Month: October 2013

Ambassador Ion Jinga Highlights Romania’s European Identity

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Ambassador Ion Jinga’s interview with European Times on Wed, Oct 30th, 2013:

European Times: You have won awards for your diplomatic service from the leaders of Romania, France and Belgium and you were named “Ambassador of the Year” in London in 2012. Can you tell us about your career?

Ion Jinga: I was a member of the team which negotiated EU accession for Romania and was also a member of the Romanian delegation to the Convention on the Future of Europe, where a treaty was drafted which later became the Lisbon Treaty. The highlight of my career, however, is my 11-year service as Romania’s Ambassador to Brussels and the UK. I have been witness to events that will go down in history, including the revival of the Romanian-British Strategic Partnership.

European Times: What are your current priorities as ambassador?
Ion Jinga: When I came to London in 2008 I established four priorities for the Romanian embassy: to bring new dynamism to the Strategic Partnership between Romania and the UK; to boost bilateral economic cooperation; to promote Romania’s image in the UK; and to protect the interests of the Romanian community living in the UK. After six years, I am proud to quote the British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who said that bilateral relations between Romania and the UK have never been better. Our strategic partnership includes intensive political dialogue and excellent cooperation in areas such as defense and security, economics and trade, justice and home affairs, social affairs and culture. Economic cooperation between the two countries has seen spectacular developments in recent years, marked in 2012 by a record level of bilateral trade in which Romania came out ahead by about €400 million. The promotion of Romania’s image in the UK is done through cultural, economic and social events organized by our Embassy, as well as by the public statements, interviews and articles I published in the British media – only in 2013 it was more than a hundred. I have traveled all over the UK to meet Romanian communities in order to know and understand their problems, to help and reassure them of the permanent support provided by the Romanian authorities.

European Times: What is your position on liberalising the labour market for Romanian citizens?
Ion Jinga: Alarmist media have provoked unreasonable fears about the lifting of restrictions on the labour market starting in January 2014. From that moment, Romanians living in the UK will have the same status as other EU citizens, including British citizens living in Romania. The vast majority of Romanian workers play a positive role in the economies of destination countries as they are working in fields which lack sufficient manpower. In the UK, Romanians are mainly employed in the healthcare, research, financial-services, construction and public-services sectors. Removal of restrictions will significantly reduce cases of labour exploitation.

European Times: What is your strategy for improving the image of Romania and Romanian nationals in the UK?
Ion Jinga: Promoting an accurate image of Romania in the UK is a priority for me. My strategy for promoting Romania’s image is to be credible in what we do and say. Credibility is the most important asset of a diplomat. It is important to be a good communicator and to have access to those circles where perceptions are formed and messages are sent to the public. One cannot get everyone’s agreement on everything, but one can make others respect one’s opinions. We can build partnerships and identify and maximise Romanian-British common interests.

European Times: What makes Romania attractive for UK investors?
Ion Jinga: Romania is one of the most high-potential markets in Central and Eastern Europe. On average, 15 companies with British capital are registered in our country each month, and Romania now has a total of around 4,800 UK companies. Sectors of particular interest for British investors are petrochemicals and oil extraction, green energy, ICT, light industry, agriculture and food processing. British and other foreign investment in Romania will certainly increase in the near future because Romania offers economic growth, European funds and many business opportunities.

European Times: What are the challenges that a European investor should expect when starting a business in Romania?
Ion Jinga: After the economic crisis that affected the entire continent, macro-economic stabilisation measures taken by Romania are starting to pay off. The “Ernst & Young European Investment Monitor 2013” ranks Romania tenth in the number of jobs created due to FDI and fourth in attractiveness for foreign investment among all Central and Eastern European states. This means that investors find in Romania the right conditions for business success.

European Times: What is your personal message to our readers?
Ion Jinga: In its history, traditions, culture and geography, Romania has always belonged to European civilization. Between the two world wars, Romania was a regional power, the national currency was convertible and was backed by gold, and the Romanian elite were educated in London, Paris and Berlin. Without the 42 years of communism, Romania would likely be as developed today as the UK, France or Germany. When it joined the EU, Romania did not return to Europe but rather was rediscovered by Europe. I strongly believe in an exceptional future for Romania and I am proud to serve the interests of my homeland as a diplomat.

Ion Jinga, Ambasadorul Romaniei la Londra: Se pregateste una dintre cele mai periculoase campanii electorale

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Ziare.com, octombrie 2013:

Scandalul legat de ridicarea restrictiilor de pe piata muncii din Marea Britanie ia amploare pe masura ce ne apropiem de termenul limita impus de UE, 1 ianuarie, 2014. Ambasadorul Romaniei in Regatul Unit, Ion Jinga, are una dintre cele mai importante misiuni diplomatice la aceasta ora.

Ambasadorul Romaniei la Londra: Se pregateste una dintre cele mai periculoase campanii electorale InterviuAmbasadorul sustine ca aceasta campanie agresiva anti-imigratie, indreptata catre romani la ora actuala, a pornit de fapt din zona politicului britanic. Oficialul roman a declarat, intr-un interviu pentru Ziare.com, ca partidul populist UKIP si sustinatorii sai pregatesc una dintre cele mai periculoase campanii electorale din istoria politica a Marii Britanii.

AMBASADORUL ROMANIEI IN MAREA BRITANIE: PETITIA ANTI-IMIGRANTI DIN PRESA, COMPARATA CU MANIFESTARILE FASCISTE

De ce credeti ca a aparut aceasta reactie de respingere, de o asemenea amploare, a britanicilor fata de romani?

Cred ca este vorba de un context mai complex, determinat de suprapunerea unor evenimente intr-un interval de timp relativ scurt: criza economica ce a afectat si Marea Britanie, dezbaterea privind relatia UK-UE, discursul populist, xenofob si antieuropean al Partidului Independentei Marii Britanii (UKIP), campaniile electorale pentru alegerile locale din 2013 si cele europarlamentare din 2014, precum si estimarile eronate din 2004 privind numarul cetatenilor din cele opt noi state UE care au venit sa munceasca in Regatul Unit.

S-a creat ceea ce eu am numit ‘furtuna perfecta’, cand toate conditiile sunt intrunite pentru ca cineva sa fie victima. Reactia anti-imigratie nu este doar la adresa romanilor si bulgarilor. Ea s-a suprapus, insa, cu anuntarea ridicarii restrictiilor pe piata muncii pentru cetatenii romani si bulgari, care au devenit, astfel, tinta atacurilor presei tabloide, a UKIP si a unor politicieni conservatori care nu vor sa isi piarda electoratul. Ce subiect mai bun de campanie electorala exista decat sperietoarea invaziei a 29 milioane de romani si bulgari, intr-o tara unde numarul strainilor este deja considerabil?

Cum functioneaza strategia acestor politicieni in ceea ce priveste mesajele impotriva imigrantilor romani?

Sunt politicieni care nu rezista tentatiei de a incerca sa castige capital politic printr-un mesaj populist, iar in perioade de criza a arunca vina pe straini este o reteta consacrata in istorie. Importante personalitati britanice – premierul, vice-prim ministrul, ministrul de Externe, speakerul Camerei Comunelor – au dezavuat insa, public, acest gen de mesaj.

Analisti lucizi de la Londra considera ca UKIP si sustinatorii sai pregatesc una dintre cele mai periculoase campanii electorale din istoria politica a Marii Britanii. Nu cred, insa, ca poporul britanic, care cunoaste valoarea democratiei de atat de mult timp – sa nu uitam ca Magna Charta Libertatum a fost scrisa in Anglia, la 1215 – si care a raspandit cultura si civilizatia pe toate continentele, va cadea intr-o astfel de capcana. Un prim test il vor constitui alegerile pentru Parlamentul European, din 22 mai 1014.

In ce masura reprezinta in vreun fel imigrantii romani un pericol pentru Marea Britanie? De ce se tem englezii?

Romanii nu sunt imigranti in Marea Britanie, ci cetateni ai Uniunii Europene care isi exercita dreptul la libera circulatie. Nu doar ca nu reprezinta un pericol pentru UK dar, conform statisticilor britanice, prezenta lor aduce beneficii economiei locale, ei punand in punga Trezoreriei cu cca 34% mai mult decat scot in afara.

Acest lucru se explica prin gradul ridicat de ocupare (85% dintre romanii din UK au un loc de munca), prin media redusa de varsta (peste 70% au intre 18 si 35 ani) – ceea ce ii face sa fie sanatosi si activi profesional si sa nu apeleze decat limitat la serviciile sociale si de sanatate, precum si prin faptul ca avem o proportie impresionanta de elite (38% dintre romanii din UK au studii superioare).

Sigur, nu putem spune ca totul este perfect, exista si aspectul infractionalitatii care ne creeaza o problema de imagine, exploatata pana la refuz de presa tabloida si de aliatii sai, insa imensa majoritate a romanilor din UK sunt oameni seriosi, cinstiti si muncitori.

Ce parare aveti despre “Cruciada impotriva romanilor” initiata de presa britanica?

Nu este vorba de o ‘cruciada initiata de presa britanica’ in general, ci de agresivitatea catorva tabloide. Termenul de ‘cruciada’ a fost folosit doar de Daily Express. Presa tabloida este ostila strainilor si promoveaza stereotipuri care genereaza frica, dar cresc audienta si vanzarile. As sugera, insa, sa privim lucrurile mai putin emotional. Aceasta campanie negativa si absolut nedreapta la adresa romanilor reprezinta o tentativa de manipulare a opiniei publice britanice, pentru a satisface obiective politice inguste.

Dreptul la opinie, fundamental in orice societate democratica, trebuie exercitat in limite civilizate, fara accente xenofobe, rasiste sau jignitoare la adresa unor persoane sau comunitati. Din pacate, astfel de mesaje sunt uneori promovate chiar de catre unii romani. Se intampla ca romani apreciati si respectati de straini, sa devina tinte ale unor tentative de discreditare din partea altor romani. Ca sa inchei acest raspuns intr-o nota mai optimista, as adauga ca presa britanica publica si articole favorabile Romaniei.

De ce credeti ca munca romanilor nu este apreciata in Marea Britanie? Muncesc mai prost? Nu sunt pregatiti?

Premierul David Cameron a declarat public ca romanii din Marea Britanie ‘muncesc din greu, platesc taxe si sunt apreciati de catre angajatorii lor’. Statisticile britanice arata ca romanii au un nivel de pregatire profesionala peste media generala din UK. Avem peste 4.000 doctori si asistente din Romania care lucreaza in sistemul de sanatate britanic.

Educati in scolile si universitatile nostre, ei contribuie acum in Regatul Unit. Avem multi romani care lucreaza in serviciile financiare din Londra, in serviciile sociale, in domeniul artistic. Sunt aproape 6.000 studenti romani in UK, multi dintre ei la universitati de prestigiu. Circa 40% dintre muncitorii care au construit anul trecut Parcul Olimpic din Londra sunt romani.

Munca romanilor este apreciata, insa existenta restrictiilor a creat multe situatii de vulnerabilitate pentru romani. Apropiata ridicare a acestor restrictii a generat o campanie mediatica furibunda, dusa dincolo de limitele deontologiei profesionale si ale comportamentului civilizat, uneori cu accente rasiste si agresivitate verbala. Cred ca exista riscul ca efectele acestei campanii negative sa persiste in timp, in mentalul colectiv. Discursul populist si xenofob poate aduce voturi astazi, dar pretul va fi platit maine, de generatiile viitoare. Daca cultivam ura si intoleranta, nu putem culege democratie si civilizatie.

Ce i-ati sfatui pe romani sa faca dupa 1 ianuarie 2014? Sa vina in Marea Britanie sa munceasca sau sa ramana in Romania? Unde e mai bine?

Incepand cu 1 ianuarie 2014, romanii vor avea exact aceleasi drepturi ca toti ceilalti cetateni ai UE, inclusiv dreptul nerestrictionat la libera circulatie. Alegerea este a fiecarui roman in parte, iar ‘mai binele’ este relativ. Cred ca decizia de a pleca sa lucrezi intr-o alta tara trebuie luata pe baza unei analize lucide, care sa includa factori precum profesia, domeniul in care ai vrea sa lucrezi, oferta de angajare si cat de serioasa este aceasta, gradul de cunoastere a limbii tarii de destinatie, situatia familiala, asteptarile financiare, costul vietii in strainatate.

In absenta acestei analize, riscul ca situatia din teren sa nu coincida cu cea imaginata este considerabil. Nu sunt putini romanii care, odata ajunsi in Marea Britanie, constata ca oferta de munca nu este reala, sau e complet diferita de asteptari. Unii raman fara mijloace de subzistenta, vor sa se intoarca acasa, dar nu mai au bani, o parte dintre ei cer sprijinul Ambasadei Romaniei pentru repatriere, altii aleg sa munceasca la negru si sa doarma in adaposturi improvizate.

Oferim sprijin de fiecare data cand suntem solicitati, dar trebuie stiut ca si resursele noastre sunt limitate. Majoritatea romanilor sunt, insa, bine integrati in societatea britanica si contribuie, prin munca lor si taxele pe care le platesc, la bunastarea tarii gazda. Personal, mi-as dori ca romanii sa aleaga drept destinatie Romania, pentru ca si acasa este nevoie de inteligenta si priceperea lor.

Dumneavoastra, ca Ambasador al Romaniei, v-ati confruntat vreodata cu atitudini rasiste?

Personal, nu. Am calatorit aproape peste tot in Marea Britanie, nu cred ca a ramas un oras unde sa avem o comunitate importanta de romani si in care sa nu fi fost macar o data. Interactionez si cu populatia britanica zilnic. Stiu ca exista multe cazuri de discriminare generate in cea mai mare parte de existenta restrictiilor pe piata muncii, iar uneori este vorba de atitudini xenofobe. Mai rar, au existat si manifestari rasiste. Ar fi total gresit sa le asociem cu mentalitatea si comportamentul poporului britanic.

The Telegraph: Romanian police start to patrol London’s streets ahead of lifting of border controls

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Article in The Telegraph (6:00AM BST 23 Oct 2013):

Romanian police officers are starting to patrol London’s streets ahead of the lifting of border controls on immigrants from the east European country in two months time.

Romanian police start to patrol London's streets ahead of lifting of border controls

The Metropolitan Police has invited eight Romanian officers to work with its officers for the next two years after a succesful pilot programme last year.

Under the arrangement officers from the Met will be able to have access to the national police computer in Romania to check on suspects.

The officers have no policing powers to arrest suspects in the UK but will be able to share intelligence with their British counterparts.

The Met has asked a number of EU countries if they would like to deploy officers on the streets of London, but Romania was the first to accept the invitation.

Tens of thousands of people from Romania are expected to try to come to Britain once controls are lifted in January.

Writing on telegraph.co.uk, Ion Jinga, Romania’s ambassador to London, said: “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.”

He continued: “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.”

The news comes after some politicians such as Ukip’s Nigel Farage have warned of a crime wave which will come with the existing of controls. These claims have been strongly denied by the Romanian embassy.

Ion Jinga: What the Romanians can do for Britain

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HE Dr Ion Jinga, Ambassador of Romania to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in The Telegraph (12:40PM BST 23 Oct 2013):

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.

Romanian police start to patrol London's streets ahead of lifting of border controls

There are 6,000 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…

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 is the Romanian Ambassador to London

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…

The Ambassador’s Award Ceremony at CRSPR-UK 2013

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Recording of the Ambassador’s Award Ceremony within the 6th edition of the Conference of Romanian Students, Professors and Researchers (CRSPR) in the UK, London, 2013.

The event was organised under the patronage of The Embassy of Romania in London, The British Romanian Chamber of Commerce and The Raţiu Foundation and hosted by the Embassy of Romania and the University of York Romanian Society.

Event organized with the support of the York Annual Fund — “Gifts from Alumni and Friends”

Members of the steering committee of the event included students, professors and researchers from the universities of York, Cambridge, Hull, Bradford, Essex, Portsmouth, Anglia Ruskin, as well as representatives of the League of Romanian Students Abroad, the Embassy of Romania in London and the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce.

For a detailed description of the event proceedings, please see the following press accounts:

Arina Cocoru: the YRS, a normative example of society development (CRSPR-UK 2013)

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Recording of the speech of the YRS Research Coordinator at the 6th edition of the Conference of Romanian Students, Professors and Researchers in the UK (CRSPR), 2013.

The event was organised under the patronage of The Embassy of Romania in London, The British Romanian Chamber of Commerce and The Raţiu Foundation and hosted by the Embassy of Romania and the University of York Romanian Society.

Event organized with the support of the York Annual Fund — “Gifts from Alumni and Friends”

Members of the steering committee of the event included students, professors and researchers from the universities of York, Cambridge, Hull, Bradford, Essex, Portsmouth, Anglia Ruskin, as well as representatives of the League of Romanian Students Abroad, the Embassy of Romania in London and the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce.