I have to admit that I was initially quite happily surprised to see the latest letter published in the Huffington Post (UK edition) from Doctor Ion “Two Sheeps” Jinga because I thought that perhaps the same ghost writer who recently wrote on behalf of Crin Antonescu had helped the good “doctor” sound somewhat intelligent and credible in his role as the official representative of Romania to the United Kingdom.
Instead, we get another essay written in the style of a confused 12-year-old who adds commas unnecessarily such as at the end of the fourth paragraph, which ends “Of course, not!” Sigh.
Instead of critiquing another horribly mangled attempt at writing English (and causing me to bang my head on the table, wondering why no Romanian official ever bothers to hire someone who is actually fluent in the language), I wondered what exactly I would write if I were the ambassador.
After all, despite the crude, clumsy style of writing and speaking, the good doctor is addressing some valid issues, namely that Britain is on course to lifting immigration restrictions for Romanians (and Bulgarians) at the end of the year and that there are many Britons who oppose this, feeling that their country is already overwhelmed with immigrants (from other countries).
It’s easy to criticize another person’s mistakes but what would my letter be if I were in his position? I think it would go something a little like this:
Romanians in the UK
In my position as the Ambassador of Romania to the UK, I often find myself facing difficult questions. On one hand, the people of Romania, whom I represent, have worked hard to gain the same rights as any other citizen in a country belonging to the European Union and wonder why they are relegated to second-class citizens in a fellow member state. And on the other hand, many Britons are rightfully concerned about several EU policies, including especially current and future proposals to remove restrictions on immigration into their country.
Regrettably, Romania has found itself being used as a pawn in a domestic political match here in Britain as some disenfranchised parties have been using the planned removal of restrictions on immigration by Romanians to the UK as a scapegoat for all of this country’s problems, including a tight housing market and shortfalls in the public health system or even a rise in street crime.
Since Romania’s accession to the EU, my country has been proud to have been able to send X thousand students to universities all over Europe, including X thousand to universities in Britain, where they have worked hard to obtain good marks. In fact, the “student of the year” in Europe for post-graduate studies last year was Gruia Badescu, a Romanian national who is doing his doctoral work at Cambridge University. Likewise we in Romania have been to have many thousand Britons who have attended Romanian universities, equally enriching both nations.
Certainly it is a matter of democratic principles if the people of Britain want to reconsider their membership in the European Union and all of that which it entails. But in my opinion it would be a shame if Britain were to withdraw from this rich community of cultures, peoples and nations. We in Romania welcome the hundreds of thousands of British tourists who come visit our beautiful country every year. Likewise we greatly value the British investors and businessmen and women who have set up shop in Romania, hiring many thousands of Romanians at good wages and producing many wonderful products and services.
In all the heat of rhetoric, it’s easy to forget that immigration, cultural exchange and the free flow of labor, capital and academic research is not a one-way street. Although it is an important issue to debate, the flow of people between Romania and Britain goes both ways.
Occasionally nationals from Britain or Romania commit crimes in the other country but the police forces from both nations have an excellent track record on working together to stop these unfortunate acts. Certainly we in Romania do not blame an entire nation for the misdeeds of a few people, regardless of their national origin.
Likewise we have worked very hard to encourage citizens from all of the European Union nations (most definitely including the United Kingdom) to work and invest in our nation, expecting only the same treatment in return as would be expected between member states with equal status. It’s rather too facile to point to differences in incomes between one nation and the other but it takes some courage to admit that most immigrants in both Romania and Britain are hard-working, productive members of society.
Although I am not a citizen of the United Kingdom, I am very grateful and proud to have had the chance to live and work here amongst some of the friendliest, warmest and most welcoming people I have ever met. And while I cannot vote or take an active part in British politics, I wish only the best for everyone as they take advantage of their full democratic rights to address and resolve the difficulties they face, whether it be a housing shortage, a perceived rise in crime or monetary policies.
All I can ask is to not let racism and the heated rhetoric of extremist political parties condemn what could otherwise be a bright future for the good people of both of our lands.
But of course I’m not the ambassador nor even anyone with any position to speak on the issues. But if I were, that’s the letter I would’ve written.