Wednesday, January 31, 2007

New York Times: Sharing Romanian Under a Sphinx

Sharing Romanian Under a Sphinx
Published: January 31, 2007

MARIGOLD walls, goldenrod tablecloths, egg yolks spilling into moist corn-colored mamaliga: yellow, yellow, yellow at Acasa in Sunnyside, Queens.

Acasa is a new Romanian place on a stretch of Skillman Avenue that’s not poor in the Romanian department. The dining room is dominated by a massive photo mural that struck me as being sci-fi: a solar eclipse in a red sky on one end; a rocky, Martian outcropping on the other. That’s what too much goulash will get you into, I thought.

Wrong, I was. Marian Golea, the restaurant’s effusive owner, explained that it was a photograph of the Romanian Sphinx, a rocky outcropping on the Bucegi Platform, taken during a total solar eclipse. As soon as Mr. Golea suggested it, the rock looked exactly like the profile of its more recently constructed and more internationally famous Egyptian brother.
Who knew you could argue that the Great Sphinx of Giza was a knockoff? You learn something new every night in this town.

One evening I learned that desserts at Acasa are very, very good, particularly papanasi cu smantana ($4), which the menu translates as “Fried Cheese Donuts with sweet vanilla creamy sauce.” I offer this nugget of discovery up front because anyone who does not budget his appetite will not have room for this.
For something a little less filling, go for the clatite cu gem ($4), crepes stuffed with jam. A friend of mine with a Romanian grandmother did, and devoured them, evoking her good name and good cooking.

He did the same with an order of red peppers stuffed with meat and rice. Mr. Golea linked the goulash and the mushroom stew with white sauce to Transylvania, the region of Romanian from which he hails. After moving to the United States, he spent 15 years working at different jobs — much of the time as a mechanical engineer at Kennedy Airport — before opening Acasa, his first restaurant.
While there may be the occasional Transylvanian accent on the menu, it’s not as strong as, say, Bela Lugosi’s. Mr. Golea said the Romanians who visit his restaurant come from all over Romania, so there are dishes to suit everyone.

A supremely creamy caviar spread, much like taramosalata, and other mezes with a Mediterranean accent, like a garlicky, light bean spread and a too-smoky eggplant dip, evince the Greek and Turkish influences on Romania’s cooking. Order a few ($4 each), and the kitchen will assemble a platter for the table.

A smoked pork knuckle — meager and sinewy but studded with enough meaty nuggets to merit inclusion on the list of house specialties — is served over melted cabbage ($11.99). It reflects the century Romania spent as a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
My favorite dishes at Acasa feature mamaliga, Romania’s answer to polenta. It’s a perfect foil to grilled lamb (erroneously billed as lamb pastrami) or braised pork. I liked it best with a fried egg, a huge dollop of sour cream and a side order of sour-and-sweet pickled red peppers.
There’s beer and wine, and the Romanian choices are affordable and acceptable. Ursus is a pilsner that goes back easy. I tried two white wines: the riesling is drier than the muscat.

One night, after ordering a bottle of the riesling ($12), my waitress asked me if I’d like seltzer, too. She was upselling me, I thought, but I opted for it anyway. Wrong again. The seltzer was for the wine, to make what from here on I will refer to as Transylvanian champagne.

It might have been too much of that Transylvanian champagne, or maybe it was a calorie-overloaded hallucination, but I swear the sphinx whispered to me one night. It told me that eating crispy carnaciori oltenesti ($4) — hot dog-like sausages paired with Windy City-style yellow mustard — in the shadow of an eclipse would trigger a slaughtering of favored colts by savage bears this coming Sunday. Who am I to argue with the Romanian Sphinx?

48-06 Skillman Avenue (48th Street), Sunnyside, Queens; (718) 651-1364.
BEST DISHES Caviar spread; meatball appetizer; grilled lamb with mamaliga; mamaliga with egg and sour cream; pickled red peppers.
PRICE RANGE Small dishes, $4 to $6; main courses, $7.99 to $14.99; desserts, $4.
HOURS Noon to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday; to midnight Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

MEDIAFAX: Romania’s Athlete Maria Cioncan Dies In Car Crash

Romania’s Athlete Maria Cioncan Dies In Car Crash

Romanian athlete Maria Cioncan, awarded with bronze at the 2004 Olympic Games from Athens, died Sunday in a car crash in Bulgaria. The accident took place Sunday morning. Stefan Beregszaszy, Cioncan’s coach, was in the same car, but he was not able to give any details about the accident because of the shock. Former world champion Gabriela Szabo, who is member of the managing board of the Romanian Athletics Federation, said the Romanian officials did not know that Cioncan and her coach were in Bulgaria. Cioncan was born on June 19, 1977, in Maieru, Bistrita-Nasaud County, north Romania. She won the 11th place in the European athletics championships from 2002, the 9th position in the World Championships from 2003 and the 7th in the Olympic Games from Athens in 2005. She has never competed since 2005.

Friday, January 19, 2007

BBC: The most polluted town in Europe

'The most polluted town in Europe'
By David Shukman BBC science correspondent, Copsa Mica, Romania

Levels of lead in the town far exceed permitted levelsFirst impressions leave a mark and mine were of an immediate assault on the senses.
Within minutes of arriving in Copsa Mica, a small industrial town deep in a valley in Transylvania, I could feel the pollution in my eyes and nose. I could even taste it - it was slightly sweet.

Ahead of me was a factory built in the late 1930s to process heavy metals, a giant smelting works that over the following decades belched out contaminants on a terrifying scale.
The factory's current owners, the Greek firm Mytilineos Holdings, has recently installed new filters to bring emissions into line with European standards. But there's a poisonous legacy.
Official statistics show life expectancy in the town is nine years shorter than the national average.

There are numerous studies that lay out the facts. An environmental organisation, EcoTur, carried out a survey in the area from 1999 to 2004 working alongside scientists from Britain.

Prof Doru BanaducEcoTurIt found the soil contained so much lead that it was 92 times above the permitted level; the vegetation had a lead content 22 times above the permitted level.
One of the organisation's leading members, Prof Doru Banaduc, of the University of Sibiu, told me the whole food chain was contaminated.

"The town is really a dangerous place to live - everything you touch, everything you eat, the air you breathe is serious for your health."
Another study into children aged between two and 12 years old found heightened levels of lead and evidence of arrested development.
Last year alone, 80 workers from the factory were treated for lead poisoning. For years, hundreds of people have complained of bronchial problems.

No choice

Further evidence of a health impact came during an official investigation into the deaths of two horses.
Berta MatefiThe national veterinary service found the hay fed to the horses had lead levels 10 times higher than the legal limit, and the horses themselves were carrying high levels of lead and other heavy metals.
There is a high risk that food grown locally is similarly toxic. In the marketplace, we found a trader highlighting the fact that his vegetables were grown a long way from Copsa Mica.
But for a town suffering from grinding poverty, many do not have the choice of paying for food that comes from outside the area.
I asked Berta Matefi if she was worried about feeding her own children with potatoes and fruit from their small holding.
"Yes I do," she said. "But what can we do? We cannot afford to do anything else."

'Legacy of distrust'

The factory, Sometra, is adamant that its emissions record is now improving.
A detailed environmental control programme has been agreed with the local authorities, part of a package of measures designed to bring Romanian industry in line with EU standards.
In August and September last year, the plant was closed while new filtering systems were fitted. Bela Balazs, Sometra's production director, told me that emissions were now within EU limits.
"We have results about heavy metal content in the emitted dust and every measurement is in the correct level," he explained.
He talked of there being a major difference between historic pollution and the factory's current emissions.
But when we asked to film the new filters, we were refused.
There is a legacy of distrust. While around 1,000 people are employed at the plant, there are many more living locally who are not.
Most conversations on the street quickly turned to the pollution and the threat to health.
There is talk of a clean-up: hundreds of new trees have been planted. But the toxins have penetrated at least one metre (three feet) into the soil.
Improvements will need to be measured over decades rather than years.

Thursday, January 18, 2007 Where are Dracula’s roots?

Where are Dracula’s roots?
By Nitwit

A look at one of literature’s most fascinating figures
For as long as I can remember I have always had a fascination with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The later movie Dracula 2000 put out a theory that was interesting yet a little disappointing.
The character Dracula was always associated with the darker side of seduction, which held the viewers attention.

In the movie, Dracula’s “birth” is supposedly revealed. After betraying Jesus Judas Iscariot hanged himself. But he was denied death and became the walking dead. The hate of silver came from the selling of out of Jesus for silver, and the rest is pretty obvious.
So became Dracula and his hate for Christianity. The scriptwriters made Dracula almost impossible to kill other than by the way he originally “died” as Judas.

A clever idea in explaining Dracula’s pet hates and history; but as Dracula is purely fictional, and Judas supposedly historical, the idea might not be well-liked. Fiction and non-fiction have always been intertwined and make for great stories. But using a biblical figure so closely with one of history’s best known and most evil characters can be unsettling.

I’m not religious and found that the religious link between the two dampened the mystery and fun of Dracula. But curious nonetheless I went on a little hunt for the origins of Dracula.
Elizabeth Miller kindly allowed me to use her site as reference. She is recognised internationally for her expertise on Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula – its origins in folklore, literature and history, as well as its influence on the culture of the 20th and 21st centuries.
The assumption by most is that Bram Stoker created the name Dracula. But this isn’t so and it’s believed Stoker “borrowed” the name from Vlad the Impaler, a 15th-century Romanian ruler. The general feeling was that Vlad had taken on the nickname Dracula from the Order of the Dragon, which had been bestowed upon his father, Vlad Dracul, in 1431.

But not many are sure Stoker knew of this connection.
Originally Stoker’s character was to be named "Count Wampyr". Stoker was attracted to Vlad’s nickname because of a footnote found in a book that translated “Dracula” as meaning “Devil”. The translation wasn’t completely accurate but this is what Stoker saw.
Elizabeth Miller contends that Stoker didn’t base the character Dracula on the Romanian ruler who was known for impaling his enemies on wooden stakes.

Count Dracula wasn’t the first vampire. Legends and folklore tell of vampires that existed for hundreds of years, even back to ancient times.
“Stoker came across some information about vampire beliefs in Transylvania, which he used in the novel. He was also familiar with earlier vampire literature written in English during the 19th century.”

If you want to know more go to (Dracula’s homepage) or (Dracula Research Centre).

The Historical information can be mind boggling. After reading the work your tall, dark and scary image of Dracula might be altered. Also, a few misconceptions are explained, one being that Dracula has always been able to roam comfortably in the daylight, but with limited powers.
But as Dracula is only a fictional character, unless you are a historian and a fan, it doesn’t matter either way.

Monday, January 15, 2007

United Press International: Dracula castle too expensive for Romania

Dracula castle too expensive for Romania

BUCHAREST, Romania, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Romania's culture minister said he won't pay $78 million for the Hapsburg royal family's so-called "Dracula's castle," Mediafax reported Monday.
Culture Minister Mircea Iorgulescu said the ministry will give up its option to buy the Bran castle, one of Romania's top tourist sights in central Transylvania, Mediafax said.

Iorgulescu said if Dominic von Hapsburg, a U.S. architect and son of Princess Ileana of Romania who inherited the 14th century fortress, wanted to sell the Bran castle, the government -- as the owner -- would take its furnishings and other objects.

Dominic von Hapsburg would sell only the castle's walls and nothing else, Iorgulescu said.
"I am not fooling around with public money and I do not plan to spent it irrationally," Iorgulescu said.
The castle was returned to the Hapsburg family in May, 60 years after Romania's communist regime confiscated it.
The Bran castle was the site of many films depicting the Prince Vlad, known as Dracula and notorious for his cruelty.

Jurnalul National: Sibiu Turns European Capital of Overpriced Construction Work

Sibiu Turns European Capital of Overpriced Construction Work
14 Ianuarie 2007 de Dan Constantin

Sibiu city, in central Romania, shares with Luxembourg the status of cultural city of Europe this year. But the joy that fills Romanians’ hearts should not drain their pockets clean.
For instance, the price paid for a pole went to 1,000 RON ssome 285 eurost, and to 1,350 RON ssome 385 eurost for a garbage bin imported from Italy. That is twice the regular price of a domestically made bin.

Sibiu mayor Klaus Johannis holds this position since 2000, and plans for improving the infrastructure of the city in view of the European cultural city status started two years ago. However, the one million tourists Johannis hoped the city would attract this year will not benefit from the road detour route, from the modernized railway and airport stations. The work there did not end and also unfinished is the work for repairing many of the streets in downtown Sibiu or for refurbishing and bringing up to standards its hotels.

As Johannis said, construction work could not be completed in one year. Still, he had more than a year to plan ahead. And frantic work to get things ready and done in time may have postponed for a while the scrutiny over how funds had been used; but not forever. So, the talk around how was used the public funding is just in its infancy. For now the locals in shops, hotels and restaurants hope business will match that in a true cultural European capital.

The opening of the cultural season in Sibiu was made with lesser style on January 1st, by President Traian Basescu, who shocked the audience again with his non-presidential appearance on stage, throwing his coat into the audience and laughing loudly in tones consistent with someone who did not spend a lot of time reading and finely tuning one’s education.

Today the performances may go back in style, with the opening of Andrei Serban’s stage version of Chekhov’s “The Seagull.”

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The New York Sun: N.Y. Man May Sell Childhood Home - Dracula's Castle

N.Y. Man May Sell Childhood Home - Dracula's Castle
By DAVID LOMBINOStaff Reporter of the SunJanuary 9, 2007

A Westchester County man who is a descendant of the royal family of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Dominic von Habsburg, could soon sell Dracula's Castle — the 13th-century palace where he grew up before the property was seized by communists — to the local Romanian government for more than $78 million.

Sitting on a rocky hilltop in Transylvania, Bran Castle, widely known as Dracula's Castle, was built as a fortress by Teutonic knights in 1212. In the late 15th century, it was home to a prince known as Vlad the Impaler of Walachia, the inspiration for Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, "Dracula."
In April, Romania's Ministry of Culture said it would return the castle to the descendents of its previous owners, who include Mr. von Habsburg and his two sisters, Elisabeth Sandhofer and Maria-Magdalena Holzhausen, who live in Austria.

The local Brasov County Council in central Romania is now in talks with a foreign bank on a 10-year loan for that amount to buy back the castle, according to Bloomberg News. The government said the investment would be a unique opportunity to boost tourism to Transylvania.

Mr. von Habsburg, who is an industrial engineer, fled the communist takeover of his homeland in 1947, when he was 10 years old. Despite the possibility of an impending windfall, Mr. von Habsburg said in a telephone interview yesterday that the decision to sell his childhood home and a symbol of his family was a difficult one. In 1920, the inhabitants of the nearby town, Brasov, gave the castle to Queen Maria, Mr. von Habsburg's grandmother.

"I'm still sentimentally attached. To separate yourself from something like that is pretty difficult," Mr. von Habsburg said.

Mr. von Habsburg said a final deal could still take a "long time," and he is considering other options, like developing the property himself and converting part of the grounds into a corporate convention center or retreat. The castle is now a popular tourist attraction and home to a museum, and Mr. von Habsburg said it would remain open to the public.

After about 60 years of living in exile from his homeland, and a long and costly legal battle to reclaim his family's property, Mr. von Habsburg said the prospect of earning millions of dollars would provide little emotional relief.

"You have to keep in mind, you can't turn back the time," he said. "When they expropriated the property, they kicked us out of the country. They didn't just take a building away, they took a whole way of life away. To bring that back is virtually impossible."

Mr. von Habsburg settled in America eight years ago after living in Switzerland, Argentina, Italy, and elsewhere. He had never returned to Romania until May, when he visited Bran Castle for about a week, just after the Romanian government decided to return the property.
"It gave me goose bumps. It was like I was finally coming home," Mr. von Habsburg said.
"Since I left in 1948, everywhere I wandered — and I wandered all over the world — basically, I was looking for Romania," he said. "It was like finding peace and relief. I wish my mother could have seen it."

Monday, January 08, 2007

Scotsman: Romania sinks its teeth into the tourist trade

Romania sinks its teeth into the tourist trade

ROMANIANS have gone Dracula crazy, hoping that the country's association with the fictional vampire will trigger a tourist boom.
Tourism officials have long marketed Dracula to visitors, but EU membership and visa-less travel have seen the cottage industry hit the big time.

Hotels and restaurants across the northern province of Transylvania have slapped Dracula on their walls, shops are jammed with Vampire Wine, while the national car maker even uses vampires to market its latest model.
"Using Dracula like this is a good way to get tourists to visit, and then you hope they will come back in the following years to explore other parts of our country," says company director Patricia Horotan.

However, purists worry that Romania's charms are being swamped by a sea of kitsch.
The epicentre of this boom is Sighisoara, a medieval town wedged into the mountains of central Transylvania. The real-life Dracula was born here in 1431, earning his fame after holding out against a Turkish invasion. His preferred method of dispatching his enemies was to impale them on a sharp wooden spike, earning him the nickname Vlad Tepes - Vlad the Impaler.
But it is the fictional Dracula, created by Bram Stoker in the 19th century, which dominates the place. In the town's medieval square, the yellow-walled villa where Vlad was born is now a restaurant featuring blood-red décor and cocktails named Dracula's Blood and Dracula's Kiss.
Outside, plasterboard models show smiling fanged vampires; nearby shops sell gaudy vampire badges, cloaks and postcards and street artists produce Dracula portraits.

"Without Dracula Sighisoara would not sell at all," says Mitea Codruta, manageress of the imposing 500-year-old Hotel Sighisoara.
At least Sighisoara has a genuine Dracula connection. To the south, the imposing Bran Castle is marketed as 'Dracula's Castle' even though there is no proof Vlad ever stayed there.
Codruta says: "In Bran they have fake coffins and vampire stuff for the tourists, it is really over the top."
But Rupert Wolfe-Murray, the Scottish chief executive of local film production company Productiv, said: "Romania has a lot to offer tourists. The real history of the place is fascinating, but they may blow it by selling Dracula as a tacky product."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Boston Globe: Old gold

Old gold
Preserving the historical to the artisanal
By Tom Haines, Globe Staff January 7, 2007

SIBIU -- During the past 40 years, as communism and then capitalism descended upon Romania's rural villages, Corneliu Bucur preserved the details of life tied to the land.

It was natural enough, then, that as he wandered wooded trails in an outdoor museum he helped create, passing a woolen mill transported from mountainous Transylvania and a windmill from the flat banks of the Danube, Bucur considered Romania's current course in cultural terms.
"The great question of the moment is identity," he said. "To lose it is the biggest danger, the biggest catastrophe."

Bucur, general director of the ASTRA National Museum Complex outside Sibiu, knows there is plenty to preserve in Romania, a nation not quite 150 years old, but in a place that, according to fossils found in a bear cave, was home to Europe's oldest humans some 38,000 years ago. In more recent millennia, locals felt the push of Romans, Huns, and Ottomans, the rule of Austro-Hungarians, and the domination of the Soviet Union. Struggling after the violent collapse of its own communist regime in 1989, Romania has been more sheltered than most Eastern European countries. With its entry to the European Union on New Year's Day, it continues to open further.

So it is a compelling time to visit here, traveling at ground level to feel the toll of history in isolated villages and pulsing city streets. For his part, Bucur wondered what his compatriots will make of these critical years ahead.
"Can we establish a political framework to guard our values, to convince Europe that we have something to offer?" he said. "It's the only way to be in the EU, with our head high, not on our knees."

There is perhaps no better place for an outsider to enter this ongoing dialogue than in the three sturdy stone squares of central Sibiu. The city was settled in the 12th century, an outpost of Saxons come from Germanic lands in western Europe to Transylvania. Future generations were later pushed out as Sibiu became a center for ethnic Romanians.

While differences still run deep in Romania -- home to ethnic Hungarians, Roma (Gypsies), and others -- Sibiu is ready to celebrate its future. Throughout 2007, the city will serve as a Cultural Capital of Europe , an honor it shares with the capital of Luxembourg. Sibiu's historic squares have been renovated; concerts, exhibitions, and festivals will lure Western European tourists only a direct flight away in Rome and Munich.

Not that they haven't been coming already. Consider the guest book at Casa Luxemburg , a four-room guest house set between a 15th-century Lutheran church and a string of local cafes that are full on weeknights with twentysomethings. The book contains musings from guests in Italian, German, English, Portuguese, Finnish, and Arabic.
"What a beautiful city! Loved it!" wrote Michelle, from Australia.

Sibiu, of course, is more than central plazas long on historical charm. From atop a clock tower at the edge of Piata Mica , the smallest of the plazas, modern Sibiu sprawls beyond red tile rooftops to wide boulevards lined with anonymous communist-era buildings. Beyond them, fertile fields run toward the Fagaras Mountains of the Carpathian range.

It is a clear view over a land more often known from the outside for things dark (the legend of Dracula), and darker (crowded communist-era orphanages and one of Eastern Europe's most corrupt modern governments).

Recently, the country earned another questionable credit: Glod, a central Romanian village, made a cameo as the filming location for a fictional Central Asian village in "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," the mocking comedy starring Sacha Baron Cohen. Villagers , many of them poor Roma, have claimed they were duped by the Borat crew into taking part in humiliating scenes; some filed a lawsuit, saying the crew told them they had come to document the hardship of their lives.

Romania and Bulgaria, the newest members of the European Union, have two of its lowest per capita incomes. Workers earn less than a third of the European average, with many relying on family farm plots to round out meager salaries and pensions.

Beyond Sibiu's stone streets, then, waits a nation in which 22 million people straddle extremes, between luxury condos in the capital, Bucharest, and unplumbed farmyards in remote mountain valleys.

Americans who visit Romania each year usually arrive at the international airport north of Bucharest, or by river boat, descending the Danube River on a cruise through Hungary, Serbia, and Bulgaria.

It is worth wandering Bucharest's historic center, once site of a 15th-century citadel and still home to the high arches of "Caru cu bere," an ornate beer hall popular among locals and tourists. Cross the Dambovita River to the staggering Palace of Parliament , a product of Ceausescu's oversized ambition that is said to be among the largest buildings in the world. In September, classical orchestras from across Romania and Europe, including Paris, Dresden, and London, will fill concert halls as part of the bi annual festival in honor of Romanian composer George Enescu .

Most often, though, it is better to escape the urban crush, for the countryside is home to some of the most traditional life in Europe. Head north through the Prahova Valley , where feteasca neagra grapes grow deep red, and into Transylvania. There fortified churches anchor villages between the historic Saxon towns. Continue through a region dominated by Romania's Hungarian minority and on to southern Bucovina. The tranquil border province and its painted churches are pilgrimage sites for Romanian Orthodox faithful and travel destinations for increasing numbers of French, Italians, Japanese, and Americans.

Toward Romania's border with Hungary stand the wooden churches of Maramures , their Gothic spires rising above gates engraved with Orthodox symbols and those of earlier, pagan beliefs. Toward the Black Sea opens another world: the Danube Delta, its acres of marshland home to millions of birds, many traveling from Russia to Africa and back again. Just south, sunbathers flock to Black Sea beaches, where three-star resorts cater to those who have found fortune in capitalist Romania, and communist-era outposts linger for those who have not.

The rewards, whether venturing among villagers or vacationers, come at unexpected turns. One arrives a few miles east of the Transylvanian city of Sighisoara , where a side road leads among a cluster of small homes, including that of Ioan Nistor , a leather craftsman. Nistor, bald and stocky, uses a century-old sewing machine to stitch strips of leather for hand-made horse whips and saddles, women's handbags, and men's bracelets. He works alongside the kitchen where three generations of his family gather for meals.

Nistor travels regularly to Brasov and Bucharest to peddle his wares at traditional craft fairs. But his small shop, thick with uncut leather, offers the reminder that it all comes from somewhere.

Jurnalul National: Initiative: Cristian Chivu Clothing Line

Initiative: Cristian Chivu Clothing Line
05 Ianuarie 2007 de Marcel Raducanu, Delia Gomoescu

After opening a store in Timisoara, Cristi Chivu is to launch his own clothing line, which will mostly regard casual outfits. The clothes will be manufactured in Romania with Italian fabrics.

Cristi Chivu is known for his fine taste when it comes to choosing the clothes he wears, managing to avoid being caught with an inappropriate outfit on all fashionable events. Chivu has already taken the first steps in the fashion world when he opened a store in Timisoara at the end of last year. The business is being taken care of by the football player’s mother and sister, Diana, which is also the editing director of Expert Traveler.

THE BEGINNING. Cristi had an important influence on his family with the passion for clothes, but the idea of opening a store came up when he saw his mother barely had any time to take care of business. Mariana Chivu had a transport company that used to occupy all her time. In order to make her give up on it, Cristi offered her the store alternative. “I was happy to see he thought about me, because that company was tiring me a lot and I welcomed the idea of running a store. A few months have passed and it seems I can handle it”, the mother of the national football team captain confessed. Mariana Chivu says the name of the store, “Off limits”, was the result of a playful brainstorming session. “We tried different names together with Cristi and his sister, Diana, and we all agreed this was the most appropriate one. I would have named it “Chivu International” to cause rush of customers. Cristi didn’t let me do it. He said it wouldn’t have been right. There aren’t a lot of people knowing this is his store, because he doesn’t get involved in the promotion of it. I would like to have at least a photo of him on one of the walls.”

BUSY. The player’s mother doesn’t like the fact that her son doesn’t have more time to get involved in this project. “I would really like to launch a Cristi Chivu clothing line this spring. We even found a place in Italy to purchase the fabrics from as well as a place here for their manufacturing. We are yet to decide whether it will be a sport or casual line, but we are thinking more of the latter. Cristi’s time is the problem here as well, because we are yet to start the actual work on it.” Even if they are going to purchase expensive fabrics from Italy, the Chivus prefer the Romanian manufacturing methods. This is why the clothes will not be extremely expensive, but they won’t be cheap either, because “we work with quality materials that are quite expensive. I was shocked to find out that Versace produces in Resita in a factory which is right next to our house”, Mariana Chivu concluded.

Friday, January 05, 2007 Sibiu: Freestyle in the European arena

Hermannstadt: Kür auf europäischem Parkett
Sibiu: Freestyle in the European arena

The Romanian city of Sibiu, in the Transylvania region, is making waves alongside Luxembourg as joint European Capitals of Culture 2007

It was Richard Wagner, a Romanian-born German author, who first made news with this year’s European cultural capital as the ‘wonder of Sibiu’ in the Neue Züricher Zeitung. Nobody wanted to believe this more than mayor Klaus Johannis in January 2004, when he suggested that Sibiu put forward a bid to be European Capital of Culture for 2007. With Luxembourg, the joint bid succeeded in convincing the Brussels jury.

Sibiu, or ‘Hermannstadt’ in German, has made record changes in the last three years: there has been rebuilding, restoration and renovation everywhere. It has made investments and smartened itself up to prove it is worthy of being called 'cosmopolitan'.

Old young cosmopole

The people of Sibiu like to speak of the ‘old young city’, to describe the disparity between the architecture, with its mediaeval city walls and towers, and the city’s dynamic social life. ‘Theatre, film, photography and jazz festivals are traditional in Sibiu,’ explains Stela Matioc, programme coordinator for the Capital of Culture office. Throughout the centuries that Romanians, Germans, Hungarians and Roma have been living together, a climate of cultural tolerance and dispersion has developed, from which the city deservedly draws this cosmopolitan reputation.

'Young since 1191’

The international advertising agency GAV/ Scholz and Friends is marketing the image of the city with the slogan ‘NORMAL. Sibiu. Young since 1191.’ The advert is being broadcast on Euronews and the Travel Channel among others.

The tired images of Dracula and dark romanticism are not being rehashed. Instead, a young, dynamic, multicultural city with potential is portrayed. This is how Sibiu sees itself and how it would like to be seen by others. The European Capital of Culture for 2007 is the best image campaign possible for Romania’s accession to the EU. ‘The mix of different generations, lifestyles and ethnic groups makes Sibiu one of the most cosmopolitan cities of Transylvania,’ says Matioc. The picture of a backward country where nothing except corruption works needs to be thrown out.

Exile or Renaissance

The European Capital of Culture programme started on January 1, so as not to compete with EU-accession festivities on New Year’s Eve. The new year was brought in with a classical concert by the Philharmonics of Nations, conducted by German maestro Justus Franz in the Thalia Hall of Sibiu’s Philharmonic. A music, lights and pyrotechnics show from France's Groupe F (who designed the closing gala of the Athens Olympics), provided a prelude to the 2007 year of culture.

The programme for the rest of the year includes over 250 events in the fields of music, theatre, photography, art and film. More than 30 projects have been planned in collaboration with Luxembourg, with whom Transylvania share a historical link. In the 12th century, settlers came to Transylvania from the Mosel region around Luxembourg, giving Sibiu its German character.German anthropologist Anne Schieltz is following the trail of this history with the film project ‘Exile or Renaissance’, along with students from schools in Diekirch (Luxembourg) and Sibiu, who will make a film together about young people’s views on a united Europe.

From nought to sixty

Another cinematic highlight will be the Transylvanian film festival, which is held yearly in Cluj/ Klausenburg, and this year will be guest hosted by Sibiu. On the ethnographical side of things, the photo exhibition ‘Attention, Gypsies! Story of a Misunderstanding!’ will be held in the Astra Museum in Sibiu and Luxembourg, depicting the Roma minority. The Hungarian minority in Sibiu will present itself with an interdisciplinary project of seminars, exhibitions and music entitled ‘Ars Hungarica.’

500,000 tourists are expected for 2007, most of them in the summer. It is yet to be seen whether the infrastructure will stand up to this onslaught. Most restaurants, cafes and bars are concentrated in a smaller ring in the heart of the city, although a wealth of accommodation is available.

It's a project which has certainly been jump-started from nought to sixty. Will it be able to flow without a hitch for the organisers? What is certain, is that the European Capital of Culture 2007 programme is a freestyle event in the European arena. We shall see if matters will be mastered as well come 2008.
(Text photo: View from a Sibiuan rooftop, by Ariadna Matamoros)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Nine O'Clock: Theatre and film, January’s main cultural events in Sibiu

Theatre and film, January’s main cultural events in Sibiu
“Carnavalul Lolelor” also takes place this month, over 900 masked characters to attend it
published in issue 3842 page 12 at 2007-01-04

SIBIU - Theatre and film shows will continue the series of events prepared for January within the “Sibiu – 2007 European Cultural Capital” programme, which was inaugurated on Monday. One of the most important events of January will also be the premiere of the show “The Seagull” by A. P. Chekhov, directed by Andrei Serban, at the “Radu Stanca” National Theatre of Sibiu, between January 12 and 14. The first Romanian director to stage at the Metropolitan Opera, at the French Comedy, at the Opera of Vienna and at Covent Garden will bring “The Seagull” to Sibiu, this being the second show directed by Andrei Serban since his return to Romanian stage. The other one, “Cleansed” by Sarah Kane is played in Cluj. With settings created by Andu Dumitrescu, the director cast in “The Seagull” names such as Maia Morgenstern, Mariana Presecan, Tudor Aaron Istodor, Adrian Neacsu, Marian Ralea or Gelu Potzolli.

Another theatre show within the European Cultural Capital programme will have the premiere on January 19 and 20: “The Ball,” directed by Radu Alexandru Nica, with settings by Helmut Sturmer. “The Ball,” based on the idea of the Theatre de Compagnol is in fact a series of stories told through music and dance, displaying aesthetics closed to silent film. Radu Alexandru Nica, winner of UNITER award for debut, will thus illustrate a part of Romania’s history, through the evolution of mentalities and the way of life in the last 80 years of the 20th century.

The theatre shows will be completed during the month by a non-stop cinema programme, within the “Astra Film Fest – 365 windows to the world.” Hosted by the Astra Museum National Complex, the project consists of daily projections of documentaries and weekly thematic programmes about European cultures, between January 4 and 30. The list of films includes: “Trip to Romania” by Anca Damian (2004), “The Wives of Haj-Abbas” by Mohsen Abdolvahab (2001, Iran), “Apocalypses by Cioran,” created by Gabriel Liiceanu and Sorin Iliesiu (1995), “The Angelmakers” by Astrid Bussink (2005, Hungary-Germany), “The Great Communist Plunder” by Alexandru Solomon (2004), “Leaving Transylvania” by Dieter Auner (2002, Ireland), “Balkan Champion” by Reka Kincses (2006, Germany), “The Wonder Maker” by Catalin Stefanescu (2002), “The Curse of the Hedgehog” by Dumitru Budrala (2004), “Adam and Eve” by Dite Dinesz (2003), “Born on command. Decreteii” by Florin Iepan.

The carnival returns to sibiu

Apart from the theatre and film shows, January will also be the month of “Lole Carnival” - a traditional Saxon event from the 17th century, which disappeared with the emigration of Transylvanian Saxons. Thus, on January 27, on Gh Lazar Blvd from the Great Square, on Balcescu Blvd and in Cazarma 90, approx 900 masked characters will parade within the “Lole Carnival,” in their attempt to revitalise the traditions of the Middle Ages trades. In January, Fridays and Saturdays will be dedicated to jazz, blues, jazz rock and fusion, within the “Imperium Nights” project. Romanian artists who will perform include Johnny Raducanu&Friends, Teodora Enache, Cristel Ungar&Marius Popp, Berti Barbera &Nicu Patoi, Nico, Nicu Alifantis, Vali Racila, but there will also be musicians from abroad: Miles Griffith (USA)&Imperium Jazz Band, Susanne Alt Quartet (Holland), Evan Stone Quartet (USA), Quetzal (Belgium), Michel Reis Trio (Luxembourg) etc. Also for this month, there have been prepared concerts of the State Philharmonic from Sibiu, with the participation of soprano Katarina Jovanovici (Serbia) and singer Tatjana Vassiljeva (Russia).
by George Grigoriu

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The New York Times: Fighting Over Gold in the Land of Dracula

Fighting Over Gold in the Land of Dracula
Published: January 3, 2007

ROSIA MONTANA, Romania — Eugen David, a small-time farmer with a chipped tooth and muddy boots in this obscure wrinkle of Transylvania, is an unlikely man to attract the attention of movie stars and moguls. But he counts Vanessa Redgrave, George Soros and Teddy Goldsmith among his backers in a land battle with a Canadian gold mining company.

Rosia Montana was shrouded in fog and looked like a “Dracula” movie set in November. The town is in Transylvania in western Romania.
The company, Gabriel Resources, owns the rights to mine the hills here and wants Mr. David, 41, to leave his 50 acres of land so that the company can carve out what would be Europe’s largest open-pit gold mine. Mr. David says he isn’t budging.
“We don’t want to move,” he says, staring across at the brown-gray stain of Rosia Montana’s defunct gold mine, which would be swallowed by Gabriel Resource’s huge project.
In the old days, a pipsqueak like Mr. David wouldn’t stand a chance fighting powerful and sophisticated adversaries like Gabriel Resources and its minority partner, the Romanian government.
But this is the Internet age, when local activists like Mr. David can tap into an increasingly well-oiled global network of non-governmental organizations for financial and political support on a long list of causes and emerge with almost as much clout as any corporation.
Mr. David’s stubbornness has struck a chord with the anti-globalization movement. Gabriel Resources’ proposed open-pit, cyanide-leaching mining process has also drawn the ire of international environmentalists who are now trying to stop it.
They just might win.
Mining is one of the world’s most unpopular pursuits these days, particularly the gigantic gouging that leaves the earth pocked with moonscape-like craters a mile or more wide. Gold mining is disdained even more because of the perceived frivolity of its end: to provide lucre for the rich, status for the everyman and hidden stores of wealth for nations.
But it also has a strong allure, particularly for resource-rich countries like Romania that are struggling to develop impoverished communities that need jobs.

The $3.7 billion project would plow more than $2 billion into the Romanian economy and could earn Gabriel Resources and its shareholders profits of $1 billion or more. And the company involved here, a Toronto-based corporation with market capitalization of $1 billion, is run by savvy mining executives, many of them highly experienced from cutting their teeth building the Barrick Gold Corporation, the largest gold mining company in the world.
The allure is perhaps stronger in Romania because the country was created, in a way, by gold mining.

Early in the second century A.D., Emperor Trajan extended Roman territory to include what is now Transylvania, in the western half of Romania, to mine Europe’s most important gold deposits. The mines helped finance the expansion of the empire to its peak. When the Romans abandoned the territory almost 200 years later, they left behind colonists who are the ancestors of Romanians today.
When the Romans left, the mining did not stop. The eventual ruling dynasty, the Hapsburgs, and the Communists, who turned to open-pit mining, continued the process, though with dwindling efficiency. The mine was finally shut in early 2006.
Gabriel Resources was born in the breakup of the state-owned economy after Communism’s collapse when Romanian businessmen with little mining experience and suspected ties to the former secret police won a vast concession to exploit mineral deposits.
Mr. David and his neighbors realized six years ago that the company planned to expand the old mine and formed an association called Alburnus Maior — Rosia Montana’s Roman name — to try to stop the project. They were engaged in an ineffective letter-writing campaign when the founders of Gabriel Resources moved the company’s listing from Vancouver, British Columbia, to the more respectable Toronto Stock Exchange.

Mr. David’s opposition might have withered had it not been for an ill-advised plan to build a Dracula theme park near the picturesque Romanian town of Sighisoara, once home to Vlad Dracula, the notorious Romanian ruler and inspiration for “Dracula,” the Bram Stoker novel.
Prince Charles of Britain, fond of Romania’s old Saxon villages, was outraged. So was Teddy Goldsmith, the aging anti-globalist environmentalist and scion of a wealthy business family.
A Swiss-born environmental journalist named Stephanie Roth, who wrote for Mr. Goldsmith’s magazine, The Ecologist, moved to Romania to help defeat the project. With such powerful forces aligned against it, the theme park for Sighisoara died. While in Romania, Ms. Roth heard about the Gabriel Resources’ plan for Rosia Montana and went to meet Mr. David in April 2002. Within months, she had introduced him to some of the most powerful environmental organizations in the world.

“When I came there was no computer, no Web site,” Ms. Roth said. “I tried to empower the local organization.”
Ms. Roth started by helping Mr. David’s group obtain a grant for a few hundred dollars from an American environmental organization, Global Greengrants Fund. They organized a public hearing in Rosia Montana that drew 40 non-governmental organizations with Romanian operations, including Greenpeace, and catapulted Mr. David’s dispute onto the national stage.

Then Ms. Roth took to the road. By the time Gabriel Resources’ founders turned the company over to more professional management in 2005, the company had an international coalition of nongovernmental organizations arrayed against it.

But the mining industry doesn’t easily back down.
Hoping to extract an estimated 300 tons of gold and 1,200 tons of silver from the mine, Gabriel Resources introduced a public relations campaign with Madison Avenue-style television commercials and community sponsorships to win over 960 Rosia Montana families that it needed to relocate. It cast itself as an economic savior. It even countered a critical documentary with its own film, “Mine Your Own Business.”
Some efforts backfired. Gabriel Resources helped sponsor the Transylvanian International Film Festival in nearby Cluj-Napoca. But when its organizers invited Ms. Redgrave to receive a lifetime achievement award, Ms. Roth quickly put the actress and Mr. David together.
Ms. Redgrave’s acceptance speech became a rallying cry against Gabriel Resources’ project. The anti-Gabriel Resources’ movement had its mascot and the European press began covering the story.
Word of the movement had by then reached the Open Society Institute of George Soros, which has been working for years for more accountability from Romanian public officials.
“When guys in S.U.V.’s with bags full of cash show up in a poor locality in Romania, they can really make the law there,” said Radu Motoc, project director of the Open Society Foundation-Romania.
Nearly all members of Rosia Montana’s former and current council are either employed by Rosia Montana Gold, Gabriel’s local subsidiary, or have family members who are, according to the foundation.
The foundation, which has already given $35,000 to the cause, says it plans to spend as much as $240,000 next year fighting the project and helping Mr. David. Because of the polarizing debate surrounding open-pit gold mining, it is hard to find an unbiased commentator to assess the risks and benefits of Gabriel Resources’ proposed mine. A major focus of contention is the use of large quantities of highly toxic cyanide to separate gold and silver from the ore.
In 1999, Aurul, a joint venture of the Australian mining company, Esmeralda Exploration, and a Romanian national company, Remin, began a leaching operation to recover gold from old tailings in Baia Mare, or Great Mine, roughly 80 miles north of Rosia Montana. Like Gabriel Resources, the company promised a state-of-the-art, self-contained project that would not pose risks to the environment. But less than a year later, the dam holding back a lake of cyanide-laced water burst, sending 100,000 cubic meters of contaminated water downstream to the Danube, killing more than 1,200 tons of fish in Hungary.
Gabriel Resources says it would build in safeguards that were missing at Baia Mare. It has promised to convert most of the cyanide into a nontoxic compound before discharging it into the mine’s tailing pond. It also promises to clean up pollution left by past mining operations and spend $70 million to do as much as possible to repair the altered landscape after its project is done.
“Arsenic, cadmium, nickel, lead,” said Catalin Hosu, a public relations official for Gabriel Resources, ticking off just a few of the heavy metals that leach from ancient mines to give this valley its name; Rosia Montana means red mountain.
“We help the biodiversity; we help the environment,” said Yani Roditis, Gabriel Resources’ chief operating officer.
That’s difficult for many people here to believe. The new project will grind down several hills, leaving four deep pits in their place, and slowly fill an entire valley with wastewater and tailings that will take years to solidify.
Robert E. Moran, a mining expert hired by the opposition to evaluate the impact of Gabriel Resources’ plans, said that the mine, despite detoxification, would inevitably produce other toxic byproducts damaging to the environment, including heavy metals.
The controversy, meanwhile, has splintered the town, its buildings divided between those with signs that read, “Property of Rosia Montana Gold Corp.” and others that say, “This Property Is Not For Sale.”
“I was born here, so why should I leave?” said Gabriela Jorka, 38, who runs a small general store in Rosia Montana. “I’d rather kill myself.”
Eugen Bobar, 60, the school principal, says that the dispute is pitting parents against children, husbands against wives. But only about 40 percent of the families to be relocated remain, and Mr. Bobar predicts that most of them will leave. “Most of the people who talk about the environment are just making an excuse,” Mr. Bobar said, sitting in the school’s office late one night. “They will leave for a good price.”
Mr. David, however, insists there is a committed core of opponents who will not sell, whatever the offer. In that case, Gabriel Resources warns, it may ask the state to step in and move people out by force. But that could lead to years of legal wrangling.

The company has told its shareholders that it expects to receive final approval for the project from the Romanian government this year and will start producing gold by mid-2009.
Gabriel Resources, which is based in Toronto, is, meanwhile, trying to win over the remaining holdouts. It is sponsoring education for underprivileged children in Rosia Montana through a nongovernmental organization run by Leslie Hawke, the mother of the actor Ethan Hawke and a celebrity herself in Romania. She supports the project.
“It’s probably better that nothing happened, but the gold is there and if they don’t do it, somebody else will,” Ms. Hawke said. “And I’d rather that they do it than somebody else.”

Spiegel Online: Mass Celebrations as Bulgaria and Romania Join European Union

Mass Celebrations as Bulgaria and Romania Join European Union

New Year's Eve marked the entrance of Romania and Bulgaria into the European Union, with people celebrating with fireworks and street parties. A Romanian town with German heritage will also be an EU "capital of culture" in 2007.
Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union at midnight on New Year's Eve, bringing the number of EU nations to 27 and extending the Union's boundaries to the Black Sea, deep into the former Soviet bloc.
"With their accession to the EU, both countries have completed the long-promised 'return to Europe' that started with the fall of the Iron Curtain," said German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was in Romania to help with official celebrations.

The capitals of Bulgaria and Romania lit up with fireworks as revelers in the streets simultaneously celebrated New Year's Eve and the countries' accession. Bulgarian officials removed customs barriers at 15 border crossings with Romania and Greece, opening Bulgarian roads to EU trade.
Bowing to an EU demand over safety, Bulgaria also mothballed two Russian-made nuclear reactors in the final hours of Dec. 31 -- a decision which was not universally popular. "They shut down nuclear plants that brought Bulgaria millions per day," one resident of Bulgaria's capital Sofia, Hristo Hristov, complained to the Associated Press. "I think Bulgaria-EU is not good news for us."
Bulgaria's borders with non-EU nations Turkey, Serbia and Macedonia were also tightened, reflecting pressure on member states to bring their immigration and trade controls up to EU standards.
"We all know that the road to full integration into European structures has not yet come to an end," Steinmeier said. "This requires more efforts from the two countries, but (it) will make sure that Bulgaria and Romania's EU entry will be a success and that the older 25 members will also benefit from it."
Both new members risk losing a sizeable amount of economic help if they fail to streamline their judiciaries or clean up government corruption.
Germans in Transylvania
Meanwhile the medieval Transylvanian city of Sibiu in Romania became an official European "capital of culture" for 2007 -- along with Luxembourg City -- on Jan. 1. Steinmeier paid a visit there to emphasize traditional German ties to Sibiu, which was founded by Saxons almost 1,000 years ago. Most of the German minority left Sibiu in the 1970s, but the city still emphasizes its German heritage, and many of its residents speak German.

"The city has architectural treasures from the Gothic, Romantic, Baroque, Neo-classical and Modern periods," said Virgil Ispas, a local architect who helped start Sibiu's bid to become an EU cultural capital. "The communist period did not have the capacity to properly use this architectural jewel," he said.
In fact, said Constantin Chiriac, director of Sibiu's Radu Stanca Theatre and originator of the campaign to make it a capital of culture, Romania's communist dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu loathed Sibiu.
"Ceaucescu really hated this city because it was German," he said. "And because he hated cities with personality, with lots of houses. He wanted concrete blocks of flats whose electricity he could switch off at a moment's notice so he could control them."
Ceaucescu's son, Nicu, ran Sibiu in the 1980s and proposed demolishing a large part of the old city to build new apartment blocks. Local architects delayed the plans until 1989, when the Iron Curtain fell.,1518,457349,00.html

Monday, January 01, 2007

I. H. Tribune: Fireworks and cheers bring Romania and Bulgaria into EU

Fireworks and cheers bring Romania and Bulgaria into EU
Romania becomes 7th-largest in Union
International Herald Tribune, The Associated Press
Published: January 1, 2007

BUCHAREST: Blue and gold EU flags fluttered across Bucharest and fireworks thundered through the sky in Romania and Bulgaria as the two former Communist nations loudly and joyously joined the European Union.
"We arrived in Europe," President Traian Basescu said, prompting cheers from tens of thousands of Romanian revelers packed into University Square. "Welcome to Europe."
Earlier, he said that, by joining the EU, "we are assured peace and prosperity."
The two Balkan nations brought 30 million new members to the Union on Monday and expanded the number of member countries to 27.
In Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, thousands who crammed into Battenberg Square cheered and embraced each other as the clock struck midnight Sunday and brought in the new year. Fireworks lit the sky over the building the Communist Party once used as its headquarters.

In an emotional speech minutes before midnight, President Georgi Parvanov called the nation's approaching entry into the EU a "heavenly moment."
"The day we are welcoming — Jan. 1, 2007 — will undoubtedly find its place among the most important dates in our national history," Parvanov said. "But let's make it clear: our future success as a nation depends not on European funds and resources, but on our own work."
Despite the enthusiasm, the two countries are in one of the poorest corners of Europe and are under pressure to adopt Western-style political change.
Ana Maria Zarnescu, a retiree from Cluj, the principal city of Transylvania, said, "Europe is adopting us like poor relatives or orphans, but I hope they will become fond of us because we are hard-working and inventive."
Romania, with a population of 22 million, becomes the EU's seventh- largest member. It is about half the size of Poland, but double the size of Hungary and Czech Republic. Bulgaria has a population of 7.7 million.
For Romania, which suffered one of Eastern Europe's most brutal Communist dictatorships under Nicolae Ceausescu before he was overthrown and executed in 1989, being moored to the EU marks an important symbolic final break with a difficult past.
For Bulgaria, whose history is marked by conflicts with the Ottoman Empire and Soviet occupation, EU membership is also viewed as a source of economic and democratic stability.
The two impoverished countries threw off Communism in 1989, applied for EU membership in 1995 and began accession talks in 2000. Negotiations ended two years ago, and the European Commission declared in September that both could join.
But both nations are still struggling to establish Western-style legal and political institutions. Under restrictions adopted by the EU, both must report every six months to show progress in reforms or risk losing part of their economic aid.
Despite lingering problems with corruption and judicial change, both countries recently have had strong economic growth.
Still, salaries remain low by Western European standards. In Bulgaria, the average monthly wage is €178, or $235, while the average Romanian earns €303 monthly.
Romania expects to receive as much as €1.7 billion from the EU in the first year after entry, while Bulgaria would be entitled to €661 million.
The EU is experiencing expansion fatigue following the bloc's enlargement in May 2004 from 15 countries to 25.
With the latest additions, the EU has a population of nearly 489 million, and it will work in 32 official languages, ranging from Bulgarian to Gaelic.
European wariness about the future shape of the Union was reflected in French and Dutch votes against a proposed EU constitution in 2005. Since then, there have been calls across the bloc for the pace of enlargement to slow down.
Such ambivalence, stoked by fears of immigration and Europe's lackluster economic performance, has been most prominently expressed in opposition to admitting Turkey. But it also has cast a shadow over the admission of Romania and Bulgaria, which have been criticized for corruption.