The Great Union

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Thoughts by Dr. Ion Jinga, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations –  New York, posted in Nine O’Clock on 29 November 2018.

11 November 1918: after four years, three months and two weeks, the World War One (The Great War) ended. It included Europe, the USA, as well as countries from Asia, Pacific, Middle East and Africa. With 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded, WW1 was one of the deadliest conflicts in the history of the human race. On the East front in Europe, 800,000 Romanian soldiers fought on the Entente side and 335,706 of them have fallen in combat, while 130,000 civilians also lost their lives. Modern Romania was built on their ultimate sacrifice.

Earlier that year, on 11 February, the United States President Woodrow Wilson announced his famous principle of self-determination: “National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. Self-determination is not a mere phrase; it is an imperative principle of action.”

Based on this principle, on 27 March the National Council (the Parliament) of Bessarabia, ancient part of the medieval Romanian Principality of Moldova and annexed by Russia in 1812, proclaimed union with the Kingdom of Romania. On 28 November, the General Congress of Bukovina, also separated from medieval Moldova and attached by force in 1774 to the Habsburg Empire, voted for union with Romania. And on 1st December 1918, the representatives of Transylvanian Romanians gathered in the capital city Alba Iulia and voted the Union. The representatives of the Transylvanian Saxons approved the act on 15 December in the city of Medias. On 19 February 1919, Baron Joseph Fay, speaking in the Romanian Parliament on behalf of the Szekelys living in Transylvania, expressed their support for the union with the Kingdom of Romania.

A glimpse on the history of Transylvania shows that the region was part of the Dacian Kingdom (1st – 2nd centuries) and the Roman Dacia (2dn – 3rd centuries). Saxon historian Konrad Gündisch says that findings from the 4th to the 7th centuries – Roman coins, other objects with Latin inscription and early Christian artifacts – prove that Christian Daco-Roman (Proto-Romanian) population remained and flourished in Dacia after the Romans withdrawal in 271. German historian Kurt Horedt dates the entering of the Hungarians in Transylvania in the period between the 10th century and the 13th century. According to Gesta Hungarorum (Latin for The Deeds of the Hungarians), а medieval work written in the 12th century, when Hungarians came into Transylvania, they found well-structured Romanian principalities whose leaders Gelu, Glad and Menumorut they defeated in several battles.

After the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the Principality of Transylvania emerged as a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. In 1711 the Habsburg Empire took control of Transylvania, and in 1867 Transylvania was incorporated into the Kingdom of Hungary as part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, until 1918.

Fényes Elek, a 19th-century Hungarian statistician, estimated in 1842 that in the population of Transylvania for the years 1830-1840 the majority were 62.3% Romanians and 23.3% Hungarians. According to the 2011 Romanian census, the ethnic groups in Transylvania are Romanians – 70.62%, Hungarians (including Szekelys) – 17.92%, Roma – 3.99%, Ukrainians – 0.63%, Germans – 0.49%, other – 0.77%, while 5.58% have not declared their ethnicity.

The Great Union of 1918 represented the accomplishment of Romanians’ dream for national unity, which was first fulfilled in 1600, when Prince Michael the Brave united the three provinces which make up today’s Romania – Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. Michael, ruler of Wallachia, marched into Transylvania and, with help from the Székelys, defeated a Hungarian army, entered Alba Iulia and in 1599 became ruler of Transylvania. Then he crossed the Carpathian Mountains in Moldova, reached the capital city Iaşi and was declared Prince of Moldova. In a document dated 6 July 1600, he referred to himself as “ruler of Wallachia and of Transylvania and of the whole country of Moldova”. The union lasted for only a short period of time, as Michael was assassinated on 9 August 1601. As historian Constantin C. Giurescu remarked, “Never in Romanian history was a moment of such highness and glory so closely followed by bitter failure.” But Michael the Brave remained in the minds of Romanians as the first legendary unifier, and his vision became the goal for which generations fought and finally achieved in 1918.

Loyal to the principles of the Great Union, on 28 June 1919 Romania was one of the 44 states that signed the Covenant the League of Nations, when the organization was established by the Treaty of Versailles. Since then, Romania developed and consolidated a strong tradition of multilateral diplomacy, with high professional standards set up by Foreign Minister Nicolae Titulescu, who was twice elected President of the League of Nations (1930 and 1931) and also served for ten years as ambassador to the United Kingdom. In 1967, Romanian Foreign Minister Corneliu Manescu repeated Titulescu’s success and was elected President of the UN General Assembly, being the first representative from an Eastern European country to hold such a high dignity.

In the 100 years that have passed since the historical moments of 1918, Romania has undergone a multitude of transformations, ranging from different forms of government to different levels of socio-economic development, and from democracy to dictatorship and back to democracy. Today, it has diplomatic relations with 190 states, is a member of the European Union and NATO, while the United Nations remains a centerpiece of its foreign policy. Furthermore, during the first semester of 2019, Romania will hold the Presidency of the EU Council. Much still remains to be done in Romania, but during all these transformations one thing always remained constant: its long term commitment for peace, justice and development. This is also the motto of Romania’s candidature for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council for the period 2020-2021.

Requiem for King Michael

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Thoughts by H.E. Dr. Ion Jinga, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations – New York, posted on nineoclock.ro on 20 December 2017.

On Saturday 16 December 2017 bells of all churches in Romania tolled, mourning King Michael of Romania who started his last journey from the Royal Palace in Bucharest to the royal necropolis in Cathedral of Curtea de Arges (The Court upon river Argeș), a little town in the Carpathian Mountains, once the capital of medieval principality of Walachia in the 13th century. The legend of this cathedral built in early 16th century is a tale about human sacrifice, love for work and death for creation.

Foreign royals, including former King Juan Carlos of Spain and Queen Sofia, King Carl Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Silvia, former Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Prince Charles of Wales, the Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Prince Lorenz and Princess Astrid of Belgium, joined the President of Romania Klaus Werner Iohannis to bid farewell at the catafalque.

Tens of thousands of Romanians came to pay their respects to King Michael and an impressive state funeral service took place in Bucharest, led by Patriarch Daniel, the head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, in the same cathedral where The King was crowned on Sept. 6, 1940. Thousands of people acclaimed The King when the Royal train entered the rail stations of towns located on the way between Bucharest and Curtea de Arges. When soldiers from the 30th Guard Brigade “Michael the Brave” carried the coffin on their shoulders to the tomb, the long way of King Michael to his ancestors came to an end, and his legend begun.

For Romanians, King Michael was a moral symbol and an anchor of hope in an age dominated by totalitarian regimes. Historians believe that his decision to remove Romania from its alliance with the powers of the Axis on 23 August 1944 has shortened the duration of the Second World War by at least six months. He was forced to abdicate on 30 December 1947 and allowed to return to Romania only in 1992, where he was acclaimed by a crowd of one million people in Bucharest.

I first met The King in 1997 in Brussels when, at the request of the Romanian Government, he visited several capitals to lobby in favor of Romania’s accession to NATO. As a young diplomat in love with history, meeting King Michael was like a fairytale, because he made history. I always believed that in many aspects the past shapes the present and anticipates the future.

When I was appointed ambassador to Belgium, and later to the United Kingdom, I had the privilege to meet The King sometimes in tete-a-tete, as he and Queen Anne honored me and my wife by accepting to be our guests for lunch or dinner at our residences in Brussels and London. Listening King Michael talking about crucial moments he personally witnessed was fabulous, as he had a special gift of transposing his audience back in the times of events.

A most memorable moment in my life was in 2008 when, alongside Ivor Porter – a British diplomat and SOE operative parachuted in Romania during WW2, who later wrote two books about his Romanian experience (one devoted to King Michael), and Jonathan Eyal – director at the Royal United Services Institute, I received from The King’s hand “The Cross of Romania’s Royal Household”, in a moving ceremony at 1 Belgrave Square, in the same room when in 1939 Sir Winston Churchill met the Romanian Foreign Minister Grigore Gafencu.

I saw The King at the royal wedding in April 2011, then at the service of thanksgiving in St. Paul’s Cathedral celebrating HM Queen Elisabeth II Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and again that year in the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy, when King Michael celebrated 75 years since he was awarded the British Royal Victorian Order. He is the first foreign sovereign to have the coat of arms in the Savoy Chapel.

I remember a lunch once we had at the Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall. In the RAC hall a pre-WW2 car was exhibiting and when seeing it King Michael, who loved cars, said without hesitation: “This is a Bugatti 1931!” Checking the note on the car-side I went speechless, because he was right.

In the years which followed I wrote to him in Switzerland on his birthdays and Christmas Eves. His private secretary took time to politely respond, but not anymore after Queen Anne passed away in August 2016. I attended the Queen’s burial, but I couldn’t leave New York for the King’s funeral. Instead, a candle burned for him in my apartment in Manhattan. While writing these lines, Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” comes to my mind: “You lived your life like a candle in the wind, never fading with the sunset…, and your footsteps will always fall here. Your candles burned out long before, your legend never will”.

Indeed, the man rests in his grave, The King found his well-deserved place in history, but his legend will continue to magnify over the years. What will stay with us and the generations to come is his moral compass, his dignity, patriotism and unconditional loyalty to his Country. I can only add the inspired words of the Romanian-American writer Dorin Tudoran: ”Good night Your Majesty!”

Trafficking In Persons: A Growing Challenge For Humanity

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Thoughts by H.E. Dr. Ion Jinga, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations – New York, published in Huffington Post on 22.12.2016

On 20 December 2016, the Spanish Presidency of the Security Council has organized a ministerial level open debate on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security. Trafficking in Persons in Conflict Situations”. The debate, chaired by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, took place only a few days before Spain will end a remarkable accomplished two-year term as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.

Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes and the world’s second largest criminal enterprise, after drug trafficking. But unlike drugs, here the commodity of crime is human beings who are sold and bought without any consideration for human dignity. Today, there are more human slaves in the world than ever before in history: an estimated 27 million adults and 13 million children.

Trafficking in persons is a topic that, unfortunately, has become a cruel reality for many people because of their simple presence in a conflict area.

During the open debate, I was deeply moved by the testimony of Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a survivor of Daesh human trafficking, who on 16 September 2016 was appointed the UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. It is the first time a survivor of human trafficking has been appointed Goodwill Ambassador.

Worldwide conflicts are becoming more connected to terrorist activities, while human trafficking plays a growing role in the operation of terrorist organizations, generating revenue and being an instrument for vanquishing those who oppose them.

Linkages between conflict and trafficking in persons, particularly of women and children, have been identified by the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council, and the case of horrendous crimes perpetrated by Daesh against Yazidi women and girls gained the deep sympathy of the entire world.

Both in conflict and non-conflict situations, prevention is key even though we might not be able to make use of the same instruments. An enhanced role may be played by the peacekeeping personnel deployed in UN operations. Pre-deployment training of the blue helmets on the specificity of trafficking in persons will contribute to increasing their knowledge about the phenomenon, in order to identify and fight against it. In fact, all persons having access to conflict areas, including representatives of civil society organizations or humanitarian actors, should be trained in this regard. For instance, prior to deployment in UN peacekeeping operations, the Romanian personnel receives a special training on how to identify and protect victims of human trafficking.

Assistance to victims requires addressing their needs on a case by case model. An interdisciplinary approach is necessary to ensure that they have access to medical, psycho-social assistance and legal aid, for a successful rehabilitation and social reintegration.

Evidence proves the existence of a complex nexus between trafficking in persons, organized crime, corruption, armed conflict and terrorism. This requires a further mapping effort. Joining forces becomes increasingly important, because combating successfully the scourge of trafficking in persons cannot be achieved only at national level, especially in cases of conflict situation. Cooperation at regional and international levels to complement national efforts is therefore needed, as well as the exchange of information among relevant authorities from states that are a source, transit or destination for victims of trafficking. This cooperation is also essential in identifying those responsible for the trafficking, with a view to hold the perpetrators accountable. Alongside the UN, the INTERPOL and the International Organization for Migration, civil society, private sector and media have to be major partners.

Combating trafficking in human beings is an ongoing battle, and the focus must be on protecting the victims. Necessary legislative and other measures to prevent, investigate, punish and provide reparation for acts relating to human trafficking need to continue to be enforced. The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its additional Protocol, as well as the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, are part of this legal backbone.

But in our efforts we should also use the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (target 8.7), which provides a clear mandate to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking.

Exchanging best practices may equally be part of the solution. In Romania, we have the Anti-trafficking National Agency with the main role to coordinate, evaluate and monitor the activities of authorities dealing with human trafficking, as well as the protection and assistance of victims. Partnerships with civil society are important too, because preventing and tackling this scourge require a multidisciplinary approach. The Agency currently cooperates with more than 60 partners.

Within the Romanian National Police there is a dedicated Unit for fighting against trafficking in persons, with 15 regional teams comprising specialized officers available at county level and totaling around 250 operational staff. The Police Border Department has 400 police officers detached to the EU Agency FRONTEX, who work in European Border and Coast Guard Teams to fight trafficking in persons and drug trafficking. Currently, 22 Romanian debriefing experts contribute to identify victims of trafficking among the immigrants.

The key words are Prevention, Protection (of victims), Prosecutions (of criminals) and Partnerships. The fight against trafficking in human beings must be part of our collective sense of humanity.


Ziua Națională a României sărbătorită de oficialii ONU

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Misiunea Permanentă a României pe lângă Organizația Națiunilor Unite a organizat la New York o recepție cu ocazia Zilei Naționale a României. Alături de Ambasadorul României la ONU, Ion Jinga, la eveniment au fost prezenți și Secretarul general al ONU, Ban Ki-moon, precum și Președintele Adunării Generale a ONU, Peter Thomson.

“Ar trebui să fiți foarte mândri că mulți români lucrează la ONU în multe domenii diferite”, a spus Secretarul general al ONU. Totodată, referindu-se la activitatea E.S. Dr. Ion Jinga, Reprezentantul Permanent al României la ONU – New York, Ban Ki-moon a precizat că acesta este “unul dintre cei mai activi și vizibili ambasadori ai comunității diplomatice de la ONU.”

Peter Thompson, Președintele Adunării Generale a ONU s-a referit în alocuțiunea sa nivelul remarcabil al profesionalismului diplomaților români de-a lungul celor 61 de ani de activitate a României în cadrul organizației, precizând ca înaltul calibru al reprezentantului permanent actual al României a determinat numirea sa în funcția de co-președinte al negocierilor interguvernamentale pentru reforma Consiliului de Securitate al ONU.

La recepție a fost difuzat și documentarul video “Tărâmul dintre ape”.



The United Nations and the World Order

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Dr Ion Jinga HeadshotToughts by Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations, published in Huffington Post on 12.01.2016

The frequent exhortations for countries to “do their fair share,” play by “twenty-first-century rules” or be “responsible stakeholders” in a common system reflect the fact that there is no shared definition of the system or understanding of what a “fair” contribution would be… Thus, while “the international community” is invoked perhaps more insistently now than in any other era, it presents no clear or agreed set of goals, methods or limits. — Henry Kissinger, World Order.

In the last days of 2015, I read Henry Kissinger’s World Order (Penguin Books, 2015). A legend and a titan of world diplomacy, Mr. Kissinger continues to inspire political leaders, foreign policy analysts and diplomats. His ideas are food for thought for those trying to shape a shared international order in spite of current divergences. World Order is a fascinating book about history, geopolitics and prospects for the future of our world, threatened today by violent conflicts, spread of weapons of mass destruction, disintegration of states, ideological extremism, mass migrations and environmental degradation. All these challenges were also on the UN agenda in 2015, and will continue to be in 2016.

The crises in the Middle East and North Africa have been the most heated topics on the agenda of the Security Council, with the deterioration of the security situation and humanitarian plight in the cases of Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq and the huge number of refugees. The UN was involved more than ever in bringing about solutions to these crises, with concrete results at the end of the year: on December 17th, in an unprecedented meeting at the level of finance ministers, the UN Security Council (UNSC) adopted resolution 2253 which expanded and strengthened its Al-Qaida sanctions framework to include a focus on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh); on December 18th, the UNSC adopted the Peace Plan for Syria (resolution no. 2254); on December 23rd, the UNSC endorsed the political agreement for the future Libyan Government of National Accord (resolution no. 2259 – as penholder, the United Kingdom had a leading contribution to its adoption). This confirms the UN essential role in preserving peace and security, fighting terrorism, extremism and intolerance. The Security Council, presided in December by the United States, found the ability to act united in order to accomplish its purpose and to preserve its international weight and credibility.

Invited by Carnegie Council on June 7, 2006 to discuss UN reform, Jan Eliasson, then President of the General Assembly and Foreign Minister of Sweden (now UN Deputy Secretary General) launched a famous phrase:

There is no peace without development, there is no development without peace and there is neither lasting peace nor sustainable development without respect of human rights and the rule of law.

This formulation became axiom: for the international system to work, peace, development and respect for human rights and the rule of law have to coexist at the same time. The United Nations revival as the centerpiece of multilateral diplomacy has been confirmed by successful outcome of key events in 2015: the Third UN Conference on Financing for Development (Addis Ababa); the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, the Peacekeeping Operations Summit, and the Leaders’ Summit to Counter ISIL and Violent Extremism (New York); the Climate Change Summit (Paris). All these have eventually produced an “agreed set of goals.”

2015 will probably remain in history as a very good year for the UN and its lessons have to be used as a source of inspiration for future action. 2016 is not going to be less important because it marks the start of concrete implementation. The cornerstone is the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, composed of 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 targets to wipe poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years. After the enthusiasm of 2015, the worst thing we could do would be to fail in its implementation.

Doing this is largely in the hands of States and depends on their ability to transpose political will into concrete measures. The process has to be inclusive and engage all stakeholders. It is about identifying the “agreed methods” mentioned in the motto above. A guidance from the UN would help the work at national level as the UN bodies could provide continuity, integration and coherence based on the universality of the Agenda 2030. For instance, the UN could organize peer reviews. But the UN bodies themselves do not implement anything, they could only facilitate the implementation. Therefore, the critical role in transposing into reality the Agenda 2030 is reserved for the national public administrations. National parliaments, civil society and mass media could mobilize public opinion, because public engagement will be critical during the SDGs’ implementation. As for the “agreed limits,” we need to continue building up mutual trust among countries.

Romania is a strong promoter of the UN and a net contributor to peace, development, human rights and rule of law. As a country having undergone fundamental social and economic reforms in the last 25 years, it is well positioned to make use of the best practices acquired in the transition process, to offer expertise in areas such as good governance, human rights protection, economic development, and to enhance the UN capacity to respond to emerging challenges to peace and security.

As the only global international organization, the UN is a place where its member states can identify solutions to global problems. The UN is part of the World Order. A possible way forward is suggested in Mr. Kissinger’s book:

The goal of our era must be to achieve that equilibrium while restraining the dogs of war. And we have to do so among the rushing stream of history. The well-known metaphor for this is in the fragment conveying that one cannot step twice in the same river. History may be thought of as a river, but its waters will be ever changing. The history’s meaning is a matter to be discovered, not declared… Each generation will be judged whether the greatest, most consequential issues of the human condition have been faced, and that decisions to meet these challenges must be taken by statesmen before it is possible to know what the outcome may be.

Mesajul de mulțumire al LSRS UK adresat Ambasadorului Ion Jinga

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Excelenței Sale Dr. Ion Jinga, Ambasador Extraordinar și Plenipotențiar, Reprezentantul permanent al României pe lângă Organizaţia Naţiunilor Unite

Londra,  04.10.2015

Excelenţa Voastră,

Permiteți-ne să ne exprimăm, pe această cale, profunda apreciere față de interesul și implicarea dumneavoastră în proiectele Filialei Marea Britanie a Ligii Studenților Români din Străinătate pe parcusul mandatului dumneavoastră anterior de Ambasador al României la Londra. Datorită dumneavoastră, Echipa LSRS UK s-a bucurat mereu de susținerea Ambasadei României la Londra în cadrul unor proiecte de impact, ce au reușit să creeze legături solide între românii din Marea Britanie, atât pe plan profesional, cât și pe cel studențesc. Conferința Studenților, Profesorilor și Cercetătorilor Români din UK si Evenimentele de SpeedNetworking sunt doar două asfel de exemple de inițiativă comună ce au devenit tradiție, iar vizitele și întâlnirile cu studenții români sunt încă un semn de atenție specială pe care ați acordat-o comunității noastre de studenți. Iar pentru toate acestea vă purtăm un profund respect. Considerăm că fiecare român aflat în Marea Britanie este un „ambasador“ al propriei țări, de aceea am apreciat răbdarea și înțelegerea cu care v-ați implicat în fiecare comunitate a diasporei, încercând să promovați o imagine reală, dar totodată pozitivă a României. În timpul mandatului de ambasador, ați dat dovadă de atudinea unui om care își cunoaște țara și respectă fiecare membru al ei, apărându-ne imaginea în contextul european. Prin prisma activităților desfășurate împreună, putem declara cu sinceritate că v-ați remarcat prin profesionalism și o neîncetată pozitivitate, oferindu-ne motive să fim mândrii că ne reprezentați. Sperăm că împreună am reușit să construim o comunitate mai unită și vom încerca să păstrăm acest parteneriat de succes și cu viitorul ambasador, ducând munca noastră comună pe mai departe. În final, vă mulțumim încă o dată pentru ajutorul acordat, vă felicităm pentru cel mai lung mandat în capitala Angliei după 1990 și vă urăm din suflet succes în funcția de reprezentant al țării noastre la ONU. Cu deosebită considerație, Echipa LSRS UK reprezentată prin:

Ioan – Vlad Miftodi, Coordonator

Andrei Ioan Stan,  Membru de onoare

‘The Jinga standard’

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Early day motion 291, tabled on the 13th of July, 2015 within the Chamber of Commons of the British Parliament read:

That this House commends the work of the outgoing Ambassador of Romania to the UK, Dr Ion Jinga, who has played a significant part in developing relations between the two countries; recognises Dr Jinga’s deep historical understanding of the Romanian-British relationship, and the effective and skilled manner in which he has represented his country and the Romanian community in the UK; notes Dr Jinga’s impressive diplomatic and intellectual record; and wishes Dr Jinga well in his future roles.

And Amendment 291A1, tabled on 15th of July, 2015, read:

…and highlights his work in Scotland working with the Scottish Government, MSPs, local authorities, Chambers of Commerce, non-governmental organisations, universities and students’ associations of around 800 Romanian students and also his active support for the successful integration of Romanians in local Scottish communities’.

This is for the first time when any Romanian Ambassador enjoys such recognition within the British Parliament, hinting towards the present-day arguably unprecedented level of friendship, cooperation and shared interests between Romania and the United Kingdom. However, it would be insufficient to contend that the first commendation a Romanian Ambassador in the British Parliament is exclusively owed only to the Romania-UK present cooperation within the broader context of shared interests. Far from that! No matter how big a subject of interpretative and normative attention, international relations in general, and diplomacy in particular, are acts of human agency – sets of actions decided upon and implemented by individuals of various formations and of various professional capacity.

Ritual, formality, and ‘raising your sleeves’

Even as we find ourselves in the early years of the 21st century, ritual and formality still dictate the behavior of diplomatic envoys, especially upon appointment. Dr. Jinga’s case was no different and, on March 7, 2008, after he presented his letters of accreditation to HM Queen Elisabeth II, in a formal atmosphere, he began his mandate. What came afterwards was one of the most challenging posts possible for a contemporary Romanian diplomat, not because London represented, in Dr. Jinga’s own words “a hub of world diplomacy”, not even because of the wide array of issues on the British-Romanian agenda, such as trade, defence, internal affairs cooperation, social affairs and employment, consular affairs, or cooperation on various bilateral and multilateral issues, but because Dr. Jinga had to face head-on the ‘convulsions’ of the British post financial crisis polity, as well as their effects on the image of Romania and its citizens.

Few could have anticipated the rise of UKIP’s superficial populism in one of the most principled democracies in the world, and few could have fought it head on in such a way as to not only avoid harming the significantly important British-Romanian relationship, but also to present a point of view characterised by tactfulness and elegance. Most importantly, however, if one is to believe former Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean’s view on Dr. Jinga’s anti-xenophobia performance: “few would have fought back in the local media”, then Ion Jinga pioneered an approach. This isn’t to say that it is admirable for a diplomat to present a press opinion in another state. This would be a necessary but insufficient condition for admiration. But to intervene on more than 100 occasions means establishing a normative mechanism for monitoring and response – one that tactfully scraps the rigidity of (i.e. arguably secretive and elitist) classical diplomacy in favour of ‘raising your sleeves’ for a good cause, even if this could be risky from a personal standpoint. This can be easily codified as ‘the Jinga standard’, making the condition both necessary and sufficient for admiration, not least as it successfully obtains important political gains, such as the late 2013 expression of position by William Hague: “we acknowledged the positive contribution that most Romanians in the UK make to the UK economy”, at the highpoint of anti-Romanian tabloid xenophobia.

Qualitative achievements

Nonetheless, rhetoric alone is not sufficient when it comes to national interests and the quality of Dr. Jinga’s mandate would not survive scrutiny in today’s age without improvements within various other quantifiable aspects. One such aspect is UK-Romania trade balance: on a constant rise and – surprisingly enough – in favour of Romania. A second one is a consolidated strategic partnership between the two states, which Dr. Jinga did not negotiate, but revived and implemented, at a time when shifting geopolitical variables dictate a particular need for its functioning. Third, Dr. Jinga’s “Diplomat of the Year” awards, given to him by British ‘revolving door’ press institutions, represent nothing less than prestige for Romania in the bulk and in the plenty.

All of the above are easily identifiable within motion 291 as key defining characteristics for Ambassador Jinga’s seven and a half years long mandate in Britain. However, it is important to note that the motion, for all it encompasses, fails to capture what the York Romanian Society (YRS) considers the key for ‘the Jinga standard’ – crediting him for the establishment of the Romanian student-led cultural activism structure in the UK, or, in short, the students’ associative environment.

Beyond motion 291

In order to comprehend Dr. Jinga’s role in the creation and functioning of the students’ associative environment, it is important to change perspectives – from the strategic to the tactical and from the national to the personal, and to note the key role played by events such as the post-2008 Conference of Romanian Students, Professors and Researchers in the UK (CRSPR), as well as of the Ambassador’s Diploma. The former represented a meeting point awing aspiring leaders of student organizations with a glimpse of the ritual and formality which described Dr. Jinga’s official functions, and, at the same time, a key moment in learning who’s who in student activism. The latter can be best described as a compelling recognition – meaning that it would remark one’s achievements in various fields and associate them not only with the ‘political correctness’ of national representation, but also with the image of the Ambassador himself – another potentially risky element.

In Dr. Jinga’s view, the Romanian students’ associative environment in the UK had to promote Romania in the English language, it had to do it in a structured manner and it had to be cohesive.  Why? Because the strong and unanimously recognized academic capabilities of Romanian students needed to be seen, and because a structured and intellectual associative environment could be a partner in combating superficial populism. If this was to be achieved, though, the personal involvement of the Ambassador was necessary.

Consequently, Dr. Jinga visited every relevant student association, met the executive representatives of host universities and placed the seal of endorsement on everything that met the Ambassador’s expectations. Where expectations were not only met, but shared, the Ambassador increased his level of association with the group, taking on roles such as Member of the Manchester Debating Union (University of Manchester), or honorary president of the York Romanian Society (University of York) – unthinkable in the enclosed framework of ‘classical diplomacy’.

It must be understood that where values were shared within the students’ associative environment, the endorsement of the Ambassador meant that one was not allowed the luxuries of failure or of superficiality. The YRS was privileged to receive one of the highest levels of endorsement from Dr. Jinga – three Ambassador’s Awards, the Ambassador as honorary president, and co-hosting two CRSPR editions – one in the Embassy itself. Thus, sponsorships would flow and high-level guests were ensured by just mentioning the relationship that the YRS had with the Embassy of Romania. All doors were open, but with a caveat – the YRS had to perform, as its failure to do so would have had consequences beyond York.

The YRS credits Dr. Ion Jinga with transforming Romanian students in the United Kingdom – members and officers within the students’ associative environment – into responsible and organized activists of public and cultural diplomacy, into relevant and reliable partners in the process of defending Romania’s image, and into competitive professionals with normative experience, through the use of precision-placed encouragements of a symbolic nature. Most importantly, the YRS credits Dr. Ion Jinga for having done this while taking a symbolic risk to his own image.  At present, the Romanian student-led cultural activism in the United Kingdom is carried-out in one of the most structured associative frameworks outside of the country, through shared values reasoned by the Ambassador himself.

Consequently, it is vital to note that, although admirable, motion 291 is, in its contents, insufficient, and the York Romanian Society feels the necessity of it being complementing through the acknowledgement of HE Dr. Ion Jinga’s role as the architect of the Romanian students’ associative environment in the United Kingdom.