Month: May 2014

Dr Ion Jinga: “About Neighbours”

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  Read article in Huffington Post.

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 becDr Ion Jingaause 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?

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Prințul Charles vizitează Ambasada României

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ASR Prințul de Wales a fost primit de către ES Dr. Ion Jinga, Ambasadorul României în Regatul Unit al Marii Britanii și Irlandei de Nord. 

Cele trei zile de sărbătoare a culturii și tradițiilor românești din capitala britanică au început cu un eveniment cu adevărat deosebit: vizita Alteței Sale Regale Prințul de Wales la prestigioasa adresă românească din centrul Londrei, 1 Belgrave Square.

În seara zilei de  marți, 13 mai a.c., spațiile de protocol ale Ambasadei României și Institutului Cultural Român din Londra au fost inundate de oaspeții prezenți la deschiderea „Festivalului Transilvania”, eveniment care celebrează frumusețile naturale și tradițiile vechii provincii românești, organizat de Fundația ADEPT cu sprijinul Ambasadei României în Regatul Unit și al ICR Londra. Invitatul de onoare al serii a fost Alteța Sa Regală Prințul de Wales, un susținător constant al proiectelor de conservare a patrimoniului natural și istoric românesc, care a petrecut aproape o oră în „Casa României” din 1 Belgrave Square.

Prințul Charles a sosit puțin după ora 6, pentru a participa la vernisajul expoziției „Pictori britanici în Transilvania” – o impresionantă colecție de instantanee din viața satului transilvănean, realizată de artiștii Tim Scott Bolton, Patrick Cullen, Tom Hoar, Susanna Lyell, Flappy Lane Fox, Richard Foster, Clare Inskip, Lucy Portman și Paul MacDermot. Înaltul oaspete, la rândul său un pictor pasionat și expresiv, a apreciat imaginile celor peste 100 de picturi, recunoscând diferite peisaje sau scene din viața de zi cu zi ale satului transilvănean.

Alteța Sa Regală s-a arătat la fel de interesată de standul cu produse trad iționale din zona Viscri, amenajat de Fundația ADEPT ca un exemplu al valorificării inteligente și competitive a produselor și tradițiilor locale. Prințul Charles s-a amuzat în special de conotațiile magice ale unor obiecte aparent inofensive din arealul tradițional, acceptând în dar de la membrii Fundației o pernă rituală de formă triunghiulară, cusută în culori caracteristice țesătoriei transilvănene, „care sa îl apere de spiritele rele”.

Dornic să afle cât mai multe despre picturile și obiectele expuse, Prințul de Wales a fost primit cu căldură și admirație de cei aproape trei sute de participanți la eveniment, deopotrivă britanici și reprezentanți ai comunității românești din Marea Britanie. Aceștia au avut  ocazia să se afle în preajma înaltului oaspete, care s-a oprit să se întrețină cu cei prezenți.

De-a lungul vizitei, Prințul Charles a fost însoțit de de către ES dr. Ion Jinga, ambasadorul României, dna Daniela Jinga, Dorian Branea, directorul ICR Londra, și de membri ai comitetului de organizare al Fundației ADEPT – Nicolae Rațiu, Nat Page și Clare Inskip. La standul cu produse tradiționale al Fundației ADEPT, Alteța sa regală a fost întâmpinată de Ben Mehedin, Laura Chirilă, Răzvan Popa, Gerda, Cristi și Romi Gherghiceanu.

La finalul vizitei, ambasadorul României i-a prezentat Prințului de Wales detalii privind istoria cladirii din 1 Belgrave Square și Salonul Tilea, unde în 1939 ministrul român de Externe Grigore Gafencu s-a întâlnit cu Sir Winston Churchill, pe atunci Lord al Amiralității. Salonul adăpostește o fotografie a acelui moment, alături de imagini cu Viorel Tilea, Lady Mary Soames, fiica lui Churchill (70 de ani mai târziu, aceasta a fost oaspetele actualului ambasador, în aceeași încăpere), precum și cu Majestatea Sa Regina și Prințul de Wales.

„Festivalul Transilvania” a continuat, în 14 mai, cu un concert al pianistei Alexandra Dăriescu și violonistului Alexandru Tomescu, doi dintre cei mai de succes tineri muzicieni români, care au prezentat în premieră britanică „Sonatina pentru vioară și pian” a lui Dinu Lipatti și „Sonata pentru vioară și pian” de Tiberiu Olah, precum și o atent calibrată suită de „Capricii” pentru solo de vioară de Niccolo Paganini, „Preludii” pentru solo de pian de Frédéric Chopin și „Dansurile românești” ale lui Béla Bartók.

Programul Festivalului a mai cuprins cuprinde o serie de prelegeri susținute de dr. John Akeroyd, cunoscut om de știință și unul dintre membrii fondatori ai Fundației ADEPT („Peisaje culturale și ecologie”), Lucy Abel Smith, istoric și autoare de cărți de călătorie („Transilvania – surprize la fiecare pas”), Satish Kumar, activist în domeniul conservării mediului și jurnalist („Sol, suflet, societa
te”), scriitoarea Artemis Cooper („Patrick Leigh Fermor. Darul și cel ce dăruiește”).

Cea de-a treia zi a festivalului s-a încheiat în 15 mai cu un concert de muzică românească al trupei Monooka’s Caravan, precum și un fabulos „ospăț ardelenesc” pregătit de Gerda Gherghiceanu („mama Gerda”), venită la Londra pentru acest eveniment, din satul Viscri, pentru a prepara câteva dintre gustoasele bucate transilvănene. Acestea au fost însoțite de o degustare de vinuri de excepție, oferite de apreciata Casă de Vinuri „Prince Știrbey”, care a reînviat cu succes o veche tradiție viticolă din podgoriile Drăgășanilor.

Time Now to Stop the Scaremongering Against Romanians?

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I haDr Ion Jingave 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.

European Parliament 100 Books selects Ambassador Jinga’s Book as part of “100 Books on Europe to remember”

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Ambassador Jinga’s book, The European Union in search of the future: European studies, selected as part of  “100 Books on Europe to remember”, summarized by the European Parliament:

Summary

Written from the standpoint of an expert directly involved in shaping the Community, this work provides an overview of the most important moments and decisions in European policy making over the period 2003-2007, which led to reform of the EU institutions and whose main aim was to adjust the functioning of an EU of 27 or more Member States to the challenges of the 21st Century.

The book consists of a series of articles that describe chronologically the new legal arrangements and institutional innovations that enabled harmonisation of the apparently irreconcilable positions of the leading players in the construction of Europe – namely the EU Member States, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the General Secretariat of the Council, from the launch of the Convention on the Future of Europe (28 February 2002) to the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon (13 December 2007).

The author expresses the hope that the amazing European adventure, which began in 1950 with the Schuman Declaration and has continued through to the adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon, will in the near future lead to a European Union of continental scale that is united in diversity, integrated and mutually supportive, and is able to promote the common values of its peoples and fulfil its role as an effective global player on the international scene.

O carte semnata de ambasadorul Romaniei in UK, inclusa intr-o prestigioasa colectie a Parlamentului European

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Jinga-Ion-ambasador-in-ukParlamentul European a publicat, in luna aprilie 2014, in format online, o colectie de 100 de carti aparute intr-un interval de timp de aproape un secol, pe tematica europeana.

Colectia, intitulata “100 Books on Europe to remember” , include volume considerate de catre Parlamentul European reprezentative pentru ideea europeana. Cartile selectate sunt scrise sau traduse intr-un numar de 13 limbi, din cele 24 limbi oficiale actuale ale UE.
Cei mai multi dintre autorii inclusi in aceasta colectie sunt nume celebre in istoria constructiei europene: Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet, Paul-Henri Spaak, Konrad Adenauer, Charles de Gaulle, Helmuth Kohl, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Helmuth Schmidt, Altiero Spinelli, Aristide Briand, Willy Brandt, Vaclav Havel, Jacques Delors, Margaret Thatcher, Romano Prodi.
Printre aceste nume sonore figureaza si cel al ambasadorului Romaniei in UK, dr. Ion Jinga, al carui volum“Uniunea Europeana in cautarea viitorului. Studii europene” se afla intre cele 100 de titluri incluse in colectia “100 Books on Europe to remember”. Lucrarea a fost publicata in anul 2008, la Editura C.H. Beck din Bucuresti.
Scrisa din perspectiva specialistului implicat direct in constructia comunitara, lucrarea propune cititorilor parcurgerea celor mai importante momente si decizii politice europene din perioada 2003-2007, care au contribuit la adoptarea Tratatului de la Lisabona.

O dovada in plus a aprecierii de care se bucura ambasadorul Ion Jinga din partea oficialilor europeni o constituie si modul in care este prezentat diplomatul roman: “E.S. Dr Ion Jinga (n. 1 septembrie 1961, Campulung, Arges) – ambasador al Romaniei in Regatul Unit al Marii Britanii si Irlandei de Nord (2008 -), ambasador al Romaniei in Regatul Belgiei (2003-2008), doctor in drept, studii de master in integrare europeana, profesor de drept comunitar si inginer fizician.
NuUniunea-Europeana-in-cautarea-viitorului-I.Jingameroasele distinctii, medalii si titluri onorifice obtinute de-a lungul carierei atesta calitatea exceptionala de diplomat a E. S. Dr Ion Jinga, cel caruia Romania ii datoreaza recunostinta pentru modul exemplar in care i-a reprezentat si ii reprezinta interesele in momentele decisive ale istoriei europene contemporane.
E.S. Dr Ion Jinga este autor si coautor a cinci carti si a numeroase studii si articole pe problematica integrarii europene.”
Publicarea colectiei “100 Books on Europe to remember” este o initiativa laudabila a Parlamentului European pe care Presedintele PE, domnul Martin Schulz, o explica in cuvantul introductiv: “Parlamentul European a incercat sa faca o selectie cuprinzatoare de lucrari academice, intelectuale si politice privind ideea europeana si dezvoltarea procesului de integrare europeana, tinand cont de spectrul vast, geografic, lingvistic si intelectual, al ideilor. Istoria integrarii europene se bazeaza pe reconcilierea post-razboi si a aratat ca este posibil sa lucram impreuna dincolo de granitele fizice, culturale sau lingvistice, economice sau politice, pentru a crea un viitor mai bun pentru toti cetatenii europeni. Sper ca aceste 100 de carti sa fie o sursa de inspiratie in gasirea unor solutii pentru provocarile actuale ale UE.”

Laurentiu Ungureanu