Romanian Parliament: Vlachs Are Romanians, Not Vlachs

In April 2005, the Aromanian Community in Romania (ACR) started the procedure for obtaining the status of a national minority for the Aromanians in Romania. After three years of administrative red tape, the ACR decided to file suit against the Romanian Government for cancelling parts of Government Resolution no. 589/2001 concerning the founding of the Council of National Minorities in Romania. According to article no. 2 of this Resolution, the Council of National Minorities is composed of three members of each organization of a national minority that is represented in the Romanian Parliament. But to have a representative in Parliament, a minority group should be a member of the Council of National Minorities. It therefore seems impossible for any group, other than those 18 national minorities currently represented in the Romanian Parliament, to acquire the status of national minority. This year – five years later – this trial between the ACR and the Romanian government will be judged in The European Court of Human Rights. The motivation cited by the ACR for filing its lawsuit is to try to “ensure protection measures for the Aromanian ethnic group.”

On October, 23, 2007 the Romanian Parliament adopted Law no. 299/2007 to support Romanians living outside Romania (formally known as “Romanians from Everywhere”). It was a harsh debate for an amendment that stated that the Aromanians should be included in the category of “Romanians from Everywhere.” We had the weird situation of some Aromanians lobbying for the Aromanians to be considered “Romanians from Everywhere” while other Aromanians were lobbying for the opposite. The amendment was at first adopted but a technical error was invoked, and the voting procedure was repeated. The amendment was rejected the second time, but with a balanced vote. Six years later, on May 8, 2013, the Chamber of Deputies voted on Law no. 176/2013, which completes Law no. 299/2007 by specifying what “Romanians from Everywhere” means. Among others in this category, the law included “Armani, Armanji, Aromani, Cutovlahi, Farseroti, Macedoromani, Macedo-Romani, Macedo-Armanji.” This time the vote was very unbalanced (293 voted for the law, 2 voted against it, and there were 5 abstentions). The ACR lobbied against the law before the vote and strongly protested the law when it was passed.

Even if it seems at first sight that there is no connection with the two events described above, we want to note here that the last national census in Romania (held in October 2011; the final results were published in 2013) counted the Aromanians as Romanians and, what’s more, the number of the Aromanians was not even published; therefore the only information available is from the 2002 census, which counted 25,053 Aromanians and 1,334 Macedo-Romanians. For purposes of comparison, the ACR has around 7,000 members.

On August 9, 2013 the ACR called a meeting before Romanian government headquarters to commemorate the centenary of the Treaty of Bucharest, which ended the Second Balkan War on August 10, 1913. Around 200 people gathered for this meeting (we should add that it was a very hot day in the middle of the holiday season). Among other banners (to preserve the Aromanian language, to follow the European Parliament’s Recommendation 1.333 [1]) was one that was against the passage of Law no. 299: “We want to remain Aromanians!”

What did the politicians in the Romanian Parliament who voted in favor of Law 176/2013 (which states that Aromanians are “Romanians from Everywhere”) have in mind? It is only a matter of national pride? Or it is a sign that Romania will be involved again in the Aromanian Question in the Balkans? It is possible that this law will create difficulties for Romania’s relations with other Balkan countries – in fact, the Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, aware of the problems that could arise, did not support this law.

The Aromanians are usually very loyal towards the country in which they live. This is the first time we have seen an Aromanian organization in a trial against the Government of the host country (we should add here that the members of the ACR consistently speak of their loyalty to and love for Romania).

[1] On June 24th 1997, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted Recommendation 1333 (1997) on Aromanian culture and language, the most important achievement for the Aromanians ever, which included the following language:

“The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
i) encourage Balkan states which comprise Aromanian communities to sign, ratify and implement the European Charter of regional or Minority languages and invite them to support the Aromanians, particularly in the following fields:
a) education in their mother tongue;
b) religious services in Aromanian in their churches;
c) newspapers, magazines and radio and television programmes in Aromanian;
d) support for their cultural associations;
invite the other member states to support the Aromanian language, for instance by creating    university professorships in the subject and disseminating the most interesting products of Aromanian culture throughout Europe by means of translations, anthologies, courses, exhibitions and theatrical productions.”

    What is also remarkable here is the great split between Aromanians who consider themselves Romanians and Aromanians who consider themselves a different ethnic group, and the quarrel over which side is more numerous. Again, the data we have is not definitive.

The break between the two sides seems to be very serious. The biggest challenge for the future may be to find a project that all Aromanians in Romania can support.


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