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Citizenship As Political, Social And Civil Commitment – Interview to Mihaela Iacob

Mihaela is a young woman and recent graduate in International Sciences at the University of Turin.

I bear in mind her sweet smile, the brilliant speeches she used to make during class and the lighthearted conversations at the Luigi Einaudi Campus Cafè. And that’s where I met her, a dynamic and fascinating place, in whose immensity I felt welcomed from the very first day. And today I feel an incredible nostalgia of those time.

When I asked Miha whether she was interested in sharing her experience as Italian without citizenship, she glowingly agreed with my proposal… A friendly chat, just like the ones we used to have during the coffee-break at the vending machines 🙂

Romanian is the largest community under the Mole, where the important national event was celebrated this year – with the respect of the healthy measures: the 102th anniversary of the Great Union, the historical moment in which all the regions inhabited by the Romanian people were united under a single State.

Between Turin and Romania occurs a reciprocal relationship of exchange and cultural enrichment, as well as commercial one. Shared values and civil commitment are the essential prerequisites for being active individuals in the community of which you are part. But at the basis of everything, there is a legal constraint, too often made hostile: citizenship.

It is a specific status (c.d. civitatis) to which the legal system guarantees the fullness of civil rights (the right to express one’s opinion and to profess any religion, as well as equality before the law, just to name a few… ), social rights, including access to public benefits, such as health or education, and political rights, as the enjoyment of the right to vote their representatives and stand for election.

Passionate about politics and activism, Mihaela was deprived of her fundamental rights for years. Until a few months ago, she was an Italian without citizenship.

Would you like to tell us about your experience? What obstacles have you had to face in order for your rights to be recognized?

Of course. First of all, I wanted to thank you for this opportunity and for the kind presentation you gave me. I also remember with great pleasure the stolen chats in front of the coffee machine at the university.

I would start saying that I have been in Italy for 15 years now, but I was able to receive citizenship only this year. I applied for citizenship two years ago, so I should consider myself lucky, since my parents got this after four or five years. Before I was 18 years old, I asked to apply for citizen status, since I‘ve always had the desire to contribute actively to the res publica. I have waited a bit before doing so, because I wanted to be truly convinced of this choice: acquiring a new citizenship is a political, social and civil commitment.

Therefore, after many reasoning, in 2018 I submitted the request, electronically and without particular difficulties, and in October of this year I took the oath to respect the Italian Republic and its values. I was very excited.

In Italy, the modern concept of citizenship took shape at the time of the constitution of the unitary State and it is governed by Law n.91/1992.

What does this law provide for and why is it necessary to make urgent changes to it?

The law regulates the ius sanguinis but also the naturalization of foreigners who have resided on Italian territory for at least 10 years (like me, according to Article 9, paragraph f) or who got married a Italian citizen.

Regulating an identity at the legislative level is difficult. I felt as an Italian girl for a long time, but legally I was not. For this reason, in my opinion, it would be necessary to integrate ius sanguinis with ius soli, but also with ius culturae, demonstrating an institutional openness to the variety of identities present into the Italian multicultural fabric.

In the letter addressed to the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, the Movement Italiani Senza Cittadinanza, referring to Article 3, paragraph 2 of the Italian Constitution, stressed the failure of the aim expected in the article itself:

“It is the Republic’s task to remove the economic and social obstacles which, by effectively limiting the equality of citizens, prevent the full development of the human person and the effective participation of all workers in the political organisation, economic and social of the country.”

Such obstacles persist, reinforced by discrimination, bureaucratic slowness and rigid formalism, and calcify a “purely elitist and economic conception of citizenship”.

To what extent does the economy influence the whole procedure? And what is the cost of applying for Italian citizenship?

Before I got to the question, I wanted to outline the fact that for me Italian citizenship does not have a cost, but a value. However, bureaucracy requires a cost, and this was around EUR 200 plus a stamp when I submitted the application. The Decree Law of 4 October 2018 changed this amount to 250 euros plus the stamp of 16 euros. In my opinion, however, it is not enough just to ask the potential citizen for a considerable sum of money, who may be discouraged from taking on any costs. Therefore, I think that a higher cost can become a disincentive to apply for citizen/a status and to actively participate in the political and social life of the country.

Mihaela is a poet. She writes beautiful poems, which she is collecting with care and passion.

To the question what is poetry?, the Romanian poet Valeriu Butulescu, would reply that the poem was born “the night when man began to contemplate the moon, aware that it was not edible”. And that same night, that (wo)man began a tête-à-tête with her/his feelings. Perhaps poetry is a “grammar of feelings”. And the civil, social and political passion of Mihaela finds citizenship in her lines.

Which of your works best represents the emotions you feel in this moment of your life? And which would you choose to describe your idea of happiness?

Surely “New Alliance with an old friend” represents how I feel now and who I am. I’m trying to accept my flaws and make them new crystals to show off. Therefore, that poem shows how I made peace with myself, how I have become friend with the version of me I always wanted to change. You can’t achieve perfection, even if you always try to improve yourself.

The flaws… well, they’re always there to remind you what humanity is. We’re human because we have flaws, in addition to good qualities, of course. That’s why we are so beautiful.

As regards the second question, I would like to refer to the concept of happiness which I am gradually acquiring. Two years ago I did not know what it meant to be happy in a couple; to be able to find in a person your best friend, the shoulder on which to cry, but also the person who always supports you, whatever the situation. Well, let’s just say life has led me to experience that perspective, too.

A very important poem that gives value to this type of relationship, of deep and mutual feeling is Boreal and I would say that many people can identify with the two protagonists of my tiny work. Therefore, I invite you to read it and share your thoughts. I am open to any different points of view, since happiness is a concept that encompasses different sensations and experiences. It is a path, but also a goal.

I hope that Happiness is the greatest Aspiration of all of us, it’s worth it.

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