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Anti-Romanian sentiment or Romanophobia (Romanian: antiromânism, românofobie) is hostility toward or prejudice against Romanians as an ethnic, linguistic, religious, or perceived racial group, and can range from individual hatred to institutionalized, violent persecution.
Anti-Romanian discrimination and sentiment has been present in various degrees among the peoples and/or governments of countries bordering on Romania, either toward Romania itself or towards Romanian ethnic minorities residing in these countries. Similar patterns have existed toward other groups both in the region and elsewhere in the world, especially where political borders do not coincide with the patterns of ethnic population.
- 1 Kingdom of Hungary
- 2 Bulgaria
- 3 Russian Empire
- 4 Soviet Union (including the 1917 Revolution)
- 5 Post-Soviet Moldova
- 6 Ukraine
- 7 Yugoslavia and modern Serbia
- 8 Romania
- 9 Switzerland
- 10 European Union
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
Kingdom of Hungary
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Transylvania in the Middle Ages was organized according to the system of Estates, which were privileged groups (universitates) with power and influence in socio-economic and political life, being nonetheless organized according to certain ethnic criteria as well. The first Estate was the lay and ecclesiastic aristocracy, ethnically heterogeneous, but undergoing a process of homogenization around its Hungarian nucleus. The other Estates were Saxons, Szeklers and Romanians (or Vlachs - Universitas Valachorum), all with an ethnic and ethno-linguistic basis (Universis nobilibus, Saxonibus, Syculis et Olachis). The general assembly (congregatio generalis) of the four Estates had mainly supra-legislative powers in Transylvania, but it sometimes took measures regarding order in the country, relationships between the privileged, military issues, etc.
The turning point in the history of the Romanian population in Transylvania was in 1366, when through the Decree of Turda the king Louis I Anjou of Hungary redefined nobility in terms of membership in the Roman Catholic Church and, thus specifically excluding the Eastern Orthodox Romanians. The only possibility for Romanians to retain or access nobility was through conversion to Roman Catholicism. Some Orthodox Romanian nobles converted, being integrated in the Hungarian nobility, but the most of them declined, thus losing their status and privileges.
As a result, gradually, after 1366 Romanians lost their status as an Estate and were excluded from Transylvania's assemblies. This meant that the Romanian population of Transylvania was never directly represented in the Transylvanian Diet, which consisted of Hungarian nobles, German and Székely nobles (the Unio Trium Nationum). Moreover, in Medieval times, the Romanians were not allowed to reside within the walls of such Transylvanian cities as Sibiu (Nagyszeben/Hermannstadt), Braşov (Brassó/Kronstadt) or Cluj (Kolozsvár/Klausenburg). This led to extensive persecution against the under-represented Romanians. For example, in the 16th century, Transylvanian laws of justice separated the rights of Hungarians, Saxons and Szeklers from the rights of the Romanians.
As a consequence, Romanian peasants would sometimes revolt and demand better treatment. These revolts, such as the 1784 Romanian peasant uprising, were ruthlessly suppressed as Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor after learning the escalated situation ordered the army to intervene. Horea and Cloșca were caught by Romanians in their subterfuge and handled them to Paul Kray general. Horea and Cloșca were executed by breaking on the wheel. This method of execution consisted of the victim being laid on the ground whilst the executioner would break the prisoner’s bones with a spiked wheel. Other peasants would be forced to watch the executions in order to frighten them from attempting future uprisings. Crișan committed suicide in the prison.
In 1918, after the First World War, the union of Transylvania with Romania was declared at Alba Iulia by an assembly of the delegates of ethnic Romanians in Transylvania. Following the Treaty of Trianon, eventually Transylvania became part of Romania.
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Bulgaria and Romania are neighbors, however, both two countries have been in conflicts in the past, especially over the Dobruja region. In the 1st millennium AD, Bulgaria owned the territory of modern-day Romania. For many Bulgarians[which?], at that time, Romanians were considered as being just Bulgarians, who spoke Bulgarian and belonged to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, a fact denied by the Romanians[which?]. It remained controversial even until the Ottoman Empire's arrival to the Balkans.
After 1878, when Romania became independent, the two countries tried to resolve the conflict until the Second Balkan War, when Romania attacked Bulgaria and took Tutrakan from the country, causing anti-Romanian sentiment to raise to higher levels. During World War I, Bulgaria joined the Central Powers and occupied Bucharest and Dobruja including the now retaken Tutrakan, which is still a part of Bulgaria today. After the end of the war, however, relations cooled down. In 1940, by the Treaty of Craiova Dobruja was divided between them with Bulgaria getting the Southern part and Romania getting the Northern part. After, in World War 2, the two countries were allies. After the establishment of the Eastern Bloc, both countries became socialist republics, which furthered the friendship. The two countries currently have strong ties and have a very special relationship (both joined the EU in 2007), considering their opposed linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
Although the 1940 issue was reaffirmed later in 1947 by the Paris Peace Treaties, today, most Romanians and Bulgarians get along with each other, but Romania is still being held at a negatively by certain groups[which?], which still believe the whole of Romania belongs to them or at least all the Dobruja region.
Bessarabia became a part of the Russian Empire according to the 1812 Treaty of Bucharest. A period of autonomy followed, after which all Romanian government institutions, schools and presses were closed and replaced by a Russian-style provincial administration in 1828. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Bessarabia saw an intense process of Russification. Military service also became a new instrument of Russification. The process of Russification and colonization of this territory started to be carried out by representatives of other ethnic groups of the Russian Empire, including Jews, Germans, Bulgarians, Gagauz, and Ukrainians.
- Russian census 1817: 86% Romanians
- Russian census 1856: 74% Romanians
- Russian census 1897: 56% Romanians
Soviet Union (including the 1917 Revolution)
When the Russian Empire collapsed after the Russian Revolution of 1917, a local body called “Sfatul Ţării” ("Council of the Country") was created in Bessarabia. Moldova became an independent republic on December 2, 1917. Given that Soviet raids already menaced the newly formed authority, the local body ("Sfatul Ţării") called in support troops from the Kingdom of Romania. The troops entered Bessarabia on December 13. On March 27, 1918, the local body (Sfatul Ţării) voted to unite with Romania. Subsequently, the Soviet Union refused to recognize the union, and supported an intense propaganda stating that the Kingdom of Romania was an imperialistic multi-ethnic state.
The convention of October 28, 1920, whereby the British Empire, France, Italy, and Japan recognized Romanian sovereignty in Bessarabia, was rejected as invalid by the USSR. Moscow even denied the validity of that part of the convention that stipulated that, upon Russian request, the Council of the League of Nations could be empowered to arbitrate the Russo-Romanian dispute over Bessarabia. In short, the Kremlin insisted that Romania was illegally occupying Bessarabia. Moscow also encouraged revolutionary activities by Bolshevik elements in Bessarabia.
The exact position of the USSR on these issues is unknown except for Moscow's unwillingness to make any concessions to Bucharest on Bessarabian issues. Recent tracts by Romanian historians have emphasized the support given by Romanian Communists to the "democratic forces" opposed to alteration of the status quo in Transylvania in 1938 and subsequent years. True as this may be, there has been no evidence presented in support of any fundamental change in Moscow's positions with respect to Bessarabia in 1938 and subsequent years.
According to official NKVD documents, over 15,000 Romanians from Northern Bukovina were deported to Siberia in 1940 alone. The Soviet action culminated with the Fântâna Albă massacre when 2,500 to 3,000 Romanian refugees who were attempting to leave Northern Bukovina for Romania were blocked by the USSR Border Troops and about 200 of them were shot, at a place called "Fântâna Albă" (White Fountain in Romanian). This policy resulted in a substantial shrinkage of the Romanian population in the province. By 1941, out of 250,000 Romanians in Northern Bukovina, only 192,000 were left.
The territory of the Moldavian SSR was composed of Bessarabia (except for Southern Bessarabia, assigned to Ukraine) and a part of the territory of the former Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Transnistria), founded in 1924 within the territory of Ukraine. In the document confirming the establishment of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (MASSR) of 12 October 1924 the West frontier of the republic was traced out not along the Dniester River but the Prut River. In the MASSR the ideology of a separate Moldovan identity was pursued, including the introduction of Moldovan language, distinct from Romanian. The Cyrillic alphabet and abundant Russisms were introduced.
Another historical event which contributed to the future implementation of the anti-Romanian feelings was Romania’s behaviour in World War II, when the Romanian regime allied itself with Nazi Germany.
In Bessarabia, the Soviet government pursued a policy of assimilation of the native Romanian population. First, the province was divided into a "Moldovan" Socialist Republic and a southern region known as Budjak, which was renamed Izmail Oblast and attached to the Ukrainian SSR. Elite elements of the Romanian population were then deported to Siberia much like their Bukovinian counterparts. Russian and Ukrainian settlers were used to fill the vacant areas caused by the deportation of Romanians.
In 1946-1947, as a result of the famine organised in the MSSR (according to some data of certain scientists; official data has not yet been published), around 300,000 died and many cases of cannibalism occurred. In addition, the population of the former MASSR, as a part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, also suffered from the artificial famine in the 1930s when several million people died in Ukraine (see also Holodomor).
The territory of Transnistria was more industrialised in comparison with the other part of Moldova and the industrialisation process of Transnistria was accompanied by a population flow from other areas of the USSR, especially from Russia. Although in the Republic of Moldova the level of population density was the highest one in the USSR, Moscow continued to stimulate the arrival of labour force from outside, including that with a poor qualification. Even Igor Smirnov himself, current leader of the separatist regime of Transnistria, was sent in 1987 from Russia to Bender to be the director of an enterprise. This process was also amplified by the excessive militarization of the area.
The 1989 adoption of the Law on state language (official language) and Law on functioning of languages on the territory of the MSSR generated an extremely negative reaction in the industrial centres of Transnistria, where the largely Russian-speaking population was not being consulted, and felt threatened by the prospects of Romanianization. These laws proclaimed the Moldovan (Romanian) language, written in the Latin alphabet, as the only state language. The fact that Moldovan and Romanian are identical was recognised. Although a majority of the Transnistrian population never read these laws which served as a reason for the conflict's outburst, they feared that by the application of the new linguistic legislation, Russian language speakers would become second-class citizens. At the industrial enterprises, including those of the military-industrial complex of the USSR, strikes occurred protesting against granting official language status to the Moldavian (Romanian) language.
After the breakup of the USSR, various legislative reforms consolidated the position of ethnic Romanians/Moldovans, especially by establishing the Moldovan language as the official language. The 2001 parliamentary elections, won by the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova, initially brought a series of attempts to raise Russian to the status of a state language. However, the project was dropped by popular opposition.
Relations between the Moldovan and Romanian governments have initially included some tension as the Moldovan government led by President Vladimir Voronin accused Romania of imperialism. Nevertheless, in the recent past relations have improved and President Voronin as well as Romanian President Traian Băsescu have called for cooperation between the two sovereign states.
In 2006, the Gheorghe Asachi Romanian-French School was forced by the government to change its name to the Gheorghe Asachi Moldovan-French School. Critics argued that the government acted unilaterally and discriminated against Romanians, as other schools such as the Necui-Leviţki Russian-Ukrainian School were allowed to continue using that name. In protest, four high school students from Asachi replaced the new high school sign with another with the old name. They were charged with "group-committed aggravated hooliganism".
In Transnistria, the situation is considered to be far worse than the rest of Moldova. After the 1992 war, the Romanian population was substantially persecuted, causing at least 5,000 to 10,000 Romanians to flee the region. Although the number of Romanians in Transnistria is significant, Romanian is almost never used in public.
Romanian schools comprise about 11% of the total schools in Transnistria. Most of the schools are forced to teach in the Cyrillic script and use outdated, 40-year-old, communist-era books, and 6 schools are permitted to teach in Romanian using the Latin script; however, pressure is often put on the institutions to close. The 2004 school crisis is a prime example of this, when the pro-Russian government in Tiraspol forcefully attempted to close down 2 of the schools. In the orphanage of Tighina, Romanian children returning from vacations found the orphanage locked by police. After spending a night outdoors, they forced their way into the building and had to stay there without water and electricity for a few months, until pressure from the Moldovan and Romanian governments and from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) made the conflict get resolved. Numerous Romanian parents were arrested or fired from their jobs for their political views and their determination to keep their children in Romanian-language schools.
Citizens who express pro-Romanian or pro-Moldovan attitudes are likewise persecuted in Transnistria. The Ilie Ilaşcu group is the most commonly known and well-documented of organisation.
Northern Bukovina, as well as the Tiachiv and Rakhiv raions (districts) of Zakarpattia Oblast (Transcarpathia), are the regions in Ukraine with considerable Romanian minorities, according to the 2001 Ukrainian Census.
The Ukrainian Census of 2001 was criticized by Dr. Ion Popescu, leader of the National Council of the Interregional Union of the Romanian Community in Ukraine and also one of the authors of the Constitution of Ukraine, who claims that the very existence of the classification of Moldovans as a separate ethnic group in census results is a "continuation of the Stalinist and Soviet policies of artificially dividing Romanians into Romanians and Moldovans". However, the response to the census question about the ethnicity had to be written in into the census form rather than picked from a pre-determined set of choices and the census respondents were free to claim their ethnicity as they wished  not to respond to this or any other particular census question or not answer any questions at all; besides, no allegation of counting fraud were ever brought up. It is therefore unclear if Dr. Popescu criticizes the way in which the census was conducted or the way in which data was processed.
The number of Romanian students at Chernivtsi University declined sharply in Soviet times. In 1991-92, the last year of Soviet rule, the number of Romanian students was only 4.44% (434 out of 9,769) . Among teaching faculty, under-representation of Romanians is also evident. The breakdown by nationalities (in the same year) reveals: Ukrainian teachers 465 (77.1%), Russians 102 (16.9%), Moldovans 9 (1.4%), Romanians 7 (1.1%), Belorussians 6 (0.9%), etc. Even after Ukrainian independence, the number of Romanian students at the University continued to decline, to only 3.9% in 1992-93, which is much less than the overall percentage of Romanians in the region's general population. Since 1997, arrangements have been made for some students to study at universities in Romania . In 2001 the Christian-Democratic Alliance of the Romanians from Ukraine reported that Romanians in Chernivtsi lack an opportunity to study at the university level in their native language.
However, it should be noted that according to the Ukrainian Constitution adopted after its 1991 independence, Ukrainian is the only state language in the country, and the state higher education system was switched to Ukrainian, according to the common practice in many countries worldwide and this practice was not directed specifically at the Romanian population. For example, the majority of Ukrainian universities do not provide education in Russian either, despite the fact that Russian is the native language of a much more considerable part of the population in Ukraine.
At the same time, there are schools teaching Romanian as a primary language, as well as newspapers, TV, and radio broadcasting in Romanian , , . Future teachers for Romanian schools are trained in at the Chernivtsi University in the fields of Romanian philology, mathematics and physics . Romanian organizations still complain that despite this, 19 villages inhabited by Romanians have been deprived of schooling in their native language, therefore creating a worse situation than that which existed under the repressive Soviet regime .
Yugoslavia and modern Serbia
The Romanians living in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina are very well represented at the provincial level despite their small presence (about 30,000 people, 1.5% of the province's population of around 2 million), and Romanian is one of the six official languages of the province. However, their counterparts in Eastern Central Serbia (mostly in the Timok Valley and Branicevo), known as Vlachs and outnumbering the Vojvodinian Romanians, have not had any privileges. As example from Negotin in Vrsac, the Romanian local television station door was vandalized with the inscription "Out Romanians, Serbia!!!" (Serbian: Napolje Rumuni, Srbija!!!).
The Timok Vlachs speak the same dialect (Daco-Romanian) as is spoken to the north, in Romania. However, the Serbian authorities have pursued a policy of de-nationalization as they have slowly changed the term Romanian into Vlach through the years.
These people declare themselves on census forms as ethnic Vlachs and their number is about 40,000. Nevertheless, older Serbian censuses counted up to 200,000 Romanians (Vlachs) in present-day Central Serbia (the 1895-census counted 159,510 Romanians, the 1921-census counted 150,098 Romanians, the 1953-census counted 198,793 Vlach (Romanian) - speakers).
Since 2004 they are regular clashes between the Serbian authorities and the Romanian community in Timok when Bojan Aleksandrovic, a Romanian Orthodox priest decided to build a small church where he would hold services in Romanian. The priest has been subjected to threats while children attending mass with their parents have been humiliated in the village school by their Serbian teacher. Romanians in Serbia proper do not have the right to schooling and public worship in their native language.
In 2013 accusations of discrimination in Covasna surfaced against Hungarian students and teachers. During a ceremony for the national day of Hungary, some Romanian students wearing the Romanian flag were physically assaulted by older students, and threatened by teachers with punishment for wearing the national symbol. As a result, the Romanian human rights organisation ActiveWatch issued a statement condemning the actions of the school's administration, which it considers a blunt infringement of human rights and freedom of expression.
In 2009, a right-wing political party (Swiss People's Party (SVP)) had run an anti-immigration campaign, against Romanians and Bulgarians, distributing and displaying banners depicting citizens of these countries as "crows".
Anti-Romanian sentiment in the European Union refers to the discrimination of Romanian citizens within the European Union. As a member of the E.U., Romanian citizens have faced ethnic profiling in various European countries and open discrimination in countries like Italy or Austria.
In June 2009, having had their windows broken and deaths threats made against them, twenty Romanian families were forced from their homes in Lisburn Road, Belfast, in Northern Ireland. Up to 115 people, including women and children, were forced to seek refuge in a local church hall after being attacked. They were later moved by the authorities to a safer location. An anti-racist rally in the city on 15 June was attacked by youths chanting neo-Nazi slogans.
Following the arrest of three local youths in relation to the attacks, the church where the Romanians had been given shelter was badly vandalised. Using 'emergency funds', Northern Ireland authorities assisted most of the victims to return to Romania.
Based on growing dissatisfaction with the European Union, several British politicians have posed a stance against the free movement of Romanians (and Bulgarians) within the E.U. and subsequently in the United Kingdom. As a result, multiple British newspapers have started publishing discriminatory articles about Romanian citizens, thus inciting an anti-Romanian sentiment; mainly against the Roma minority.
In 2013, Romanian ambassador Ion Jinga stated that a part of the British media launched a series of negative articles concerning Romanians, with reference to their “invasion” to the United Kingdom, criminality, social benefits abuse, and accusing Romania of involvement in the meat adulteration scandal. Ambassador Jinga responded to these allegations through a series of interviews and articles in British newspapers, radio and television, presenting his views on the professional value of Romanians and their significant contribution to the UK economy. He also blamed the United Kingdom Independence Party for inciting anti-Romanian prejudice and violent attacks.
- "Now, almost on a daily basis I am asked where I am originally from, and I have to face a racist attitude following my answer."
In 2013, the Daily Express newspaper launched a 'Crusade' against new European Union migrants from Bulgaria and Romania. The frontpage on Thursday 31 October declared 'Britain is full and fed up. Today join your Daily Express Crusade to stop new flood of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants'. UKIP leader Nigel Farage declared that he had signed the petition, and urged other to do the same. Romanian politician Cătălin Ivan expressed 'outrage' at the campaign.
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In 2013 a prominent German newspaper, Der Spiegel, has published a short video displaying Roma-Romanians living in the city of Duisburg. The video shows a small number of Roma-Romanians and uncensored under-aged children living in a ghetto-like part of the city, without access to proper public services and living in poor housing conditions. Although there is no proof that the Romanian citizens were unemployed, the video claims they are a burden on the local welfare system. The discriminatory aspect of this video is visible through the fact that a number of German citizens are shown living in the same conditions; yet blaming the foreign citizens. This further increases the anti-Romanian sentiment, in a country where the majority of Romanian (and Bulgarian) citizens are well integrated.
Historically, France had cultivated a close relationship with the Romanian Principalities being a strong supporter of their independence and unification in 1859 and ultimately of Greater Romania in 1918. Many of the prominent Romanian scientists and artists like Henry Coanda and Constantin Brancusi had studied and worked in Paris and Bucharest was nicknamed Le Petit Paris for its cosmopolitan atmosphere. Furthermore, the Romanian flag bears homage to the ideals of the French Revolution and has been interpreted as Liberty (blue) Justice (yellow) Fraternity (Red). Following the deportation of Roma-Romanian citizens from France, and numerous discriminatory articles in the French media, a small protest occurred in front of the French embassy in Bucharest, against the discrimination against Romanians in France.
A Dutch right wing political party (Wilders’ Freedom party (PVV)), launched a website aimed at gathering denunciations against Polish, Romanian and Bulgarian nationals living in the Netherlands. Denunciations consist of competition on the job market, and others, with the slogan: “Are they causing you problems? Or did you lose your job to a Pole, Bulgarian, Romanian or other Central or East European? We would love to hear from you,”; thus inciting social tension between European Citizens exercising their treaty right of freedom of movement and the local population. The Netherlands is one of the main countries blocking Romania and Bulgaria from joining the Schengen Agreement; as well as one of the countries with growing populism.
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- The word antiromânism is sometimes written without diacritics, and can be a cause of some confusion, because antiromanism can also mean antiţiganism (discrimination and prejudice against the Romani people).
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