Romanian Survival Book

November 21, 2006

The French connection

Filed under: Politics — darian @ 2:44 am


This September 63 presidents and prime-ministers will meet in Bucharest for the XI Sommet de la Francophonie; it is considered the biggest international event in years. Never mind that few ruthless dictators will walk around in the free world un-bothered by anyone; never mind that we cannot actually afford the costs of such an event, never mind that the garbage is all over in Bucharest and that Romania has many priorities at the moment. It has been decided though in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that this sommet in Bucharest is crucial for Romania’s aspirations to become a big player in global politics and, if not possible, at least in regional politics.

The institutional francophony was born in 1970 at Niamey (Niger), having the clear purpose of a ‘Commonwealth à la française’, uniting countries with a common history, former French and Belgian colonies. More countries have joined the multilateral alliance, departing from initial tutee of France and Belgium. Initially, being a francophone simple meant a language connection, as the French Ambassador to Bucharest said to the press few days ago, nothing more. The cultural dimension is also not strong enough in many of the OIF (Organisation International de la Francophonie), but obviously this organization has gathered and is reaching towards an increasingly political dimension, perhaps as an alternative voice to the English global dominance in politics, economy, culture, and trends, whatever.

As for Romania, long time we thought that we are the younger sister of France and that Bucharest is the ‘little Paris’; in the beginning of XXth century young people of wealthy families went to study in France and French was spoken in Bucharest almost as a second language. Things have changed dramatically though ever since: Bucharest is no longer a resemblance of the ‘little Paris’, young people are going everywhere, but mostly in the United States and UK where the best universities are and where people do take research seriously and on the streets of Romania almost anyone speaks excellent English.

I understand very well that the stakes for this reunion in Bucharest are very high, and that Romania wants to play a bigger role in the EU from now on, eventually securing the French support in this way; the history has taught us though that you cannot count on a French support for sure. They change their mind often and they look after their own interest, like anybody else surely. I am not also sure that there is a vision for the future here, or only some megalomaniac aspirations; the reunion is clearly designed as a counter-balance to the loud Presidential support of ‘axa London-Washington –Bucharest’ in foreign politics. In my view, this huge costly extravagance (2,521 millions RON)is proving one more time that we have no consistency in Romanian foreign policy. We should have learned by now that you cannot jump boat all the time, and for a change one should stick with the first. So, to put it bluntly, I wonder whether this reunion has more to do with Francophony or with cacophony (this connection Francophony –cacophony has been made by Craig Turp, the editor of Bucharest in your pocket; more on http://www.inyourpocket.com/romania/bucharest/en/)

All things considered, I like French because they are the only one opposing the Americans most often than not; I like the French accent in English, I love French movies, I am fond of French Romanians like Ionesco, I love Paris and I always enjoy a charming French kiss. (photo from http://www.ilosaarirock.fi/1999/rokkikuvat_la/089_french_kiss.jpg)

5 Comments »

  1. Joegee said…
    Interesting comment here – “All things considered, I like French because they are the only one opposing the Americans most often than not.”
    When I was in Romania last summer I did not seem to run into much anti-American sentiment, of course that doesn’t mean it does not exist. My general impression, though, is that Romanians seem to favor America (maybe excluding some foreign policy decisions)rather than not. What’s behind your anti-American sentiment?

    25 September, 2006

    Anonymous said…
    Hi Joegee. I am not anti-American, I am against arrogance, self-sufficency and unilateralism in global politics, things that U.S. showed plenty under the George W. Bush administration. I think is healthy to have a counter-balance and an opposition to such a forcefull foreign policy as the one practiced by US. Unfortunately E.U. proved unable to balance the global decisions and to temper the Americans in more than one ocassion. In the EU we have mostly individual voices of a few countries, particularly France and Germany. Sometimes Spain and Italy. Nonetheless, if the French or the Germans will go and bomb a foreign country having no clear grounds and no international backup, I’ll have no reluctance in critising them too.
    In any case, I really do think that George W. Bush had had a disastrous foreign policy and he is the first to be held responsible for the rise of terrorism and the anti-Americanism across the globe, that is a very dangerous trend. People should never be anti- any other people.

    26 September, 2006

    claudia darian said…
    Hi Joegee. I am not anti-American, I am against arrogance, self-sufficency and unilateralism in global politics, things that U.S. showed plenty under the George W. Bush administration. I think is healthy to have a counter-balance and an opposition to such a forcefull foreign policy as the one practiced by US. Unfortunately E.U. proved unable to balance the global decisions and to temper the Americans in more than one ocassion. In the EU we have mostly individual voices of a few countries, particularly France and Germany. Sometimes Spain and Italy. Nonetheless, if the French or the Germans will go and bomb a foreign country having no clear grounds and no international backup, I’ll have no reluctance in critising them too.
    In any case, I really do think that George W. Bush had had a disastrous foreign policy and he is the first to be held responsible for the rise of terrorism and the anti-Americanism across the globe, that is a very dangerous trend. People should never be anti- any other people.

    26 September, 2006

    joegee said…
    Claudia…I think that a problem arises when we use synecdoche to define the merits or the integrity of whole nations, in this case the US. I won’t sit here and pretend that the policies of the US in Iraq haven’t created glaring problems, but George Bush’s action in this one regard is just that, one action which people are using to define the whole of America’s foreign policy and in some cases the whole American government and culture. There are actually many acts of benevolence that the US is responsible for on a daily basis as well, like the support of countless democracies worldwide, including Romania to the tune of millions upon millions of dollars. I think ultimately the only valid opinion on whether the actions of the US have been right or wrong will be the opinion of the Iraqi people as a whole, and I think the jury is still out on this one…..let’s wait and see.

    26 September, 2006

    claudia darian said…
    Joegee…I didn’t judge US through its president, George Bush. I really disagree that ‘the only valid opinion on whether the actions of the US have been right or wrong will be the opinion of the Iraqi people as a whole’. We live in a global society for good or bad and, as long as we are informed, we should be able to judge the world around us, that is the role of civil society… As for the support of democracy worldwide by US, that had always come with a price; however is the part of US role as the global leader.
    I don’t like Bush at all, but I would’t judge America by him. More than half of Americans don’t like Bush either. It has nothing to do with American culture. I also hate McDonalds, but I like a lot Coca Cola… hope you understand my point.

    28 September, 2006

    Joegee said…
    Claudia……you’ve made your point well, and so it is hard to miss. You don’t like George Bush and his leadership of the US. You are right, for the most part, about public opinion here for Mr. Bush. With almost 3000 dead Americans and billions of dollars spent, much of the former public anger that was born on September 11th 2001 has faded into the background. It can be almost humorous if it wasn’t so pathetic to listen to the way liberal journalists and political scholars take him apart piece by piece on news programs. But the anti-American sentiment is sounding so loud in the ears of the world, America included, that anything short of total success in Iraq will equal doom for his Presidency. I am curious about what you think about the plans for an American military base in your country. I mean, what effect do you think this little part of Americana will have on the Romanian people?

    29 September, 2006

    Anthony Adams said…
    Romanian connection w/ France in many ways–to mention a few –you’ve already mentioned the Latin connection –in Culture and Language–the Sociopolitical connection–there are parallels w/the French revolution of the 18th century and the passionate push for”Egalite,Fraternite,Liberte”and Romania’s turbulent History and striving to try to make Democracy work–especially of course since December 1989–there is a lot of relevance in this meeting with the work that Romania will be doing to become an ever more evident and important player within the EU as the date of Romania’s full acceptance into the EU draws closer—It’s obvious that Romania seeks to use Political leverage as a major tool even though they are technically still outside of EU membership for the moment and the connections that Romania can improve on within this meeting should prove a great asset for Romania–as well as benefitting France and the other members of the EU—and the Social,Cultural and Political connections that Romania has with France and the United States are going to be used(definitely should @ least)for Romania’s advantage on all of these fronts.

    02 October, 2006

    claudia darian said…
    Joegee, I think American people are smart enough not to look only at the Iraqi operation when they will judge George Bush policy, merits and failures. As I said before, the growing anti-Americanism across the globe is only the direct result of his policy; if you cultivate violence, you will ensure increased violence. Is not only Iraq, is the Middle East, the long delayed Israeli attitude towards the Palestinians, etc. Osama bin Laden is still free, and it is amazing how he was not captured in all these years, though info was available on his plans. Anyway, I don’t want to get into American politics too much, you probably know these things much better.

    As for the American military base in Romania, I do not know much, so I cannot say a lot. I only reckon that, given the fact that Romanians have been waiting for Americans for a few decades to free us from communism, the reaction will be quite possitive.

    03 October, 2006

    claudia darian said…
    Anthony, I agree with you on all the points you’ve made; probably the same considerations were taken into account by the organizers of this French sommet. My point in the post was that people in Romania, most of them, at least, do not feel the same as our political players. Moreover, it is silly to declare yourself so openly pro American and British in a very sensitive moment, when key European countries were questioning Blair on his back up of Bush in the Iraqi operation and the whole lie about the weapons of mass distruction came about and then to forget about that and make a French sommet with very dodgy state rules in Bucharest. Of course, politics is politics and everyone will forget about this soon, and all will be happy showing around and discussing important world affairs, being in the news accros the globe, and feeding Romanian politicians image of great regional leaders and influencial behind the doors in mediating between the French and the Brits, let’s assume.

    The problem with all this, in my view, is that there is no consistency and you become a fool in the end and no one will take you seriously. I bet that soon our president will figure that a closer relationship with Russia is crucial for Romania’s future in Europe and will declare another axa passing through Moscow-Bucharest towards Brussels.

    03 October, 2006

    Comment by dizzyggg — November 21, 2006 @ 2:46 am | Reply

  2. France is in a mess socially, morally and politcally. They are closer to communism than Romania at the present moment. Please don’t say you like the French simply because they don’t like Americans. There are plenty of countries that don’t like America. Why not side with Iraq or Cuba.

    Romania has much more in common with much better countries than France. Setting common linquistic characteristics aside and the fact that Romania hired French designers to help beautiful Bucuresti decades back should not create such an afinity. Romania has more in common with the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Greece and Hungary from a cultural standpoint than they do with France. Forget France. Follow them and you might as well resurrect Ceaucescu from the grave, prop him up in the peoples palace and let him make all the decisions again.

    Comment by jon — December 16, 2006 @ 4:51 am | Reply

  3. I didn’t say that. I do share the view that Romania has more in common with other countries, but at the same time I wouldn’t diss off France and our past connection with the French.

    Comment by Anonymus — December 16, 2006 @ 10:39 pm | Reply

  4. see above

    Comment by Claudia Darian — December 16, 2006 @ 10:40 pm | Reply

  5. e buna gagik din poza

    Comment by rico granados — August 14, 2010 @ 1:07 am | Reply


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