MINELRES: Romania: Bulletin DIVERS on Ethnic Minorities no. 28(111) / August 23, 2004

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Divers Bulletin no. 28(111) / August 23, 2004

ROMANIAN MINORITIES TO BENEFIT FROM LOWER PARLIAMENTARY HURDLE.
BUCHAREST - The ad hoc parliamentary commission examining legislation
for the November parliamentary elections decided on 17 August that
organizations representing national minorities in the lower house must
garner only 3,500 votes to gain representation, RFE/RL reported. By
comparison, candidates not representing a minority group must collect
20,000-25,000 votes. The decision changes legislation adopted by the
Senate in June, which considerably raised the threshold for
parliamentary representation of national minorities. A vote for the
commission's proposal in the lower house would override the upper
house's decision. (DIVERS)

UDMR COULD HAVE THEIR OWN CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT
CLUJ-NAPOCA - The representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Union of
Romania (UDMR) could have their own candidate for President this year,
as the head of the formation Marko Bela has announced that he would
propose it to the Council of the Union Representatives (CRU). Marko
pointed out that the Union has the experience of the candidates for the
top office in the state, because they had their own candidate both 4 and
8 years ago. At that time, UDMR was represented by senator Gyorgy
Frunda. "Since the presidential and the parliamentary elections are on
the same date, the own candidate to Presidency assures a better
reflection in the media. Furthermore, he will have one more chance to
transmit the message to the electorate," explained the UDMR leader. CRU
is set to meet on September 4, when the electoral program of UDMR will
also be presented. As Marko Bela said, this program will include the
problem of the cultural and administrative autonomy of the Hungarians,
estimating that in the next term of office "there is a real chance to
create the judicial framework for the achievement of the cultural
autonomy." As for administrative and territorial autonomy, UDMR will
propose to change the current development regions. "We come with a
concrete territorial division project. We are in favor of restoring the
Center Region which has too many counties. We want the counties in the
Szeklers' Land, Harghita and Covasna, and possibly Mures to have the
biggest weight. We think of having a total of 14 to 16 regions," pointed
out Marko. UDMR is reproaching PSD the nonfulfillment of certain points
in the bilateral protocol, the main dissatisfaction in regard to the
failure to solve certain problems connected with the resources allotted
to Szeklers. UDMR will request, at the meeting with PSD of August 24, to
speed up the restitution of the religious properties, to establish an
institute of minorities. As for the policy of alliances after the
elections, UDMR's position remains dual, including an alliance with PSD,
but also with PNL-PD Alliance. (DIVERS) 

SZEKLER ORGANIZATION OFFICIALS IN ROMANIA DEMAND AUTONOMY
SFINTU GHEORGHE - Local Szekler National Council (CNS) chairmen in
Covasna and Harghita counties on 18 August officially requested that the
two county councils organize a referendum on autonomy for the
territories inhabited by this group within the Hungarian minority,
RFE/RL reported. CNS Deputy Chairman Csaba Ferencz said a similar
official request will be handed soon to the CNS branch in Mures County.
Ferencz said the CNS will not renounce its struggle for territorial
autonomy "despite the fact that parliament and the Romanian government
have shown that the Szeklers are being treated as second-class
citizens." (DIVERS)

HUNGARIAN PARTIES CONTINUE TO BREAK RANK
COVASNA - Kalman Kiss, chairman of the Union of Szeklers in Romania
(USC), announced on 16 August that the USC intends to run in the
November parliamentary elections on lists separate from those of the
UDMR, RFE/RL reported. Kiss said the USC has "nothing in common" with
the Hungarian Civic Union (UCM) or radicals within the UDMR who he
claims "want nothing else than a share of the UDMR cake." Kiss said the
USC wants to be "autonomous from the Hungarian barons" and wishes to no
longer be under "their yoke, as we have been for centuries." Kiss added
that "the Szeklers have always had problems with the Magyars, and now
these little UDMR barons want to achieve the autonomy of the Szekler
lands for the benefit of the Magyars and without recognizing the
Szeklers' separate ethnic identity." The Szeklers are a group within
Romania's Transylvanian Hungarian minority. (DIVERS)

JEWISH CEMETERY DEFACED
CLUJ-NAPOCA - Anti-Semitic and fascist slogans have appeared on the wall
of a Jewish cemetery in a northwestern Romanian village where 126 Jews
died during World War II, the local Jewish community told AP on August
20. Jewish officials discovered anti-Semitic and fascist messages at a
cemetery in the village of Camaras, written in big red letters in
German, said Gavrila Goldner, chief of the local community in Cluj.
Goldner said the messages were recent and read "Jews out," and "Heil
Hitler." "The person who made the inscriptions is a coward. He made them
behind the cemetery and not inside or in front," Goldner said by
telephone. The messages were surrounded by swastikas. A swastika was
also scrawled within the Star of David. There are 126 graves in the
Jewish cemetery in Camaras, located 350 kilometers (218 miles) northwest
of Bucharest. All of the Jews were killed during World War II. The
cemetery, which has a monument dedicated to the slain Jews, is a
pilgrimage site for Jews from Romania and abroad. Authorities were
investigating the desecration, which could carry a prison sentence of up
to five years. Romania was home to 760,000 Jews before 1940. An
estimated 420,000 died after being deported to concentration camps by
the country's pro-Nazi ruler Ion Antonescu and the Hungarian authorities
that controlled parts of Romania during the war. After the war, about
300,000 Romanian Jews immigrated to Israel during the Communist period.
There are about 6,000 Jews living in Romania today. (DIVERS)






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