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.
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…