On 1 December each year, Romanians around the globe celebrate their National Day. Ninety-five years ago, on 1 December 1918, millions of Romanian Transylvanians voted that the historical province of Transylvania was united with its motherland Romania. The vote was the realisation of a long-standing dream – to unite all Romanians around the Carpathian Mountains in a unitary state. By similar votes on 27 March and 15 November 1918, the National Assemblies of Bessarabia and Bukovina also decided on union with Romania.
1 December is a moment of great introspection for the entire nation, when thoughts go out to those who sacrificed their lives for the service of their country. After the union, Romania became one of the most important central European countries, characterised by diversity, multiculturalism, democratic values and European spirit.
Looking back in history, the first union of the three medieval Romanian principalities – Walachia, Moldova and Transylvania – was achieved in 1600 under the reign of Michael the Brave, Prince of Wallachia. Although the union was broken after his assassination in 1601, it remained a symbol for the generations that followed. Then on 24 January 1859, Walachia and Moldova merged into a single state, which in 1866 took the name ‘Romania.’ Independence was achieved in 1877 under the rule of King Carol I, and on 20 February 1880 Romania established diplomatic relations with the UK, France and Germany.
Romania’s national roots lie in ancient times when the Romania’s current territory was inhabited by the Dacians, described by Herodotus as being ‘the bravest and most honest of the Tracians.’ The Kingdom of Dacia was conquered by the Romans at the beginning of the second century AD. Out of this ethnic, linguistic and cultural synthesis the Romanian people were born, the only Latin people in Central and Eastern Europe. Romania’s greatest historian, Nicolae Iorga, observed this as ‘an island of Latinity in a Slavic sea.’ From ancient times until now, Romanians have remained within the same geographical space without interruption.
Romania and the UK have had close links not only since the establishment of diplomatic relations, but from the very beginning of their history, when the provinces Dacia and Britannia were part of the same political entity, the Roman Empire. 1,800 years ago, Dacian soldiers from Roman legions on the current Romanian territory built the Antonine and Hadrian Walls. There are tombs of Dacian soldiers and other archaeological findings, including 31 written stones from Hadrian’s Wall in Newcastle, proving our ancestors’ presence in Britain for over 300 years, until they were integrated into the local communities. One of these stone inscriptions says: ‘Under Modius Julius, legate of the emperor with pro-praetorian power, the First Aelian Cohort of Dacians built this, under the command of the tribune Marcus Claudius Menander.’ (Discovered in 1914; dated AD 219).
The first Romanian-British bilateral written documents are dated back to the sixteenth century and, more recently, Romania and the UK were closely linked through their Royal families: Queen Maria of Romania was British by birth and granddaughter of Queen Victoria.
Between the First and Second World Wars, Romania’s greatest diplomat and one of the brightest European minds of his time – twice elected President of the League of Nations – Nicolae Titulescu, was Romania’s Ambassador to the Court of St James’s for 14 years.
Today, Romania is a modern European State with a dynamic economy and a fantastic human potential, and fully engaged in the European Union and the Euro-Atlantic community. The UK is one of the country’s most important partners, allies and friends. Therefore, strengthening the Strategic Partnership between our two countries stands as a permanent priority for the Embassy of Romania in London.