Claims of Romanian invasion in UK 'like a joke'


After waiting seven long years, Romanians and Bulgarians will soon enjoy the right to work unrestricted in fellow European Union nations.

But tensions between Bucharest and London are high following sustained attacks from the right-wing, anti-immigration UK Independence party.

It claims 29 million people could flood into Britain from January 1, but that's a figure the Romanian government has described as "silly".

SBS Europe correspondent Brett Mason reports from Bucharest.

In Bucharest they've been watching the European parliament with growing despair.

“We should not be in a political union with Romania and Bulgaria,” says Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence party.

After laughing off a planned ad campaign designed to make the United Kingdom unappealing to potential immigrants, Romanians have launched a tongue-in-cheek campaign of their own, offering their spare beds to Brits seeking asylum.

“Since we wouldn't like it in Britain we invited the British over to Romania,” says one advertisement in the campaign.

“Our beer is less expensive than your bottled water,” reads another.

But sustained attacks from the UK Independence party have left few here laughing.

“Yes, from many points of view they are discriminating against us,” says one Romanian.

“They exaggerate, we are all European citizens and we have the right to work in all the European countries.”

Romanian citizens have waited seven years for that right, which kicks in on January 1.

Many are disappointed by the way Romanian immigrants are portrayed in the British media.

“They are discriminating against us because of the gypsies that are going there,” this Romanian says.

“They can only see the bad parts, they don't see the good things that Romanian people are doing in the UK.”

Romanian journalists say the country is being used for domestic political gain.

“To be honest, it's pretty simple,” says Ana Moraru from Antena television.

“It's EU legislation and if they're part of the EU they should comply.

“It's been seven years, they should have just come to terms with the fact that we should have the same rights as everyone else.”

Romanian lawmakers say they've seen and heard it all before during both the French and Italian election campaigns, where right-wing political parties once again had Bucharest in their sights.

The country's ambassador has revealed his frustration.

“It's absolutely unfair and undeserved,” says Dr Ion Jinga, the Romanian ambassador to the UK.

“It is a political party which is not a member of the British parliament but would very much like to get the first position in the next European elections.

“One, to take Britain out of the European Union the other one is to send back all foreigners.”

They claim that come January 1 there will be hundreds of thousands of Romanians at Bucharest airport with their suitcases ready to come here to London and take all of these jobs.

“Well, I am first tempted to smile to such an assertion but I know that this is very much damaging to our public perception in Britain,” says Ambassador Jinga.

“There were newspapers who wrote 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians will pack their luggage and come next year here so this is the entire population of both countries combined, with newborn babies and retired people.”

He went on to defend Romanians who now call Britain home.

“Romanians are the foreign community in Britain with the highest proportion of highly educated people.

“Almost 40 percent of Romanians in the UK have a university degree and it is also the foreign community with the highest rate of employment,” Dr Ion Jinga says.

“It's 85 percent,” he says, repeating the statistic for emphasis.

But you wouldn't know that though reading the newspapers.

Ambassador Dr Ion Jinga agrees.

“Absolutely not,” he says.

“It is just a fake story. An invasion of Romanians is like a joke.”

Watch the full report tonight on Dateline at 9.30pm on SBS ONE.

Source SBS

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