The Ukrainians Living In Romania

The Ukrainians of Romania live in several compact, or relatively compact, areas in the counties of Maramures, Suceava, Tulcea, Caras-Severin and Timis. Historical sources state that Ukrainians have been dwelling in the northern part of the country (Maramures and Suceava) ever since the 14th-15th centuries. Some historians even suggest that the Ukrainian population may have settled in the area even earlier. The oldest Ukrainian colonies in Tulcea county date from the 18th century and arose as a result of the destruction of the Zaporozhian Sich (political, social and military organization of Cossacks) in 1775 by the Empress of Russia, Catherine II the Great. The Zaporozhian Cossacks did not submit to the command of the Empress and, as they preferred to live in freedom, they settled down in the northern of Dobrogea and in the Danube Delta. Finally, the settlement of the Ukrainians in the districts of Caras-Severin and Timis happened at a more recent date. They came from Transcarpathian Ukraine and its neighboring areas in the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. In the last 15-20 years, there was a mass movement of the Ukrainians living in Maramures towards Banat. Coming from areas where there were only woods and hay fields, they settled there in order to work in agriculture. The fact that the Ukrainian population living in Banat is not homogenous in respect to language can be explained by the fact that immigrants and colonists came from different areas at different periods of time. The main occupations of the Ukrainians living in Romania are: agriculture, animal breeding, forestry and timber production, and fishing. In almost all Ukrainian villages there are also numerous carpenters, bricklayers, ironsmiths, etc., who play an important role in meeting the day-to-day needs of the people. Until the 1948 reform of education, the official language in schools was Romanian, excepting the areas with Ukrainian population from Bucovina, where there were primary schools that taught in Ukrainian before 1918, during the Austrian domination. Between 1948 and 1958, in almost all Ukrainian primary and grammar schools in Romania, the language was Ukrainian. Established on the 29th of December 1989, the Union of the Ukrainians of Romania became a legal entity on the 14th of February 1990. It is a non-political organization, with cultural and social goals. Culturally, the union wishes to contribute to the development of the ethnic conscience of the Ukrainian community by turning its cultural heritage to account and preserving the features that define it, which are the mother tongue, customs and spirituality. The efforts of the union are also oriented towards maintaining close relationships with the Ukraine and raising its interest in cooperating with Romania. Beginning with 1991, the Union of the Ukrainians of Romania has been a member of the World Congress of Ukrainians, with its headquarters in Toronto. From 1994, it is a founding member of the Union of Ukrainians in Europe, and from 1990 a member of the "Ukraine" Society. The Ukrainians are represented in Parliament, which means that they contribute to the process of political decision-taking. They also have their own advisor within the Ministry of Culture.

by Ion Robciuc