Unless you’ve spent the past couple of weeks in a cave, you would have no doubt heard about the case of Emil Bodnariu and his family. Bodnariu is a Romanian who married a Norwegian and moved to the land of the fjords. They have five children. Last year, the Norwegian social services took the children into foster care after the two eldest reportedly told a teacher at their school that they had been physically disciplined by their father. Beating children in any way is highly illegal in Norway.
That, more or less, is about all anyone knows for certain. Anything else is hearsay. It might well be proven that the claims against Bodnariu are false, and that the Norwegian authorities have overreacted. It would certainly not be the first time. We simply have to wait and see, and reserve judgement until we are in possession of all the facts. As is right and proper in such a sensitive case, both the Bodnariu family and the Norwegian authorities have chosen to remain silent until the due process has seen its course. All we can do is hope that the case ends with an outcome that is in the best interest of the children. Ideally, that is a return to their mother and father. Whatever the outcome, we do not think that the entire nation of Norway should be blamed for what has happened, not least as Norwegian families have also been the victims of their own country’s over-zealous child welfare authorities.
That, of course, has not stopped some of the usual suspects from doing just that, and blaming Norway as a whole. One – we shan’t bother to name him – yesterday discovered that Norway had been actively funding – via EEA & Norway Grants – a number of NGO projects in Romania. You can imagine the outrage: Nazi Norway! (That’s a direct quote). For the record, EEA Grants are jointly financed by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein; Norway Grants are funded solely by Norway.
EEA & Norway Grants represent the contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (EEA but not EU members) to reducing economic and social disparities and to strengthening bilateral relations with 16 EU countries in Central and Southern Europe and the Baltics. EEA & Norway Grants is committed to promoting equality of opportunity, tolerance, security, environmental sustainability and a decent standard of living for all. The utter bastards.
You can see the full list of projects financed by Norway, as well as the amount spent on each, here. From 2009-2014 EEA Grants spent €190.75 million trying to make Romania a better place to live. Norway Grants spent an additional €115.2 million during the same period. Proof – as if anymore were needed – of just how much Norway hates Romania.
There are so many Romanians who have benefitted from these programmes that it is difficult to even know where to begin listing them. From simple student exchanges to grants for Romanian students to study in Norway, from public health programmes aimed at eradicating tuberculosis (TB) in Romania (which has Europe’s highest rate of TB) to the prevention of human trafficking money has been spent in key areas with one aim: making Romania a slightly better place for Romanians. Norway spent €4 million on trying to reduce domestic violence, and helping the victims. Another €9 million is to be spent on improving pre-school childcare so that young mothers can join (or rejoin) the workforce, and become self-reliant. Another €15.6 million has been allocated to helping Romania conserve its cultural heritage.
One of the most visible programmes funded by EEA & Norway Grants has been at Tulcea, in the Danube Delta, where a total of 48 inmates from the local prison spent six months last year building five traditional Danube Delta houses, learning niche skills and techniques which it is intended will serve them well on release, as well as changing local attitudes towards the rehabilitation of prisoners in general. It’s certainly a better way for convicts to spend their time than writing bullshit books.
The full, impressive list of ways in which Norway is helping Romania is here.
Let us be clear (again): we refuse to make any comment on the Bodnariu case until we have any evidence of wrong doing one way or another. We would expect others to do the same. We will end though by asking a question of all those who are currently screaming blue murder at the entire nation of Norway:
Have you done as much for Romania as Norway has?