An out of the ordinary article from BBC News Magazine about Romania’s image in the UK caught my attention recently.
Their chosen title: “Why has Romania got such a bad public image?” looks like their way of justifying their previous reaction on Romania’s alleged guilt in the horsemeat scandal.
Romania was judged harshly in the UK press, something which I talked about in my last post. However, it turns out that Romania has been innocent all along and there is no evidence that Romania did anything wrong.
The British perception of Romania
I think that Romania’s recent past as a Communist dictatorship, appears to influence the way this country is still perceived by the British public. Stories about children being abandoned in orphanages that flooded the international media many years ago is still fresh in people’s minds.
These tragic events are in the past now but they are still tarnishing Romania’s image to this very day.
The horsemeat scandal was another reason to ruin Romania’s reputation. The BBC article mentions a “wave of relief” that some felt, when responsibility for the horsemeat scandal was blamed on abattoirs from Romania. Pictures of Gypsy horse and carts appeared in the press together with references to organised crime. Typical stereotypes that Romania doesn’t deserve and something that the country could be doing without as it already has an issue with it’s image in the UK.
More unfounded rumors on immigration
Reports about the number of Romanians that will travel to the UK when the working restrictions are lifted are already being made by Migration Watch.
Although they have been mistaken before with their speculations regarding People from Poland.
Ion Jinga, Romania’s ambassador to London), said that “all the Romanians who want to work in the UK are already here, on work permits or self-employed.”
Romania’s Prime Minister, Victor Ponta tried to sooth the UK`s fears about the wave of immigrants when EU opens its labor market to Romanians. He stated in an article in The Times :
“Don`t worry, there`ll be no flood of Romanians. Our people have an improving economy at home. They don`t need to come to Britain”.
This very same article in The Times mentions Prince Charles slipped away to Romania for a bit of peace and quiet and for a traditional organic meal in a secluded village where he owns a house the day after the Queen`s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
In the BBC News Magazine one of the Romanians interviewed says ”There are about 50,000 Romanian students studying abroad, of which about 8000 are in the UK”.
So only 8000 out 50,000 picked the UK – that’s only 16%. Hardly a stampede.
Most of the students that do come to the UK plan to go afterwards – as one of the interviewees says “it remains the place where I want to grow old and be happy”.
Another said “I came here to get Academic Expertise and become a professional within my field and my plan is to go back there and help the Romanian society develop”.
That`s right, Romania has plenty of room for new investments as it has a fresh, unexploited market. Romanians know that it takes hard work and dedication to earn and accomplish something in life. Something they are more than willing to do.
They won’t just come to the UK to “suck the welfare state dry just as Dracula sucked the blood of the young English women Mina and Lucy”. This was the impression that Dr James Koranyi (a history lecturer at Durham University) thought that people in the UK, fed by the media, feltabout Romanians.
A positive Romanian story in the BBC?
The BBC NEWS MAGAZINE article is slightly more positive than any others I have seen in the British media.
In it Ronnie Smith, a British business consultant based in Romania, says “The UK ought to be ashamed” of its coverage of Romania but he does not believe the country’s government has the resources, or the will, to respond effectively.
“There is not a re-branding campaign. There should be one but there won’t be, not to the extent that’s needed,” he says.
It’s true that the country’s government doesn’t have resources at their disposal to improving Romania’s reputation.
Liam Lever (a British journalist who writes for English-language Romanian news site, Romania Insider) adds in the BBC NEWS MAGAZINE article “For many people in the West, images of children abandoned in Soviet-era orphanages are the first thing they associate with Romania.
Like other members of the growing expatriate British community in Romania, outdated stereotypes are holding the country back.”
“When you say you are going to Romania, people look at you with shock and horror, as if you are going to some place where there is no law and order and bandits roaming in the hills.
“The reality is something quite different.”
How to improve Romania’s image
In my opinion, Romanians effort in improving the country’s perception abroad is a brilliant idea. After all nobody knows about the rich heritage, beautiful scenery or amazing food.
I hope this campaign will make a big difference so people abroad to know why Romanians love Romania.
As it says in the title of the BBC article “Romania can`t be that bad, can it?”
Now returning to BBC NEWS MAGAZINE editorial, there is a VIDEO with a couple of students and young professionals from Romania expressing their opinion about living and working in the UK. I agree with what they say.
It really is “our duty to promote ourselves, to the rest of Europe and to inform them by giving right information”. If Romanians won’t do this, then people will just not know the real Romania and its potential. They add “we are a young country with A LOT of possibilities”.
Is the BBC saying ‘sorry’?
It makes me think that the BBC are trying to be a little nicer to Romania and producing a more balanced report because they got it so wrong on the horsemeat scandal. Probably this is the nearest that Romania will get to an apology probably brought on by political pressure and the feeling of outrage in the Romanian press.
I guess it’s a start.
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