The Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, in partnership with the Romanian – Pan-Arabian European Cultural Centre in Bucharest (C.C.E.R.P.A.) and the “Dimitrie Gusti” National Village Museum, organized an event dedicated to celebrating 100 years of diplomatic relations with the Arab world. Two conferences on the “History of Romanian-Arab Relations” and on “The Study of the Arabic Language and the Translation of Arabic Literature into Romanian”, were held in the theatre-hall of the Village Museum, and were graced by the presence of a significant number of ambassadors from Arab World countries to Bucharest, as well as by members of Romanian academia and artists representing the cultural milieu of Bucharest.
Paulina Popoiu, PhD, the Director of the “Dimitrie Gusti” National Village Museum, opened the proceedings by drawing attention to the particularly rich, close and interesting relationships that the Museum and the embassies of the Arab-Levantine countries have established over the last ten years underlining the numerous collaborations with the embassies of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Iran, Algeria, Qatar, Morocco, Tunisia, as well as with other Levantine countries such as Armenia and Georgia. By bringing the Romanian public in contact with other civilizations foreign to them, the National Village Museum is therefore an especially important cultural bridge between the Arab and Romanian civilizations, thus facilitating an open dialogue between the two cultures.
In turn, the President of the Scientific Council of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization stressed the importance of an open dialogue between different identities in order to reach common practical solutions for the long-term. Diplomatic and cultural exchanges between two fundamentally different civilizations will necessarily lead to a better mutual understanding, to the softening of geopolitical and geostrategic discourse and to the promotion a culture of peace in the Levantine space.
The proceedings continued with the intervention of Professor Aurel Turbăceanu, the first ambassador of Romania to several Arab countries, notably Libya and Saudi Arabia. The creator of Romanian inroads to the Arabic world, Professor Turbăceanu recounted its rich and vibrant history, showing how critical the exchanges of goods, people and ideas were for the formation of stronger connections between states and for the promotion of peaceful conviviality in the region.
Professor Nicolae Dobriṣan, a philologist specialising in Arabic with lengthy and prestigious academic and research experience, corresponding member of the Academy of Arabic in Cairo and of the Syrian Academy, spoke about the relevance of Arabic to the Romanian language, drawing attention to the multitude of Arabic terms that entered Romanian through Turkish influence. Professor Dobriṣan also underlined the similarities between Romania and the Arab countries: “[both] have achieved their political ideals, have known economic growth and the consolidation of their national unity, and have assumed their rightful place on the global scene. Both the Arab World and Romania have had historic highs and lows, and due to their appurtenance to the same geographic region, it is only natural that their spirituality manifest such common notions as temperance, kindness, generosity, tolerance and goodwill.”
Eugen Cojocariu, Secretary-General of the International Section of the Romanian Broadcasting Company (“Radio România Internațional”) stressed the political, strategic and cultural importance of airing the programmes of “Radio România Internațional” into the Levantine aether, thus facilitating a better understanding of Romanian culture and civilization beginning with the first broadcasts towards the Arab world, in 1932.
The participants were invited to the opening of an exhibition, conceived as a dialogue between paintings with a Romanian theme on the one hand, and works of Arabic inspiration on the other. The exhibition is the brainchild of two Romanian painters – Paul Mecep and Vladimir Ivanovici – who successfully managed to underline the numerous similarities between two civilizations that have had such different evolutions.
Emil Constantinescu, President of the Scientific Council of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization:
“The motto under which we have begun this dialogue is “Understanding the Other”. I invite you to collaborate with us through an open and honest dialogue down this long road of maintaining our respective identities.”
“When I was elected President of the Academy of Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin and created the first system of higher education specifically tailored to cultural diplomacy worldwide, with courses at undergraduate, Masters and PhD levels, I also launched the “Levant Initiative for Global Peace”. Because the Levant is the cradle of Abrahamic religions, the cradle of cultures, the cradle of the very concept of democracy and that of the sciences themselves, I focused my efforts on the academic and religious milieus. Living my entire live in the academic world, I realised that students, and the youth in general, now only trust their professors and their religious leaders.
Cultural diplomacy does not aim to resolve open, ongoing or frozen conflicts. Its main goal is the creation of a culture of peace through education, and I was glad when the Romanian – Pan-Arabian European Cultural Centre was established in Bucharest. This centre recently entered a partnership agreement with the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, because we share a common goal: the creation of a culture of peace through dialogue. The motto under which we have begun this dialogue is “Understanding the Other”, as there is no true dialogue apart from that between those people who maintain their identities, as only thus can one better understand the identity of the Other. This is why I invite you to collaborate through an open and honest dialogue down this long road of maintaining our respective identities. We are now at a time when the Western civilization is fast becoming decadent, the intellectual elites are being diluted, and there is a grave confusion between the democratization of education and its massification. As political discourse collapses into populism, democracies now require a democratic conscience, not just democratic institutions. Our endeavour aims to return to the foundation of our common culture. This is a long and arduous road, yet one that I hope we can walk together.