Romania – Bucharest : A nation lives through its people and an important step in engaging them to stay close to their identity is learning who they are, especially nowadays, when everyone tends to be dispersed in different areas and host societies.
We witness an increasing presence of transnational networks and appetite for mobility and therefore we need to have a more inclusive vision of the nation in order to accept and adapt to these developments. National identity cannot be confined territorially and linked only with its autochthonous community or historically settled communities, but it is connected with people who maintain and stay attached to a certain national feeling, a common mindset and values, and respect to home-grown traditions and culture. This, automatically, implies redefining the approach in what concerns our co-nationals, wherever they are.
Co-nationals living abroad are an important resource through which a nation can export important soft-power capital. In what concerns our country, we certainly envisage a reciprocate relation: Romanians from abroad are ambassadors of Romania in states where they live, and, in exchange, we have to ensure them respect, sustainable conditions to preserve their identity and long term support for a symbolistic and pragmatic relationship.
Romania is one of the countries with a considerable large diaspora. Recently, the mobility rights gained after joining European Union have determined many Romanian citizens to live, to study and to work abroad. Around 20% of the country’s population lives outside the national borders, becoming part of our nation branding and in the same time an invaluable source of promoting our cultural, linguistic and spiritual identity. Moreover, we also have different historical communities in our neighborhood region, which are considered an integrated part of our nation as we share the same culture and values and we speak the same language.
Consequently, my responsibilities are to protect the rights of Romanians abroad and to support the preservation of their national identity in the host societies where they live. In these times, when people can now be “here” and “there”, I think we have to use new technologies and communication in our own benefit. Active efforts have to be made in order to connect with Romanians abroad and help them in maintaining strong and permanent connections with their families and with national authorities. The issue regarding Romanians abroad has gained more complexity and has become a strategic priority for us, as a natural result of recent evolutions in this field. We have to constantly work in improving the relationship with our co-nationals and I strongly believe that transparency is the simplest way to ensure Romanians abroad that we fulfill programs to their benefit.
My belief is that we have to pay the same attention and show the same interest for all communities, whether we have in mind Romanians from the historic communities or Romanian citizens which now live in different territories abroad, such as United States of America and European Union member states. However, taking into account the heterogeneous problems encountered by them and the diversity of societies where they seek integration, we need to have different and specific approaches.
For example, in what concerns Romanian citizens which are part of the diaspora, we acknowledge that they are an important agent of both social and economic development of our society. Therefore, we are coordinating institutional partnerships which, on the one hand, can help them accessing European funds via informative sessions and, on the other hand, can encourage them investing in Romania via a joint investment fund for the diaspora.
Regarding Romanians from historic communities in the neighborhood region, we have a duty to help them in preserving their cultural, linguistic and spiritual identity and in the same time to ensure the protection of their rights according to European standards and guidelines, including in states which have not yet joined European Union. The key word is reciprocity. Romania is an example in Europe in terms of ethnic minority rights. A mere example is that every ethnic minority is represented in the Parliament and there are generous funds for preserving their cultural and linguistic identity.
Due to our historic bounds and common linguistic identity, the relation with Republic of Moldova plays a strategic role in my portfolio. Moreover, taking into account that the political dialogue between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union has moved to a higher stage once the ratification of the Association Agreement, we have the duty to sustain a constant pro-European approach. In this sense, I intend to create a common communication framework between Romania and Republic of Moldova in order to have free and reciprocate access to mass-media in the Romanian language, which is an official European Union language, in both countries.
Beyond these indispensable proceedings, I have clearly designed my strategy in order to guarantee Romanians abroad a transparent use of public funds and an efficient way of working to improve their life.
What I strongly believe is that Romania has understood an important lesson: Romanians abroad are an integrated part of our nation and protecting their identity is not an option, but a long-term responsibility.