Francophonie : Interview of the Ambassador of Romania
H.E. Mrs Manuela Breazu is Ambassador of Romania to Ireland. In the context of the month of Francophonie in Ireland, she explains us the links between Romania and Francophonie.
- - What is the place of the French language in Romania?
"The French language has always occupied an important place in Romania, due to our close historical links with France and our linguistic heritage. Speaking French in the XVIII-XIXth centuries meant much more than mere possession of a linguistic tool: it was the expression of the adherence of the Romanian society to the values, ideas and ideals, carried by the French language and shared by the modern European nations.
Coming closer, even during the very restrictive communist times, the French was one of the main foreign languages taught in the Romanian schools - as part of a curriculum which provided the study of two foreign languages.
Nowadays, while English language is taking precedence in Romania, it is relevant that Romania remains the "heart" of the French teaching in Central and Eastern Europe, where more than one million people are learning French, according to statistical data.
I would also like to add, from my own experience, that in the world of international affairs, the French language still remains a sine-qua-non condition for a successful diplomat."
- - Where does the link between Romania and French language come from?
The link between Romanian and French language is just a natural one: Romanian belongs to the same family of the Romance (Latin) languages, as does the French, of course. Romanian is, actually, the 5th most widely spoken Romance language in the world, after Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian.
Modern and contemporary history of Romania was marked by a significant francophone component. Starting from the XVIII Century, Romanian intellectual elites were educated in French language. In 1776, the French language was introduced as a compulsory subject of study in the "Superior School" in Bucharest. Study tours to France of the descendants of the Romanian elites were frequent and they helped with the dissemination of the French ideas upon their return. In the XIX Century, the French language became the instrument and the privileged means of access to modernity. Starting with 1830, the study of French language was introduced in schools in Bucharest and Iasi.
- - Romania joined the official institutions of La Francophonie in 1991 already. What did lead to that choice?
Romania joined the International Organisation of La Francophonie in 1991, when it obtained the observer status, and obtained full membership in 1993.
Romania joined the Francophonie because of its commitment to the principles that underlain the creation of the Francophone movement and of its desire to contribute to the dissemination of these principles: development of the democracy, support of the rule of law and human rights, in a diverse, multilingual and solidary environment.
Our activity within the Francophonie has its roots in the Francophone and Francophile tradition of the Romanian people.
In April 2013, to mark the 20th anniversary of membership in the Organisation, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs inaugurated the «Place de la Francophonie» in Bucharest, with the support of the Bucharest Municipality.
- - Concretely, what are the benefits of belonging to La Francophonie for Romania and how does Romania contribute to the Francophonie?
Romania’s participation in the Francophonie represents a great opportunity to contribute to finding solutions to the international challenges, in particular related to sustainable development and education. I strongly believe that, as an active member of the Francophonie, Romania has contributed to the strengthening of its world profile.
The Romanian contribution to the Francophonie has been mainly related to its leading regional role which brought its designation as “Flag-State of Francophonie for Central and Eastern Europe”, in 2007. Various regional meetings have been held in Bucharest, dedicated mainly to the development of the first regional action plan, as a concrete follow-up to the Dakar Summit of 2014 and implementing the Francophonie’s Program 2015-2018.
In its capacity as Flag-State of Francophonie, Romania actively contributed to the creation of a regional network of the National Focal Points for the Francophonie in Central and Eastern Europe (RESIFECO - Réseau des Correspondants nationaux pour la Francophonie dans l’Europe Centrale et Orientale), launched in 2013 in Bucharest. Romania ensured the first Chairmanship mandate of RESIFECO, until October 2015. This Network offers an excellent platform for debate, sharing experience and exchange of information related to Francophonie, in Central and Eastern Europe.
- - Could you mention concrete projects developed within the Francophonie framework to which Romania has contributed?
There have been a series of concrete projects developed within the framework of the Francophonie, to which Romania has contributed. I will mention some of them, which are indicative of Romania’s active and diverse participation in the Francophonie:
The Romanian Government launched, in 2006, the Francophone university scholarship Programme "Eugen Ionescu" (named after the renowned French-Romanian playwright). It is a programme of doctoral and post-doctoral research, for scholars from Universities members of the Francophone University Agency (Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie - AUF), whose aim is to contribute to the sustainable development of the Francophone countries (particularly the Southern members and Central and Eastern Europe). So far, over 600 scholars from 37 countries have benefited of this grant.
Romania is actively involved in implementing a regional programme destined to support women in business and young entrepreneurs. As a result, Romania organized, in June 2015, in Bucharest, the 20th International Affairs Convention "Futurallia". Likewise, a joint partnership for the Danube Delta has been established, with the participation of Romania, Bulgaria, and Ukraine, financed by the EU. In July 2016, Romania will host a the “Green Jobs Forum” (le Forum des emplois verts), related to the Danube Delta;
Romania organized, in 2014 and 2015, regional Francophone Summer Camps, where 222 students from 11 countries participated and shared their francophone experience. Based on the positive outcome, another country of Central and Eastern Europe will host this year a similar event;
The Ministry of Education of Romania organizes the first edition of the "French Language International Olympics", in 2015, in Cluj-Napoca. The second edition, planned for this year, will take place in Bulgaria.
The Romanian Ministry of Education has recently introduced, at experimental level, the French language in the pre-school curricula. This experience, encouraged by the Regional Centre for the Francophonie in Central and Eastern Europe (CREFECO - Centre Régional Francophone pour l’Europe Centrale et Orientale), serves as best practice for other Ministries of Education from the countries of the region;
The Romanian Center for Gendarmerie "Mihai Viteazul", supported by the International Organization La Francophonie, provides francophone training for peacekeeping operations. It received, in 2015, the United Nations’ recognition for its French « Cours supérieur international». This will allow officers from dozens of countries involved in peace keeping operations to be trained in French;
Romania attaches a special attention to the implementation of the "National Francophone Initiative, 2015-2018", aimed at strengthening the French proficiency for the Romanian public servants and diplomats, including in preparation for the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council, in 2019. "
Dublin, March 24th 2016