Sealing the Magna Carta was a major event in the journey of democracy. Justice and freedom are at the foundation of our society and it is our duty to act in their defense when the legal international order is challenged. By doing so, we pay tribute to all those who have developed the rule of law to protect us against injustice and abuse of power.
Romania has been a constant presence at the London Book Fair since 2007 and I pay my tribute of admiration to so many writers, publishers, translators and literary promoters who, along these eight years, have showcased the excellence of Romanian literature and established lasting relations between Romania and the UK.
I am a great supporter of this fundamental principle of democracy and I expect it is exercised in good faith and without deliberately distorting the obvious truth. An article published on 8 March by the Daily Mail, with the title "Romanian fury over Channel 4 documentary as their MPs ask: What if we made a programme saying all Brits were alcoholics and paedophiles?" doesn't make me question the principle, but the author's good faith and respect for the truth.
Romania and the UK sit at opposite ends of the continent but our perspectives are startlingly similar. We share a common vision of a more open Europe fit to compete in the global world of the future, and we work together to achieve security and countering terrorism. There is much we can do together to make our vision of Europe a reality and I believe this is the legacy of 135 years of bilateral diplomatic relations.
For Romanians, December has a special significance. It is a time of triumph because on 1st December 1918 the modern Romanian State - at that time the Kingdom of Romania - has reached its natural borders, fulfilling the multi-secular dream of bringing together all historical provinces inhabited by Romanians...
70 years ago, on 25 October 1944, the Romanian Army liberated the town of Carei in North-West of the country. It was the complete liberation of North-West Transylvania from foreign ruling and administration, following the outrageous Vienna Diktat in 1940 arbitrated by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
Initially neutral, in the spring of 1916 Romania was insistently requested by France and Great Britain to enter the war in order to relieve the huge German pressure on the West front. Queen Maria of Romania, who was British by birth and a grand daughter of Queen Victoria, strongly advocated entering the war on the Entente side.
The four freedoms of the European Union found inspiration in the British history of freedoms. In a way, it is an extension of the old Freedom of the City of London to the scale of a continent. This is one of the reasons Romanians have a great respect for the UK. They deserve to be treated with the same respect.
In the last 17 months a blaming culture and racist attitude has damaged the lives and reputation of thousands of Romanians in the UK. The British public was continuously served with scaremongering about Romanians who, in their vast majority, are hard working people, honest, committed, pay taxes and contribute to the growth of this country.
Alarmist "experts" predicted that 385,000 people will migrate from Romania and Bulgaria to the UK over the next five years. Migration Watch advanced 50,000 persons a year. Ukip spoke about 29million people, the entire population of the two countries combined, to flood the British shores. The official figures released today by ONS prove I was right.
There is no country without crime, but statistically the crime rate in Romania is one of the lowest across the whole of Europe. According to the Metropolitan Police cooperation with Romania is one of the most efficient they have in Europe... The Ukip nationwide poster campaign claiming that "the UK opened doors to unlimited numbers of people from Romania and Bulgaria" and "an open-door to crime" is, in fact, an open-door to hate. I hope reason will prevail.
I have always been fascinated by history because I believe that if we know the past then we better understand the present, prevent painful history to be repeated and eventually anticipate the future. For a diplomat, understanding and respecting the history and culture of the host country is a prerequisite for any correct professional judgement.
There are more than 6,000 Romanian students in British universities and as Ambassador I have regular contacts with them. In six years I have visited almost 40 British universities (some of the best in the world) where young Romanians are enrolled. I try to understand their dreams for the future and their expectations in relation with Romania...
The reality is that in the case of Romanians 'benefit tourism' is a myth because from 5.7million working age benefit claimants in the UK last year, only 1,740 were Romanians, which represents 0.03% of the total claimants, or 1.45% of the Romanian community in Britain. To compare, the percentage of working age benefit claimants for the whole UK population is 9.5%.
It seems that a new version of Waiting for Godot is being reinvented by part of the British media and by some politicians who are desperately waiting for the arrival of millions of Romanians after 1 January 2014... All evidence suggests that Britain is not a preferred destination for Romanian migration.
As the moment of lifting restrictions on the labour market approaches, it seems that, for a part of the British media, Romanians are the perfect scapegoat to be held responsible for almost everything that goes wrong in the UK. A recent article published by Daily Mail claiming that "Romanians arrested at seven times rate of Britons" is just another unfortunate example.