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Well-known Romanian writers are boycotting the Romanian Cultural Institute’s presence at this year's Paris Book Fair, protesting at what they see as its politicisation.
The 33rd edition of Paris Salon de Livre (Book Fair) was supposed to turn the spotlight on Romanian literature, but the event has been shadowed by the fact that many of the invited writers say they will boycott it.
“We are protesting against the policy of Romanian Cultural Institute, which is old-fashioned and against interests of Romanian culture,” Mircea Cartarescu, a writer tipped as a potential candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature, said.
“Romanian intellectuals have to stand together and oppose savageness and dilettantism, or we will be suffocated by it” he added.
Cartarescu's protest is to be joined by other writers from a list of 27 guest authors supposed to represent Romania at the book fair, which starts on Thursday.
They say the Romanian Cultural Institute, ICR, has been turned into an instrument for promoting Romanian national identity, instead of being a mediator between Romanian artists and the international community as they say it was until last year.
The ICR is the main Romanian partner of the Paris book fair.
Modeled on the British Council and France's Institut Francais, the state-funded ICR exists to promote Romanian culture at home and abroad.
But in June, a new ordinance placed the Institute under parliamentary control. Most Romanian artists see the move as illegal, as the change was adopted without any consultation or debate and appears politically motivated.
The government says its move was a democratic choice aimed at making the ICR's operations more transparent.
Since 2005 the Institute has financed the translation of more than 300 works by Romanian authors. In 2012 alone, around 2.6 million people attended ICR cultural events staged in major cities around the world, according to ICR data.
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