Romania and Italy unite to halt abuse of women migrants | Global development | The Guardian
Romania has strong relations to France, Italy and Spain. During its conception as state (second part of the 19th century) and even in the current time. The visit marks Romania's Centennial as well as 10 years since Romania and Italy have raised their bilateral relationship to the level of. Based on very old historical and cultural links, as well as on the present social and human bonds, Romanian-Italian relations continue to.
Yet many told the Observer they are too afraid to speak out, for fear of losing their jobs and being sent back home. But Italian authorities describe the known level of abuse against these workers as unacceptable and have agreed an intervention plan is needed to support abuse victims, as well as to warn others of the risks they face in the province. A plan to build a refuge centre for victims is also being considered. As for the illegal work, we did a lot of investigations and, yes, we did find a lot of illegal contracts.
We need to build a high-trust relationship with them. If they trust us, they are going to speak out and report the abuses.
Beniamino Sacco, the Catholic priest who first denounced the sexual exploitation in Ragusa, was present at the meeting and told the Observer: The very same Romanian authorities in the past have marked the issue as irrelevant, pretending it never happened.
The Italian authorities have been waiting for the women to report the abuse to the police. Sometimes they have been attacking us when we try to release statistics. We can only estimate the full scope, and I can tell you it is a huge phenomenon.
And this is only the tip of an iceberg.
Romania-Italy – a long lasting partnership - ImperialTransilvania
Oftentimes, at pleasant and useful meetings with members of the Romanian community, I remind our fellow citizens even jokingly that the embassy and the consular offices should not be mistaken for the bodies of Romanian counties.
Expectations, on the other hand, are great for everyone, and our human and material resources may not always be able to meet the requirements of a very large community. Oftentimes, there is no magic wand to solve personal problems, where decisions are taken more liberally and easily, let alone solutions for over one million people, where everyone has the impression that their problem is a priority.
What I can assure you, and evidence of proof, is the goodwill, professionalism, readiness and willingness of our diplomatic and consular staff to be with our compatriots. We all want to do better and more - and from the signals we have received we are on the right path - but we must try to understand that some problems are common and can only be solved together, with a predisposition to a positive and constructive approach.
The overwhelming majority of the requests of Romanians in Italy have to do with their desire to have access to good quality consular services and cultural and educational programmes that will allow them to maintain their connection with our country alive and to keep their cultural, linguistic and religious identity.
The Romanian state is seeking to meet these desires, by strictly observing the international diplomatic and consular conventions, as well as by building partnerships with the relevant Italian institutions for the Romanians in Italy.
Actually, given the large size of the Romanian community in Italy, the daily activity of the consular section of the embassy and of the other consular offices in the Italian Republic mainly focus on providing consular assistance to our citizens through the specialized consular staff and modern instruments, as well as through the new consular platform www.
The complex computerization process took into account including the size and capacity of the Romanian consular network in responding the needs of our citizens abroad, being created out of a desire to compensate for such inconveniences related to the physical distance existing between certain Romanian communities and the consular offices serving them.
In this respect, I specify that the main vector of the consular computerization was represented by the creation, development and implementation of the Computer System for the Integrated Management of the Services for Citizens SIMISCpart of the Integrated Computer System E-Cons, publicly launched under the slogan "The consular office closer to your home.
With respect to the consolidation of the emotional connection existing between the Romanian communities and their country of origin, I can only hail the degree of involvement of the Ministry for Romanians Abroad in Bucharest and the Romanian Cultural Institute in developing programmes designed for Romanians in Italy. You said you wished to increase the cohesion of the Romanian community in Italy.
What is the most efficient way that you identified and that you think will help achieving this objective? I am a fervent supporter of dialogue, communication, meetings and getting to know each other. If ten years ago the associative environment was represented by protagonists who were always competing against each other, in the recent years I noticed a regrouping of the community around the existing elites, who are able to generate objectives much more attractive for the members of the Romanian community in Italy.
I have recently made an inventory of the associative environment and our records showed that there are 75 associations at this moment, which are especially active in promoting Romanian culture and identity. We have built in these past years such meetings and dialogue formats that contribute to the cohesion of the Romanian community, such as the Forum of the Romanian Associations in Italy - which is a regular event meant to bring together the representatives of the associative environment and also the successful Romanians in all fields of activity: The core idea of this is to strengthen the relations between the embassy and the Romanian community, as well as to create a format for constant dialogue, formal and interactive, with the associative environment.
And I mean now a debate platform for the ideas coming from the community and for the identification of adequate solutions to the problems facing the Romanian community in Italy.Similarities between Romanian and Italian
The "forum's" objective is to strengthen the organisations that represent the Romanians in Italy and determine them to participate in the political and social life of the communities in which they live. Equally, the forum facilitates exchanges of experiences between the community members, in general, and especially a direct, unmediated dialogue with successful Romanians.
I am glad that the representatives of the community, from specific fields of activity, understood the importance of the associative structures, which they started to promote and, more recently, they even started to get organised in federations. How do you think that could be avoided such situations in which the citizens who went to work in Italy were exploited like slaves or subject to sexual abuses and what has been done, in concrete terms, in this respect?
The permanent dissemination of information and raising awareness about the dangers facing the Romanian citizens who are making the compromise of working on the black market starts in Romania.
Information is the key for preventing such unpleasant or even dangerous situations and for making them aware of the possible consequences of the compromise they make when working on the black market. In what concerns the embassy's and consular offices' activity, our intervention was always prompt in signaling the failures to observe such fundamental rights and human dignity, but, many times, we were informed about such cases too late.
We keep in touch and we cooperate with the Italian authorities to help the Romanian citizens facing difficult situations, who became victims of the modern slavery, but, in order for our efficiency to grow, it's very important that any Romanian citizens holding information about such possible abuses to come to us or to the relevant Italian authorities.
Our activity is based on tact, communication and discretion. I can tell you with satisfaction that, following our discussions with the Italian Minister of Labour, the Italian authorities intensified the controls, which led to several persons being held into custody, who were hiring Romanian citizens, and not only, on the black market.
In the Brexit context and considering the incertitude related to the status of the community workers in the UK, do you see any possible growth in the interest of Romanians living in this country in the Italian labour market in the near future? In the recent time, the Italian economy saw a slight growth, which was also reflected in the jobs area.
However, it is difficult to make estimates, in the context of the UK preparing to leave the EU, if the Romanians there will leave UK or on what their possible destinations could be. The Romanian authorities are seeking to bring the Romanian citizens working abroad back home and, in this respect, they are carrying out a series of progammes designed especially for them.
The Minister for Romanians Abroad, Natalia-Elena Intotero, gave assurance in early May, while in Rome, that returning to the country could be "a good alternative to be taken into consideration" by the Romanians in Italy and that Romania "is making determined steps in trying to convince them to return. Although in the past year there were indeed created the premises for the members of the diaspora to come home, as this was a priority of the Romanian governments - there were initiated programmes running on mixed, national and European financing, among which we mention the Start-Up Diaspora under the HCOP - we cannot talk yet of a trend of our fellow nationals returning to Romania.
I for one think that the creation of an online platform with jobs available in the country or professional reconversion opportunities would be a solution for those who want to return and are looking for solutions or information.
The material advantages offered by the Romanian state are real, but most of those who emigrated in the past 15 years are young people, who did not have difficulties in integrating themselves and who have children already going to schools or universities in the respective countries - which means that their return depends on this factor too.
What I can say is that, at the level of the Ministry for Romanians Abroad and the Ministry of National Education, there are discussions on building a unitary plan and a support course for the Romanian students registered with education units abroad.
Moreover, at government's level, some inter-ministerial groups are working on a concrete proposal to complete the measures we talked about earlier. The government wants to identify new modalities of helping Romanians abroad and convincing them to return.
Romania is forced to deal with the lack of workforce every day. We want our Romanians back home, for they represent the first option in covering the workforce deficit, before looking for workforce from other states. The Romanian citizens abroad can access, in electronic format, the list of available jobs in Romania, via the National Agency for Employment. Moreover, they can receive information about the value of the salaries in Romania which, in such fields as IT, education, health care, which are comparable with those abroad.
Inwhen you were appointed ambassador, you said you wanted to resize and make more dynamic the political relation with Italy. To what extent have these wishes materialised? Indeed, when I took over my mandate, in JulyI planned to make the bilateral diplomatic relation more dynamic, even if our countries are linked by a privileged friendship relation. We are living in a European and international context confronted with numerous changes in which the bilateral collaboration can provide concrete solutions to our citizens.
The dialogue with Italy has continued in the spirit of this special relation, including on a sectoral level, by achieving some common projects in the economic, social and cultural areas, also taking into account the European and international context, which includes, to give some examples, the Italy's holding the OSCE Presidency inand, of course, Romania's taking over the EU Council Presidency in the first half of In this context and on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Consolidated Strategic Partnership, in the beginning of the year there have taken place visits of the Italian PM and foreign minister to Bucharest, as well as consultations on a level of director general in terms of European affairs.
Soon, we'll also hold in Rome the meeting of the parliamentary friendship group, which will allow a direct contact on the legislature level. Moreover, the bilateral political agenda this year will also include other significant moments.
The Intergovernmental Summits mechanism has been established between Romania and Italy. The first edition took place in in Rome and the second, on 30 Mayin Bucharest. Are these summits going to be resumed? Indeed, the Intergovernmental Summits mechanism provided continuity and consistency to the political dialogue between the two countries, the organisation of a new joint government meeting in Italy being already on the bilateral discussion agenda.
Based on the rotation principle, the Italian partners are going to host the next meeting. In regards to the high-level bilateral meetings, I am delighted to bring to mind the head of state level visits of the Presidents of the Italian Republic to Romania in and and Romania's Presidents to Italy inand During the two meetings between Romania's President Klaus Iohannis and his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella, the first one in Rome in and the second one in Bucharest inthe two noted the existence of a potential to widen the economic relations between the two states.
How have commercial exchanges between Romania and Italy evolved since then? Is there an increase in the Italian side's interest in the goods produced in our country? Inthe total value of commercial exchanges was the highest of the past ten years: