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Romanian Propaganda

March 5, 2012

By Stavros Tzimas

Translated from the Greek: Kathimerini, 02.03.2012

And suddenly, during the discussion in Brussels about the granting of a candidate country to the EU status to Serbia, the “Vlach Question” came to the front, on our northern borders. In the summit of the Foreign Affairs Ministers, on Tuesday, Bucharest raised the question of violations of the rights of Vlach populations that live in eastern Serbia, on the border with Romania, provoking the furious reaction of the president Boris Tadic, who accused the Romanian leadership of blackmail: “For years Romania has been trying to convince the Vlachs that they are Romanians, but they for the most part refuse this, retaining their own national identity”, he declared. Bucharest is not only trying to “convince” the 40,000 Vlachs that live in the Timok region of Eastern Serbia that they are Romanians and not Serbians. For decades now its propaganda has been working to cultivate a Romanian conscience in compact Vlach populations throughout North-East Europe. And such populations exist: in Greece, centred around the mountainous region of Epeirus, Western Macedonia and Thessaly (estimated at about 200.000), in FYROM – according to official census 8,000, in Albania 80,000, in Serbia 40,000 and elsewhere; for the most part however they feel integrated with the culture and traditions of the countries where they live, already from the time of the Roman Empire.

In this organised operation they are giving generous scholarships to young people to study in Romanian universities, the offer every sort of facilitations so as to convince the Vlach element that it is a historically integral part of the Romanian Nation, a theory that they advance in important foreign universities, international fora etc. They had even opened Romanian schools funded by Romania and with Romanian teachers and with the aid of the Germans during the German Occupation in Thessalonike (since then they have not had the opportunity again), while during the latest census in Serbia, Bucharest had officially demanded from Belgrade that the term “Vlach” be replaced by the term “Romanovlach”, something that was of course rejected by the Serbians.

Thus the move of Bucharest to blackmail, using the blocking of the entry progress of Serbia, the recognition of a Vlach minority on the eastern border of the country, did not come as a complete surprise. It is however the first time that it has raised such a question at such a high level. Should one consider it a move of Romanian diplomacy aimed at internal consumption or should it be considered as another element of Balkan particularity, which out of nowhere creates minority questions, capable of leading to tensions and hostilities, while nations seek to live without borders under the European sky, where national and racial discriminations will have no place?

 

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