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News 05 Jan 12

National Anthem Gets 'Boost' in Romania

Romania's parliament has adopted new legislation on 'national identity' that will require students to sing the country's anthem at school.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

Primary school pupils will now be required to sing Romania's national anthem every Monday, following a change to legislation recently approved by the country’s upper chamber, the Senate.

Furthermore, schools will be obliged to hang the national flag in every classroom.

“The law will help young people to better understand the importance of national symbols and to affirm their national identity,” says Maria Stavrositu, a lawmaker from the governing Democratic Liberal Party, PDL, who proposed the bill.

“If we forget what defines us as a nation we risk losing our moral values,” she added.

Stavrositu launched the proposal in September, after a Romanian singer was fined for omitting a line from the national anthem before a key soccer match, saying he did not want the anthem to be seen in a political light.

The singer left out the line "Triumphant in battle, his name was Traian", saying it could refer to President Traian Basescu.

In fact, the anthem refers to the 1st century Roman Emperor Trajan, who conquered the Dacians, the forefathers of modern-day Romanians. Trajan and Traian are the same names and  in the Romanian language, the name Trajan is written Traian.

The prefect of Bucharest fined the singer some €1,000 for defiling a national symbol.

Many experts oppose the new changes to the law, saying while the patriotism is a reasonable value, it should not be imposed.

“Of course, young people have to learn to pay respect to the symbols of their country but if they are obliged just to sing by heart lyrics which mean nothing to them the result of this initiative will be null,” says Mircea Dumitru, a professor at Bucharest University.

For some, the proposed law evokes the Communist era, when every classroom had a portrait of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

“After 45 years of Communism, during which we not only had to sing the anthem but other odes as well, we should have realised by now that brainwashing doesn't work. If the politicians want Romanians to show more love for their country they should reform the services for the citizens. This is the task of the politicians," says political commentator Emil Stoica.

The law must be approved by Romania’s second chamber of parliament, the Camera Deputatilor, in order to come into force.

Many Romanians remain ambivalent about the recent past. A recent survey shows that nearly half of the population believe life was better during the Communist era, with a higher standard of living and job security given as the main advantages.

Poll respondents cite lack of freedom and lack of food as the most negative aspects of the Communist era. But less than a quarter of Romanians believe that life has improved in the two decades since the overthrow of Ceausescu.

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