in America. When speaking about the free movement of persons within the EU, some people forget the past. A visit to Liverpool could help refreshing the memory.

What the people I met in Chester in Liverpool do is to put at work the four basic "freedoms" of the EU: the free movement of goods, services, capitals and persons. We all benefit from these four liberties: the City of London is a thriving centre of commerce, services and finance, bringing advantage to the whole of this great country, but also to Europe; the trade between Romania and the UK is almost 3 billion pounds a year; "Romania Gateway 2018" is based on the free movement of services. And because of the free movement of people across Europe, 2.5 million Britons live in another EU country and 120,000 Romanians live now in the UK.

As the capital city of European economic liberalism and the meeting point of most important axes of global interests, London has a long tradition of freedoms. One of the oldest surviving ceremonies is the granting of the Freedom of the City of London. It is believed that the first Freedom was presented in 1237. The Freedom gave the right to do business and work in the square mile. Today most of the practical reasons for obtaining the Freedom of the City have disappeared. It nevertheless remains as a unique part of London's history to which people are proud to be admitted. Prior to 1996, the Freedom was only open to British or Commonwealth Citizens. Now, persons of any nationality may be admitted. Anecdotic, this status continues to offer some "privileges": the right to drive sheep over London Bridge; to carry a naked sword in public (even though I am not sure the City Police would tolerate it); to be married in St Paul's Cathedral; or if the City of London Police finds a freeman drunk and incapable, they will bundle him into a taxi and send him home, rather than throw into a cell.

The four freedoms of the European Union found inspiration in the British history of freedoms. In a way, it is an extension of the old Freedom of the City of London to the scale of a continent. This is one of the reasons Romanians have a great respect for the UK. They deserve to be treated with the same respect.

Post Scriptum: Starting on the 13th of June, I will have the privilege to drive sheep over London Bridge.

 


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 20.05.2014 

 

About Neighbours

A couple of days ago, a British politician confessed in a radio interview that he would be concerned if a group of Romanians moved in next door. I know many Britons were shocked by these outrageous remarks because it is hard to believe that in the 21st Century in London - a metropolis where more than 100 nationalities live in harmony - someone could express such a political credo.

The remarks were condemned by outstanding representatives of the British political class and by the media. Deputy prime mininister Nick Clegg was the most pointed in his criticism, telling the BBC: "The mask is starting to slip and I think what's being revealed behind that sort of beer-swilling bonhomie is a really nasty view of the world." Top politicians considered the comments "inappropriate and wrong and offensive", "the politics of anger, rather than the politics of the answer", "hostility and extremism", "a racial slur". Eloquently, The Sun newspaper on Saturday said the comments were "racism, pure and simple".

Facing a fresh barrage of accusations of racism, the author of the statement was forced to explain himself in a new interview: "Do you know what, in life sometimes people get things wrong. I was completely tired out." But just a few short hours after the "tired out" person made a semi-apology for his comments about undesirable Romanian neighbours, he published in Telegraph a defiant advert called "An open letter", associating Romanians with crime.

In the last 17 months a blaming culture and racist attitude has damaged the lives and reputation of thousands of Romanians in the UK. The British public was continuously served with scaremongering about Romanians who, in their vast majority, are hard working people, honest, committed, pay taxes and contribute to the growth of this country. With respect for my compatriots and for the British people, it is time now for this disgraceful campaign to stop.

The "open letter" says "92% of all ATM crime in London is committed by Romanians". This is false. When this allegation was first presented last year, both the Met and the City of London Police strongly denied the figures and criticised them for being misleading and not substantiated by any statistics or current police intelligence. According to the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit in London, "The annual figures show that in 2012 the top five countries for fraudulent activity on UK issued cards were USA, France, Luxembourg, Italy and Ireland". Romanians are not mentioned on this top list.

Then, the letter claims that "28,000 Romanians were arrested in the last five years". But a simple ID check becomes an "arrest" in statistics if a person is asked to go to the police station. In many cases the same person was "arrested" several times. To compare, only in 2012 more than 5.6million crimes were committed in the UK. If multiplied by five years, one could reach the conclusion that 28million people in Britain have committed crimes in the given period of time.

Data published by the Metropolitan Police show that the number of Romanians charged with an offence in London in January 2014 dropped 3%, compared to the same month last year. In many cases Romanians are victims of crimes, with 543 persons in the first three months of 2014. If we take into account an increase in the size of the Romanian populations in the UK during the course of 2013, it is obvious that crime rates are actually falling rather than growing.

At the national level the figures are even more speaking for themselves: in the first three months of 2014 the number of Romanians convicted in the UK was with 15% lower than in the same period of 2013. This is consistent with the trend in 2013 versus 2012, where the reduction was more than 30%.

I went this week to Bristol where our Honorary Consul told me that since the beginning of the year not even one Romanian citizen was arrested. He receives 4-5 phone calls everyday from Romanians asking consular services or how to get a job. No phone call in the last four months was on how to access benefits.

I was recently to Northern Ireland where I met local officials in Belfast, Ballymena, Limavady and Londonderry (ministers, mayors, chiefs of the police, Invest Northern Ireland, NI Cooperation Overseas etc). The message I got from all of them is: "Romanians are honest people, very settled and accepted by the local population. It is very rare to hear of crime cases involving Romanian citizens". Junior ministers Jonathan Bell and Jennifer McCann were clear that it is a broad political consensus in favour of a multicultural and tolerant society ("cohabitation instead of competition") and Romanians are welcomed in the same way as people from Northern Ireland are welcomed to Romania. They underlined the contribution foreigners bring to the Northern Ireland economy and tourism. My visit coincided with Giro d'Italia and it was fantastic to see how different local communities worked together to make the event a success benefitting to all.

Ten days ago I visited the University of Manchester where 300 Romanian students are enrolled. They are praised by their professors. I was invited to see the Graphene Hub, a high tech research laboratory (many years ago I was myself a physicist engineer working in a research institute). The graphene is a two dimensional material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms. It is the thinnest material known and yet is also one of the strongest. It was discovered ten years ago by two scientists from the University who in 2010 received the Nobel Prize for Physics. Among the people working in the Graphene Hub in Manchester I found also Romanian scientists. I wonder who would not be happy to have them as neighbours.

I was to Scotland 16 times and I noticed how friendly Romanians are received by native people in that part of the UK. During my last meeting with Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, she spoke high about Romanians' contribution to the local economy and cultural life. I never detected to my Scottish hosts any racist attitude against Romanians, on the contrary. I was four times to Cardiff where I was impressed how polite and welcoming the Welsh people are. For a foreigner it is really a place to be and Romanians who have chosen Wales feel their work is appreciated.

Post Scriptum: Yesterday, I got some excellent news: the Romanian women's gymnastics team has won nine medals (two gold medals, five silver and two bronze) at the European Championships in Sofia; the Romanian students' team has won seven medals (five gold medals, one silver and one bronze) at the International Chemistry Olympiad in Russia; and the Romanian students' team has won a gold medal at the International Philosophy Olympiad in Vilnius. Who would like to have them as neighbours?

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/about-neighbours_b_5358986....


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 14.05.2014 

 

Time Now to Stop the Scaremongering Against Romanians?

I have said in various occasions last year that there is no evidence that an important influx of Romanians (and Bulgarians) will come to the UK once restrictions lifted on 1 January 2014.

The estimation was in accordance with the figures recorded in the period 2011-2013 and based on the fact that seven years after the borders were opened, Romanians who wanted to emigrate already did so, and our community in the UK is significantly smaller than in other EU member states, such as Spain, Italy, France or Germany.

Romanians have now another interesting destination: their own country, because Romania's economy records one of the highest growth rate in Europe and the unemployment is relatively low.

Bigger wages in Western Europe could be an attraction, but the decision to leave your home for a foreign country needs a much more complex analysis.

Alarmist "experts" predicted that 385,000 people will migrate from Romania and Bulgaria to the UK over the next five years. Migration Watch advanced 50,000 persons a year. Ukip spoke about 29million people, the entire population of the two countries combined, to flood the British shores.

The official figures released today by ONS prove I was right.

They show that there were 140,000 Romanians and Bulgarians employed in the UK in the first three months after restrictions on the labour market were lifted. This was down by 4,000 on the final quarter of 2013.

These figures do not show how many Romanians and Bulgarians arrived to work in Britain between January and March this year, but how many were in employment during that period.

After the liberalization of the labour market at the beginning of 2014, many Romanians who were already here but did not receive the NINO because of the previous restrictions, have asked for an official registration of their presence and therefore I expected a certain increase in their number to be visible in statistics. But on the contrary: they are fewer now than at the end of 2013.

It is too early to say how many will come by the end of the year. They are EU citizens and enjoy the same rights and obligations as, for instance, the British citizens who travel or seek work in another EU member state, Romania included.

But I believe it time now to stop the scaremongering and unfair campaign against Romanians (and Bulgarians, Poles and East Europeans in general) and to concentrate on what we can do together for our common future. The Romanians' flood to the UK is over even before it started.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/romania-immigration_b_53221...


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 24.04.2014 

 

An Open Door to Hate

I had a look to the Ukip Manifesto 2014. As we are in the period of electoral campaign for the European and the local elections, I expected some politicians be tempted to use propagandistic tools in order to create emotions, with the hope to transform emotions in votes. After all, this is not a new recipe and it remembers me the old times when the Communist propaganda was trying to convince us that the Communism was the bright future of the mankind even though the shelves in supermarkets were empty. Nobody believed it and the result was that the number of subversive jokes against the political regime flourished.

What I did not expect is to see revived aggressive scaremongering spread last year about a Romanian "invasion" - which became subject of mockery in the media after 1 January - and Romanians in the UK being again insulted in a country known for its politeness and for being homeland of fair play.

Blaming political opponents and presenting yourself as the saviour of the nation could be part of a political strategy, but it is totally unacceptable in Europe to disseminate, as political message, outrageous lies about a foreign community. It is even more unconceivable in the country which produced the Magna Carta and - for good reasons - is one of the most admired modern democracies. Fortunately, a huge majority of Britons rejects such attitudes, but a campaign based on distorted information and racial slogans risks to manipulate the public opinion in a very toxic way.

In the Ukip Local Manifesto 2014, the party leader mentions that "Today, local communities are under attack... On 1 January 2014, the UK opened its doors to people from both Romania and Bulgaria. Up to 29 million more people are, therefore, entitled to come here, to take advantage of our benefits and social houses".

The reality is that just 0.06% of these 29 million have come to work in Britain but the bad news is that a total of 400 million people from Europe are entitled to come to the UK if they wish so, because all EU citizens have the right to decide where to reside and work within the European Union. According to Mr. Farage, one of these 400 million people is a member of his own family. 
On the other hand, it seems that no one in the EU migrates more than Britons do. According to a paper delivered on 23 April at the British Sociological Association's annual conference in Leeds and quoted by The Independent, "Almost 3000 Britons move abroad each week, with around five million now living outside the UK. Nine out of ten British migrants are of working age. 320,000 people left the UK in 2013. 383,000 Brits live in Spain".

Evidence suggest that Romanians are not in a hurry to come to the UK after the lifting of restrictions on the labour market, even though since the beginning of the year British companies advertised more than 10,000 posts on a Romanian website to plug gaps in the highly skilled jobs market. Nor they abuse the benefits system in Britain. In 2013, out of 60 million people living in the UK, 9.5% received benefits, whereas is 1.4% out of 120,000 Romanians. And the only significant connection I know between Romanians in the UK and the social housing is that a Romanian company based in London employs 500 people and builds social houses in England and Wales. Romanians are net contributors to the public purse, not a drain.

Even more damaging to their lives and reputation in Britain is the use of distorted information about crime. The Ukip Manifesto 2014 claims: "An open door to crime: 28,000 Romanians are held for crimes in London". This allegation is untrue and targeting an ethnic community is racism.

Politicians who hope "to produce an earthquake" in the European elections forget to mention that the figure of 27,725 released by the Scotland Yard on the basis of Freedom of Information Act represents "arrested people" and is for a five years period (from 2008 to 2012). "Arrested" is different from "charged" or "convicted". A simple check in traffic becomes an "arrest" in statistics if you are asked to go to the Police station for ID verification. In many cases the same person was "arrested" several times. To compare, only in 2012 more than 5.6 million crimes were committed in the UK. If multiplied by five years, one could reach the conclusion that 28 million Britons have committed crimes. It is a non-sense, as it is a non-sense to say that 28,000 Romanians are held for crimes in London.

According to data published by the Metropolitan Police, the number of Romanians charged with an offence in London in January 2014 dropped 3%, compared to the same month last year. In many cases Romanians are victim of crimes, with 543 persons in the first three months of 2014. As Don Flynn, director of Migrants Rights Network, told Jessica Elgot from the Huffington Post UK: "the figures contradict the claims made in some sections of the tabloid media that crime figures would rocket. If we take into account an increase in the size of the Bulgarian and Romanian populations in the UK during the course of 2013, then this suggests that crime rates are actually falling rather than growing."

At the national level the figures are even more speaking for themselves: in the first three months of 2014 the number of Romanians convicted in the UK was 1522 compared to 1797 in the same period of 2013 (a reduction of 15%). This is consistent with the trend in 2013 versus 2012, where the reduction was more than 30% (from 9540 to 7304 convictions).

There is no country without crime, but statistically the crime rate in Romania is one of the lowest across the whole of Europe. According to the Metropolitan Police cooperation with Romania is one of the most efficient they have in Europe. For the last six months we have had eight Romanian police officers seconded to the MET as part of the Operation Nexus. They are targeting in partnership any form of criminality with Romanian authors and they are protecting those Romanian nationals who are victim of crimes.

The Ukip nationwide poster campaign claiming that "the UK opened doors to unlimited numbers of people from Romania and Bulgaria" and "an open-door to crime" is, in fact, an open-door to hate. I hope reason will prevail.

Post Scriptum: I read with great interest the article "UKIP immigration policy - the wife test", by the BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson. My only comment is that in Romania, if you are a politician or a civil servant, it is against the law to employ your wife as your secretary, if the job is paid with public money.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/ukip-romania-immigration_b_...


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 17.04.2014 

 

A Few Glimpses of History

I have always been fascinated by history because I believe that if we know the past then we better understand the present, prevent painful history to be repeated and eventually anticipate the future. For a diplomat, understanding and respecting the history and culture of the host country is a prerequisite for any correct professional judgement.

I remember when I first came to Britain in May 1993. From the Heathrow Airport I went directly to see Windsor Castle and being there made me feel like I had stepped off the plane and straight onto one of the most fascinating pages of European history. I met again the British history 15 years later, as a newly appointed Ambassador of Romania to the Court of St James's. While still in Brussels and preparing to cross the Channel, an English friend of mine advised me to see the film "The Battle of Britain": "Watch this film - he said - and then you will understand why we are the way we are". He offered me another piece of advice: "If you deliver a speech in front of a British audience and you don't tell a joke in the first three minutes, you will be considered boring".

Since then, I have seen the red thread of history in many occasions. Sometimes, I found fabulous glimpses of history connecting Romania and the UK. For instance, during one of my journeys to Scotland, I learned that 1800 years ago Dacians (the ancestors of nowadays Romanians) enrolled in the Roman legions have built the Antonine and Hadrian Walls. At that time, the provinces Dacia and Britannia were both part of the same political entity, the Roman Empire. There are tombs of Dacian soldiers and other archaeological findings - such as 31 written stones from the Hadrian Wall in Newcastle - proving the Romanians' ancestors presence in Britain for more than 300 years, before they blended into the local communities. One of the inscriptions says: "Under Modius Julius, legate of the emperor with pro-praetorian power, the First Aelian Cohort of Dacians built this, under the command of the tribune Marcus Claudius Menander". The text was discovered in 1914 and is dated AD 219.

At the beginning of their diplomatic relations, Romania and the UK were closely linked through their Royal families, Queen Maria of Romania being British by birth and grand daughter of Queen Victoria. A Romanian Navy battleship is today named "Queen Maria". Here again the history is present: in 1929 the Guild of the Freemen of the City of London decided to establish a symbolic relationship with successive ships of the Royal Navy bearing the City's name. In this respect, the 8th HMS London, a heavy cruiser launched in 1927, received a piece of silver plate as a gift from the Guild (the 1st HMS London is dated back in 1657). It is worth to note that in 1941 HMS London took part in the famous chase of the German battleship Bismarck, followed by two years escorting Russian convoys to the Artic Ocean. The happy relationship between the Guild and the Royal Navy continued over the years and the 10th HMS London, a Type 22 Batch 2 anti-submarine frigate, was launched in 1984 and took part to operations in the Persian Gulf during the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein. This frigate is now proudly the Romanian battleship "Regina Maria". However, HMS London returned in its new livery to the UK for the Trafalgar Fleet Review in 2005...

Trying to understand "why the British are the way they are", I came across Blandon in Oxfordshire, where in the graveyard of the Church of St Martin rests Sir Winston Churchill, according to his last wish. Seeing the simplicity of the tomb of such a great man, it came to my mind Lord Nelson's words at the Battle of Trafalgar, in 1805: "England expects that every man will do his duty". I keep in my office a photograph taken at our Embassy in 1939, when Sir Winston, then First Lord of the Admiralty, met the Romanian Foreign Minister Grigore Gafencu to discuss about the danger of a new war in Europe. 70 years later, this photograph offered me the privilege to have as a guest, in the same room in 1 Belgrave Square, Lady Mary Soames, Sir Winston's daughter.

The history is often twined with the present and the best example is London, a metropolis which has its own soul (and whims, because if you treat it with indifference, London could crush you with its immensity and complexity). The City of London is the heart of the international commercial diplomacy and the most important financial centre in the world, but also a fusion of ultra-modernism and century-old traditions. For instance, one of these traditions is related to the Guilds. It was at the Guild of St George where I first listened to "Rule Britannia" ("...Britons never will be slaves") and it was at the Guild of Freemen of the City of London where I discovered the meaningful Ceremony of the Loving Cup. At the Easter Banquet at Mansion House, a few days ago, you might feel teleported back into history (after all, the current Lord Mayor has 685 predecessors), but the speech delivered by the Foreign Secretary was one of a great actuality.

Before the WW2, Nicolae Titulescu, the greatest Romanian diplomat and one of the brightest European minds of his time, twice elected President of the League of Nations, was for ten years the ambassador of Romania to the Court of St. James's. He was a strong supporter of close relationships between Romania and the UK ("The one who does not understand the importance of Britain's moral support must not get involved in foreign policy") and a tireless advocate for the respect of the international law. Romania and the UK share today a Strategic Partnership, are close friends and allies. We celebrated recently Romania's 10th anniversary in NATO, the world's most powerful military alliance. It is widely recognized that Romania has strengthened the alliance immeasurably since it joined in 2004. In the current international context, once again, the history is part of our present.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/romania-history_b_5165695.html


Titus Corlăţean: Romania presses for NATO redeployment over Ukraine crisis

Speaker: 
 Titus Corlăţean, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Date: 
 04/10/14
Author: 
 AFP

NATO should redeploy its forces in eastern Europe and take a firm stand to prevent a contagion of the Ukraine crisis, Romania's foreign minister urged in an interview Thursday with AFP.

"Romania has concrete expectations of a redeployment and an eastward repositioning of NATO's naval, air and ground forces," Titus Corlatean said.

"The Black Sea region must be a top priority for NATO and the EU," he stressed.

Bucharest "is extremely concerned over developments in Ukraine which have a serious impact on international security," Corlatean said, stressing his country is "on the frontline".

Romania, a member of both the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, shares a border with Ukraine in the east and in the north.

The US chargé d'affaire in Romania, Duane Butcher, told Mediafax news agency that the US is currently thinking about "a wide range of measures" to consolidate trust among its allies.

"We will defend Romania", he insisted.

The United States has already sent six F-15 fighter-bombers, a dozen F-16 fighter jets and three transport aircraft to Poland. A US guided missile destroyer is also due in the Black Sea in the coming days.

- Nato should stand firm -

In recent days pro-Kremlin activists have seized government buildings in several cities in Ukraine's east, declaring independence and vowing to vote on splitting from Ukraine.

The US has accused Moscow of trying to "create chaos" to justify military intervention like in Crimea.

"Our expectations towards Russia are clear and firm: it should engage in a political dialogue and avoid escalation," the Romanian minister of Foreign Affairs stressed.

EU and NATO should "stand firm in order to stop potential risks of contagion of the crisis from Odessa in Southern Ukraine to Transdniestr", a pro-Russian breakaway region in Moldova.

Trasndniestr, a strip of land on Moldova's eastern border, broke away from the rest of the country in the wake of the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union but is not recognised by any other state.

On Monday, its leader, Yevgeny Shevchuk, said his dream would be to see the region "together with Russia".

Moscow maintains thousands of troops there against the will of the pro-Western Moldovan government.

"We hope that a political dialogue will prevail", Corlatean insisted, saying Russia could show its good will by participating in a new round of negotiations planned next week to solve the Transdniestr situation.

"It is important that these talks take place even if they are delayed because this will show if Moscow is more open on the matter or not.

"We have no interest in a clash between the European Union and Russia", but Corlatean warned that if Moscow choses escalation, "further sanctions are still an option".

And the gas issue should not be a reason to "forget about the fundamental values of international law".

Russian Gazprom provides about a third of all gas consumed by EU nations and is the sole provider of energy for some central European states such as Slovakia.

"There is a lot of talk about Europe's dependence on Russian gas but Russia is also depending on European markets" to sell its production, Corlatean said.

"Russia could have an interest in listening to what Europe wants on Ukraine", he says.

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday sent a letter to leaders of 18 European countries, warning them Russia could cut gas supplies to Ukraine.

The interview can be accessed here. 


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 03.04.2014

 

Bringing Our Elites Back Home: Mentorship Programmes for Romanian Students in the UK

Last Saturday, I have attended a mentorship programme organised by the League of Romanian Students Abroad (LSRS-UK). It was the third student event hosted by our Embassy in the last couple of months, after the Conference of the Romanian Students, Professors and Researchers in the UK and a mentoring seminar organised by the Romanian National Union of Students in the UK (RONUS-UK). At the RONUS-UK event a keynote speaker was Paul Brummell, the future British Ambassador to Bucharest. He won the souls of the audience with a few sentences in Romanian. His presence is a testimony of the exceptionally good cooperation the Embassy of Romania has developed with the FCO and the British Embassy in Bucharest. We have ambitious common projects for an ever closer partnership between Romania and the UK and the current British Ambassador Martin Harris will always have a place in my heart.

The last weekend event brought together more than 150 mentees and mentors, with the Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons, as a keynote speaker. The outstanding British politician paid tribute to the Romanians living in the UK for their contribution to the British economy and the dignified way they crossed the difficult period of 2013. He praised the high quality of the Romanian students in British universities and offered to host in the House of Commons the LSRS-UK next mentoring event.

There are more than 6,000 Romanian students in British universities and as Ambassador I have regular contacts with them. In six years I have visited almost 40 British universities (some of the best in the world) where young Romanians are enrolled. I try to understand their dreams for the future and their expectations in relation with Romania.

Recently, I was present at the University of Bedfordshire (I had inspiring talks with Vice-Chancellor Bill Rammell, a keynote speaker to the Conference of Romanian Students last October), the London Metropolitan University (thank you, Professor Stephen Perkins, Dean of Business and Law Faculty), the University of York (Deputy-Vice-Chancellor Dr Jane Grenville spent a Sunday morning with us) and the Oxford University (Professor Martin Maiden, Chair of the Faculty of Linguistics, was awarded by the President of Romania for his outstanding contribution in creating a scientific connection between Oxford and Romania and his role in opening the Lectureship of Romanian language at the Oxford University and I had the privilege to bestow the decoration to him). Next May, I will be going to the University of Manchester (where I am a member of the Manchester Debating Union) and from there to Belfast, Ballymena and Londonderry, to meet Romanian communities living in Northern Ireland.

I was told by vice-chancellors and professors that Romanian students perform exceptionally well. Some of them try hard to cope with the financial difficulties after their supporting payments have been suspended by the Student Loans Company. It was supposed to be a temporarily suspension in order to check the residency eligibility for maintenance loans, but six months later students are still waiting for the conclusions of this exercise to be published.

I enjoy meeting students. They help you to keep your spirit young and your mind alert. Students are some of the best ambassadors a country could have abroad. In almost all discussions with them, a common denominator is the choice between going back to Romania and staying in the UK after graduation. I tell them that every responsible nation gathers its intellectual, scientific, economic and cultural elites and Romania cannot afford to loose some of its best brains. I would like to see these young Romanians returning home and contributing to our economic, social, cultural, scientific and political life. During the mentorship programmes, students expressed their interest in business, engineering, law, journalism, architecture, medicine, academic research, public administration and diplomacy. They could find places in Romania in all of these fields. I tell them that a successful career is the result of choice, not of chance. They must be prepared to compromise, because the life is full of compromise, but they should never compromise on their principles.

To those interested in diplomacy, I tell them that highly performing diplomats have more to do with sacrifice and refrain than with champagne and caviar. Some definitions of the job could be misleading. One is that "Ambassadors are people who tell you today what will happen tomorrow, and tomorrow will explain why what they predicted did not happen". Otto von Bismarck once said: "I am a diplomat by birth, because I was born on 1st April". Sir Henry Wotton, the envoy of King James VI to Venice, said in 1604: "An ambassador is an honest gentleman sent to lie abroad for the good of his country".

The reality is that despite the technological advance and the so called "Tweeter and Facebook revolution", diplomats remain a center piece in listening and understanding the position of various parties. The future will rely more and more on connectivity and fluid networks and understanding how best to use networking is increasingly important for countries and geographical blocs. One of the most vital parts of communication is listening to other people, and this is a key art of good diplomacy. Diplomacy represents power. Power represents people. Diplomacy represents people who are in power.

Diplomacy requires clarity of the objectives, knowledge, experience and a bit of talent. A good diplomat must be able to convince other people to embrace his ideas, because more powerful than blood and money is the power of ideas. From my experience, diplomacy is a profession to be learned from books, from previous generations of valuable diplomats and from practice, because good diplomats are formed in eight to ten years. They need communication and negotiation skills, flexibility, creativity and adaptability to a multicultural environment. Above all, what must always guide the action of a good diplomat is defending and promoting the interests of his country. One of the most experienced diplomatic services in the world, the British FCO, has its mission statement defined 166 years ago by Lord Palmerston: "We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow". This applies not only to diplomacy but to other many areas where our young professionals are expected to contribute.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/romanian-students-uk_b_5065...


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in The Telegraph, 18.03.2014

 

Ion Jinga: I want to pay tribute to the nurses and doctors who saved my friend

Last week someone very dear to me had a serious health problem. When performing aqua-gym, my friend suddenly felt a sharp pain in the back of the head.

The pain became immediately an unbearable headache. An ambulance arrived within 15 minutes. After a preliminary evaluation, the nurse suspected a vascular problem and decided to take the patient to the hospital.

Which one? There were three hospitals to choose from. The ambulance decided to take my friend to Charing Cross Hospital because of the seriousness of the symptoms. "There they have top equipments and one of the best neurosurgical teams in London", the nurse said. It was certainly an inspired choice and it proves how important is to have well trained people on the ambulance when the time runs out fast and every minute could be decisive in saving a life.

It took 20 minutes to get to the Accident and Emergency department at Charing Cross. The patient was registered and placed on a bad, waiting for further investigation. There were many people there, all with medical problems and I was afraid of delays that could be fatal. But a doctor arrived almost immediately.

After a first medical check, the patient was taken for a scanner examination. Ten minutes later bleeding was found on the brain. The news was devastating for us. Then, a lady approached us. She said: "Maybe I do not look like a doctor, but I am. When I have seen the symptoms, I knew it is bleeding on the brain". She was supportive and empathic. It was exactly the kind of help we needed. Her name is Dr Fey Probst, an A&E Consultant. It was Dr Probst who alerted the Neurosurgical Department and a neurosurgeon came to see us in A&E. As it probably happened in our case, many patients owe to her their lives. Later, I discovered that she also teaches young doctors.

Certainly, they have a lot to learn from her. When the surgeon came, I was thinking: "How good it would be now to find here a Romanian doctor, one of the 5,000 Romanian doctors and nurses working in the NHS.". After quite a long conversation in English, I asked him "Where are you from?" The answer was "I am from Romania." His name is D. Robert Iorga and he is a member of one of the best neurosurgical teams in London. 

A second scanner examination followed, this time with dye (contrast material). Now the bleed was absolutely clear and the doctors suspected an aneurysm. It was 3.00 pm.

The next step: Dr Ramesh Nair, a consultant neurosurgeon in the Neurosurgery Department, came to see us. British friends told me Dr Nair is one of the best in the UK. He is specialised in neurosurgery, with special clinical interests in neurovascular and skull base surgery and research interests in subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Sympathetic with the patient, sober and mastering the situation, he laid out two options for us: either to wait and see how the symptoms are evolving or to perform an angiogram; he recommended the angiogram.

An angiogram of the head is an X-ray test that uses a special dye and camera to take pictures of the blood flow in the blood vessels of the head. In this specific case, the cerebral angiogram was envisaged to look at the four arteries (four-vessel study) carrying blood to the brain. During an angiogram, a thin, soft tube called a catheter is placed into a blood vessel in the groin (femoral artery). The catheter is guided to the head area. Then an iodine dye is injected into the vessel to make the area show clearly on the X-ray pictures.

An angiogram can find a bulge in a blood vessel (aneurysm). It can also show narrowing or a blockage in a blood vessel that slows or stops blood flow. An abnormal pattern of blood vessels (malformation) or abnormal vessels near a tumour can be seen. This picture is not very much encouraging when you are the subject of such an examination.

The first night spent in hospital has passed without any sleeping,with perfusions to stabilize the low blood pressure, to prevent arteries' spasms and additional bleeding, and to monitor basic vital functions. The angiogram was scheduled next morning but it had to be delayed until noon because the blood pressure was too low. Then, at 12.00 the patient was taken to the Radiology Department.

The examination was to be performed by Dr Ian Colquhoun, consultant neuroradiologist, a specialist in head and spine diagnostic and interventional neuroradiology. He is considered by his peers as being one of the best in this job.

The discussion with him was like an ice-cold shower: he explained the risks of the procedure, the high percentage of successful outcomes, but also the possible dramatic consequences if something goes wrong. I knew it was his duty to be honest and to present all the alternatives.

He gave hope and confidence, but the patient has to sign a written consent for the intervention. The choice was between dying or paralysing at any moment in the future if the cause of the bleeding is not known, or taking the risks of the angiogram and finding out what happened in your brain in order to prescribe the appropriate medical treatment.

At 12.30 the angiogram started. After one and a half hours, Dr. Colquhoun came out with a smile: no aneurysm was found, the blood vessels were all in a good shape, the quantity of blood on the brain is small and it will be re-absorbed by the body without any other consequences. The patient has to stay for a while in the hospital, atreatment will be prescribed for the next couple of weeks, efforts have to be avoided for two months and then everything will be back to normal. After the most difficult 24 hours in my life, the silver lining in the cloud hanging over me appeared.

Visiting Charing Cross Hospital every day for a week, I had the unique opportunity to see how the medical team and the staff working there perform. I have met highly qualified doctors and nurses, native British, but also from India, Romania, Slovenia, Belgium, Africa, Latin America or Asia (thank you, nurses Emma, Sylvie, Pauline and Kwame Anthony).

I pay my gratitude to all these people. I have a great admiration for them because they are so incredibly devoted to their patients. The same appreciation goes to the auxiliary staff which discreetly and efficiently helps to keep the medical care at Charing Cross Hospital at the highest possible professional standards.

Most of them are "immigrants". They came to the UK for professional accomplishment or for a better life, because this is very much possible here for highly skilled specialists and people who work hard.

Quite often, they are vilified by the tabloid media and their presence is sometimes used as a ping-pong ball in the political debate. In return, many of them save lives every day in the British hospitals. We realize how extraordinary people they are only when we are in a difficult medical condition. To them and to the British NHS, I pay my deep respect.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/10705074/Ion-Jinga-I-...


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in The Guardian, 18.02.2014

 

Romanians do not recognise this thief stereotype – and neither do the British

The Daily Mail has put up 'Rudi' as a Roma Romanian representative – let me fill in the gaps about our people, culture and economy. 

After the disappointment of not seeing waves of Romanians arriving in the UK once restrictions were lifted, some tabloids have found a new eastern European bestseller: the abuse to the benefits system.

A particular case attracted my attention: the Daily Mail interviewed "Rudi", described as "an ebullient 28 years old" who lives with his family on benefits, around Nottingham. He confessed to be "a Roma Gypsy from Romania" and before coming to the UK three years ago he had first tried his luck in eight other countries: "I made my way by pick-pocketing, thieving and other small crimes. I was put in prison or arrested by the police in Norway, Finland, Sweden, Spain, Italy, France, Austria and Germany before I arrived here."

For the interviewer, however, Rudi was probably a highly credible person, as he convinced the journalist that he was better informed than the UK Border Agency about the number of passengers coming every day from Romania to the UK by plane, bus or car.

According to the newspaper, he said: "Your benefits system is crazy. It's like finding a sack full of cash that has been dropped, picking it up and no one saying anything," claiming that he left Romania "because the authorities refuse to give us jobs". But once in Britain, he showed little interest to work, thinking instead about benefits. "He sells scrap metal or does some decorating, which has allowed him to claim social welfare."

The fact that he has been resident in the UK for three years confirms what I have stated on several occasions, namely that people who intended to emigrate are already here, and that restrictions on the labour market have not been an obstacle for exercising the right to free movement in the EU.

As for being a "Roma Gypsy" and therefore not being able to support himself at home, in Romania every person has equal access to employment. Indeed, people should work before claiming benefits. In order to receive benefits, you should first contribute. This is only fair. We too are against the culture of "getting something for nothing". But from his comments, it is reasonable to conclude that Rudi's intention in no less than 10 European countries was not to work.

Romania is against any form of discrimination and many projects for Roma social inclusion have been developed in the fields of education, employment, housing and health. There are 600,000 Roma people living in Romania and more than 12 million on the continent. According to the University of Salford, in the UK alone there are about 200,000 Roma, with the biggest number coming from Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary. The government of Romania has repeatedly argued the need for a common European strategy in order to help integrate and improve the life conditions of Roma people in Europe. We have to fight stereotypes and prejudice against Roma, but also mentalities inside this community.

Romania supports and applies measures to fight abuses of any kind, and the Romanian authorities condemn any attempts to defraud the existing national systems. Abuses do not have names or nationality. They are breaches of the law which are fought against with important tools of co-operation. For instance, we routinely share information with British authorities about cases of benefit fraud and abuses, based on data received from the Romanian law enforcement.

The person interviewed by the Daily Mail is certainly not representative of Romanians living in the UK who, in their overwhelming majority, contribute substantially to the public purse and are highly valued by the local communities they live in. Nor is "the ebullient Rudi" a representative for Roma, most of whom work hard to earn their living and are not involved in criminal activities.

In the case of Romanians, "benefit tourism as such is a myth" indeed, because from 5.7 million working age benefit claimants in the UK last year, only 1,740 were Romanians, which represents 0.03% of the total claimants, or 1.45% of the Romanian community in Britain. To compare, the percentage of working age benefit claimants for the whole UK population is 9.5%. Hopefully, the measures recently adopted by the British government to fight abuses to the benefits system will encourage many people who live on benefits in this country to find jobs.

Last year, the Romanian government succeeded to create almost 100,000 new jobs and in January 2014 more than 10,000 jobs were available. But our employers are now in competition with British employers, who only last month advertised 10,367 vacancies for Romanians.

The Romanian economy is growing fast, with a 5.2% GDP growth in the final quarter of 2013 – the biggest rise in the EU – and a full-year rate of 3.5%, (the EU average growth was only 0.1%). The inflation rate at the end of 2013 was about 1% and unemployment 7% (well below the EU average of 10.7%). The industrial production in Romania increased by 7% in 2013; the second largest rise in the EU.

Wages are on the rise – not the same level as in the UK, but prices are lower in Romania, houses are more affordable, the food is organic and the sun shines for longer than in other parts of Europe.

Last week, the Financial Times called my country "an eastern European tiger", while noting that "Romania's performance gives grounds for optimism. Investors' appetite for a $2bn Romanian bond issue in January – five times oversubscribed – reflects broader enthusiasm. It also shows a degree of confidence in Romania's fiscal consolidation."

Romania is the seventh largest market within the EU and the largest in south-eastern Europe. There is a huge potential for investment projects and bilateral economic co-operation. More than 4,000 British companies are registered in Romania with a total investment of about €4.6bn.

But growth cannot be sustained without our most valuable asset, the labour force, and therefore we certainly do not want our people leaving. With the favourable economic climate and the focus on development and investments, we expect more and more Romanians to come back.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/18/romanians-thief-ste...


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 02.02.2014

 

Romanians' Migration to the UK: Predictions Versus Reality 

The question of how many Romanians will come to the UK in 2014 was a misguided and misleading topic in 2013. It continues to make headlines, I hope not for a long time. The answer depends on who you ask this question.

UKIP politicians suggested 29million Romanians (and Bulgarians) will invade the British shores. An American think tank predicted 385,000 people will migrate from Romania and Bulgaria to the UK over the next five years. Migration Watch advanced 50,000 persons a year (previously, they have said up to 70,000 a year).

A survey commissioned by the BBC suggested that less than 1% of adult Romanians could look for work in the UK, which in concrete figures gives 15-20,000 people. A report commissioned by the UK government in 2010 estimates 8,000 Romanians will come to Britain in 2014. From 8,000 to 385,000 (not to speak about 29million) it is a huge field open to speculations exploited by tabloid media and xenophobic politicians.

My comments are based only on certified data: with the first flight from Romania on 1 January only two Romanians came to the UK to take advantage of the lifting of border restrictions. According to a Sunday People investigation, airlines and travel companies based in Romania recorded either a decrease or no change in passengers flying to the UK in January 2014 following lifting of restrictions. The Consular department of our Embassy has not registered an increase in the number of services required by Romanian nationals last month, compared to the same period of 2013. And, on 27 January, prime minister David Cameron told BBC Radio 4 that immigration levels from Romania and Bulgaria has been "reasonable" since work restrictions were lifted at the start of the year.

The National Insurance Number (NINO) registrations to adult overseas entering the UK for the period 2012-2013 (fiscal year) show a decrease of 22% for Romanian citizens compared to 2011-2012 (whereas there are increases of 50% Spaniards, 44% Greeks, 43% Portuguese, 36% Hungarians and 35% Italians).

The media shapes public opinion and, as we can see, it is a clear gap between predictions, perception and reality when speaking about the immigration of Romanians to the UK. But, as the Chairman of Frontier Economics and former cabinet secretary under three prime ministers, Gus O'Donnell, pointed out in the Financial Times on 29 January, this is not a new phenomenon: "In 1978 as many as 70% of the public agreed the UK was in danger of "being swamped" by other cultures. That was at a time when net migration was zero. Today about 80% think migration is a problem for Britain, although only 30% think it is a problem in their local area. On average, they believe that about one in three people are migrants (the real figure is closer to one in seven) and overestimate the number of EU migrants claiming unemployment benefits by a factor of six."
Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute for Social and Economic Research and former Cabinet Office chief economist, argues in an article in Huffington Post UK on 21 January that "It is not the case that migrants and British workers are just competing for the same jobs. In 2008, when migration was at its height, the number of unfilled vacancies was the highest ever recorded at 700,000." And a report from Jonathan Wadsworth, member of the Migration Advisory Committee, shows that "there is little evidence of overall adverse effects of immigration on wages and employment for people born in the UK".

I cannot tell how many of my compatriots came to Britain last January, as British statistics will be available only next May. As citizens of the European Union, Romanians are fully entitled to freely travel and find jobs in all 28 EU member States. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills found there were 655,000 vacancies in the UK between March and July 2013. Figures from a Romanian website that hosts more than 200 recruitment agencies shows 10,367 vacancies advertised by British employers on the website last month. But it looks like Romanians are not in a hurry to come.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/romanians-migration-to-the-...


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post, 24.01.2014

24 January 2014: 155 Years Since the Creation of the Modern Romanian State - Remembering Lord Palmerston      

Every year on 24 January Romanians celebrate one of the most important - and probably most affectionate - moments in the history of their country, the Union of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldova. If Romanians have always been so proud of the Union achieved on 24 January 1859, it is undoubtedly due to the sense of responsibility (or "ownership", as we would say nowadays) that they assumed in its making, and to the great spirit of solidarity that made it possible 155 years ago.

In 1848 revolutions spread like a conflagration through Europe. In England, Lord Henry John Temple Palmerston, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (he also was twice Prime Minister and Home Secretary), sympathised openly with the revolutionary party abroad. In particular, he was a strong advocate of national self-determination, and stood firmly for constitutional liberties on the Continent.

The Romanian ex-revolutionaries of 1848, exiled after the defeat of the movements they had initiated, became "diplomats of the Union". They fiercely defended the national aspirations of their people, in the complex geopolitical calculations and diplomatic compromises of the Great Powers.

In May 1853, the Russians threatened to invade the Romanian Principalities of Wallachia and Moldova, both at that time under the Ottoman Empire's suzerainty (but not part of the empire). Lord Palmerston argued that the Royal Navy should be sent to the Dardanelles strait, in order to assist the Turkish navy. In March 1854 Britain, along with France, declared war on Russia for refusing to withdraw from the principalities.

At the end of the Crimean War with the defeat of Russia, in March 1856 the Paris Congress found a compromise among the seven Great Powers concerning the Danube Principalities (France, Sardinia, Russia and Prussia supported the cause of the Unification; Austria and the Ottoman Empire stood against; Great Britain remained neutral). According to this compromise, the two principalities were allowed to take the name of "The United Principalities of Moldova and Wallachia", but were to maintain separate rulers, governments and legislative assemblies.
But this solution did not really match the determination of the Romanian Unionists. After the Elective Assembly of Moldova unanimously chose on 5th January 1859 Colonel Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the candidate of the National Party, as Ruling Prince, on January 24th the Elective Assembly of Wallachia voted, again unanimously, for the same person, thus creating de facto the United Romanian Principalities. In January 1862, the first single Government and the first single Parliament of Romania became operational in Bucharest. In his inaugural speech to Parliament, Prince Cuza solemnly declared: "A new day is starting today for Romania, as it is finally entering the path that will lead to the fulfilment of its destiny".

The Union of 1859 has been the beginning of an extraordinary process of modernisation and reforms; it has paved the way to the Great Union of 1st December 1918 when, based on the principle of people's right to self-determination proclaimed by the US President Woodrow Wilson, the third Romanian principality, Transylvania, also decided to unite with Romania.
It is not by chance that I made a reference to Lord Palmerston, as he has woven closely together the strands of idealism and realism in foreign policy. He said: "We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow".

And then again: "I hold that the real policy of England is to be the champion of justice and right: pursuing that course with moderation and prudence, not becoming the Don Quixote of the world, but giving her moral sanction and support wherever she thinks justice is, and whenever she thinks that wrong has been done".

The point of interest in these quotations is that they were spoken by the same man in the same speech without any sense of contradiction. They were the words of Lord Palmerston in the House of Commons on 1st March 1848. And I believe that both quotations could be matched by any British Foreign Secretary between that time and now.

Lord Palmerston is famous for his patriotism. Speaking about him, Lord John Russell (himself Prime Minister twice in the mid-19th century) said: "his heart always beat for the honour of England". But probably the best epitaph comes from the Marquis of Lorne, who said of Palmerston in 1866: "He loved his country and his country loved him. He lived for her honour, and she will cherish his memory." I believe this is the supreme recognition. No one could ask for more.

By following the British model of weaving together patriotism, idealism and realism, Romanian Unionists of 1859 and 1918 succeeded. This is one of the reasons why Romanians admire and respect so much the United Kingdom.

Romanian and British people share today the same values and are part of the same European culture and civilization, united in its diversity. The constant support that the United Kingdom has given to Romania on its path towards the European Union and NATO memberships, and the Strategic Partnership that exists between our countries, are solid ground for mutually beneficial bilateral relations.

At the turn of the last century, Rudyard Kipling said about Britons: "We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse". Today Great Britain has 60 million people and Romania 20 million. Our countries are close friends, allies and partners. Paraphrasing Kipling, I would say that we have 80 million reasons for an ever closer partnership. The presence of a hard working Romanian community in the UK and of an increasing number of Britons in Romania is part of the recipe for a common success.

Post Scriptum: The common success may have many forms. The protection of the national patrimony is one of them. Last November, thanks to the excellent cooperation we have developed with the FCO, the New Scotland Yard and the Home Office, Romania recovered 145 Kosons (gold coins issued by the ancient Kingdom of Dacia, on the current territory of Romania), which represent invaluable artefacts and witness 2000 years of rich and fascinating history.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-ion-jinga/romania-modern-state_b_4647...


The visit of HE the Ambassador of Romania to Bristol reflected in local mass-media

http://www.businessleader.uk.com/bristol-builds-romania-links-ambassador-visit/10793/

 


The Ambassador’s article in The Telegraph

Ion Jinga: Romanians in the UK do not abuse the benefits system. They contribute.

The UK is not alone in its concern about benefits abuse. I think all EU member states want to avoid their welfare systems being abused, either by their nationals or by people from other countries. The Romanian authorities made clear that we support the British government when it comes to punishing anyone who illegitimately uses or abuses the British social system, as long as these measures are compliant with the EU legislation.

A report of the European Commission, quoted by Financial Times on 6 December 2013, found no evidence that EU migrants access UK welfare benefits proportionately more than other residents of the UK. The same holds true for other European countries, the report said.

An IpsoMori and King’s College London survey shows that a third of Britons think the government spends more on Job Seeker’s Allowance than on pensions. In fact, pensions take up 15 times the budget of JSA. Benefit fraud is another area where myths are more powerful than facts. The public think that £24 out of every £100 spent on benefits is claimed fraudulently. In fact, the official figure is seventy pence out of every £100.

In February 2013, the total number of working age benefit claimants in Britain was 5.7 million people, with 7 per cent of them being non-UK nationals. Across all DWP working age benefits, 32 per cent of those claimants who were non-UK nationals were from Asia and Middle East, 31 per cent from within the EU and 24 per cent from Africa.

Only 1,740 Romanians were on that list (0.03 per cent of total claimants). It’s negligible. Also, from the total number of 40,171 child benefit claims last year in respect of children living in another EU country, only 324 went to Romanian children (0.8 per cent). It’s, once again, negligible. Using these figures, it is worth noticing that 9.5 per cent out of 60 million people living in Britain receive benefits, whereas is only 1.4 per cent out of 120,000 Romanians living in the UK. In short, Romanians are net contributors to the public purse, not a drain.

As for the number of EU citizens coming to Britain, National Insurance Number (NINO) registrations to adult overseas entering the UK for the period 2012-2013 show an increase of 50 per cent Spaniards, 44 per cent Greeks, 43 per cent Portuguese, 36 per cent Hungarians, 35 per cent Italians. The number of NINO registrations to Romanians has decreased by 22 per cent.

During a debate in the House of Lords, on 7 January 2014, Lord Davies of Stamford said that unlike the “native population”, EU migrants have contributed “far more” in taxes than they consumed in public services and benefits. He said: “In other words, they have supplied us with a substantial financial surplus to the benefit of every surplus in this country. Is there not every probability that hard working Romanians and Bulgarians will follow the same footsteps”. Earl Attlee, Home Office spokesman in the House of Lords, said he “broadly agreed with the thrust of the comments”. The remarks come from outstanding British politicians, with highly recognised professional expertise.

In fact, Romanians’ presence here is mainly the result of the British market demand. They do not take Britons’ jobs. British companies are currently advertising 5,000 posts for Romanians to plug gaps in the highly skilled jobs market. Since 1st January 2014, our Embassy received messages from more than ten British companies which want to employ Romanians. We advised them to advertise their job offers to Job Centre Plus.

In the UK there is no obligation for foreigners to register to local authorities on arrival, and therefore it is not possible to know how many Romanians and Bulgarians came in the first two weeks. What we know is that on the flight into Luton airport on the 1 January, only two Romanians took advantage of the lifting of border restrictions in Britain. We also have figures from the Netherlands, where the registration is requested: in the first 10 days, 21 Romanians and 15 Bulgarians have registered. I do not see any reason why Holland would be less attractive than the UK, with the geographic proximity playing in favour of the Dutch.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has announcement on 27 November 2013 the Government’s approach to free movement within the EU, “setting out measures to protect the British social security system and prevent abuse of the free movement rights”. These measures apply in the same way to all EU nationals.

The Prime Minister previously mentioned that he wants “to end the culture of something for nothing” and “to stop benefits systems from being such a soft touch”. As I already pointed out, Romanians can be hardly found in this picture. Therefore, the reason of these measures is to tackle a problem already existing in the UK, and not because restrictions were lifted for Romanians and Bulgarians.

According to the European Commission, “the host EU country is not obliged by EU law to grant social assistance to economically non-active EU citizens during the first three months of residence”. Furthermore, if an EU citizen fails to find a job in the host country after six months local authorities have the right to remove the jobseeker, unless he or she has a “genuine chance” of getting work. Under British Government’s proposals, EU nationals coming to Britain would receive no state benefits for the first three months. After that, they would only be allowed to claim unemployment and other benefits for a maximum of six months. After nine months, they could only continue to claim benefits if they had a genuine prospect of work lined up, such as a job interview.

Romanians who came to Britain did so for work, not for benefits. Romanian authorities are preoccupied to offer our people solid reasons to stay or come back to Romania, in order to sustain the current economic growth – 4.1% in the last quarter, the highest in the EU. But the free movement of people is a fundamental pillar of the Union and the European citizens have the right to decide where to reside and work within the EU.

Romanians exercising their right to free movement to the UK only expect a fair, non-discriminatory status, similar applied to the other European citizens and, for instance, to the British citizens who live in Romania. Restrictions have created vulnerabilities to both sides. Their removal on 1 January 2014 is therefore the beginning of a win-win game.

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/10568556/Ion-Jinga-Romanians-in-the-UK-do-not-abuse-the-benefits-system.-They-contribute..html


The Ambassador's contribution to the article "The Gates are Open" in The Economist

The gates are open

Rich EU countries fret about social-benefits tourism after the lifting of restrictions on the free movement of workers from Romania and Bulgaria on January 1st.

“WHEN British people come—in thousands—to our Black Sea, to our resorts, and behave like cave men, drink and fight, we don’t say anything… We are going to be much better behaved when we go to Britain. We are not going for fun, we are going for work, for a decent living,” says Petar Dobrev, who has been employed in several Black Sea resorts as a concierge in the past 12 years. Mr Dobrev is planning to move away from Bulgaria before next summer, to Britain or another European Union country. He says employers in his home country exploit people and pay them much less than they deserve.

Mr Dobrev is hoping for fair pay in Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and six other EU countries that fully opened their labour markets to workers from Bulgaria and Romania when transitional controls expired on January 1st. He is not sure where he will go, maybe London, because the city “has many good hotels and they always need people”. And he is determined to work hard to make a living for himself and for the family he wants to start.

The 31-year-old Bulgarian is representative of the typical migrant from Romania and Bulgaria: he is young, eager to work and frustrated with the slow pace of reform and development in his home country. Yet he is unlikely to receive the warm welcome he hopes for. The public, politicians and the press in Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and, to a lesser extent, France and Austria, have spent the months leading up to the dismantling of transitional controls fretting about how many Bulgarians and Romanians will come, whether they will take away low-skill jobs, how their access to social benefits can be restricted and whether begging and sleeping rough will shoot up, in particular in big or industrial cities such as London, Rotterdam, Berlin, Duisburg and Dortmund.

Is Europe facing another big migratory wave from east to west? Ion Jinga, Romania’s ambassador in Britain, does not think so. The last one (the Poles coming to Britain in the aftermath of their country’s EU accession in 2004) happened when only three big countries (Britain, Ireland and Sweden) opened their labour markets and the British economy was booming. Moreover, the population of Romania and Bulgaria combined is only three-quarters the size of Poland’s 39m. And Romania is not doing badly: economic growth has picked up, rising to 4.1% in the latest quarter, and wages are increasing fast. The unemployment rate is below 5% nationally and only 2% in Bucharest, the capital (see chart).

Of Romania’s 7m strong active labour force, around 1.1m have a secure job in the state sector, which they will hesitate to give up. Some 3m have already left in the wake of Romania joining the EU in 2007: about 1m went to Italy, another million to Spain, half a million to France, up to 400,000 to Germany and 120,000 to Britain. They worked in a “self-employed” capacity (40% of the workforce building London’s Olympic Stadium were self-employed Romanians) or as seasonal or low-skill workers. Some were exploited, as they did not have the same legal protection as nationals; others didn’t pay tax. Neither abuse is as likely now that they can be legally employed.

None of the rich EU governments wants to make firm predictions about how many Bulgarians and Romanians will migrate—they are worried about being wrong. Germany’s IAB, a research institute, predicts that 100,000 to 180,000 will go to Germany this year. “This cannot be called poverty migration,” insists Herbert Brücker of the IAB. Only 7.4% of Romanians and Bulgarians in Germany are unemployed, a bit lower than the national average of 7.7%, and considerably lower than the average of 14.7% among the general immigrant population. Up to 65% work and pay taxes. Although the share of Bulgarians and Romanians, who receive means-tested benefits, is at 10% slightly higher than the 7.5% of the native population, they are net contributors to the pay-as-you-go pensions system. Thanks mainly to favourable demography, the average immigrant contributes around €2,000 ($2,760) annually to the welfare state and the contribution of Romanians and Bulgarians is estimated to be even higher, says Mr Brücker.

Germans do have some reason to be concerned, however. More than a third of Romanians and Bulgarians working in Germany are unskilled (compared with 11% of the general population) so they crowd native Germans out of low-skill jobs. Another justified worry is that those who neither work nor receive social benefits—many of them Roma—tend to settle in Duisburg, Dortmund, Berlin and a few other big cities. This creates tensions as they mainly live off the black market, begging and petty crime and live in slum-like conditions on the cities’ outskirts. The IAB proposes compensatory payments by the federal government to help the worst-affected municipalities.

Politicians woke up very late to the public’s worries. Britain’s prime minister came out at the end of November with proposals on restricting the access to social benefits for new immigrants. Germany’s coalition agreement in late November contained measures on how to curb poverty migration. “Germany is Britain’s strongest ally in the EU migration debate,” says Mats Persson of Open Europe, a think thank. Hans-Peter Friedrich, the interior minister of Germany’s previous government, even suggested talks outside of the EU framework with Britain, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands on how social-benefit tourism might be curbed, because he was so unhappy about the Commission’s insistence that the EU law on freedom of movement cannot be changed.

“It is very difficult to just come here and get benefits,” says Jonathan Portes of Britain’s National Institute for Economic and Social Research. Restrictions on benefits have been in place since 2004 and the new proposed restrictions mainly reinforce what is already on the books. Britain is however alone among rich EU countries to have a universalist welfare system—all the others are more contribution-based. It therefore has the strongest case for reviewing access to benefits.

Will tightening benefits rules do the trick? For the first time, EU citizens are conflating anti-EU sentiments with anti-immigration feelings. Mixed with an increasing distrust of politicians and a debate on the welfare state, this creates a “perfect storm”, says Mr Persson. Europe’s best hope is that by the end of 2014 not much will have changed. A manageable number of Romanians and Bulgarians will have migrated westward and most of them will be young and in work. Isolated crimes, benefits fraud and trouble with rough sleepers will no doubt sometimes spill over into the headlines. But, by and large, the arrival of Romanians and Bulgarians will work as well (or as badly, depending on your point of view) as previous openings to new EU members from the east.

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21592673-rich-eu-countries-fret-about-social-benefits-tourism-after-lifting-restrictions-free

 


The Romanian Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post 

 

'Waiting for Godot': Or, for Romanians to Come to the UK

Samuel Beckett, one of the most influential writers of the last century, is best knows as one of the creators of the 'Theatre of the Absurd'. His most well-known play, Waiting for Godot, offers a tragicomic outlook on human nature. This is an absurdist comedy in two acts in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait endlessly and in vain for the arrival of someone named Godot. This play was once voted "the most significant English language play of the 20th Century".

It seems that a new version of Waiting for Godot is being reinvented by part of the British media who are desperately waiting for the arrival of millions of Romanians after 1 January 2014. It was also suggested I go to Heathrow and Luton airports to greet Romanians who will come to the UK. I also received requests for interviews on Christmas Day to comment on the wave of Romanians who will flood Britain. But even though my English friends believe that after six years here I have acquired a British sense of humour, I have to admit that it has some limits and therefore I declined all these invitations.

On the flight into Luton airport on the 1 January (at Heathrow, the flight expected from Bucharest was cancelled as there were no passengers), only two Romanians came to the UK to take advantage of the lifting of border restrictions, and both having firm job offers - one washing cars, the other as a doctor in Essex. The overwhelming majority of the passengers were Romanians returning to jobs after having enjoyed Christmas with their families at home, or Britons coming home after skiing in the Carpathians.

I must confess that my wife and I are guilty of bringing Romanians to the UK for Christmas and New Year celebrations: our daughter came from Brussels and a family of friends from Romania. As all these three persons will be leaving Britain in the next few days, I therefore hope they will not be counted to the millions of Romanians expected to invade the island.

On 31 December 2013, Migration Watch released a briefing paper stating that "Romanian and Bulgarian migrants in Spain and Italy may choose to move to the North of Europe where employment opportunities are considerably greater as are financial rewards. In light of this analysis we stand by our central estimate that 50,000 people from Romania and Bulgaria will move to the UK each year for five years". The argument is a simplistic arithmetic: the economic gains in moving to the UK and Ireland are double to those of moving to Spain and Italy.

On 16 January 2013, Migration Watch estimated up to 70,000 people to come every year to the UK from both countries, and at that time Romanians and Bulgarians living in Spain and Italy were not included. The arithmetic was, once again, simple: by extrapolating the number of Poles who came to the UK (one million out of 38million people in Poland), Migration Watch guessed the number of Romanians and Bulgarians (from a combined population of 29million inhabitants) who will choose Britain . With all due respect, I think the weak point in both studies is that arithmetic very much differs from sociology.

Central and Eastern European countries which joined the EU on 1 April 2004 got immediate access to the labour market but only in the UK, Ireland and Sweden. In the case of Romania and Bulgaria, restrictions were lifted seven years after their EU membership and simultaneously by 15 EU member states (the other 10 having done so before). Since 1 January 2007, Romanian citizens have been free to exercise their right to free movement, therefore in the last seven years most of those wanting to work abroad already took advantage of this possibility.

All evidence suggests that Britain is not a preferred destination for Romanian migration. Indeed, the majority of Romanians who have decided to work abroad have chosen countries with closer linguistic and cultural links, like Spain, Italy or France, and currently there is no evidence that they would intend to move to the UK. If there are people who would come from Spain, it is more likely to be Spaniards because, according to British statistics, in 2013 the number of national insurance numbers (NINOs) released to Romanians decreased by 22%, whereas the number of NINOs released to Spaniards increased by 50%.

Taking into account the near-exhaustion of Romania's potential to "export" workers and the fact that my country is now the fastest-growing economy in the EU, lifting restrictions on 1 January 2014 is unlikely to lead to a massive increase in the number of Romanians coming to the UK.

A report published last November by the University of Reading revealed that "Relative income levels (GDP per capita) are not found to be a significant determinant of A2 migration distribution. Similarities between the EU15 countries, compared to conditions in Bulgaria and Romania, make the each of these a desirable destination."

Similarly, on 23 December the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) concluded that: "Romanians and Bulgarians will not flood UK in 2014 and it is likely that patterns of immigration from Romania and Bulgaria will be different to those seen after the A8 countries joined the EU in 2004". So, no mass stampede, this time.

Nevertheless, part of the British media continues to run alarmist reports about the imminent influx from these countries. What is it about this group of people that makes them so "dangerous" to the UK - a country which welcomed more than a hundred of foreign nationalities, spread up its civilization all over the world and is rightly admired for its sense of justice and fair play? I have lived for six years in the UK, enough to discover Britain's true values: national pride, an incredible rich history, cultural diversity and high moral standards. Therefore, it comes as a great surprise to see how attitudes towards Romania have become so easily formed by misguided and biased opinions.

An answer is offered by Paul Quinn, a British columnist for the Guardian:

"Populist politicians' attempts to fan the flames of hatred rely on our hardwired suspicion of outsiders. This predisposition towards suspicion of immigrants means that reports that portray them negatively find fertile ground. I have found the reaction in the British press to be both fascinating and terrifying. Stigmatising attacks are even more effective in times of material shortage, perhaps explaining why the reaction to increased Romanian and Bulgarian immigration appears to be so much more visceral than it was for other East Europeans who migrated in 2004. History is replete with examples of those fanning the flames of hatred, exploiting the dark side of our human nature for their own benefit. Let us hope these lessons remain with us after 1 January."

On a more optimistic note, a poll commissioned by the think tank British Future and published on 28 December shows "72% of Britons aged 35-44 welcome Romanians and Bulgarians coming to work and play by the rules in the UK". Most of Romanians who came to the UK did so for work, not for benefits. We also plead in favour of honest, hard-working people, who pay taxes and contribute to society.

British companies are currently advertising 5,000 posts for Romanians to plug gaps in the highly skilled jobs market (after all, the Romanian community in the UK has the highest proportion of highly-educated people of all foreigners in this country) and in areas ranging from doctors and nurses, to care home workers, taxi drivers and hotel staff. But with all this insulting media campaign against Romanians, the UK employers, too, will probably wait for Godot.

 

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

 


The Ambassador’s article in The telegraph

 


The Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post UK

 


The Ambassador intervention at Sky News

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC5q_2os6B4&feature=youtu.be

 


 

The Ambassador intervention at BBC Radio London

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEZ1RkP6QCk&feature=youtu.be

 


 

Romanian Ambassador meeting the Metropolitan Police and the Romanian community

 

http://ro24tv.co.uk/operatiunea-nexus/

 


 

Romanian Ambassador in London in interview at BBC World Service

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01lw88x

 

 


 

The Ambassadors's article in Huffington Post

 

Celebrating Romania's National Day 

 

There are special moments that celebrate the triumph of its achievements. 1 December 1918 is such a moment for Romanians. Ninety five years ago, by the votes of the overwhelming majority of people in Transylvania, this Romanian province was united with its motherland. By similar votes earlier that year, The National Assemblies of Bessarabia and Bukovina also had decided on the union with Romania.

Romanians' dream to live together in a unitary state was a national project for centuries. Back in the history, the first union of the three medieval Romanian principalities - Walachia, Moldova and Transylvania - was achieved in 1600 under the rule of Prince Michael the Brave. Even though the union was broken after his assassination, it remained a symbol for the generations to follow. Then, on 24th January 1859 Walachia and Moldova merged into a single country, which in 1866 took the name "Romania".

In ancient times, Romania's territory was inhabited by the Dacians, described by Herodotus as "the bravest and most honest of the Tracians". The Kingdom of Dacia was conquered by the Roman Emperor Trajan at the end of one of the bloodiest wars of the Antiquity. Last week, we celebrated together with Victoria and Albert Museum 1900 years since Trajan's Column, commemorating the Dacian Wars, was built in Rome. A marvel of its time, the Column is also the beginning of the history of a nation, carved in stone. From the battles depicted on the Column a nation was forged and a language was born, the only Latin language in Central and Eastern Europe.

An impressive real life replica of Trajan's Column is hosted by V&A. Since then, Romanians have remained without interruption within the same geographical space. Our name, as a Country and a Nation, comes from Rome - the capital city, and Romans - the citizens of the Roman Empire.

Dacian soldiers enrolled in the Roman legions have built the Antonine and Hadrian Walls. There are archaeological findings proving their presence in Britain for more than 300 years. Nowadays, Romanians continue to be skilled constructors in Britain, since almost 40% of the work force that last year built the Olympic Village in London was Romanian.

More recently, Romania and the UK were closely linked through their Royal families, Queen Maria of Romania being British by birth and grand daughter of Queen Victoria. These ties remained strong albeit Romania became a Republic, and last year, when The Queen celebrated the Diamond Jubilee, King Michael of Romania was seated next to Her Majesty, as a sign of respect and in recognition of the excellent bilateral relations between the United Kingdom and Romania.

Indeed, Romania and Great Britain have an outstanding cooperation and on 10 October the Romanian and British Foreign Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the bilateral Strategic Partnership, while acknowledging the positive contribution that most Romanians in the UK make to the British economy. The only shadow in this picture is the culture of blame spread by part of the British media and a few politicians. Populist rhetoric may win votes today, but the price is paid with the lives and reputation of thousands of hard working Romanians. Among them, almost 6000 Romanian students, many enrolled to the best British universities. Bill Rammell, Vice Chancellor at the University of Bedfordshire and former Minister of State for Further and Higher Education, said "Students from Romania perform exceptionally well".

I have lived for many years abroad, enough to see that people usually first learn about Romania in what they read in newspapers or see on TV, which is generally limited and recently marked by scaremongering about migration.

As Ambassador, I had the opportunity to discover Britain's true values: national pride, an incredible rich history, cultural diversity and high moral standards. Therefore, it comes as a great surprise to see how attitudes towards Romania have become so easily formed by misguided and biased opinions. I think the British public deserves to understand my country from a different perspective.

Between the Two WW, Romania was a regional power with a ruling elite educated in London, Paris and Berlin. Had my country not experienced 42 years of Communism, today Romania would have been at the same level of prosperity as the United Kingdom, France or Germany. Interviewed in the Wild Carpathia documentary film, HRH The Prince of Wales, a longstanding supporter for the conservation and promotion of Romania's fantastic natural and cultural heritage, has described this land in most inspired words: "This is Romania. I have never seen anything like this".

What Romania has its best, apart of its natural beauty, are its people. Migration may have seemed a solution during a time of economic crisis but now Romania's GDP growth rate is the highest in Europe. According to the latest confidence barometer compiled by Ernst & Young, Romania re-emerges as a significant target for regional investments. More than 4,800 British companies are registered there, with a total investment of over 4.6 billion EUR and the UK takes the fifth place as Romanian exports destination within the EU. Therefore, we can no longer afford to lose our best brains and our skilled workers.

It is not surprising to speak in London, a capital city of civilization and economic liberalism, about the National Day of Romania, because more than 100,000 Romanians live and work in the UK. While respecting Britain, they remain Romanians in spirit, proud of their origins and confident in their future.

 

Dr Ion Jinga

 


 

The Ambassador of Romania at the opening of the first Romanian Delicacies factory in London 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvS6nCO8y7U

 

 

Ambassador Highlights Romania’s European Identity

 

Link to full article

http://www.european-times.com/news/ambassador-highlights-romanias-european-identity/

 
 

 

The Ambassadors's article in The Telegraph

             

                                                 What the Romanians can do for Britain

 

I want to talk about two events which apparently have little in common.  

The first is the sixth Conference of Romanian Students, Professors and Researchers in the UK hosted by our Embassy last Saturday. There are 6000 Romanian students in the UK. Young Romanians come to study in British universities because some of the best universities in the world are located in the UK and many Romanian students are among the brightest in the world, so obviously these valuable brains are wanted by the British universities. Needless to say they pay fees in order to study here. There are also hundreds of Romanian professors and researchers in British universities, developing projects in areas such as lasers, medicine (a new treatment for the Alzheimer disease), or even teleportation of sub-atomic particles.

This year the conference topic was “2014: Romanian values in the UK”. It brought together a part of the Romanian elite in the UK and prominent British speakers: Bill Rammell - Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire and former Minister of State for Higher Education, Anne Marie Martin - Chief Executive of the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe, Dr. Nigel Townson - Director of the British Council Romania, Ray Breden - Executive Chairman of the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce.

In previous editions we had Lord Norman Lamont, Lord Quentin Davies, Lord Alan Watson, Keith Vaz MP, Greg Hands MP, Dame Julia Cleverdon, as well as top business leaders: Sir George Iacobescu – Chairman of the Canary Wharf, Nick Anstee – former Lord Mayor of the City of London. The Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons noted that this conference is probably unique among all foreign communities in the UK…

Speaking about the UK Universities and Internationalization, Vice-Chancellor Bill Rammell acknowledged that “Students from Romania – and there are more 250 in our university – perform exceptionally well”. COBCOE’ Chief Executive spoke about “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”, dismantling misguided stereotypes about Romanians in the UK. Dr. Nigel Townson’s topic was “The long and Winding Road – 75 Years of the British Council in Romania”. Yes, the British Council is settled in Romania since 1938…

I told the Romanian participants they are a bridge between Romania and the UK and they have the chance to study and work to the best universities in the world. I added that I expect them to use this chance not only to their benefit but also to the benefit of the UK and of Romania - the country where they are coming from and where I hope they will return one day.

The second event is police cooperation. Today I received in my office 8 Romanian police officers who came to London to work in secondment with the Metropolitan Police in a project called Nexus.

London is a multicultural environment and the MET has invited several European countries to take part in a joint bid to the EU to create one of the first multinational teams of police officers, with the goal to share best practices between law enforcement agencies. Romania was the first country to answer positively to this invitation.

Nor because the number of crimes committed by Romanian nationals is higher that the average of other foreign communities in the UK - statistics shows that the number of Romanian citizens convicted in the first half of 2013 has fallen by 20% compared with the same period of 2012. Neither because there is any risk of a “crime wave” after the lifting of restrictions next January – Rob Wainwright, the Europol Director and Home Secretary Theresa May have clearly stated that the lifting of restrictions for Romanians and Bulgarians will not bring an increase in the crime rate in Britain. But because there are strong links between Romanian and British law enforcement systems. Britons helped us to develop the Romanian police standards and procedures, and to reform the judiciary.

In 2011 we have agreed on exchanging best practices between police forces. A pilot project successfully took place in the 2nd half of 2012 when 10 Romanian police officers worked alongside their British colleagues. Due to the excellent results, the MET submitted an application for EU funding, approved as Operation Nexus, which includes the participation of other EU member states as well. The current secondment of Romanian police officers within the Metropolitan Police is, therefore, a natural follow up to this model bilateral cooperation we have developed over the last couple of years.

Nexus is about understanding the communities’ needs and working in partnership to prevent and address criminality. The Romanian police officers call this “a multicultural policing”. Our officers are working with their MET colleagues in areas with a larger Romanian community as well as in those affected by antisocial behaviour committed by a small proportion of our nationals. They have 24/7 direct access to the Romanian police databases and can conduct any check required by their British counterparts. They also have best knowledge and linkages within the Romanian communities in London.

It is a win-win game. The project offers a greater understanding on how we should be policing our communities within the European Union. Romania has to protect more than 1,000 km of the EU external border and our officers have now the opportunity to gain first hand experience in how one of the best police forces in the world operates and deal with a multicultural environment. 

For the Romanians in the UK this is also about protecting their good reputation. They see themselves as part of the British society. Living here is for them more than “integration”. It means “participation”. They care about local communities they reside in, therefore community issues matter to them. While keeping close ties with Romania, they love and respect Britain, too. This is why “zero tolerance policy on crime” is so important to us.

What is the connection between the two events? Both happened in London, are success stories, and are about mutual trust and respect between Romanians and Britons.

 

Dr Ion Jinga

Ambassador of Romania 

 

Link to full article

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/romania/10399245/Ion-Jinga-What-the-Romanians-can-do-for-Britain.html

 


 

Claims of Romanian invasion in UK 'like a joke'

 

 

 

 

 

The Sixth Edition of the Conference of Romanian Students, Professors and Researchers in the United Kingdom  

London, 19 October 2013, ora 11:00

 

Minister, Vice-chancellor, Distinguished guests,

Dear professors, researchers and students,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

I am delighted to welcome you today to the sixth edition of the Conference of Romanian Students, Professors and Researchers in the UK.

As you certainly know, this year two researchers - Professor Peter Higgs from Edinburgh University and Professor Francois Englert from Belgium - received the Nobel Prize for Physics because they found the “God particle” that holds the physical fabric of the universe together. What you probably don’t know is the fact that when the Nobel Committee tried to contact the British winner, they couldn’t find him because Professor Higgs was on holiday… and he doesn’t have a mobile phone. So, switching off your mobile phones during this conference could be a good start for winning the Nobel Prize sometime in the future. 

After five successful editions, there is no doubt this event has become a tradition for the Romanian academic community in the UK, as well as a platform of dialog and communication that facilitates networking and the exchange of best practices among Romanian elites in Britain.  

We have created together this conference six years ago, when I came as ambassador to the Court of St James’s. Since then, I have encouraged and witnessed the creation of many Romanian students associations all over the UK. If in 2012 we have been the guests of the University of Edinburgh, we welcome here today the co-organiser of this year’s Conference, the University of York Romanian Society. In this way, we want to create an “esprit de corps”, with the Conference becoming an example for other groups of the Romanian community living abroad.

2013 is a difficult year for the Romanians living in the UK. On one side is the vicious attack of the tabloid press and of some xenophobic politicians, in the context of the lifting of work restrictions next January. On the other side is the impact this rhetoric has on us, as a community and as individuals. But the answer to those questioning the qualities of Romanians in this country is simple: With more then 3000 doctors, with thousand of people working in the IT, financial services, research and performing arts, we are one of the most educated foreign community in Britain and there are no statistics, no matter how tendentious are they interpreted, that could contradict me.

There are 6000 Romanian students in the UK. Young Romanians come to study in British universities - and the number has risen last year by 28% - because some of the best universities in the world are located in this country and many Romanian students are among the brightest in the world, so obviously these valuable brains are wanted by the British universities. Needless to say they pay fees in order to study here.

If we look back to Romania of the early 90’s, we can acknowledge the huge transformation we have come through in 24 years. But we still have a lot to do. If Britain is today a most admired country with one of the best democratic systems in the world it is probably because Magna Charta Libertatum was written here 800 years ago. But it is also because of something else: the British way of thinking. Queen Maria of Romania, who was British by birth, has told General Averescu during the First World War, in a desperate moment for Romania: “General, you cannot understand me! I am an Englishwoman and English people are not used to surrender”.

So, my dear compatriots, keep that in your mind, go ahead, fight stereotypes and believe in better. What should drive us on, and supports us in our endeavours, is our knowledge of the talent, energy and ambition of Romanians, and the fact that we can achieve so much when we put our minds to it. An article published by The Economist on August 7, 2012, revealed that “Romania is the country where some of the most brilliant young brains in the world are born. Here the rate of gifted children is twice the average worldwide. In July, the country was ranked first in Europe at the International Math Olympics and 10th among 100 countries worldwide”. Well, if that’s not a reason for optimism, I don’t know what is.

But it is not so simple to deal with Romanians… I recently read a book called “Diaspora online. Identity Politics and Romanian Migrants”, written by Ruxandra Trandafoiu. She is here today and I know that she will tell you more about her research. I would like just to mention some opinions she collected from Romanians abroad, which captured my attention and I am sure you will understand why.

The first opinion is from Valencia, Spain: “In order for us not to stand out as immigrants anymore, we need to integrate. I don’t really like the word “integration”. I like to use the term “participation”. I even correct the Spanish authorities when they use the term “integration”. It’s participation. Becoming part of this society means more than integration”.

The second opinion is a conclusion coming from a Romanian living in the UK: “Romanians are always unsatisfied and negative”.  

And now, the perception an Italian has on Romanians. I warn you this could be frustrating: “When we Italians migrated to America, we always lived with a friend or relative and there was a network of help for the new arrivals. Romanians lack that solidarity… Italians who used to cheat other Italians in the 1900s ended up in cement. Romanians lack the consciousness of a common good… We cannot accept that a people in a foreign land cannot be united”.

To end these quotations, I give you now something more positive from someone living in Milan, Italy: “The diaspora needs a lot of attention. It lacks care. We are a bit more fragile because we are not in our country, but at the same time we are stronger than those left at home. We are stronger because we had this courage; we assumed the risk of being a foreigner in another country. As a subject, we are more complex”. Personally, I share the first and the last opinions.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Apart of being Romanians, we are Europeans too. In a competitive European Union, we have to better define our profile and maximize our potential. Yes, maybe we haven’t been privileged during the last couple of years – we experienced restrictions on the labour market that were not imposed to others, we joined the EU in the eve of the economic crisis, we witnessed huge transformations within the functioning of the European institutions simultaneously with huge transformations in our own Romanian society, and we even became a target of the xenophobes. But some of the best Romania has is its human potential, and we cannot afford to pity ourselves.

You have a chance that previous generations didn’t get, to study and work to the best universities in the world. You equally take advantage and contribute to what the UK has its best – the educational system. It is up to you to embody these added values in the benefit of your community, of the UK and of Romania - the country where you are coming from and where I hope one day you will return.

Considering the current debate in the UK on immigration, I believe it is important to correct some misguided perceptions and to showcase success stories of Romanians studying and working in Britain. I am not saying that all Romanians are models to follow – for instance, the same article in The Economist mentioned that “some of the most feared hackers in the world are operating in Romania” - but there are so many positive examples. By the way, Dr Elena Doldor, Lecturer in Management at Queen Mary University of London, is launching a research project examining the professional identities and experiences of highly qualified Romanians in the UK. She is seeking participants to the study – so if you want to participate or know more about this research, please pick up the printed flyers available. 

You are one of the current chains that strongly unite Romania and the UK, and you should be aware of that. Both countries have had close links since the old times, when the provinces Dacia and Britannia were part of the same political entity, the Roman Empire. 1800 years ago, when the Romans have built the Antonine and Hadrian Walls to protect the borders against barbarians coming from the North, there were Dacians from Roman legions on the current Romanian territory among those who built that Walls, because they were skilled constructors and brave fighters.  There are tombs of Dacian soldiers and other archaeological findings – such as 31 written stones from the Hadrian Wall in Newcastle - proving our ancestors’ permanent presence in Britain for more than three hundreds years, before they integrated into local communities – again, the word “integration” - and became Britons. One of these inscriptions in stone says:  "Under Modius Julius, legate of the emperor with pro-praetorian power, the First Aelian Cohort of Dacians built this, under the command of the tribune Marcus Claudius Menander." (discovered in 1914; dated: AD 219).

Well, I believe we still have that “gift” for constructions, since 40% of those who built last year the Olympic Village in London were Romanians!

Later on, Romania and the UK were closely linked through their Royal families, Queen Maria of Romania being grand daughter of Queen Victoria. Our greatest diplomat, Nicolae Titulescu, has been for 14 years the ambassador of Romania to the Court of St James’s. Therefore it is not surprising Romania and the UK have now excellent bilateral relations, with a Strategic Partnership reiterated just a few days ago during a meeting in London between the Romanian Foreign Minister and the British Foreign Secretary.

 

Dear friends,

As every year, this edition of the Conference will end with the awarding of the Ambassador’s Diploma, granted this time to the following categories: students, researchers, Romanian community, promoting Romania’s image in the UK and striving for a successful career.

But this will be at the end of the day. Let me now express my gratitude to our keynote speakers for their presence here, as well as to all speakers in the panels. We are very pleased to have Mr Cristian David, Minister Delegate for Diaspora in the Romanian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. His presence is a clear message of the interest our Government pays to Romanians living in the UK.  

We are absolutely grateful to Mr. Bill Rammell, Vice Chancellor at the University of Bedfordshire. Prior to that he was Minister of State for Further and Higher Education and also served as Minister of State for the Foreign Office and Minister of State for the Armed Forces.

We are also delighted to see again to our conference Mrs Anne Marie Martin, Chief Executive of the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe. Anne Marie is a vivid example of how successful Romanians can be in Britain.

Before giving the floor to Mihai Cocoru who is the moderator of the Conference, I want to convey my thanks to the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and the Ratiu Foundation for their support and for agreeing once again to be involved together with the Embassy of Romania as honorary patrons of this event. I would also like to thank the members of the Steering Committee, for their inputs and ideas. This year the Committee was formed by representatives of Universities of York, Cambridge, Hull, Bradford, Essex, Portsmouth, Anglia Ruskin, as well as representatives of the League of Romanian Students Abroad, the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce and the Embassy of Romania in London.

I give a special recognition to Mihai Cocoru and the University of York Romanian Society for their enthusiastic commitment to this edition. I thank Mr George Betianu for his sponsorship.

As a final word, let me recall what I. C. Bratianu, Prime Minister of Romania before the Second World War, told his compatriots 80 years ago: “You, gentlemen, represent a nation that is proud, and can be proud of its past and confident in its future. Do not underestimate the role it should have in the world. Be humble for yourself but proud of the nation you represent”. 

Thank you.

 


The Ambassador’s article in Huffington Post UK

 

In the context of increasing number of references in the mass media and of xenophobic statemens issued by some British politicians about the „waves of Romanians” and „waves of crime” which will invade United Kingdom after the 1st January 2014, the Ambassador of Romania to London, Dr Ion Jinga, published in the online edition of Huffington Post UK , on 7th october a.c. the article Romania in the UK and the Culture of Blame.

This is part of our Embassy’s commitment in defending the image of Romania and of Romanian citizens in the UK.

The article dismantles false clichees regarding the Romanian community in UK, being also a reaction to recent allegations made by the UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, who vilifies Romanian citizens, acusing them for the incrising crime rate in the UK.

In the same edition, the article signed by Jessica Elgot Romanian Lives Being Ruined By 'Scaremongering', Ambassador Ion Jinga Says underlines the arguments in favour of a fair and unbiased interpretation of statistics concerning the Romanian community in the UK.

The articles are available at:

 


 

Ion Jinga: Guilty of being Romanians in the UK

 

I have received a letter from a Romanian doctor working in a London hospital. She came to Britain in 2005 after graduating in Bucharest and is one of the 2000 Romanian doctors educated in our universities who have been convinced by British recruiting agencies to come and work here because there is a shortage of doctors in the UK.

Ion Jinga, the Romanian ambassador to Britain, tells The Telegraph: 'My compatriots have no reason to feel guilty of being Romanians in the UK. Reason must prevail over emotional approaches.' 

Photo: Heathcliff O'Malley for the Telegraph

By Ion Jinga, Ambassador of Romania

 

Needless to say the health system in Romania desperately needs them, even though I understand that money and professional opportunities may be valid reasons to come to the UK.

As ambassador to the Court of St James’s I met thousands of Romanians living in Britain and I received hundreds of letters from them, but this one was different. The lady who wrote it is a surgeon, a qualification he received in Britain after tough exams. Her career is accomplished; she has a family anÂd a house in London. From such a successful professional, with an upper social status, you do not expect complains about discrimination and racism.

She wrote to me: “It is increasingly more difficult to live as a Romanian citizen and Romanian professional in the UK. The UK is a country totally against racism and cultural blame. Unfortunately, this is what we are facing since January 2013 thanks to a part of the mass media and to some politicians. Romanians and Bulgarians are feeding mass media every day and this is not without consequences. I had never faced racism in this country until 2013. Now, almost on a daily basis I am asked where I am originally from, and I have to face a racist attitude following my answer. Some people do not say anything, the majority of them express a surprise only, some of them tell me that I do not look like a Romanian and some others start negative comments against us. I had to deal with this attitude from both patients and unfortunately senior colleagues at the work place. The blaming culture and racist attitude against us are damaging our lives and reputation. The vast majority of Romanians here are hard workers, honest, committed, paying taxes, contributing to the growth of this country, in the end of the day.”

When, during the by-election campaign for Eastleigh, the candidate of a political party that expects to win the next European elections using xenophobic slogans linked Romanians with “a natural propensity towards crime”, I expressed concern that inflammatory rhetoric could have long term negative consequences and even lead to acts of racially assaults. Unfortunately, I was right because soon after, in Brighton, two young Romanian workers were attacked only because they were speaking in a languaÂge identified by their aggressors as being “East European”.

In the last eight months, the British public was continuously served with scaremongering and distorted information spread out by tabloid media and a political party where one of its leaders recently called a room full of female delegates “sluts”. “29 million Romanians and Bulgarians (the entire population of both countries combined) will descend upon Britain on 1st January 2014”, “Stop mass migration from Bulgarians and Romanians in 2014”, “Romania and Bulgaria are two countries racked with corruption and organized crime”, “New wave of EU migrants is taking our jobs”, or “People in Romania and Bulgaria are living like animals and will want to live in a civilized country like the UK instead” – to quote only a few appalling remarks.

How such attitude is possible to flourish in the UK, the country which gave to the mankind Magna Charta Libertatum, spread its culture and civilization all over the world and – for good reasons – is one of the most admired modern democracies? The answer was given by the Business Secretary Vince Cable, when addressing his party’s conference in Glasgow: “Britain is developing an absolutely toxic public opinion on immigration”.

Certainly, a large majority of Britons rejects any xenophobic behaviour and outstanding British personalities have expressed their appreciation for the valuable contribution Romanians living in the UK bring to this country: the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Europe Minister, the Crime Prevention Minister, the Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee in the House of Commons – to name only a few. Most encouraging for me are also opinions coming from the ordinary people.

No one is able to say how many people might come to the UK next year from Romania. Romanians, as citizens of the European Union, are able to move freely within the EU - just like Britons. We have no idea how many Britons might go to Spain or France next year – and the same applies as regards Romanians coming here. As Minister Jeremy Browne pointed out, “they are only complying with the same rules as British people who live in Spain or have holiday houses in France, or who work in Germany”.

I think what rankles with the British public is not the fact that other EU citizens come to the UK. Personally, I would be proud of the fact that many Europeans like Britain and want to come here. It shows you are a country brimming with opportunity. No, what bothers the British, in my mind, is that EU citizens could come here and claim welfare and benefits without first contributing to the economy. I have a lot of sympathy with that, but it could hardly be linked with Romanians because their presence here is mainly the result of the demand of the British market. They do not put a strain on the social and health systems because most of them are aged 18 – 35, with few requiring health care or claiming social assistance. 62% have no dependants and 32% have only one child. From the total number of 40,171 child benefit claims last year in respect of children living in another EU country, only 324 went to Romanian children – it’s negligible. In short, they are net contributors to the public purse, not a drain. A recent study found that migrants from new EU Member States paid in through taxes 30% more than they cost the British public services.

Therefore my compatriots have no reason to feel guilty of being Romanians in the UK. Reason must prevail over emotional approaches.


 

 

On 21 May 2013, Daily Telegraph published the article „Ion Jinga: 'Romanians in Britain are just like you'” by the Ambassador of Romania, Dr Ion Jinga, in which are countered the od and new stereotypes about the Romanian community. In the same edition of the paper, journalist Christopher Hope signs the article „Thousands of Romanian migrant arrivals next year might cut crime, says its ambassador”.


 

The Ambassador of Romania to London on BBC Radio West Midlands

On 7 May 2013, the Ambassador of Romania to London, Dr Ion Jinga, offered a live interview at “Pete Morgan at Breakafast” on BBC Radio West Midlands, about presence of Romanian nationals in the UK. The show had as guests an immigration expert with the University of Birmingham and Mike Nattrass MEP, member of the UK Independence Party.

In his speech, the Ambassador noted that, as Europeans, Romanians have every right to travel and work in other EU member states. Romania has exhausted its ability to export labour, Romanian citizens being needed at home to support growth.

The Ambasador explained that Romanians who chose the UK are asking only to enjoy the same status as other Europeans, including British citizens living in Romania. Citing a recent survey conducted by the BBC, the Ambassador said that Romanians who are planning to come to the UK would do so only on the basis of a firm job offer, most of them being highly educated and having jobs and financial resources above the average of other immigrants in the UK.

Responding to the comments of the UKIP MEP, Ambassador Ion Jinga noted that in the country that gave the world 800 years ago Magna Carta, xenophobia should not find a place, and reason should prevail over emotional approaches when talking about the free movement of persons within the European Union.


 

Ambassador's comment piece in Daily Mail   

On 1 April 2013, Daily Mail published in both, printed edition and on its webpage, an article by the Ambassador of Romania to London, Dr Ion Jinga, entitled "MONDAY VIEW: Romania Needs to Remain ITS workers at home"

Come home: Romania is the 7tjh largest market in EU and there is huge potential for investment. But growth in Roman's economy cannot be achieved without its people.

"Romania considers Britain one of our most reliable partners, friends and allies in Europe.

The cooperation between Romania and the UK is moving forward on a fast track, boosting two-way trade, business and investment, along with strengthening existing cultural and educational exchanges.

Just to give you some figures – more than €650million of British capital has been invested and more than 4,600 British companies do business in Romania. Total bilateral trade amounted to €3billion in 2012 alone, with Romania’s exports to the UK of over €1.6billion.

 

After the economic crisis and negative growth rates in 2009 and 2010, Romania has managed to return to a steady and sustainable path of economic growth and the medium-term prospects are encouraging. The unemployment rate at the end of last year was 6.5 per cent nationally and just 2 per cent in the capital, Bucharest.

My country is the 7th largest market within the EU and the largest in South-Eastern Europe. This means that there is huge potential for investment projects and bilateral economic cooperation with British companies.

But growth in Romania cannot be achieved without our most valuable asset, the labour force, and therefore we certainly do not want our people leaving the country.

Migration from Romania may have seemed a solution during a time of economic crisis, budgetary cuts and austerity measures.

However, now when figures point towards a favourable economic climate and the focus is on development and investments, it is essential that Romanians choose to stay and work in their country.

More than 4,000 Romanian doctors and nurses educated in our universities now work in the NHS, but we need them in our hospitals.

Tens of thousands of Romanian highly-skilled construction workers found jobs in the UK, but at home we experience shortages in this sector.

I personally know a Romanian company in London that employs about 500 Romanian workers and builds social houses, not for them but for British citizens.

With three million Romanians already working abroad since 2007, the country has reached the limits of exporting its labour force.

Many doctors and nurses work in the UK, France or Germany. In Britain alone there are almost 6,000 Romanian students, professors and researchers.

Thousands of highly- skilled Romanians are employed here in performing arts, the financial, IT and trade sectors.

We can no longer afford to lose our best brains and talents, and we cannot afford to lose our skilled workers.

In 2008 the Romanian government organized job fairs in Spain and Italy in order to bring Romanian workers back home and fill occupations with shortages.

If the current positive trend in our economy continues, we will probably have to repeat this exercise.
Romanians in the UK are a young community – more than 70 per cent are aged between 18-35 years old – and their claim for social benefits is very limited.

For example, according to British statistics, from the total number of 40,171 child benefit claims last year in respect of children living in another EEA country, only 324 went to Romanian children – 0.8 per cent.

On the specific topic of migration to the UK after January 1, 2014, I do not have a crystal ball, but I do not believe in alarmist forecasts of likely inflows from Romania

Any rational analysis using the available statistics leads to the conclusion that the UK is not a preferred destination for most Romanians seeking a job. Of those who wanted to emigrate, many have already done so in the past six years.

For us, what is at stake now is how to convince Romanian doctors, nurses, professors, students, researchers and construction workers living in the UK to come back home and use their skills in their home economy.

Dr Ion Jinga is the Ambassador of Romania"


 

Ambassador of Romania interviewed by BBC Radio Five Live Breakfast

On 27 March 2013, the morning news on BBC Radio Five Live had as lead story the Ambassador's of Romania to London declaration on xenophobic and racist stories in the British tabloid press and the subject of lifting the labour market restrictions imposed on Romanian and Bulgarian workers, begining with January 2014.

The Ambassador's intervention of 2.15 minutes is available on:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p016xdyv


 

Ambassador of Romania cited by Huffington Post UK, March 25, 2013

Dr Ion Jinga, the Romanian Ambassador to the United Kingdom told the Huffington Post UK: "As EU citizens, Romanians exercising their right to free movement to the UK do not ask for a special treatment.

"They just expect a fair, non-discriminatory status, similar applied to the other European citizens and to the British citizens who live in Romania.

"More than 70% of Romanians in the UK are of an age average between 18 and 35 years old. They are a young community that ask very little for health care or for social benefits.

"The Romanian community in the UK is characterised by a high proportion of specialists and includes more than 6,000 Romanian students, professors and researchers in British universities, 4000 doctors and nurses working in the British hospitals, while thousands of highly skilled Romanians have been employed in the performing arts, financial, IT or trade sectors.

"Many Romanians living in the in the United Kingdom work in shortage occupations, such as health and social care, others run their own business or work in construction."


 

Ambassador of Romania interviewed by BBC Radio 5 Drive

On 18 March 2013, the Ambassador of Romania  was invited by BBC Radio 5 Drive to comment on an independent survey conducted by the InfoPolitic Centre for Studies and Research in Romania.

The interview starts at 2:49:00 and is available at the next link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01r983t 


 

Only 20,000 Romanians want to work in Britain, says study by Romania

On March 18, 2013, on page 10 and in the online edition of the Daily Telegraph was published an article based on the results of a survey conducted by the InfoPolitic Center for Studies and Research  in Romania, about the impact of lifting the UK work restrictions imposed on the Romanian citizens. The Ambassador of Romania' statements are quoted in response to Daily Telegraph request to comment on the study.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9928263/Only-20000-Romanians-want-to-work-in-Britain-says-study-by-Romania.html


 

There's more to Romania than horsemeat and immigration 

A launch for the Friends of The Mihai Eminescu Trust at the Romanian Embassy on March 15 provided  the country’s ambassador, Dr Ion Jinga, with a chance to extol his nation’s virtues.

The trust, founded by painter and writer Jessica Douglas-Home, is dedicated to restoring the historic Saxon villages of Transylvania. 

“It is a pleasure  to be talking about Romanian national heritage  rather than  horsemeat, immigration or restrictions on the labour market,” said Dr Jinga.

 


 

Ambassador's Editorial published in the Daily Telegraph, 22 February 2013 

Romanians’ presence in the United Kingdom and the value of free movement of people

The risk of racist attacks on eastern Europeans in Britain is rising because of "inflammatory rhetoric" from politicians, Romania’s ambassador to London warns today.

 

 


Ambassador Statement on the horsemeat case Sky News Tonight, 11 February 2013

False allegations against Romanian meat producers in the case of horsemeat found in UK food products

The Ambassador of Romania in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Dr Ion Jinga, has made the following statement:

“A proper inquiry has been conducted by the Romanian authorities, and from all the data we have at the moment, there was no breach of European rules committed by companies from Romania or on Romanian territory. 

“We have understood that the horse meat found in food products sold in the UK was minced meat, imported by the lasagne producers from another EU member state.Romanian companies do not export any kind of minced meat. The horse meat they export to other EU markets is not processed and is properly labelled and verified.

 “It is outrageous what some parts of the media have written about the killing of wild horses in the Danube Delta natural reservation. Those horses are all micro-chipped and under permanent surveillance. The NGO “Vier Pfoten” has confirmed being responsible for them and the director himself reported yesterday that no horse from the reservation has been sacrificed.”

“It is very sad that false data have been released without prior checking. This is an unacceptable manipulation and I believe the British public does not deserve to be served with false and distorted information. Romanians love horses as much as Britons do.” 


Ambassador's Interview with Murnaghan On Sky News, 3 February 2013

On 3 February 2013,  at 11.15, the Ambassador Romania in London, DrIon Jinga, was invited at "Murnaghan On Sky Newsto presentRomanian authorities' stance on lifting the  labour market restrictions imposed in the UK  on the Romanian workers .

The transcript of the Ambassador's intervention.


Ambassador's Interview with Financial Times, 2 February 2013

Romania’s ambassador to Britain has mocked reports of a negative UK advertisement campaign to discourage prospective migrants from eastern Europe, suggesting it is not England’s weather but its sluggish economy which will deter new settlers.

Dr Jinga argues that, in fact, the departure of hard-working Romanian professionals in the early years of its EU membership has created problems back home. “Romanians didn’t come here to ask for social support but to work, and to work in areas where you have shortages where British are not interested to work,” he said. “We experience shortages in our medical system now because our doctors left for Britain, for France. We’re not happy with the situation.” 


Ambassador's Interview with Channel 4 News, 28 ianuarie 2013

The Ambassador of Romania, Dr Ion Jinga, talked about the restrictions imposed on Romanian workers on the British labour market in aninterview broadcasted by Channel 4 News service on January 28, 2013, at 7 pm.

 


Participation of the Ambassador of Romania to the mentoring programme organized by LSRS UK

03/14/17

On March 12, the Embassy of Romania in London hosted the fourth edition of the Mentoring Programme organized by the League of Romanian Students Abroad, UK branch (LSRS UK) in partnership with Romanian Business Club (RBC). The event has been attended by…

BRCC Christmas reception in London

03/14/17

On Wednesday, December 14th, the Romanian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Dan Mihalache, hosted the Christmas reception organized by the British-Romanian Chamber of Commerce (BBCC). The event, which was an important…