A very hot debate in UK and Romanian media these days focuses on whether the British authorities will try to stop Romanians and Bulgarians from immigrating to UK, thus breaking EU law. According to British PM David Cameron, the British people are worried by the consequences of this massive immigration, which could have damaging effects in the UK, not only from economic perspective but social and moral too. I will not comment on the UK Prime Minister’s point of view, which surely is based on the genuine fears of many Brits of this so called invasion, but what I want as a Romanian is to present a balanced perspective of this real problem. In my opinion, Romanians, like any other inhabitants of this world, have good parts and bad parts. Romanians are not better or worse than any people living in this world, so why do we have such bad image abroad? Here, I think lies the paradox of Romania and its people.
Look at it this way: Romania is a wonderful country with amazing landscapes, historical sites, old villages, churches and monasteries, but which also has dreadful, forgotten places. Romania has millions of honest people, but, at the same time, many impostors and thieves.
Romania has many well educated people but, at the same time, the illiteracy rate has dramatically increased.
Romania had and still has many cultural, artistically, scientific and sporting achievements, but, at the same time, the value scale is totally upside down.
The Romanian language is an ancient Latin language with a particular smooth sound but, at the same time, it is used in many cases in a rude and rough way.
The Romanian traditions and folklore are distinctive, ancient and well preserved in many areas, but Romanians tend to promote many alien traditions and sometimes even traditions (read music) which don’t have any Romanian/European roots. Due to globalization, certain traditions and cultural/popular events or music can be enriched with some foreign additions, but only if they are valuable from the human and educational perspective and are complementary to the national traditions.
These are only few of the paradoxes that can be found in Romania, but, what could be the potential causes?
We see a lot of politicians, a lot of public persons – from managers to entrepreneurs – who don’t seem to be well educated and honest. Not to say that all politicians and business people in Romania are not well educated and honest, but I’m afraid I see the scale moving in the wrong direction in so many cases. And these people become Romania – both in the eyes of its people, and in the eyes of the world.
Some of the Romanians who emigrated or traveled aboard, engaged in criminal activities, so they too became the promoters of this bad Romanian image. Many of their facts were used in a very manipulative way by media only to support extreme nationalist ideas, triggering fear and even hatred among the normal, honest people from the host countries.
One cause could be the huge level of the internal generalized corruption and a dreadful bureaucracy which horrifies any foreign investor.
Another very important cause is the insistent promotion of the dramatic, unusual and criminal events and of the badly mannered, rude people, that are to be seen everywhere in Romanian media. While fighting for ratings – thus revenues – media tends to promote the people and the events which paint a very bad image of Romania, and which leave a bad taste among foreigners. The good, the valuable and the honest are absent in the daily news cycle.
The lack of a valuable and clear brand for Romania is a caused of concern too.
What could we do?
Educate people. Set a real scale of values and promote genuine values. Establish a country brand that makes sense. Get inspired from the good experiences of other countries which had similar problems – Poland, Czech Republic or Hungary. Use our traditional hospitality in a better and more productive way, inviting many foreigners to visit us and/or to live here because, in this way, they will have the opportunity to know who we really are – and they will be the best promoters of Romania all over the world. The example of the Prince Charles is unique and gives us hope. Of course, this solution will only be effective if we professionally work at every level to create better opportunities in business, better conditions in tourism, leisure and day to day life.
By Mariana Ganea, Guest Writer
(photo source: Romania-Insider.com)