Romanian lawmaker calls for Independence Day to be officially recognized

Romanian lawmaker calls for Independence Day to be officially recognized

Bucharest, March 20, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Daniel Stroe

A liberal member of the Romanian Parliament has today sent an open letter to the heads of political parties asking for support for a draft law which sets 10 May as the Independence Day for all Romanians, echoing previous calls for changing Romania’s National Day.

Gigel Stirbu, the chairman of the culture committee in the Chamber of Deputies, Romanian Parliament’s lower house, and a former minister of Culture, argues in his letter that “25 years after the fall of communism, we can afford to give up the fear that the National Day on 1 December could somehow be overshadowed by officially recognizing the Independence Day”. “On the contrary, just as well as Romania’s independence created the premises and generated the necessary forces for the Great Union to take place, the same way, celebrating the Independence Day intensifies and highlights Romania’s National Day”, he further explained in his letter.

Romania celebrates its National Day on 1 December when, in 1918, territories under the control of Austro-Hungary (Transylvania and Bukovina) and Russia (Bessarabia, partially the current Republic of Moldova) returned to the motherland to form Greater Romania. 10 May, the day when Romania’s King Carol I was enthroned in 1866, is observed as the Monarchy Day in Romania. Carol, a German, was brought by Romanian then politicians to end a severe political crisis which risked dismantling what was then Romania (Moldova and Wallachia). Carol ruled till 1914, the longest serving leader in Romania, with a powerful mark on the country’s modernization.

In 1877, 11 years into Carol’s reign, Romania gained independence from the Ottoman Empire so the date gets a double significance for the Romanians, hence the “independence” appellative. It was the National Day between 1866 and 1947 when the communists came to power and changed it to 23 August, when the Romanian army turned the arms against Nazi Germany, in 1944.

But some voices have been asking for the National Day to be celebrated on 10 May with either historic or practical arguments being forwarded in this debate. For instance, another former Culture minister, Theodor Paleologu, said Romanians would be more tempted to take part in public celebrations on 10 May since it is warmer outside than on 1 December. Other than that, he argued 10 May laid the groundwork for the Great Union of 1918 therefore bears a greater significance in the national history. Moreover, he insisted, 1 December falls shortly before the winter holidays so Romanians are more interested in them than celebrating the National Day.

In his letter, Stirbu goes on and says “we are the sole European country which found itself in the situation to declare the independence and which doesn’t officially have an independence day”. He further says his draft law will be discussed next week in a parliamentary committee, expressing hope Romanians will be able to celebrate the Independence Day on 10 May this year. Stirbu falls short though of calling to change the National Day from 1 December to 10 May.