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Right Direction | Diplomacy and migration: An Interview with Natalia-Elena Intotero, the secretary of the Romanian Diaspora Department

NATALIA-ELENA Intotero was born in 1976 in the city of Brad, Hunedoara County (Romania).

She graduated from the universities in Timişoara (2002) and Bucharest (2006). She served as a deputy to the Romanian Parliament (in 2012-2016 and 2016-2020), deputy minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in 2009 and 2012) and minister at the Ministry for Romanians Abroad, established in January 2017 (in 2018-2019).

Tiberiu Dianu

On October 17, 2018, she attended The 100th Century Gala, organized in Washington, DC by the Embassy of Romania in the United States of America, an occasion I asked for a brief interview.

In 2019, she ran for the European Parliament.

The Romanian Diaspora counts about 5 million people, of which 3.93 million in Europe, 860 thousand in America (North, Central and South), 280 thousand in Asia, 25 thousand in Australia and Oceania, and 5 thousand in Africa. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanian_diaspora

Q: Madam Secretary, what is the purpose of your visit to the United States now and whom are you going to meet with?

First of all, it is a great emotion and great joy whenever I have the opportunity to meet our Romanians everywhere, honest people, hardworking people, extraordinary people.

This time, I am in the United States to award 10 Romanians from the 100 successful Romanians in the 10 largest communities, on the occasion of the Centenary Year [2018, after the Great Union in 1918].

Of course, it was not easy to select 10 successful Romanians among so many successful Romanians here, in the United States. I take this opportunity to thank the Ambassador, the diplomatic mission team and colleagues in the consulates general for all the work done in selecting our valuable Romanians.

Q: What projects of its own does the Diaspora Department run and what is the stage of projects for residents abroad?

We run a lot of projects, among which I would like to mention a few, and I would be delighted to have Romanian participants in the United States in the next year, because they are continuity projects.

First of all, I am thinking about the “ARC” camps, through which, for one week, children — young people, students, teenagers — can come to the country and connect more with what the country of origin means, and also to meet other young people of their age from all over the world.

This year [2018] we have had 3,000 seats in camps in Sulina (Tulcea county), Oglinzi (Neamţ county), Hunedoara county [in Căprioara] and Gorj county [in Săcelu]. For the coming year, we intend to increase the number of these participants. Of course, these camps are open each year in July and August.

Also, this year we have 100 libraries everywhere in the world with books in Romanian. We have received requests from here, in the United States, and we will honor these requests.

Equally, being aware of the importance of maintaining our linguistic identity, and knowing that here, in the United States, as anywhere in the world, teaching aids are needed, we have started a project to acquire over 10,000 teaching aids for studying Romanian language.

But, more precisely, for the United States, we have also brought 100 DVDs with textbooks that, I hope, will reach all those interested.

Last but not least, in November [2018], a soul project, like all others in fact, is bringing home Romanian journalists from the diaspora. They will be able to participate at the end of The 100th Century Gala, they will be able to participate in networking and exchange of experience with journalists from the Romanian Television, Agerpres [Romanian Press Agency], but also Radio Romania News and, last but not least, they will join many other Romanians present on December 1st [National Day in Romania] in the city of Alba Iulia.

This is a small part of our projects, which I have listed. Of course, all those interested can discover our entire activity by visiting the Ministry of Romanians Abroad website. http://www.mprp.gov.ro/web/

And I would like to appeal to all Romanians through you. We launched the "Museum of Romanians Abroad" platform. This platform is dedicated to all our countrymen, everywhere in the world. Of course, it can be richer by the contribution of every Romanian.

Therefore, all those who can help to develop this platform, for reflecting the existence of Romanians over the years, everywhere in the world, we expect them to send us electronic material to the Ministry of Romanians Abroad and we thank them in advance .

Q: What legislative initiatives has the Department brought to support residents abroad?

First of all, the amendment to Law 299 [of November 13, 2007, republished and updated, on support for Romanians abroad] through which we will be able to send a diaspora attaché to diplomatic missions.

Equally, we will be able to set up the Diaspora Agency, like the “Eudoxiu Hurmuzaki” Institute that is currently subordinated to the Department, but also to create the legal framework to grant scholarships and financial incentives for those communities where studying in Romanian becomes difficult.

Q: Is there any Department non-reimbursable funding and who is the beneficiary?

There is, it’s the funding we give to the associative environment in the fields of education, culture, and media in Romanian language, and also in the fields of spirituality, tradition, and religious denominations.

Q: Finally, what is the priority on the agenda of your Department?

Education is our main concern, and it is our main concern because we have received many requests from Romanians everywhere.

Practically speaking, by conducting all the educational projects, we promote all the most beautiful things: Romania and the Romanians.

Thank you so much, Madam Secretary.

And I thank you, too.

Tiberiu Dianu has published several books and a host of articles in law, politics, and post-communist societies. He currently lives and works in Washington, D.C. and can be followed on Medium. https://medium.com/@tdianu