Dear Ms. Katie Buchanan,
The undersigned Romanian organizations below would like thank you for the production “The Romanians are Coming” – the two episodes of which have been broadcast on Channel 4.
We are making public our view to counterbalance the critical messages lambasting this programme from members of the Romanian community in Great Britain, officials of the Romanian state, the Romanian Ambassador in London and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all of whom have been supported by the Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta.
We understand that the target of your broadcast is addressed firstly to those within the UK who stigmatize Romanian immigrants as ‘thieves’, ‘beggars’ and ‘welfare cheats’.
This view comes not only from some British citizens, but also from politicians such as UKIP who have spoken about ‘the necessity of stopping Romanian criminal gangs’ and who frequently attack Romanians as a scapegoat for society’s ills in the UK in their own divisive rhetoric.
Nevertheless your report brings to public attention the fate of a few Romanians who contradict this negative preconception.
We appreciate, in contrast to these critics of the programme, the fact that you have brought to attention the principle cause of the emigration of the Romanians, which is – extreme poverty.
According to Eurostat, Romania is the second poorest country in the EU, surpassed only by Bulgaria. Around 41.7 per cent of the population of the country (eight million persons) are subject to the risk of poverty and social exclusion.
Therefore your film does not make “incorrect clichés” or is “distorted and biased” as His Excellency Mr Bogdan Aurescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania, stated to his UK counterpart Philip Hammond.
In contradiction, your journalists could be accused of an excess of sympathy in their relations with the protagonists in the programme, the victims of a catastrophic Romanian Government and a consistent post-Communist mix of policies, which has seen the polarization of rich and poor, a collapse in equality of chance, a total absence of social mobility and the formation of a wide scale underclass.
These are not the thieves or beggars, but those on the road to despair, who are looking for a solution for survival for themselves and their families.
For this reason, we consider the protests of Romanians as one which either ignores the real content of the programme or is a terrible hypocrisy, that attacks you for exposing poverty – a poverty which those who purport to be representatives of our country strive to ignore or hide.
Those Romanians with successful careers in the UK who have protested were not, in truth, included in this programme.
But we believe they should address their anger exclusively towards the Romanian Government, who are the authors of this social disaster and who have prompted the need for such citizens to emigrate.
APADOR CH – Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Romania – Helsinki Committee
ECPI – Euroregional Center for Public Initiatives
CPE – Center Partnership for Equality