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The Romanian Cultural Institute: Independence or Political Influence?

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The change of statute of the Romanian Cultural Institute was announced in August 2012 and still sparks intense debates in the media. Will the Institute be able to remain independent politically speaking, or will the Institute’s work on promotion of the Romanian culture be influenced by the new majority?
Source: flickr

Changing the culture: Problems Related to the Administration of the Romanian Cultural Institute

Topan Bogdan | translated by: Topan Bogdan | 2013. April 27. 10:15

Two months ago (in August 2012) the administration of the Romanian Cultural Institute of Bucharest changed. The new director Andrei Marga, a famous Romanian academic, seems inappropriate for such a post since he is more of a specialist of technical matters rather than one of humanities.

Two months ago (in August 2012) the administration of the Romanian Cultural Institute of Bucharest changed. The former director Horia.Roman Patapievici resigned after the Institute ceased to be under authority of the President of Romania and became dependant of the Senate instead. The new director Andrei Marga, a famous Romanian academic, seems inappropriate for such a post since he is more of a specialist of technical matters rather than one of humanitie

*A Change of Direction in the Romanian Cultural Institute

Since taking up his post, the new director of the Romanian Cultural Institute Andrei Marga, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and the former Minister of Education, has been reshuffling his team. Regional directors of subsidiaries in Warsaw and in Paris have been replaced without any explanation, in addition to the introduction of a new marketing strategy, which according to the most severe critics is impossible to put into practice. But who listens to these critics? Andrei Marga seems to have no connection to cultural affairs and yet he is now in charge of the resurrection of this institution.

*A Political Decision or Not?

Horia-Roman Patapievici resigned shortly after the Constitutional Court accepted putting the Cultural Institute under the authority of the Senate. Romanian media considered the ex-director’s action as having great political charge since the latter has never hidden his commitment in the matter.

Considering the current political environment marked by a tumultuous period following the suspension of the President Traian Basescu, changing the head of an institution in charge of diffusing Romanian culture in Europe is highly political. In fact, Horia-Roman Patapievici did what he considered as rightful and good for an institution he has directed with gusto for seven years.

*Why Renounce Such a Post?

The change of statute implicated several transformations. Another modification concerning the budget was considered; reducing the funds designated to culture promotion by one third was presented as a cure for the financial problems of Romania. Media agree at least on the fact that the new director Andrei Marga, though a very appreciated Romanian academic, is not the most judicious choice for this post.

Discontent originating from Romanian intellectuals is an alarm sign, in order not to avoid making the Romanian culture subject to political aims after twenty years of a difficult transitional period in the cultural domain and elsewhere.

*Doing Evil is Bad, But Doing Nothing is Worse, According to a Romanian Proverb

Augustin Buzura, a famous writer who was also the director of the Romanian Cultural Institute from 2003 to 2004 opposed Marga’s projects during a telephonic intervention in a television broadcast. In fact, Marga believes that the Romanian culture should not be promoted by unknown artists but by supporting artists that are already well-known. Over the last years, several artists almost unknown on an international level have experienced success thanks to the support offered by H. R. Patapievici.

Representatives of the Romanian culture unanimously acknowledge that Mircea Cartarescu, author of the “Orbitor” trilogy, was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012 primarily because of translations financed by the Romanian Cultural Institute directed by Patapievici. However, this seems to have been forgotten.

To conclude, considering the fact that the administration of the Romanian Cultural Institute changed at the same time as the majority of Senate, it is vital to think of the dangers of adding a political factor to the diffusion of Romanian culture. Seeing as Romania is still marked by a profound stigma left behind by its communistic period, it is more important than ever that the Romanian culture, the basis and a landmark of the Romanian society, is independent.

 

Controversial Mutations

Liliana Gheorghe | translated by: Liliana Gheorghe | 2013. April 27. 10:15

In August 2012, the urgent order of the Romanian government to put the Romanian Cultural Institute under the authority of the Senate provoked multiple reactions. Nevertheless it seems that the Institute was politically subordinated even before this change.

The former President of the Romanian Cultural Institute Horia-Roman Patapievici came to the direction of the Institute in 2005, shortly after the beginning of the first mandate of the President Basescu. The relationship between Patapievici and Basescu has always been quite close and the president of the Romanian Cultural Institute has never tried to hide his political convictions. Furthermore, in 2007, when the President Basescu was suspended for the first time, Patapievici remained in his camp.

*The Romanian Cultural Institute Far Away From the Supposed Political Neutrality

In the context of the Institute’s change of statute, the resignation of Patapievici reveals his attachment to the President Basescu. Despite this obvious political orientation, the Institute has to be, at least in theory, a politically independent institution. Also, the government’s decision to make the Romanian Cultural Institute fall under the authority of the Senate may be considered as a justified measure in order to eliminate the extent of political influence over the Institute: in fact, contrarily to the President, the Senate represents a heterogeneous group with diverse political opinions.

*A Controversial Romanian Cultural Institute Under the Mandate of Patapievici

While the goals of the Institute are related to the promotion of artistic values​​ it cannot be completely isolated from the material aspect of things. That is why the budget of the Institute became a real subject of debate. The reasons for this controversy are quite obvious: between 2005 and 2011, the Institute's budget has increased from 2 to 12 million euros. Although during these years the activity of the institution has grown and that subsidiaries have been introduced in several countries, the increase in the budget at a time when most public services have been affected by the policy of austerity provoked strong reactions. It is especially the parties in opposition to the appointment of Prime Minister Victor Ponta who are the vectors of this negative attitude. That is why, shortly after its arrival in government, the Social-Liberal Union decided to drastically reduce the budget of the ICR with cuts of 33%.

The controversy over the budget is not the only one the Institute provoked during the term of H.-P. Patapievici. Several events organized by the Institute presented controversial works that touched sensitive issues like anti-Semitism and homosexuality. In addition, other critics have focused on the fact that the Romanian Cultural Institute has only promoted artists with a low reputation. The new president, Andrei Marga, proposes an approach contrary to that of the institution: promoting Romanian values that are well anchored in the Romanian cultural identity.

*The Change of Direction of the Romanian Cultural Institute, a Beneficial Change

Changes undergone by the Romanian Cultural Institute during the last two months also include a new approach to the promotion of Romanian culture. The new President seems capable of forming the Institute’s new direction. Andrei Marga, elected by the Senate for this purpose, is recognized as one of the most important figures of the Romanian academia. Before accomplishing tasks significantly related to the cultural sphere, Andrei Marga has held the post of Minister of Education and President of the University Babes-Bolyai; both important experiences which will be very beneficial for the future of the Institute.

Ultimately, a consensus on the future of the Institute of Romania is needed in order to clarify the politics it leads. Thus the new chairmanship of Marga will be beneficial in dispelling doubts and controversies. Nonetheless, critics say that Mr Marga is nought but a representative of the new government in an institution that should be free of political influence…but who listens to these critiques.

 

This article convinced me.

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

This article convinced me.

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

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Changing the culture: Problems Related to the Administration of the Romanian Cultural Institute

Topan Bogdan|translated by: Topan Bogdan

Controversial Mutations

Liliana Gheorghe| translated by: Liliana Gheorghe

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