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June 2005
Round table: “The referendum regarding the European Constitution, France, 29th of May, explanations and conclusions.”
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May 2005
Colloquium “From Signing the Treaty to a Successful Integration in the United Europe”
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April 2005
Conference in Cluj -“The European Integration, countdown for Romania.”

March 2005
Conference «The future of Europe. What kind of Romania in what kind of Europe?»
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October 2004
French - Romanian conference in partnership with the European Movement

September 2004
Ithaka Foundation and the British Council: debate on "Current EU Policy Issues: A UK Perspective", held at the Titulescu Foundation

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Which Romania in which Europe?
Europe as seen by the young Romanians

This project fits in a greater strategy of the two foundations and the French Embassy in Romania, having as a target the younger generations. It aims at creating a civil platform for the European and the Euro-Atlantic debate in Romania until it joins the European Union.

The event gathered this month in Bucharest several Romanian personalities most active in the European integration process, such as: Mr. Adrian Severin, MP-PSD, Romania’s representative to the European Convention, Mr. Mircea Dan Geoana (the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania), Mr. Alexandru Farcas (the Romanian Minister for European integration), , Mr. Razvan Theodorescu (Culture Minister) as well as prestigious actors of the Romanian civil society, such as: Mrs. Maria Rus-Bojan from the Network of Art Centres Cluj, Mr. Mircea Malitza, President of the Black Sea University , Mr. Matei Paun from Think Tank Romania, Mircea Vasilescu, Editor – in Chief of the weekly magazine Dilema Veche, to quote only a few. The private sector was represented among others by Mr. François Oliver, Director of Carrefour Romania, Mr. Radu Florescu - Executive Director of Saatchi & Saatchi, Mrs. Anca Ionita, Executive Director The Business Review. We have very much benefited from the participation of several representatives of the Universities of Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi and Timisoara, such as: Prof Ioan Mihailescu, Rector of the University of Bucharest, Prof Dr. Cristian Preda, Dean - Faculty of Political Sciences Bucharest, and several professors from the universities from the province: Mr. Sergiu Miscoiu, Babes Bolyai – Cluj Napoca, Mr. Bogdan Stefanachi – Alexandru Ioan Cuza – Iasi, Prof. Brandusa Armeanca, Universitatea de Vest, Timisoara, prof. Ioan Silasi, Universitatea Inalte Studii Europene, Timisoara.

Mr. Jean-Dominique Giuliani, the President of the Foundation Robert-Schuman has moderated the French delegation – high-level personalities of the EU and Transatlantic community from France, such as: Prof Dr. Jacques Barrat – Professor at the IFP Paris II Assas, French President of the Academic French-Romanian Forum, Mr. Luc de Barochez - Diplomatic Correspondent, Le Figaro, Mrs. Antonella Capelle-Pogacean - Senior Researcher, CERI/FNSP, Mr. Jean François Daguzan - Senior Researcher at the Foundation for Strategic Research, Mr. Dominique David - Director Security Studies, IFRI, Mr. Quentin Dickinson - President Delegate, in charge of European Union Affairs, Radio France, Dr. Elvire Fabry – Project Coordinator, The Robert-Schuman Foundation, Mr. André Ferrand – the French Senate, Senator representing the French living abroad, Vice-president of the Group of France-Romania Friendship at the French Senate, Mrs. Pascale Joinnin - Director of the Robert-Schuman Foundation, Mr. Gerard Leclerc - Editor, Director of the Socio-Economic Political Section, France 2, Mr. Patrice-Martin Lalande, MP of Loir-et-Cher, Special Spokesperson for communication and Mr. Patrick Rahir - diplomatic Correspondent - AFP.

The heart of the debates was animated by more than one hundred students and young professors coming from Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi and Timisoara. These, along with the two delegations: Romanian and French carried out sharp debates in the framework of five workshops:

  • The fundamental role of the mass-media in bringing the EU closer to the European citizens;
  • The future of Europe: European Constitution, European identity and citizenship;
  • European security and transatlantic solidarities;
  • "New words for Europe": the Romanian youth as an actor for integration;
  • The necessary mobilization of the private sector in favour of the EU enlargement.
 

Some conclusions and follow-up

"The fundamental role of mass-media in bringing the EU closer to the European citizens"

The role of the mass media in building Europe and its challenge in respect to the comprehension of the complexity of the European Union evolved around two fundamental topics:

"Romania’s image as reflected in the European mass-media, mainly the French"

Several voices agreed that often in the French press, the negative remarks were due to a lack of information, but that when the journalist was well informed, the image of Romania was rather positive, that of a Latin country. (Luc de Barochez). As far as “Europe - the other image, that of immigration, the mafias, the trans-border crime ", it represents a real threat for the European construction … Romania was compared to Portugal, as Portugal was not represented either in a positive fashion, apart from aspects related to its tourism. Allison Mutler from the Associated Press stressed on the realities of today’s Romania, among which a real lack of freedom of the press, a serious matter for a candidate at the European Union. Professor Jacques Barrat witnessed a real progress in the Romanian mass-media during the last twelve years and has mentioned similarities with the comprehension by the public of the European Union in the two countries.

These debates called for the need to set up trainings for the Romanian journalists on European Affairs. Mr. Yves-Claude Lorca, Director AFP Romania offered his support for the Ithaka foundation’s “EU Awareness” programme to train European journalists in Romania and to create French-Romanian press networks.

As far as Quentin Dickinson, he has spoken about the need for integrating "Europe” in the school curriculums, starting with the primary school”, as well as multiplying “the field work" (i.e. our Bucharest event), similar in scope, but different in its outreaching capacity from the dry, institutional matters, as it is user-friendly and allows stakeholder with similar interests to create networks and include the province more in what is usually kept as a phenomenon of the capital city.

Follow-up: The Ithaka Foundation and its partners will continue to organise conferences and training sessions for the journalists selected within the framework of the programme EU Awareness", as well as reinforcing the European networks.

“The Future of Europe: The European constitution, European Identities and citizenship”

In this workshop, t he debate focussed mainly on the EU convention and the Constitutional Treaty, often absent from the public arena, both in Romania, and in the member states. In this context, Romania represents a European normality, according to Mr. Adrian Severin, who has saluted the initiative of the Ithaka Foundation to support the contribution of young Rumanian via a "book" channel and in a European context, especially taking into account the fact that the Romanian mass-media has reflected very scarcely the EU Convention. Mr. Severin has also expressed his dissension with the existence of a European Commissioner to represent each member state, he spoke about the weak role played by the mass-media and the European public opinion in respect to the EU Constitution, the only exception being the UK, which presented the EU Constitution with a lot of enthousiasm, comparing to its outcome, still on limbo.

Romania as well constitutes an exception with regard to its enthousiasm for its European membership and its European identity. This might be caused by an identity crisis, as well as to the lack of knowledge of what is the European Union. The strongest reason for this emulation of enthousiasm is nonetheless, the crisis of the Romanian identity, a crisis which we can notice more and more since the fall of the communism in 1990, according to both Mrs. Capelle-Pogacean from CERI, France, and M. Vasilescu, the Editor-in chief of Dilema Veche.

Members of the political opposition, namely Mr. Constantin Teleaga from the Popular Action political party have mentioned the political criteria, not respected in Romania. This calls for a deeper sense of a severe moral crisis lying at the heart of the Romanian political community, situation which is far from the European construction, as thought of by Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman.

"European security and transatlantic solidarities"

In spite of the sombre atmosphere of the Madrid tragedy, the debate was dominated by certain optimism in respect with the possibility of finding agreements over the current security threats. We do not have too advanced on the future of the reinforced co-operation; Europe has still a long way to make.

The specificity of European interests in certain parts of the world was underlined, as being solely different from the American interests, in particular the Middle-East, or the ex-Yugoslavia, according to Dominique David from IFRI. These interests would very unlikely ever converge. The reinforcement of transatlantic bonds and the Romanian challenge in this context was thoroughly presented by Professor Miscoiu from Cluj, as representing a longer-term stanza. The current state of affairs, according to him, is due by the Bush administration, and not by a UD foreign policy tradition. The terrorist attacks which have recently taken place in Madrid reinforce the need for a combined transatlantic- European solidarity. The design and implementation of a European structure of action against terrorism is urgent. Professor Stefanachi from Iasi highlighted the strenuous period in the EU/transatlantic relations, as a consequence of the Bush administration, and reiterated his confidence in a balanced relationship in the future. Romania could play its role for that. The conclusion of the debate was that of the need for a decision concerning the future of the European defence system in the short/ the long term, and the actions that need to be taken urgently during the months to come, which will hopefully allow the implementation of an effective strategy to face the contemporary global security threats.

Mr. Mircea Dan Geoana, the Foreign Minister of Romania has greeted the initiative of the two foundations, gave special thanks to the numerous students from the province and ensured the official closure . Through a tonic speech, he has underlined the emergency to redefine, with the assistance of the young generations a Romanian identity, maybe using the 1848 inspiration. The new generation is called upon to provide a closure to what is still « o pribegie identitara şi un chin national » , a wandering identity and a national torment, thus fulfilling the historical destiny of Romania: joining its European family.

Mrs. Ramona Calin, the President of the Ithaka Foundation has thanked the participants again, especially the students: their effectiveness proves already their enthousiasm which will ensure Romania its deserved place within the most ambitious project from the turn of its century: the redefinition of the European Union, and Romania’s adoption of the European values, very much needed by the Romanian society. While expressing the Ithaka Foundation’s concern for the state of affairs of today’s Romania and in agreement with the latest report of the European Parliament, mainly: the fight against the endemic corruption, the need to adapt the Romanian administration to European standards and the necessity to create a real “etat de droit”. Mrs. Calin has reiterated the Foundation’s ambition to work towards reversing the state of today’s civil society in Romania: a substantial but divided one, with scarce platforms for EU debate. Via the channel of the young generations, Mrs. Calin has expressed her satisfaction to have been able to give a chance to the Romanian students to express their work at the EU Youth Convention via the publication “New Words for Europe”, a tool that the Ithaka foundation will use to promote a “different” Romania, nationally and in Europe.

"New words for Europe: the Romanian youth as an actor of integration "

On the second day, the debate was opened by Mr. Jean-Dominique Giuliani who has encouraged the Romanian students to not perceive themselves as second-class, citizens; “the EU citizens’ equality is the landmark and basis of the European citizenship. This value needs to reflect itself in the conscience of all EU citizens, old and new.”

Mr. Erwann Dumont, a student from Sciences Po – Paris currently in an exchange programme in Bucharest, based his presentation on the strong “Europeaneness of this ex-Communist country. Romania can only reinforce the European citizenship and the European Union. Discussing EU enlargement during the “final days” of the drafting the Convention on the Future Europe brings along the values stated for by the founders of Europe - the first being democracy, a value on which Romania needs to continue working.

Ms. Gabriela Otoiu, a Romanian student, regretted the fact that various regional associations of Romania with other international organisations are often just agreements aiming either at preparing the integration into the EU, or ways to mitigate the fact that Romania is not a member yet.

Ms. Andreea Zamfira, another Romanian student pointed out that progress ought to be carried out in respect to European policies in the areas of the minorities’ rights.

Mrs. Rus Bojan presented her activity in the Network of the Art Centres in Cluj, expressing her regret in respect to the lack of follow-up of the Romanian government in respect to cultural policies.

Follow-up: The Ithaka Foundation and its partners will organise a similar event in Paris this summer, in the presence of the Romanian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mircea Geoana who is very sensitive to the cause of the excellent Romanian students. We envisage the organisation of this event in partnership with the European Movement France.

"The necessary mobilization of the private sector in favour of the EU enlargement"

Mr. Matei Paun has presented "Think Tank Romania" an association, which mobilises young Romanian “repatriates”, with an international exposure, who has returned to Romania, and are offering, through the civil society channel, economic and social strategies.

Mr. François Oliver, the Executive Director of Carrefour Romania has presented the success story of Carrefour in Bucharest and its prospects for growth nationally. He has stressed the role young professionals have plaid in achieving success, and the strategy that Carrefour uses through the IFRG- the French-Romanian Management Institute. Many of the mostly young women recruits of Carrefour have been trained in IFRG.

“Private public partnerships should not mean an omnipresence of the State, especially in a country such as Romania that must endeavour to draw a line on its communist past.” Has stated Mr. Andre Ferrand, a French MP.

Mr. Alexandru Popa, the Romanian Prime Minister’s economic advisor has mentioned, among other things, the construction of a motorway towards Hungary, which would have been impossible without the support of the Romanian government, which is working closely with all actors involved.

Replying to this challenge, Mr. Alexis Gressier, representing the ISPA programme of the EU Delegation in Romania has stated that within the framework of the EU procedures, a certain numbers of rules and regulations are compulsory and necessary in order to build a real interior market. These rules, often difficult to implement , often contested concern the procedures of tendering for public procurements, according to those principles of competition and transparency.

"Think Tank Romania" estimated that as long as there is no coherent legislative framework for the private-public partnerships, the current situation in Romania has a negative impact on the market, creating a climate for corruption, rather than improving the socio-economic framework of Romania and to support its integration in the European Union.

Follow-up: The Ithaka Foundation wishes to launch this year the OSCR- the Observatory for Social Corporate Responsibility, in partnership with the Stability Pact for South East of Europe, its partners of the private sector and other stakeholder.

Our conference was a success especially thanks to the mobilisation of the young students who have responded quickly to our appeal. We thank them, and promise them that this is only the beginning of a beautiful project dedicated to the Romanian youth, in the perspective of United Europe. We also extend our thanks to the French Ambassador, Mr. Philippe Etienne; without whose contribution, this meeting would have not been possible.

 
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