At the end of the last century 80’s, when it became a good practice to criticize the Soviet system, there was a common saying: “capitalism is decaying, but it smells good.” Their opponents, who knew life in the free world, some have argued otherwise: “Capitalism is healthy, but the smell of its health is stinky.” The Soviet Union together with the socialist system has collapsed and made the debate about the advantages of capitalism and socialism pointless. Europe has united and put “universal values ” at the center of its policy, in which there is no place for xenophobia and ethnic conflicts. Human nature and essence, however, hasn’t changed at all. Some politicians who, despite their “universal» rhetoric, consider their ethnicity to be a crown of the universe and trying to bring happiness to a lot more neighbors and representatives of foreign language and foreign cultural minorities by leading all to a common ethnic denominator. In Europe, where everything is so well visually, that speaking in analogy with the proverb mentioned above, everything “smells good and tasty,” it can’t be noticed. However, there are tools that allow you to measure the actual temperature of each of the EU countries. One of them is the assessment of the situation in the field of ethnicity. What happens, for example, in the new EU member – multi-ethnic Romania?
Anyone is unlikely to argue with the fact that the Roma issue is complicated for every state, even for the most powerful. There are several reasons: it is the absolute disintegration of the Gypsy ( Roma ) population, its non-involvement in the life of society, together with the followed by consequences in the form of high levels of crime and also gypsyism of the local people caused by anti-social behavior of gypsy and ancient prejudices. The gypsy question, however, or rather the desire and the effort to resolve it, can be, as well, considered as a test for maturity and humanity of any society and the state.
Romania is a home for one of the largest Roma communities in the world – more than six hundred thousands. History of Romanian gypsies is one of the most diverse. For example, here in the nineteenth century, they were serfs of the boyars, who did not hesitate to take dues from wandering blacksmiths, dancers, fortune-tellers and horse thieves. Negative attitude towards Roma has firmly stated in the Romanian society. Thus, it is not surprising, that after Romania’s accession to the EU, the Roma people massively went to the West, where not everyone was ready for a new great migration. Bucharest insistently has no intention to carry out social inclusion of Roma. Authorities have chosen the other way to solve this problem – to create conditions for the departure of Roma in Old Europe. Due to this fact, the EU’s decision to delay the entry of Romania into the Schengen area, in fact, was caused by unwillingness of Bucharest to promote the integration of Roma in Romanian society and because of the attempts of Romania to solve the problem at somebody’s expenses by expelling the Roma from their homes. In this regard, the example of neighboring Ukraine, which is not an EU member, is very indicative. On April 8, 2013 there was adopted the Presidential Decree on the Strategy of protection and integration Roma national minority into Ukrainian society for the period to 2020.
“…Blind people! I will tell you, who you really are…!”
In general, a lot of Romania’s activities in the ethnic sphere resemble the policy of the empire in the nineteenth century in the worst performance. The father of modern Russian language and poetry and, at the same time, a rebel and ideologist of the Russian imperialism (such a paradox) genius Alexander Pushkin dreamed about a time when «the Slavic streams will merge into a sea of Russia”. But it took place in the nineteenth century, when such concepts as ethnic identity and the right of nations for self-determination, weren’t, to put it mildly, popular. In the twenty-first century the quite modern Romania adheres to the same ideas. And not only adheres, but also accepts as a guide to action, making the nearest neighbors to suffer from. There are some striking examples for those who not believe.
In addition to Romanians there are a few nations in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, which consider themselves to be a linguistic successors of the Roman Empire. They are: Moldavians, Vlachs, Meglenoromanians, Istroromanias, Aromanians and several other ethnic groups, scattered from Greece to the south and the west of Slovenia. Their quantity, history and level of consciousness are very different. For example, the Moldovan statehood goes back centuries and greater than Romanian. Some of them consider themselves as independent nations in the Slavic and Greek environment. Other are preserving their language and distinct culture, without separating themselves from the populations of the countries they live in. Languages of all these communities are close enough to the Romanian, although their speakers not always understand each other. The attitude of Bucharest to Moldovans is known for decades. It hasn’t changed at all: there is only one language – Romanian and two Romanian states, the border between them has sufficient legitimacy which means that in future Moldova have to join the Romania. Obviously, that in accordance with such a position, the existence of Moldovans in Ukraine isn’t recognizable for Bucharest. The acting Romanian president also does not hesitate to say about this during meetings with young people.
Such statements should be attributed to the category of political flubs, but Bucharest’s foreign policy uses them to put pressure on neighboring countries. In the past year, the Romania refused Serbia in the right to become a candidate for membership in the EU, claiming that Belgrade’s policy can be characterized as a totalitarian, because of supporting the existence of such nationality as Vlachs, and separating them from Romanian people. The statements of Vlachs themselves, who have their own history and identity, are not something to be taken into account by Bucharest. Moreover, these statements are treated by Romania as like “insinuations” of the official Belgrade.
“People who live in glass houses should not throw stones”
(“It is easy to see the faults of others but not your own”)
The Ukrainian-Romanian relations in the field of ethnicity became epic. It is notable that according to the Romanian authorities position, Kiev has “unreasonably invented” the nation of Moldovans in Ukraine which amounts 260,000 citizens. There are about 150,000 Romanians in Ukraine, and they live mainly in Bukovina, making the majority in three districts. In this regard, there are 83 public schools in Ukraine with the Romanian language of teaching and 8 mixed Ukrainian-Romanian schools and nearly fifty Romanian kindergartens. Dozen of publications in Romanian language are publishing in Ukraine, half of which is funded from local budgets, and some – from a central. The regional state mass media devotes considerable time to broadcast in Romanian. Romanians are broadly represented at all levels of government. And what about Romania? In response to the Ukrainian policy for protection and integration of ethnic Romanian, there are some articles were published in Romania and became widely known for its xenophobic, fascist character. These articles state that “Ukrainians have and had the worst attitude towards Romanians and that among the neighboring countries the biggest hostility was shown towards Romania”. Obviously that in this scenario Ukrainians is also blamed for “prosecuting of North Bukovina Romanians, for destroying their churches, desecrating graves, robbing property, prohibiting schools, mass media and cultural activities and for many other dreadful things”. Interesting that position of the Ukrainian minority in Romania is difficult to be compared with the life of the Romanians in Ukraine.
There is only one secondary school on 62 thousand of Romanian Ukrainians – the high school of T.Shevchenko, which have no library, gym and even a single profile cabinet. Romanian Ukrainians have not any kindergarten, elementary or secondary school, where they can learn Ukrainian language. The Ukrainian language, if taught, is only optional. In the University of Bucharest, Ukrainian language listed only as a subject in the program of the Department of Slavic Languages. The only one Ukrainian high school which functioning in Sighetu Marmatiei of Maramures County has 226 students. But all the time it is under the threat of closure because of the harassment and prosecution of the local authorities towards activists of the Ukrainian minority, which offer parents to teach their children in this high school.
In addition, Bucharest actively shares the national minorities on their territory by expressing outrage at the existence of ethnic groups in neighboring (and not only, for example, in Greece) countries, which related to Romanians by language, but with a different consciousness and self-determination. For example, the Ukrainians during the census recorded themselves as Hutsuly, Rusiny, Ruthenians, etc…
In this regard, not surprisingly, that Bucharest regularly frustrates the monitoring of the conditions of national minorities between Ukraine and Romania.
There is nothing for Bucharest to be proud of. Ethnic thermometer shows the disease of Romanian state: relapse of xenophobia with absolute failure of the central government system.