"Europe is committing suicide. Langsam aber sicher. Slowly but surely."
Is there nothing we can do to avoid this, I ask.
"There is no escape. It is our destiny."
I am taking tea with Neagu Djuvaru, the doyen of Romanian historians, who will be 100 in August. He is an old man but has the ebullience of a child, except when he thinks about the future of Europe, which he is glad he will not live to see. There is, he says firmly, no alternative to a Muslim conquest of Europe and the end of Western civilization.
I remembered that H.L. Mencken said that America was the only country to have gone from being primitive to being decadent with no period of civilisation in between. The approaching end of European civilisation seems to be bad luck on Romania, which has not yet had the chance to become decadent. Professor Djuvara agrees, but says there is no help for it.
Europe has grown old and lost its vlaga, an earthy word which means sap. The Muslim migrants entering Europe are the equivalent of the barbarians who invaded the later Roman Empire.
I reflected that, though we have the bomb and the military might, Western Europeans did not seem to have as much vlaga as they used to have and not nearly as much as the Islamists. The passion and anger of Hamas and the Muslim zealots is their strength. It was this passion that led them to conquer half the Roman world in late antiquity, for what were the early caliphs but Islamists?
Interviews with Professor Djuvara make the front pages in Romania and most Romanians, who have not been exposed to cultural relativism and like Europe being Christian, tend to agree with him. Most (the exceptions often went to university in the West) are dismayed and worried by the influx of migrants, even though Romania is not on their route to Germany. But the Romanian government, unlike Hungary's or Slovakia's, does not criticise Germany and instead criticises Viktor Orban, who plans to build a razor-wire fence along Hungary's border with Romania, in case the migrants change their route.
Romania offered to take 1,500 migrants last summer and was ordered by the E.U. to take anther 2,500. Nothing has been done about this and probably nothing will. This is how Romanians solve problems.
Romania was a multicultural society centuries before Britain. 6% of the population is Hungarian and there’s a now small German minority to which President Klaus Iohannis belongs. Romania allots one parliamentary seat each to eighteen ethnic minorities, including gypsies, though Czechs and Slovaks have to share their one.
These minorities are what remain of what was once a patchwork of larger ethnic groups. The history of Eastern Europe is one of many Northern Irelands, one on top of another. They were savagely tidied up in the twentieth century, for example by the "orderly and humane" transfers of population decreed by Attlee, Truman and Stalin at the Potsdam conference in 1945, two or three years before the beginning of a great migration from the colonies to Western Europe.
Romanians believe in and have achieved tolerance, but they are philosophers and know that the default setting of humanity is hostility between ethnic groups.
Romania is in many ways still a time warp, a world where the 1960s social revolution never happened, though the sexual revolution did. In some ways you can be forgiven in thinking you are in 1962 and that's just in Bucharest.
No people in the world are kinder or more welcoming to foreigners than Romanians. The truth is that, as several have told me, they trust foreigners more than they trust one another, provided the foreigners are white. In the 1990s Romanian attitudes to non-whites were much the same as those of the British in the 1950s when Britain was almost entirely white. Now people are much more broad-minded but Romanians believe in a hierarchy of nations, with themselves fairly low down but above Greeks and Turks and a long way above Arabs.
Romania's only non-white minority are the gypsies. The historian Richard Vinen has accurately said that they are the closest Eastern European equivalent to the underclass in developed economies. They are widely disliked and feared, at least south of the Carpathians. In Transylvania and the Banat they are much more accepted.
At the last census, 3% of the population claimed to be gypsies, but gypsy is word with negative connotations and many think the real number is far higher. Neagu Djuvara thinks it's 10%. However many there are, though, they are a lot fewer than they were a few years ago, because many gypsies, fed up with being oppressed in Romania, headed off to Western Europe to be oppressed in greater comfort.
Romanian cab drivers constantly complain that western Europeans think Romanian gypsies are Romanians when clearly they are not because they are gypsies. Romanians see nationality and ethnicity as the same thing.
Romanians' views on race and homosexuality, especially among graduates in their twenties and thirties, are changing a lot. Nevertheless, attitudes here are still either refreshingly lacking in political correctness or, depending on your point of view, racist and homophobic.
There's certainly a lot of downright racism even among the young. A survey of teenagers three years ago showed that three-quarters wouldn’t want homosexuals living next door, two-thirds wouldn’t want gypsies, three fifths wouldn’t want Muslims and a third wouldn’t want Jews. As Romania only has a few thousand Jews and Muslims and all homosexuals are firmly in the closet, in practice it is only gypsies that teenagers need worry about meeting in the lift in their Communist-era block of flats. The fact that one third don't mind gypsies living next door suggests young Romanians are more open-minded than their parents.