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December 9, 2022

Is Romania the country of beggars, thieves and drug addicts?

Usually, I write about bad things. I mean, about the bad things I want to issue warnings about, as a journalist, in order to see it improve. About people who choose the path of corruption, about certain places drowned in poverty, about the lack of education, about bureaucracy cutting wings, about issues of the medical system, about people showing lack of respect, about other people being endlessly stupid…

This time, though, I will write about good things. About the beauty, value, richness and potential of Romania. And no, I am not defined about extreme nationalism, I am a realistic person. And realism tells me our country endured recently a terrible injustice, that should not be ignored too easily.

These days, news stalls in Romania offered a 24-page newspaper issued by Swedish journalists of Espressen, in partnership with Romanian tabloid Libertatea. The regular citizen who bought the tabloid paper also received a copy of the Romanian edition of the Swedish publication, issued as part of a project that presents the issue of Romanian beggars who took Swedish streets under assault.

“You are now the owner of a copy of the Swedish daily paper Expressen, which, in partnership with Libertatea, is now distributed in Romania as well , in a special edition about social issues and marginalization”, the newspaper announced the Romanian buyer at the news stall.

The Swedish campaign is entitled “Why are beggars coming?” and inside the Romanian edition of the paper, there are articles about Romanian beggars standing in front of stores, in means of public transportations and in other public places, all over Sweden.

According to the representatives of Libertatea, the Romanian daily paper will publish the articles written by the journalists of Expressen about the phenomenon of beggars, as they want to bring back the “different Romania” to the collective memory.

Obviously, the everyday person’s question, after receiving the publication from the Romanian news stall, was “Why would Sweden tell me this?” It was a logical question, especially considering that there was no Romanian who was not aware of the reason the Northern country, just like other advanced countries, was overwhelmed by beggars.

Nonetheless, it seems that the real reason is unknown precisely by the persons who initiated this completely unusual approach. The journalistic approach that presents only one side of Romania, a side full of misery, gypsies, drugs, poverty, thieves and corruption; yet, it lacks the pertinent analysis of the situation, the balance, the impartiality, the reason that draws this invasion of beggars towards Sweden. They mention nowhere the fact that Romania is actually a member state of the EU, defined by its inhabitants’ constancy on this territory, a country with an unbelievably beautiful and complex history, and yet, a nation whose wings were broken by Communists for several dozens of years. It is a country that earned its right to democracy by fighting and bloodshed, a country that only enjoyed 26 years of modernity and is fighting at this point with all its might to catch up with the other states of the EU. And, unfortunately, wages in Romania are still way lower than those in Sweden.

Obviously, nobody wants the territory of their country to be invaded by beggars and potential dangers, but nor are the Romanians living in their home country proud of this situation. We are over 20 million Romanians and honest, hard working, Orthodox people, who intend to build a better living by working decently and meet the living standards of developed countries are the majority. And we are ashamed of the waste that flows outside of our borders.

Recently, I have returned from Stockholm, where I have spent several days carefully analysing the activity of Romanian beggars and how Swedes treated them. Both at departure and at arrival, I traveled in the plane with Rromas. Despite of their typical costumes and of the fact that they were equipped with their “professional tools”, more precisely violins, accordions and wind instruments, they smelled clean and they behaved in a civilized manner. It was proof that not any kind of Rromas were choosing Sweden as their destination for begging.

The streets in central Stockholm and subways are crowded with beggars, it is true. Each of them has his own place, all of them are jingling coins in their boxes, but none of them harasses passers-by. Others are walking around tables, asking for money, but if they are ignored, they simply leave. And during my long walks, I never saw as much as one person contributing anything at their budget. Not one.

Societies are regulating on their own when confronted with new challenges, and beggars will decrease in number in Sweden when the inhabitants of this country will understand that they cannot help these people by giving them money, but by charity foundations and organisations, and, why not, visiting Romania as tourists and thus contributing to the country’s budget.
Actually, this process has started already. It is well known that Swedes are very open people, who immediately act when poor people require help, and, at the beginning of this invasion, they have contributed with money, toys and clothes. Later, when the number of beggars grew, they became increasingly reticent, and today, they do not pull out the money from their pockets so easily.

Thus, things would get sorted out on their own. Unfortunately, at this point, there is a wrong and dangerous trend that, as we see, is spreading towards our country: the fact that discrimination started appearing and Romanians working in Sweden are frequently labeled in the same category as the beggars and discriminated by their colleagues and bosses as gypsies. Yet, it is not something done out of malice, it is done out of ignorance, out of the fact that these people think all Romanians are like the ones they see too often at street corners and at the subways.

Swedish people, just like other citizens of other countries, must find out that not all Romanians are beggars and that Romania is indeed a wonderful country. This is the message we should insistently present beyond the borders, if we had a Government concerned of this fact. Thus, if provided more accurate information, Swedes would understand the fact that the persons they see are unfortunate exceptions and that we, Romanians living in our home country, are waiting for them to discover us with all our hearts. Yet, it cannot be achieved once there are initiatives such as the one launched by Expressen, showing readers just a small part of our country.

Therefore, dear Swedes, is Romania a country of beggars, drug addicts and thieves? Visit our country. You will certainly have a pleasant surprise.

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