2 October, 2023
Varujan Vosganian, the translator Vanina Bozhikova (in the middle) and her colleague Lora Nenkovska (photo: The Bridge of Friendship)

The eminent Romanian writer and politician participated in the Book Fair in Sofia, where the blog “The Bridge of Friendship” addressed him a question

Vladimir Mitev

Varujan Vosganian was in prison in 1989 and in the times of transition he was threatened with condemnation in the fight against corruption in Romania. Maybe strong personalities stir strong opposition. But it can’t be denied that he is a very good contemporary writer. In Sofia he spoke in his characteristic style, which unveils wisdom and depth. He spoke about the meaning of uniform in social life, about the secrets of writing and about his Armenian origins. Towards the end of the event the journalist Vladimir Mitev from the blog “The Bridge of Friendship” addressed him the following question:

My question is related to socialism and anticommunism. The book “The Children of War” speaks about the heritage of socialism and the period of transition. In Romania transition was dominated by two strong ideologies – anticommunism and anticorruption. There was a president who personificated the union of these two ideologies – Traian Basescu. Just like the main character in the book, Basescu was part of the force structures in the times of socialism. My question is whether these structures liberated us from socialism.”

Varujan Vosganian answered:

I don’t know what is the exact situation in Bulgaria. In Romania things were different. 1400 people died (in the so-called Romanian revolution – note of the editor). I think that there are common things. The Revolution came exactly when Romanians were accustomed to communism. The Revolution found them completely unprepared. Second, Romanians never imagined that socialism could fall. I don’t know anybody in Socialist Romania – sociologist, writer, philosopher, who even vaguely spoke about postcommunism before the changes. Communism was something eternal. Thirdly, in the 80s in Romania there was no resistance against socialism. There were a few people, who corresponded with Radio Free Europe, without communicating with one another and without organising anything.

In 1989 we didn’t have a legitimate anticommunist structure. So the Communist Party returned calmly in power. The Securitate didn’t participate in the Revolution in terms of repression. When the events in Bucharest started, the army was called to lock the weapons. So, Securitate can’t be accused of a crime. But its older crimes were forgotten. The transition from the old to the new Securitate took place calmly as generations changed. With the exception of the Securitate’s leaders, whose names were known, all the other members pensioned without any problem.

The system converted itself. Now there are other methods. There is no need for anybody to trace you. They read your Facebook. They see who are your friends. They see what opinions you have. They know where you are, because you write “I am with this and this guy”. The mobile phone locates you on the map. Some people pay their bills over the phone. So your material condition is known. Only this is necessary. And there is a need for people, who play the role of networks’ center and from time to time go out in public. This network exists and thanks to the various forms of partnership the security structures have gone out of the political system’s control. Before the party used to determine who administers the Securitate. This has changed upside down. Now the secret services influence who rules the political system. It turned out that they have greater inertia. There is neither cycle “Revolution-Restauration”, nor election cycle at theirs. Their stability is like the volcanic lava and gives them advantage over the rest. The information services today are not cruder than the socialist Securitate. They don’t make the old crimes. But as a man who makes part of the political elite of my country, and who has lived both before and after I can tell you that the society is much more controlled now, than it was 30 years ago. The rooms, where we live now have three walls. The fourth wall is made of glass.

Varujan Vosganian can not be a man of the cliché, which increases his value as a man of opinion. If we want to know in what world we really live, it is important that we have more meetings with intellectuals like Mr. Vosganian. Learning about Romania, we can better understand our own country and society.

His coming to Sofia and the translation of three books of his are indebted to the energetic translator from Romanian language Vanina Bozhikova. Often the works of the translators – those “fighters on the quiet front of culture” is not recognised sufficiently in the journalistic and intellectual circles. It is not limited only to the translation itself, but also deals with the construction of dynamic relations of mutual respect with people, who don’t allow others easy to become their partners. We, the public, also need this communication with the intellectuals from the region. Without bridges, which connect us to them – without translators and promoters, our life would be more sad and more isolated. In this sense the Romanian stand at the Book Fair and the dedication of the remarkable translators from Romanian language deserve to be lauded over and over again.

Read in Romanian language!

Read in Bulgarian language!


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