Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Much hyped Redwine Interview

Today we are fortunate enough to have Redwine as our guest interviewee. Romania is not a subject many of us think about often. This is a chance for us to learn about Romanian history and culture.

1 Many people are unaware that Romania was under Ottoman rule. How did the Romanian people achieve independence?

2 How is Vlad the Impaler treated in Romanian history?

3 Are Romanians amused that every horror tale seems set in Transylvania? It does make for a better backdrop than haunted American suburbs. I am sure Elmer or someonelse is dying to point out the Stepford Wives and Amityville Horror were set in suburban Ameica.

4 Moldovans also speak Romanian is there any talk of a reunification between the two countries.

5 In the West there were many stories about the plight of the Roma more commonly known as gypsies in the eighties. Has their situation inproved? Are they still considered outcasts?

6 How did Romania end up on the German side in WW2?

7 This also set the stage for brutal reprisals by the Soviets. However, Bulgaria which never sent troops to fight against the Soviet Union also had a somewhat less brutal period of bloodshed in the late foutries to the fifties.

8 People are unaware that the satelite countries had their own gulags. The Black Book of Communism is quite explicit that the brutality of the Communists in Romania was extreeme in any comparison to any of the satelite states.

9 What are the major political parties in Romania today?

10 Has governmental corruption become endemic in Romanian culture? Has government officials taking bribes and kick backs become part of the local culture.

11 Has the transition from Communism to a market economy been difficult? I do remember several fashion companies producing products in Romania from my days as a fashion executive. What are the key sectors of the current Romanian economy?

12 Do Western leftists understand the realities of life under communism? I am amazed
at some of the absurd statements I read at Sonia's site defending Castro? These people do not have the ability to seperate flowery Marxist rhetoric from the dismal
reality of life under Communism.

13 You and I have discussed the near religious zealotry on the far left. It seems that some have an almost religious devotion to failed ideas. The hope springs eternal that each new messenger of Marx will triumph where others have failed. The latest savior is Hugo Chavez and when he fails they will find another. The notion that the system doesn't work and always produces repression never seems to enter the minds of the faithful.

14 Has reflexive mindless anti-Americanism become a staple of the far left.

15. You have noted the anti-Semitism on the far left. Are members of the far left aware of how regular people view their obsession with Jews and the plethora of anti- semitic conspiracy theories.

16 We are familiar with the trial of Ceausescu and of his crimes against the Romanian
people? Were any of his subordinates held accountable and tried? How has Romanian justice dealt with Communist crimes against the Romanian people?

17 Does local TV show any American TV shows. Are American films shown with Romanian subtitles or are they dubbed into Romanian.

18 What are some of the tourist highlights that you would advise Americans to visit.

19 How are the costs of higher education handled in Romania. Does the state pay for the cost of a college degree or does the cost fall on the individuals?

20 Is the medical system socialized. Do you wait on long lines for medical care. Are
there private doctors that work outside the system? I live in a border region and there are Canadians on line at some of the local doctors offices. In fairness some of my coworkers do cross the border for dental care.

21 How does the government raise money? Is income taxed in Romania? Are a percentage of sales taxed? Are funds raised via import tarrifs?

22 Has there been any attempt to restore native species like the Wolf or the Winessent (a animal closely related to Buffalo) into the environment. NY State restored the otter and Peregrine falcoln in the last decade. The Beaver seems to have returned without help in NY State and in Vermont.

23 Klezmer music which has its roots in Romania, Poland and the Ukraine has become fashionable in some parts of America. I do consider it somewhat disturbing that my parents musical tastes are considered to be cooler than mine in some circles. Klezmer music is a fusion of Eastern European, Jewish and Gypsy music. Has this type of music become a relic of the past? Is local Romanian folk music still popular?

24 Has there been a renewed interest in Christianity with the end of Communism?

25 Has the European Union been a help, hinderance or irrelevant to the Romanian economy?

I want to thank you in advance for helping many American readers learn about your country. Romania is not a topic that is often discussed in our blog community.

66 comments:

The Merry Widow said...

Beaker-I'm looking forward to this interview, the perspective from elsewhere is informative and educational!
Did you find the chicken-turtleneck soup?
Good morning, G*D bless and Maranatha!

tmw

Mr. Beamish the Kakistocrat said...

What, no Ceausescu questions?

I still get a giggle when I think about that piece of shit Communist getting hosed down with sub-machine gun fire on Romanian national television by his own people.

Oh to have had YouTube back then!

Always On Watch Two said...

As a pianist, I know a bit about Romania. But not enough!

This promises to be an educational interview.

Mr. Beamish the Kakistocrat said...

Oops... I just rubbed the sleepy eye boogers out of my eyes and noticed question 16 asked about the Ceausescu execution. My bad.

But there's no Ion Mihai Pacepa questions!

Farmer John said...

Excerpt - UB40

Red red wine, you make me feel so fine,
You keep me rockin' all of the time
Red red wine, you make me feel so grand,
I feel a million dollar when you're just in my hand
Red red wine, you make me feel so sad,
Any time I see you go, it make me feel bad
Red red wine, you make me feel so fine,
Monkey back and ease up on the sweet deadline

beakerkin said...

Ah farmer but what wine goes with lamb.

Farmer John said...

I guess if you're out of Pinot Noir, best use the attached recipe. Only I'd recommend having sufficient surplus of the flavoring ingredient to simply drink it straight, and then throw the lamb away.

beakerkin said...

Farmer

If one has enough of anything than one can toss the main course away.

Always On Watch Two said...

I see that Farmer is singing one of his songs. This one makes me thirsty.

American Crusader said...

Any wine will go with pork. I prefer a good Riesling wine. Pino Noir became too trendy after "Sideways", but it's still one of my favorites. I am by no means a wine connoisseur. I like what I like.
I've never heard of Klezmer music. I'll have to find a site to get a sample.

beakerkin said...

AOW

Notice there is no poetry or songs about poultry. There is a Funky Chicken dance but that is about the extent of it.

AC

I am sure you have heard Klezmer music but didn't know what it was called. It is played at religious Jewish festivals.

You have no idea how mortified I was when I found out it was trendy.
This is soundtrak music at best in my opinion. Lets just say it is unlikely to appear on the Crankfiles any time soon.

beakerkin said...

Redwine is detained and will do her best to answer over the weekend.

Farmer John said...

(Frank)
...I´m just a sweet transvestite
From transsexual...
Transylvania

So come up to the lab
And see what´s on the slab
I see you shiver with...
...
...
... (Say it!) anticipation

But maybe the rain
Is really to blame
So I´ll remove the cause
But not the symtom

Warren said...

Yes FJ, let's do the time warp again!

kuhnkat said...

What do you mean DETAINED?!?!?!?!

I bet you are just holding out to get more hits!!

WE WANT REDWINE!!
WE WANT REDWINE!!
WE WANT REDWINE!!
WE WANT REDWINE!!
WE WANT REDWINE!!

A little White Wine wouldn't hurt either while we are waiting!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Always On Watch Two said...

Beak,
Notice there is no poetry or songs about poultry. There is a Funky Chicken dance but that is about the extent of it.

Mention in "Old MacDonald Had A Farm": "With a quack, quack here and a quack, quack there...."

You know the rest. LOL.

beakerkin said...

Kuhnkat

Redwine left a message she was detained and will try to anser a few of these questions at a time.

AOW

I thought Elmer was going to come up with a poultry song. Poultry just doesn't inspire poets. Any glass of wine and thou evokes romance. A drumstick and thou evokes a man that will be alone real soon.

Now lets picture two romantic men on Valentines day. The Pro played by Elmer.

Elmer brigs back a fine California Wine and the Mrs is happy. He doesn't even need mood music.

Beakerkin brings back a rotissere Chicken and Northwind says this meal is not balanced without the alcohol group. Good old Beakerkin goes back out and gets a bottle of wine. Meanwhile Earl the Cat and Northwind finish off the chicken
and then Northwind fisihes off the wine and passes out. Earl dons sunglasses and goes into the feline equivalent of the witness protection program.

Poultry and romance just do not mix.

z said...

One of my closest friends is a Romanian woman....from Oradia...

I'm looking forward to the interview and, Beak...you ask excellent questions...thanks.

I'd sure like to know what "always on watch two" means about playing the piano and knowing Romania....I play, too, and don't know one Romanian composer, more's the pity. THAT would be some crazy music, I'm sure!

An additional comment: I have never met an ugly Romanian!

Mr. Beamish the Kakistocrat said...

Beak,

There are songs about ducks in French.

The Merry Widow said...

Chicken Marengo, Chicken Parmesean, Peking Duck, any of the above consumed at a nice restaraunt with wine and a scrumptious chocolate something or other CAN BE VERY romantic!
Good morning, G*D bless and Maranatha!

tmw

Mr. Beamish the Kakistocrat said...

You can flirt with a feather, but true perversion requires the whole chicken.

beakerkin said...

Mr B

Now that is a classic.

kuhnkat said...

Z stated,

"I have never met an ugly Romanian!"

that's cause they keep them in the BARN!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

I apologise, sometimes I can't resist a good straight line!!

Farmer John said...

...okay, enough Bar-tok... where's redwine?

You need to spread the questions out more, beak... five or ten at a time. I still think twenty-five's a lot to ask at a single sitting.

Redwine said...

Beak, and everybody: my apologies, and I will do my best to answer tomorrow. (is around 8 PM here and I just got home, dead tired.)

Mr Beamish, no need of Pacepa questions: no need of propaganda of any kind. Half truth is dangerous, a quarter of truth, mixed with conspiracy theories and the importance of his own person is ludicrous. And this is what he has been doing for decades now. During the regime, there were others, more deserving: there were heroes. They are worth mentioning.

Farmer John, the problem is not the number but the complexity. From the Ottomans to the Romanian economy today ...one could write whole volumes and still leave some of the questions unanswered.

Redwine said...

While my answers may disappoint many, here I am: better late than never. Feel free to ask, here or on my own blog. I tried to cut is as short as possible: but 25 questions….
1 Many people are unaware that Romania was under Ottoman rule. How did the Romanian people achieve independence?
One has to understand two things: first that the modern Romania came into being relatively late, in the 19th century (when the two principalities, Walachia and Moldova merged). Basically we are talking about three principalities here, Moldova (and no Moldavia please), Walachia and Transylvania (all with their different and unique history): all were under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire, all being tributary vassal states of it.
Whenever looking at these states, one must remember that they were never given the opportunity to develop freely: even their present history must be seen in that context. Also, one has to understand that while the consequences of the Ottoman occupation were mostly economic (basically it meant the looting of the vassal states, more precisely 2/3 of what we would call today national income went to the Ottomans). As economic growth was hindered, while these principalities had autonomy, the political consequences were also catastrophic: feudalistic (authoritarian) structures were conserved and strengthened, it also resulted in political alliances (the history of the Romanian-Russian relations is an interesting reading), in imposing leaders (the Phanariote rule – Greeks imposed by the porta - is another interesting reading) new borders, emptied territories, dislocated people, and so on and so forth. Not the Romanian people achieved independence (could not have possibly): the empire began to weaken and fall apart, while a stronger Europe came into being. Hence, Romania came into being after the Russo-Turkish war. (The price of this independence was part of Moldova, annexed by Russian empire. For the American reader: the Moldovas (the region Moldova in Romania, and the Republic of Moldova, a former USSR state were one till 1812, then later, part of it restored after the Treaty of Paris (Crimeean War), in 1856.) If one wants to read about the further reaching consequences, the Wikipedia pages on Moldova, respectively Transnistria, are very useful. Especially the discussion pages. For further reading on the Ottoman rule in Romania, I would recommend the works of Dinu C. Giurescu. Some are available in English, I think.

2 How is Vlad the Impaler treated in Romanian history?
As a hero of course, a liberator, also, since the Romantics, his name is synonymous with justice and a strong hand, (Unde eşti tu tepes doamne, which would be oh, where art thou lord Ţepes) a kind of local “tsar batyushka” image. While his cruelty was outstanding indeed even in a historical context, the facts are a bit…exaggerated. The vampire myth roots indeed in Vlad Tepes but also in the less known but not less interesting figure of Countess Elizabeth Bathory (Báthory Erzsébet). Again, facts have little relevance when we deal with myths.

3 Are Romanians amused that every horror tale seems set in Transylvania? It does make for a better backdrop than haunted American suburbs. I am sure Elmer or someonelse is dying to point out the Stepford Wives and Amityville Horror were set in suburban Ameica.

Personally I am very amused, and so are many I know. But again, people who visit Romania should notice the sarcastic humor and self irony we treat our own history with. On the one hand, being reduced to a stereotype can be irritating, on the other hand it can be humorous. Nationalism can also be a good merchandize, and the Dracula myth is part of it. I still think a suburb in America or elsewhere is a more suitable ground for a horror tale. But then, I grew up in Transylvania, and spent many a summers not far from the Bran castle.
4 Moldovans also speak Romanian is there any talk of a reunification between the two countries.
“Also speak Romanian”. No, Moldovans speak Romanian, they also speak Russian, being heavily russified. There are supporters of the reunification, especially in Moldova, but no present talk about it. However, there are plans on the long run, but whatever the plan is, it won’t get too much publicity.. The fact that Transnistria broke apart and voted for a possible joining of the CIS speaks for itself.
5 In the West there were many stories about the plight of the Roma more commonly known as gypsies in the eighties. Has their situation inproved? Are they still considered outcasts?
Again, one has to understand that there are several Roma communities: part of it assimilated, part of it not. Their situation was, has been and is catastrophic: assimilated Romas often face racial discrimination, even if not on official level. Their situation has not improved, and is not likely to improve in the near future. More effort is needed, and very little is done. Again, one must not forget that it was the only state (Moldova) where Gypsies were slaves, literally. While (after 1842 I think) state slavery was abolished, private ownership of Romani slaves was still permitted till 1864.
6 How did Romania end up on the German side in WW2?

Several reasons, on the one hand, there was a fertile ground for that, (the journals of Mihail Sebastian are an excellent reading and very informative about the atmosphere and political leanings of that particular period), but the main reason was the creation of Greater Romania. For a better understanding, one has to read about
rightist-nationalist movements in Romania, the Iron Guard, Ion Antonescu: Romania started with the Axis, and ended up on the Allies’ side in 1944.

7 This also set the stage for brutal reprisals by the Soviets. However, Bulgaria which never sent troops to fight against the Soviet Union also had a somewhat less brutal period of bloodshed in the late foutries to the fifties.

It wasn’t as much a reprisal (the German population was deported, etc), as occupation> one rape ended, the other began. The bloodshed was local, so to speak: the Soviets left Romania in 58, however, economically the USSR was the overlord till 89.

8 People are unaware that the satelite countries had their own gulags. The Black Book of Communism is quite explicit that the brutality of the Communists in Romania was extreeme in any comparison to any of the satelite states.
Sending the politicals to the Soviet Gulag was á la mode before the war. After the war all these states created their own Gulags: There are maps with the camps and prisons in Romania: the number is surprisingly high. The Piteşti- phenomenon, while not so well known, was one of the most inhuman gulags ever. The Pitesti horror is outstanding even in the history of the Gulags: not many survived it.

9 What are the major political parties in Romania today?

To cut this short: The PL and PD (Partidul Democrat, Partidul Liberal) in the coalition. The DAHR (Democratic Alliance of Hungarians’ in Romania, I would define it as centrist-liberal), also in the coalition. To note, one has to make an abstraction of “democrat’ respectively Liberal as used in the West.
In the opposition the PSD : party of Social democracy, they are the former Communists. They took over immediately after the fall of Ceausescu. Also worth mentioning the Greater Romania Party led by Corneliu Vadim Tudor ( extreme nationalist, a quasi fascist party, sure winners in the next elections, please check out in the Wikipedia). Also worth mentioning The CP (Conservative Party), formerly Humanist: while they have about 1 percent, their influence is huge, part of the media is in their hands. Another minuscule but dangerous party is The New Generation, another extremist party (something between the Iron Guard and a nuthouse, closer to Berlusconi’s Forza Italia).

10 Has governmental corruption become endemic in Romanian culture? Has government officials taking bribes and kick backs become part of the local culture.

Corruption has been and is endemic at all levels, from education and healthcare to the government. But then, it was endemic before: I grew up learning that well. Bribes and kick backs, “a little attention – o mica atentiune in Romanian - have always been part of the local culture, so to speak, to a revolting extent. Bribery here does not mean a means to obtain a favor; it means to get what is yours legally or what – in any normal society – would be your unalienable right. No wonder that the most trusted institutions in Romania are the Church and the Army, and the less the Parliament: people don’t trust the law, because all they experienced has been and is corruption.

11 Has the transition from Communism to a market economy been difficult? I do remember several fashion companies producing products in Romania from my days as a fashion executive. What are the key sectors of the current Romanian economy?

Very difficult, and still not over. Don’t forget that Romania had no transition period before 1989: others, like Hungary, Poland, etc did. So, from a centralized economy in which nothing is available, the jump to jungle capitalism resulted in an economic chaos… Again, question #10 answers that. The economy seems pretty much down the drain, while there are promising signs too. But we have a very long way to go to a healthy economy. The key sectors (you can check those in the CIA fact book or elsewhere) haven’t changed for decades. More should be invested, especially in tourism.

12 Do Western leftists understand the realities of life under communism? I am amazed
at some of the absurd statements I read at Sonia's site defending Castro? These people do not have the ability to seperate flowery Marxist rhetoric from the dismal
reality of life under Communism.

No, they don’t, never did, and never will. And I don’t think any often would resist more than 10 minutes in such a country. Unless as tourists, but tourists always had a privileged situation here. Again, I wouldn’t call the Western left monolithic (one of my favorite blogs is the Hak Mao blog for instance), and I don’t believe anymore in this obsolete right-left distinction. Again, life under Communism varied from decade to decade, country to country. There is much to tell here.

13 You and I have discussed the near religious zealotry on the far left. It seems that some have an almost religious devotion to failed ideas. The hope springs eternal that each new messenger of Marx will triumph where others have failed. The latest savior is Hugo Chavez and when he fails they will find another. The notion that the system doesn't work and always produces repression never seems to enter the minds of the faithful.
Everything is about religious zealotry. WE don’t have a far left here (the way you know them nowadays), actually never did: and personally I met many who wanted the good, failed, and became trapped, victims themselves of their own ideals. The left in Hungary for instance, is very different from what you know as left in the US, and the socialist (government) party is closer to the neocons than to any leftist movement. In Romania the situation is very different, because here not the party but the secret services had the power.
(Marxism was taught very briefly here, mostly avoided, for example). But again, Romania was closer to North Korea or Albania (Ceausescu’s models were North Korea and Mao’s China beginning with the 70’s. Hence, it cannot be compared to the rest of the satellites. That the system always failed, and always produced repressions yet many deny facts (as if facts could be denied btw): is part of historical revisionism, the way Holocaust denial is. And this mere fact often reminds me of Hannah Arendt, and all those who drew a comparison between Fascism and Stalinism. Some never learn, and wouldn’t even study the history of WWII it seems. As for Chavez, if it were about giving the poor shelter, and the people justice: I see happening the opposite. Chavez, more than everybody, reminds me of Ceausescu.

14 Has reflexive mindless anti-Americanism become a staple of the far left.

Not here. There are anti-globalists, but both an official and personal level, Romania is rather pro American. I lost many friends in 2003: the great majority was pro American even in this, while I was against the invasion. But again, we have no far left: anyway, since 89 much of the economy is in the hand of the former secret police (Securatitae) officials and party members, and believe me, advocating Marxism wouldn’t be very much in their advantage.

15. You have noted the anti-Semitism on the far left. Are members of the far left aware of how regular people view their obsession with Jews and the plethora of anti- semitic conspiracy theories.

Yes, I noticed. We do have anti-Semites, but as I mentioned we don’t have a far left (I wouldn’t take into consideration individual nutcases). Not many Jews are left here. Many had to leave after the war, the rest left in the 80’s. Here the far right is anti-Semitic, and that in the absence of a real Jewish community. But, as Adam Michnick noted, for anti-Semitism there is no need for Jews. However, before 89 the party line was very anti-Semitic (by the 80’s there was a tacit rehabilitation of Antonescu), and finally in the 80’s most Jews left Romania.

16 We are familiar with the trial of Ceausescu and of his crimes against the Romanian
people? Were any of his subordinates held accountable and tried? How has Romanian justice dealt with Communist crimes against the Romanian people?

No, they were not. Also, one should know, that we opposed that execution: justice was not done, and those responsible for the situation freed. (Some, responsible for the bloodshed were even promoted.) But hose responsible for the economic and humanitarian disaster, were not hold accountable. Also, no lustration, so Romania still has a long way to go in facing her own recent past.

17 Does local TV show any American TV shows. Are American films shown with Romanian subtitles or are they dubbed into Romanian.
Not any, most films are American. Many would like more European and Asian films, for instance. All films are subtitled, only films and cartoons for children under 6 are dubbed.
18 What are some of the tourist highlights that you would advise Americans to visit.
Many, while Roania has a poor infrastructure and poor services at a stellar price sometimes. The monasteries of Moldova, the unique villages of Maramures, The Danube Delta, the castles and historical cities of Transylvania, the Hungarian villages, all well worth visiting. For those interested, I can give links. www.spirit.ro would be one.
19 How are the costs of higher education handled in Romania. Does the state pay for the cost of a college degree or does the cost fall on the individuals?
The system is mixed, and not very autonomous. Many parents opt for the state universities (I would): the private ones being of poor quality as a rule, with dropouts from the state universities. Of course, there are exceptions. In the case of state universities, the state pays, yet even so, education is a huge financial burden on parents (we don’t have the campuses, etc, you have, a student needs books, to eat, shoes.... all these fall on the student and the family.)
20 Is the medical system socialized. Do you wait on long lines for medical care. Are
there private doctors that work outside the system? I live in a border region and there are Canadians on line at some of the local doctors offices. In fairness some of my coworkers do cross the border for dental care.
Free healthcare in Romania is a legend. X sum always went from our wages to healthcare, often for very poor quality services. (Hospitals have no money, often the patient has to buy the medication, often even the latex gloves, and that with the health insurance paid.) People with insurance do have to wait on long lines: to get an MRI or a CT scan, can take about 3 or 4 months. One has the choice to pay. While the medical system is still socialized (and extremely bureaucratic), we have this paradox, that healthcare is not free here. The private sector is growing, with mixed results. We do have people for dental care or plastic surgery from abroad: prices here are still cheaper for such services than in Germany for example. On the other hand, it should stay socialized: how can you expect people, with an income under 100 dollars, to pay the fees?
21 How does the government raise money? Is income taxed in Romania? Are a percentage of sales taxed? Are funds raised via import tarrifs?

Oh yes, income is taxed, property is taxed. We have flat tax now. Yes, import tariffs used to be a problem, with the new regulations, I can’t answer this question.
22 Has there been any attempt to restore native species like the Wolf or the Winessent (a animal closely related to Buffalo) into the environment. NY State restored the otter and Peregrine falcoln in the last decade. The Beaver seems to have returned without help in NY State and in Vermont.
Not to my knowledge. All such attempts are on the level of a foundation or NGO: a good example would be the Delta with its many endangered species. The situation is catastrophic, and we inherited this: it has been going on for decades.
23 Klezmer music which has its roots in Romania, Poland and the Ukraine has become fashionable in some parts of America. I do consider it somewhat disturbing that my parents musical tastes are considered to be cooler than mine in some circles. Klezmer music is a fusion of Eastern European, Jewish and Gypsy music. Has this type of music become a relic of the past? Is local Romanian folk music still popular?
Klezmer, with its deep roots in Romania, is not popular and known here. I personally met several Jewish musicians (mostly from the US) and ethnographers here, and in the Maramures, looking for their own roots. And they found it. This music (unfortunately) is a relic of the past now. But then, authentic folklore is, or will be soon. I remember a performance, years ago: it was a revelation for the public. Check out for Bob Cohen for example, he did a very serious research in Maramures county, with an amazing result (and music)> worth purchasing and listening to it. You forget that we lost the jewsih communities.
24 Has there been a renewed interest in Christianity with the end of Communism?
Yes. But then Romanians have always been religious, even during the regimes. Propaganda did not work. The difference is that now they are free to practice their religion. Greek-Catholicism was banned here in 48, for instance. Catholics, Protestants, members of the Armenian Church, Jews and Muslims were tolerated, but that meant that: tolerated. I know people who lost their jobs because they were seen attending a church service. Tolerated meant that: you could go to jail or lose your job, or not, and there was no way knowing it. The priests and popas were sent to the gulags, yet religion survived here. The same people, who suffered negative discrimination during the regime, treat with suspicion the Hare Krishna movement or the Baha’is for instance. But again, in case of a longer oppression, this is a typical phenomenon which will pass.
25 Has the European Union been a help, hindrance or irrelevant to the Romanian economy?
No result seen yet, and frankly I don’t know. But I can’t see why a hindrance or even irrelevant. Joining the EU had a huge symbolic meaning for this country. I don’t see it as a hindrance, the opposite. 9Peasants for instance desperately need subsidies. Many still toil the land with their own hands, etc. Poverty can be extreme in the villages, and I hope their situation will improve. Frankly, I haven’t seen much improvement in Hungary for example. On the other hand, one has to deal here with a very impoverished population.
Still, better off than before 89. Period.

Always On Watch Two said...

I confess a lot of ignorance about the part of the world being discussed here. I need to study up!

2 How is Vlad the Impaler treated in Romanian history?
As a hero of course, a liberator, also, since the Romantics, his name is synonymous with justice and a strong hand, (Unde eşti tu tepes doamne, which would be oh, where art thou lord Ţepes) a kind of local “tsar batyushka” image. While his cruelty was outstanding indeed even in a historical context, the facts are a bit…exaggerated.


Most Americans have no idea about the Muslim Turks conflict as to how it related to Vlad. Dracula has eclipsed Vlad in many ways.

Any similarities to El Cid of La Reconquista?

(Hospitals have no money, often the patient has to buy the medication, often even the latex gloves, and that with the health insurance paid.) People with insurance do have to wait on long lines: to get an MRI or a CT scan, can take about 3 or 4 months. One has the choice to pay. While the medical system is still socialized (and extremely bureaucratic), we have this paradox, that healthcare is not free here.

We have waits here, of course, but nothing like those!

Z said...

One of my dearest friends is a Romanian from Oradia...she told me her father was in the same bed with another patient in the hospital when he was dying...head to feet. IN THE SAME BED. Medical care is scary.

Redwine's right about the far right being anti-semites, sad, but true. The Roma, Gypsies, seem to have a pretty good life, according to my friend, Liana...they buy and sell at flea markets, antiques, etc., and she's met some who are very well off, but still living the gypsy lifestyle..........I wonder that Redwine mentions that they're still not assimilated...seems to me they keep in their gypsy clothing and caravans in order not to assimilate, or at least that's the impression I get from what I hear.

something left out here is the utter beauty of Romania.....gorgeous mountains, fields of poppies, really, really beautiful place...very green.

Also, many Americans are buying property in Romania..apartments, etc. It can only go up...and I believe they will be good investments.

Great interview...

Redwine; are there many Armenians there? Mostly in Bucharest, I'd guess? Armenians are rarely penalized for their faith...it doesn't work (unless you're a Turkish Muslim with a saber to their pregnant bellies, of course)


Thanks, Beak and Redwine..excellent. First hand information from a country we know (knew?!) too little about! z

sonia said...

Beak,

You should change the date on this post, to put on on top of your blog.

Redwine,

Interesting answers. Especially about Vlad. Elizabeth Bathory was always a lesbian heroine of mine... She was a featured in many films (including Dracula's Daughter and Immoral Tales)...

Redwine said...

"Dracula has eclipsed Vlad in many ways." - Indeed. One has to know what "dracula" means. The word nowadays in Romanian means "devil", but it also meant "dragon". Vlad Tepes is mentioned as Dracula (first in a Romanian Chronicle) in 1550 I think. Here Dracula simply means son of the Dragon, and it refers to the order of the Dragon (Societas Draconis), founded by King Sigismund of Hungary, in order to protect first the royal family and later, eastern Europe of the Ottoman expansionism. The other source which fed the vampire myth was Countess Bathory, who "bathed in blood of virgins".

No, absolutely no comparison with Mio Cid and the Reqonquista. Also, the population was not converted (a very little segment of it), and that with a reason: infidels could be forced to pay. It was very simple. Back to Dracula, alliance with the Turks was also common, and the best way to obtain the throne. History seldom works along ethical lines.

The answer to healthcare is very simple: no money, and the very little we have, often stolen on local level. This is the case of the orphanages too, let alone education: last year many schools in the rural area had no money for heating and plumbing.

Z, not many left, most of them assimilated (names ending in -nian, ian indicate Armenian origin though). Their presence of more than 800 years has been reduced to circa 1500 persons now. Culturally they were extremely suppressed during the regimes. My maternal grandmother was of Armenian origin, for instance, she was from Gherla (SZamosujvar), also called Armenopolis. The vicariate of Armenian Rite is still there.

It is true that many US citizens bought properties here, and if they did that before 1995, they could have tripled their money or even make a fortune: the prices skyrocketed since.

Your friend, Liana, is not right: the problem of the Roma communities is extremely complex. I could tell you where is the money from for those castles and huge mansions she may have mentioned. But the life of the Romas is anything but comfortable. Assimilated or not, they know very well that they are not accepted as equal members of the society. Were I a Roma, I would be more radical. I often witness as they still do face racial discrimination. They need more positive discrimination, and a more understanding approach to their unique culture and problems.

Farmer John said...

Sounds like our American "progressives" are following an age-old pattern...

Back to Dracula, alliance with the Turks was also common, and the best way to obtain the throne...

beakerkin said...

FJ

I am glad you said that an not me. I had the same thought exactly.

z said...

Redwine, welcome to the Armenian fold (me, too...but 100%). Very interesting to know how much their presence is diminished there....I'm surprised they were so repressed. WHY? LIke the discrimination of the Romas? Because Armenians usually don't 'stick out in a crowd', they are Christians, as is Romania, work hard, look like Romanians, etc...strange. Is there still any kind of suppression? i can't imagine that.

Do you think that the US buying boom is over, that prices are too high now to ever make such profits?

Thanks for the info re: Liana...To Liana, buying/selling is everything...she makes her living as kind of an ebay flea market diva, so she admires their accumen....but I know you see more than she does.

Thanks, Redwine. By the way, why is your English so excellent? learned it in school all your life, or??

Farmer John said...

Apparently the Greeks served in many of the same functions in the eastern European Caliphate as Jews served in the Western... and perhaps that is why "Jews" and "Greeks" seem to qualify for a lot of unwanted "Islamic" attention....

Farmer John said...

Holy crap...the English Civil War sparked the American Revolution... sparked the French Revolution... and led to the roll-back of the Ottoman Empire in Greece. We really need to bottle that stuff!

beakerkin said...

FJ

This may earn me a swat from Z but the Armenians and to a lesser extent the Maronites served as middlemen minorities much like Jews did under Islam. Who was persecuted more depended on local politics and the whims of rulers.

Farmer John said...

Ahhhh. The Armenian genocide. Makes sense now. I guess I'm unfamiliar w/history of the Maronites... you've sent me back to Wikipedia again, beak...

Farmer John said...

The Druze and Maronites seem to have been the "swing" minorities in Lebanon/Syria...

Farmer John said...

I don't suppose Israel could recruit a Druze minority to move to Gaza and funnel all their "support" money through them instead of Hamas or Fatah?

Farmer John said...

Israel made a mistake in evacuating the Bedoin from Gaza. They should have funneled all Gaza $ through them instead...

beakerkin said...

Israel has miscalculated the reactions of the Druze in the parst. In the 80's they assumed Walid Jumblatt would be peaceful and it was a grave error.

The Druze in Israel seem to know where they are safer. Oddly if there is ever an uprising in Syria
the Christians and Alawites will flee mostly to Lebanon and some likely to Israel. The Kurds will cross into Iraq.

Farmer John said...

Wow! from Wikipedia...Based on the 2002 census data, there are also 6,179 Jews... after a WWII cleanising of 280,000 - 380,000 that's maybe 3% left.

Farmer John said...

230,000 Moslems in Romania... much discrimination there? Assimilation?

z said...

Why would that earn you a swat, Beak? Although I'm not real sure what you mean by "middleman minority"?

Yes, Armenians were the Jews of the Muslims in Turkey, no doubt about it. A friend works for a Jewish doctor who told her "the only person smarter than a Jew is a dumb Armenian!" (of course, I LOVED that!!) Smart, industrious, hard working, successful, they had all the earmarkings of a group of people others might like out of their way, no doubt about it....and the Turks sure felt that way!


Anyway, I'm surprised there are so few Armenians left in Romania, because there were quite a few, from what I understand.

beakerkin said...

Z

It is part of Sowell's hypothesis that he writes about frequently. He points out Armenians, Lebanese, Gujaratis and Chinese all perform work as merchants in different parts of the world and face predjudice as a consequence

There are still Armenian and Assyrian Christians in Iran.

Always On Watch Two said...

Redwine,
The word nowadays in Romanian means "devil", but it also meant "dragon".

Most study notes emphasize the meaning "devil," though the other meaning is mentioned.

Thank you for the clarification as to the differences from La Reconquista.

Farmer John said...

I wonder...dragoman.

Now that's a real devil!

Redwine said...

Farmer John an Z have some good points.

First of all, there is no point of comparison between the Ottoman occupation of eastern Europe and the
Islamic expansion in Spain. (The former being what we could call today imperialist, the latter Islamic indeed. Whenever in a Transylvanian coat-of-arms one sees a hand holding a sword, that means a more or less local hero aristocrat generally) fighting against the Turks: but we had had no Mio Cids (I actually read El cantar del Mio Cid anno decima) we had no real heroes here. Also, while "gyaur" means infidel, the Ottoman expansion was not as much Islamic as the Arab occupation of Spain was.

Romanian Muslims suffer no discrimination: they never did, as they had never been a key factor in Romanian politics. Very peaceful and hospitable people, and a pity they will be assimilated. A comparison could be drawn with Bosnian Muslims, before the war.

Z, indeed there was a large community here, appreciated and flourishing. Romania granted asylum to refugees after and probably during) the Armenian genocide. During the Ceausescu regime, Armenians schools were closed. Later, most Armenians left, most of them in the 80's - one of the worst decades in the history of Romania, according to many - the decade when the Germans, Hungarians and Jews left. AS to who is of Armenian origin or not.....I found out about a good friend of mine that her grandmother was an Armenian refugee from Turkey. I asked about her descent because she looks like a Bollywood actress. She is Armenian on both paternal and maternal side.

The US buying is not over, even if prices are scary: a sq meter of land, worth of 60 dollars in a major city 5 years ago, if in a central location in Bucharest, let's say, was worth 3000 euros last year. Impoverished people still sell, and as there is hope for further investments, there are buyers. However, I would be very careful with any transaction here. It would be worth investing in the villages,(the land is still extremely cheap in good rural areas), however, I would be careful: the poor infrastructure: no roads, no transport, etc may result in a huge financial loss. In the cities the situation is somewhat different: a sq meter worth 200 or 300 dollars in the main cities of Transylvania will be worth at least double if not triple in three years: the price of the apartments will go down, that of the land increase, depending on the location of course. Cluj (where I live) is now an extremely expensive city, even for Western standards. Hence, we have the most buyers from the West.

Farmer John, the Phanariotes were catapulted directly from Istanbul... The name comes from the district they lived there.

beakerkin said...

Redwine

You should have posted this interview on your blog.

Farmer John said...

Yes, I see that now... they administered the Christian millet/dhimmi system for the Turks. Unlike Spain, they weren't "occupied"... they simply experienced the vampire-like sucking out of their economic lifeblood through the dragomans...

Farmer John said...

from the "millet" link at Wikipedia:

The Ottoman millet system (citizenship) began to degrade with the continuous identification of the religious creed with ethnic nationality. The interaction of ideas of French revolution with the Ottoman Millet system created a breed of thought (a new form of personal identification) which turned the concept of nationalism synonymous with religion under the Ottoman flag. It was impossible to hold the system or prevent Clash of Civilizations when the Armenian national liberation movement expressed itself within the Armenian church. Patriarch Nerses Varjabedyan expresses his position on Ottoman Armenians to British Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lord Salisbury on April 13, 1878[5].

"It is no longer possible for the Armenians and the Turks to live together. Only a Christian administration can provide the equality, justice and the freedom of conscience. A Christian administration should replace the Muslim administration. Armenia (Eastern Anatolia) and Kilikya, are the regions, where the Christian administration should be founded... The Turkish Armenians want this... That is, a Christian administration is demanded in Turkish Armenia, as in Lebanon. [6]"

z said...

Beak....very interestingly, I think!, I went to a Jewish Iranian Synagogue in Beverly Hills a year or so ago to hear a Muslim discuss the threats to our country, etc...and you would not BELIEVE how many Armenian last names were on the walls in the entry area, people who were big donors to this Jewish temple.

Since Armenia was the very first CHristian nation, and Armenians are Orthodox from the days of the Nicean Council, it was pretty strange to see Armenian Jews! But, Iran has thousands of Armenians who go waaaay back there, and this, I guess (since there is a significant number of Jews there, too, or WERE) shows that people morph....change and adapt to their surroundings. It might be interesting to find some history on this. Maybe I"ll try.

YOu don't find any significant amount of Armenian Jews anywhere else in the world...maybe 12? (smile) Perhaps it's a function of the "ian" at the last name NOT signifying, in Iran, Armenian roots, but i doubt it, it's pretty standard!
z

z said...

farmer john, do you think it was wrong or just provocative that the Armenians said that their part of Turkey should be run by Christians?

I've never seen this position by Varjabedyan, and I think it's worth thinking about. One could say this today about American versus Sharia law in America.

Turkey WAS Armenia thousands of years before...it was the TUrks who moved into Armenian land, not the opposite. Mt. Ararat of NOah's Ark fame, is in Turkey NOW, but was ARMENIAN....is still considered Armenian.

thanks for that Patriarch's quote.....it probably played a big part in the provocation to kill 1.5 million Armenians over the thirty years following it........If the Christian ARmenians had won, and ruled just their part of Turkey with equality, justice and freedom, maybe they could have stayed alive...but not in a Muslim surrounding, I guess. Couldn't happen.

THis is really fascinating, that even an 1878 Patriarch of a church could see how (Judeo)Christian principles were all a really free people could live within.

Farmer John said...

I don't think it was "wrong" or simply "provocative" for the Armenians to demand a Christian Administration. I think as a "first step", it was "natural", especially immediately coming out from under an "Islamic" administration. Over the "longer run", however, the transition to a more "secular" administration would have proven "wise".

I'm a firm believer in separation of church and state and a "minimum" State. I like the idea that the churches should minister to "coaxing" men to do the "right things" Voluntarily and training men's minds, and the State should only do things that require the use of Force and training their bodies.

In America, James Madison's ">Memorial and Remonstrance" provides a very wise paradigm for separation and compromise that allows many different ideas to co-exist.

I'm also greatly in favor of "confederations" of "tribes" with amorphous and "tradable" boundaries over "nation states" with fixed-permanent boundaries (ala Swiss Cantons)... call me a "post-revolutionary" or "pre-civil-war" American.

I do, however, also believe that the evolution from confederacy to nation-state is a necessary and inevitable step... although it eventually leads to the State's dissolution as the State begins to assume "social responsibilities" NOT related to its' original purpose... which is the USE OF FORCE...when government instead becomes an "expedient tool" for wielding at large intractable societal problems by amateur social engineers (people voting in a democracy).

Farmer John said...

...I believe that what the "patriarch" saw, was what the Pope recently saw in his recent "controversial statement" as well...that G_d doesn't use FORCE. He gave mankind "free will". Islam see's it differently. They feel it their duty to "correct" us infidels via FORCE.

z said...

well, as you know, there was no "long run" for Armenians in which to go from a CHristian gov't to a secular gov't...but it probably would have happened, left to their own devices. A massacre has a messy way of dashing peoples' dreams of living outside a repressive religious regime which wants them dead just for who they are.

I'm one of those bizarre Armenians (though I identify as AMERICAN, i'm only using my background here to make my point) who keeps hoping and praying that the Turks NEVER EVER admit their dastardly deeds in the near genocide......it's one way Armenians can have their way in protecting a Europe which will be even MORE overrun with Muslims should the EU finally let Turkey in...Muslims who'd probably make their happy little way to America, too, in time.

Redwine said...

"to degrade with the continuous identification of the religious creed with ethnic nationality" - exactly.

The cuyus regio eius religio was the dominant principle, i.e. ethnicity mattered little, religion everything.
(Transylvania was one of the Protestant-Catholic battlegrounds, and the was among the first states to grant asylum to huguenottes for instance.) Nationalisms and nation states came into being much later: they can be considered a product of Romanticism. That process (natural otherwise) took place much later in the Ottoman Empire. 9The ottomans were more tolerant in the beginning: Jews for example were granted rights they did not have before. That, and here but only here a comparison can be drawn with Spain, changed.)

As for free will, Farmer John, ask a Calvinist here: (My father is one), my grandfather was a pastor: they can be worse then 10 Turks in one place.

Check the Sonia blog for the Armenian Genocide debate: went up to 100 comments or so. (She inherited a young Turkish nutter from Beatroot).

Sonia, also a heroine of mine, though not because of her lesbianism (was she?). There is a Slovakian movie on its way about her...my other heroines being the wives of Tiszazug.

Z, Europe, unlike the US, cannot handle well the immigration. See France, (but also Germany): last time I was there there were worrying signs.

Farmer John said...

The "problem" with the patriarch's statement was its' timing (April of 1878). The British were NOT going to let the Russian Black Sea fleet get any closer to their personal lake (the Med), and at that time literally the only thing standing between the Russians and the Med was Ottoman Constantinople and the British fleet (and the Brits damn well didn't Russia to gain another new land corrider through Armenia/ Celicia either... THAT would have paralleled the recently executed Russian pretext for the Romanian liberation). The Brits were backing the Turks in this "Balance of Powers" argument and so the patriarch's statement to the Brits fell on deaf ears.

The "other" problem was that Russians may have been the so-called "protectors" of Armenia on paper (by treaty of San Stefano March '78), they weren't in a strong position to enforce it (most Russian gains rolled back under the Treaty of Berlin in July of '78) yet the Russians were encouraging a revolt (kinda like Bush '41's encouragement of the Shi'a and Kurds to overthrow Saddam in '91).

And thirdly... the Turks were "weakened" and therefore in the politically weak position of having to over-react to any perceived Armenian threat of Independence to Ottoman power.

So perhaps it was "provocative" at the time, but not necessarily wrong or unwarranted. The Armenian Sasun Resistance of 1894 was subsequently followed up by the Hamidian Massacres of 1895-7.

Interesting history.

z said...

I've lived in Paris for four years, and Germany (mostly Munich) for one......the Muslim problem/immigration, is far worse than "worrying", Redwine...but the Germans are getting a handle on it BIG TIME. The French? If Sarkozy wins, they might stand a chance, except Muslims have promised to start killing Frenchmen on the streets if Sarkozy is elected.

I'm not too into blog debates about the genocide...I refer to it as 'near genocide', by the way...for the very fact that I AM HERE. Just what I need to hear is a young "turkish nutter". But thanks for the information. I just can't bring myself to read that stuff anymore.

Redwine, are you saying CALVINISTS can be "worse than 10 Turks in one place?" Please explain.

farmer john: You're right about the Med....Turkey's geography is why OUR senate refuses to force them to acknowledge the near genocide, too. It's up for vote now, I hear...again. Dole used to bring it up all the time because the doc who saved his arm was Armenian.

personally? I could care LESS if they ever actually admit it. It's not bringing any ancestors back, believe me. ANd, as I'd said before, it'll get them more into Europe..GOD FORBID. They have a lot of political capital being where they are.....Let them continue to look bad because of their denial. I love it.


z

z said...

farmer john, I'm trying not to be too sensitive here, but I found that Wikepedia Hamidian account strange. Just to not add "and, of course 1.5 million were killed after the turn of that century" already seems bizarre to me, but perhaps they just stick to that one uprising and that's it..seems dishonest somehow, to me.

It's like taking Kristal Nacht, talking about how a thousand Jews died. Period.

Yes, Kurds were a HUGE problem to the Armenians. Here, I'd been so sensitive to the Kurds in Iraq until i learned about how they treated Armenians from a documentary my uncle just financed on the genocide!! Well...I guess I still have to be, right? (RIGHT?!)

just seemed like this account made it sound like that killing of 140 at the bank (I'd never heard of that) somehow justifed the murder of thousands of Armenians.....

well, I guess when your people are massacred, you're sensitive, huh?

THanks......it was interesting. z

Farmer John said...

Thank you redwine and z. I learned a bunch! Especially how own little "internal" power struggles can turn us into our own worst enemies...

z said...

farmer john, how do you mean that? I'm interested.

thanks!! z

Farmer John said...

We became our own dhimmi-tax collectors... and failed to do what was right w/the Armenians just to keep one another from in "check".

Somehow I doubt the Russian Black Sea Fleet was a formidable threat...given their performance against the Japanese... the subsequent "Voyage of the Damned".

But I could be wrong.

Farmer John said...

Of course, given the outbreak of WWI and the scramble to fill the "power vacuum" in the Balkans, perhaps I'm not giving the British sufficient credit. The way I learned my history, the whole WWI thing was over the assasination of an archduke... but now I can see that it was much more complicated than that.

z said...

farmer john...WWI's beginning are MUCH more complicated than that....and much more interesting. enjoy the learning....My husband's from Germany and says a lot of that story is much more complicated than what we have been taught.

But, of course, he's still whining about Hitler being Austrian, NOT German, and that everyone thinks Beethoven was Austrian (Smile)

Redwine said...

Z, your husband is right. AS for the Calvinists, Transylvania became one of the safe havens for refugees during the Reformation. )Here Germans are Lutherans, Hungarians Calvinists, and Calvinism, here, with its fatalism still can be found )mostly in the villages in its purest form. The Turks were more pragmatic while we (i.e. catholics) and protestants were slaughtering each other in the name of religion. Farmer John, right. But then you can't set a whole country on fire with a match only...WWI basically meant the end of empires here, except the Russian
one. Nation states came into being in Eastern Europe - late romantic ideals.