My letter to Lady Romania, a 100 year old wrinkled granny

city hall bucharest boekarest stadhuis roemenie

Happy Birthday Romania!

You turned 100 in December.
A celebration of your birth date in 1918, when you became a patchwork of provinces, people, religions and languages. Much has happened in the last 100 years, but it’s time to look towards the future now. We spent one week together again and I have to tell you something… I love you, but you also make me sad.

You are a country of contrasts and opportunities

The salaries of the majority of your inhabitants are very low. But apparently you have money, somewhere. It just seems that you don’t know how to spend it well. I understand that your ancestors never told you how to handle money in a correct and honest way. But at your age, you should know better by now…

In Bucharest…

…you have plenty of pretty churches, so why do you spend millions on a big new cathedral without historical meaning?
…on New Year’s Eve, 60.000 people watched the fireworks at Piata Revolutiei. With the money you spent on 30 minutes of instant fun, like you do regularly, you can do so much better things:

  • Expand your network of public transport
  • Do something about your damn traffic jams. And I am from Belgium, we know something about traffic jams!
  • Renovate your old pretty buildings in the city, or encourage the owners to do so. You let them falling apart
  • Oblige investors to build parking spaces under your giant new office buildings. Yes it creates jobs, jeej! But your city is full. Cars are parked e-very-where; horizontally, vertically, double. It’s chaos. You are lucky no more accidents happen because of your negligence.
Outside the capital…

…you have only 541 kilometers of highway in a European country of 238.397 m². (7 times Belgium) I know you and the EU have plans to multiply this number, but I don’t see a lot of improvement. You are getting more popular and tourists would like to explore you, but you are not making it easy for them…
educate your people and please set up a system of collecting and recycling waste: your lakes lose their beauty if bottles and plastics are floating on them

It’s time for some hydration

Face it Lady Romania, you are getting uglier by the day, and you don’t seem to care. Dust, broken roads and ugliness are your middle name. It does not make you attractive for the outside world. A good moisturizing cream can do miracles, you know? It’s worth the investment, because in the long term, you will see the result. Bucharest has everything to become the next Prague, Budapest or Krakow. But it needs your help. Being part of the EU bought you a first bottle of moisturizer, but you are hungry for a refill, right?

Luckily, you have your people. Good people…

Romanians help each other out in case of problems. Stuck in a big traffic jam on a national road, they help each other when taking the off-road detour through the mud.
When Romanians park double out of necessity, they leave their telephone number behind the windshield so we can call them when we want to get out of our parking spot.

Unfortunately, quite some of your good people are fed up with your behaviour. The Romanian diaspora is a fact. Between 2008 and 2016, you lost a quarter of your inhabitants between 15 and 29 years old. (Forbes) They are smart, and they see the opportunities you let slip through your fingers. The protests in 2018 against your government and the brutal reaction of your police forces are a modern country unworthy. Why should young Romanians stay, when only one flight away a much brighter future is waiting for them? They have qualities, you have opportunities, but you don’t give them chances. They feel left behind. And now, educated and intelligent youngsters from the city are planning to leave you behind. So what about your future? Cause you need them, you clearly cannot do it alone. Who will pay your future bottles of moisturizer?

Panem et circenses

You should support your people to grow, not belittle them. Take a look at countries like Holland and Sweden, supporting their next generations to expand their knowledge and wealth. And not with a superficial promise or fun reward. Bread and games are a relic from Roman times. Your tv commercials encourage people to have credit cards and show off with a Mercedes-Benz, while in reality they live on the edge of poverty. Why do you do that?

Learn them things that matter. Teach them to save money for things that matter. You have so many opportunities. Just grab your chances. What I see now, is a growing gap between the rich and the poor. 30 years have passed since you had to start all over again, it’s time to grow up.

You are a land with opportunities. Use your resources to become the ‘Little Paris’ that you once were, before it is too late.

With love,


x x x

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