Our National Consciousness Is Strongly Connected with Rome
Romania and Italy are linked by 145 years of diplomatic relations, but the special bilateral relation is based on historical, cultural and linguistic links which have played an important role in affirming the Romanian nation in a universal context such as the one offered by Rome, the world’s centre of reference for many centuries. The classic symbol par excellence of this special and, I would say, natural link, is Trajan’s Column, which represents the “birth certificate of the Romanian people”. Over time, the links have also been emphasized throughout the formation and assertion of the modern Romanian state; allow me to mention, for example, the epistolary exchanges between Benito Cavour and Vasile Alecsandri or the presence of soldiers from Galați in Garibaldi’s army. The main representatives of the Transylvanian School have studied in Rome, a city which saw the birth of the enthusiasm and the national consciousness that led, on December 1st 1918, to Romania’s Union with Transylvania, through the expression of the free and conscious will of the Romanians from Transylvania and Banat. In Rome, the Greek-Catholic Bishop Inochentie Micu Klein wrote his memoirs, a true handbook for patriotism which I recommend as an antidote to the ostentatious patriotism that sometimes occupies the public sphere. Going through the memoirs of Bishop Inochentie produces a vibration in the soul which counters the alienation engendered by consumerism, indifference and sterile discussions. Turning back to the basic idea, I would like to emphasize that the formation of our national consciousness is strongly connected with Rome.
From fraternity to partnership
I quoted these examples to illustrate why the relation between Romania and Italy is considered a privileged one. In May 1918, the President of the Council of Ministers of Italy, at that time Vittorio Emmanuele Orlando, stated in a letter sent to Simion Mândrescu, president of the Action Committee of Romanians from Transylvania, Banat and Bucovina, that the friendship between our countries is also due to the fraternity that unites us. A constant testimony of this fraternity is the fact that our country is the only one that bears Rome in its name, reminding us of our common history, which begins two millennia ago.
Since 1873, the year when the first Romanian diplomatic agency was opened in Rome, and until this year, when we celebrate ten years of Consolidated Strategic Partnership, the political relations between Romania and Italy have undergone numerous changes, the most important developments taking place since the 1990s. In the last two decades, the bilateral relations have gained even greater intensity with the accession of our country to NATO and the European Union. On a political level, our countries have created an example of partnership and collaboration, maintaining a constant and substantial dialogue at a bilateral, European and international level.
Community bridges and bonds
The well-integrated Romanian community from Italy, which contributes to the economic and social development of Italy, is undoubtedly a solid bridge between the two societies, alongside the Italian community in Romania. In Italy, we have 1,190,091 Romanian residents, whose participation is not limited only to their contribution to the state budget, but also on a cultural and social level, through the many opportunities for intercultural dialogue or through the mixed families created, to give just a few examples. Our fellow citizens teach in the Italian universities and schools, work in the social field, taking care of children or elderly people; the Romanian community also brings together an important number of scientific researchers, engineers, doctors, workers in agriculture and construction, artists, each one of them contributing in his or her own way to the representation of Romania abroad. We also have approximately 157,000 Romanian pupils and students, the most significant foreign presence in the Italian educational institutions. Our cooperation in the field of education is completed by over 200 education institutions from Italy where courses of Romanian Language, Culture and Civilization are organized, through the Romanian Language Institute’s programme for which Italy was one of the pilot countries, but also by the support we are offering to activities such as lectures pertaining to the Romanian language, literature, culture and civilization in the Italian universities.
Cultural and economic relations
Our countries are linked by very tight political and cultural relations, characterized by a substantial collaboration on issues of common interest in economic, social and cultural fields, considering the European context in which Italy holds the OSCE Chairmanship in 2018, and Romania is preparing to take over the presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2019. Therefore, a special place in our bilateral relationship, as I stated whenever I had the opportunity, is occupied by cultural diplomacy. I believe that, through cultural diplomacy, we can combat prejudices and develop a culture of trust, able to increase the level of participation in our societies and to create a European conscience, an imperative nowadays.
Another key factor in the Romanian-Italian relation is the excellent cooperation at economic and commercial level, with a total value of bilateral trade which in 2017 reached the highest figure in the last ten years, namely 14.61 billion Euro, up by 7.62% compared to 2016. Italy is the second largest trading partner of Romania, with a share of 10.8% of the Romanian foreign trade. Moreover, with 23,446 active Romanian companies with Italian capital, Italy is ranked first in the list of foreign investors from this point of view. At the same time, Romanians have a growing entrepreneurial activity in Italy. According to the available data (Uniocamere and Cerved), in 2017, 24,000 capital and people companies and 49,317 individual companies set up by Romanian citizens were registered at the Italian Trade Registry.
In concluding this brief description of Romania’s presence in Italy, I can only express my hope that, through the diplomatic activity that I carry out, together with the Embassy team, we create new bridges and consolidate the already existing ones, further strengthening the partnership between our countries. This year’s anniversary of the Centenary of the Great Union reminds us of the importance of the values and principles that unite us and invites us to responsibility in undertaking the actions meant to outline the projection abroad of a dignified Romania. The creators of the Union did not stand idle; they understood that the future of the nation is determined by their involvement. Responsibility means action, awareness of the fact that our prestige depends on the success and virtues of each Romanian.