MINELRES: Romania: Bulletin DIVERS on Ethnic Minorities - 44 (127)/2004

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Divers Bulletin no. 44 (127) / December 13, 2004

News
ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTY CONFIRMS PARTICIPATION IN COALITION GOVERNMENT...
... WHILE ETHNIC HUNGARIANS IN ROMANIA UNHAPPY WITH OUTCOME OF HUNGARIAN
REFERENDUM
THEATER PREMIERE ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST
ETHNIC ROMA IN EASTERN ROMANIA TRANSFERRED TO A SPECIAL DESIGNED HALL

Focus
THE LEGACY OF TRIANON
------------------------------------------------

News

ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTY CONFIRMS PARTICIPATION IN COALITION GOVERNMENT...

BUCHAREST - The ethnic Hungarian party UDMR confirmed on 6 December that
it has decided to join the alliance of the Social Democratic Party (PSD)
and the Humanist Party in forming a new coalition government, following
last month's elections. The leaders of the three parties held a joint
news conference after talks earlier in the day. PSD chairman Adrian
Nastase noted that the combined parties will have a parliamentary
majority. He also said he expects the new cabinet to be established by
the end of December.
In related development UDMR Executive Chairman Csaba Takacs said
December that his party is demanding a deputy premiership in the
envisaged new coalition led by the PSD. Takacs said the UDMR proposes
its chairman, Bela Marko, for the post. Marko met with outgoing premier
Nastase the previous day and confirmed the UDMR is launching coalition
parleys with that party.
Author: DIVERS


... WHILE ETHNIC HUNGARIANS IN ROMANIA UNHAPPY WITH OUTCOME OF HUNGARIAN
REFERENDUM

CLUJ-NAPOCA - The owners of a cafe in the Transylvanian town of
Odorheiu-Secuiesc on 7 December displayed a sign in the window saying:
"Entrance to Hungarian citizens prohibited", RFE/RL reported. The owners
installed the sign to protest the outcome of the 5 December referendum
in Hungary.
Supporters of the movement to grant dual citizenship to ethnic
Hungarians living in neighboring countries failed to garner sufficient
backing for the proposal in the plebiscite, the holding of which upset
many non-Hungarians in neighboring countries. Also in protest of the
referendum's results, an ethnic Hungarian professor at the
Sfantu-Gheorghe-based Public Administration College announced he will
stop teaching in the Hungarian language and return to the Hungarian
government the ID card making him eligible for certain privileges under
the 2001-approved Status Law.
Author: DIVERS


THEATER PREMIERE ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST

ORADEA – On Saturday, December 4, the State Theater in Oradea hosts an
absolute premiere with show "Shoah, the version Primo Levi", directed by
Romanian renowned director Mihai Maniutiu.
The director made an adaptation after the interviews with Primo Levi,
namely one of the most important Italian writers of the 20th century,
survivor of the Nazi camp in Auschwitz. The well know actor Marian Ralea
plays next to the troupe in Oradea and the Jewish Orchestra in Oradea
led by W. Vilan Gyuri. 
Author: DIVERS


ETHNIC ROMA IN EASTERN ROMANIA TRANSFERRED TO A SPECIAL DESIGNED HALL

PIATRA NEAMT – Ethnic Roma inhabitants in block 18 on Siretului street
in Piatra Neamt (Eastern Romania) were transferred December 9 to
Speranta district, to a specially designed hall, according to a decision
of the City Hall in the county seat and so that the action develops
without incidents, the local authorities asked for the support of the
peacekeeping teams.
The mayor of the county seat Gheorghe Stefan stated they would be
enabled transportation means. “Some of them asked for carriages and
other will be enabled transportations means. We also talked to the
peacekeeping teams that will be present in the area preventively, in the
event of difficulties. After the shifting of the inhabitants on
Siretului Street we will subsequently evacuate the block D2, which is
about to fall down. This is why we will first evacuate block D2 and then
block 40 in Darmanesti district. We have another hall in Speranta street
which we could provide", stated mayor Gheorghe Stefan.
Out of block 18, on Siretului street in Piatra Neamt, 27 families will
be transferred to Speranta Street, which means over one hundred persons.
Author: DIVERS


Focus

THE LEGACY OF TRIANON

The results of the referendum held in Hungary on 5 December has lessened
the danger of new tensions between European states with ethnic Hungarian
minorities and Budapest. Official results show that voters failed to
approve a referendum on whether to give ethnic Hungarians living outside
the country the right to become Hungarian citizens and whether to
continue the privatization of hospitals. Countries such as Romania,
Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Ukraine, and Serbia and Montenegro have
ethnic Hungarian minorities resulting from the post-World War I
dismemberment of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and the 1921 Trianon
Treaty, in which Hungary lost some two-thirds of its territory.
Historians and political scientists have often characterized Trianon as
a "living wound" for Hungarians on both sides of the country's current
borders. To the same extent, however, for many of Hungary's neighbors,
Trianon has acquired an equally symbolic value signifying independence,
territorial integrity, and historic justice. In the 5 December
referendum, voters had to answer two apparently unrelated questions:
whether to grant dual citizenship to ethnic Hungarians living in
neighboring countries and whether to keep the current state-run
health-care system or continue the privatization of its hospitals. There
was one link between the two questions -- politics and politicking. And
that link produced some paradoxes. The conservative opposition FIDESZ,
headed by charismatic former Prime Minister Victor Orban, supported the
dual citizenship measure and opposed the privatization of the hospitals,
urged by the Socialist-Liberal government of Prime Minister Ferenc
Gyurcsany. This position is hardly in line with Orban's self-attributed
"Thatcherite" ideology precisely for this reason, Orban's political
allies, the largely conservative Magyar Democratic Forum, opposed
keeping in place the costly health-care system and were thus on the
government's side. Undoubtedly, though, the dual citizenship question
was the major issue at stake.

Gyurcsany, who took over from his predecessor Peter Medgyessy some two
months ago, called on voters "not to vote yes". This odd formulation was
not accidental. According to Hungarian legislation, for a referendum to
count it must either have a turnout of at least 50 percent, or have a
minimum of 25 percent of the participants vote "yes" or "no" to the
questions posed. Plebiscite precedents, as well as previous low
electoral turnouts, made the likelihood of a 50 percent turnout close to
nil. The real question was whether 25 percent of the participants would
cast a ballot on either side. At the end of the day, turnout was just
over 37 percent. Votes in favor of granting double citizenship were
somewhat ahead (51.56 percent) of votes against it (48.44 percent), but
neither camp garnered the 25 percent that would have made the outcome
binding for parliament to debate and enact legislation. The proposal to
end hospital privatization failed due to the same reason, though the
pro-Orban vote on it was higher in this case (65.02 percent).
Orban certainly remembers the conflicts with neighboring Slovakia and
Romania over the "Status Law" approved by his government in 2001, which
had to be amended by the successor Socialist-Liberal cabinet of
Medgyessy following criticism from European institutions.

Under the law, ethnic Hungarians living abroad were entitled to certain
benefits and subsidies. This time around, in both Slovakia and Romania,
there was criticism of the ethnic Hungarian leadership for its support
of the Orban-backed proposal. This is precisely what Orban is counting
on. The "symbolic" significance of Trianon is far too powerful to leave
Hungarians living beyond the borders of the kin-state indifferent. He
thus garnered support from the Hungarian Democratic Federation of
Romania (UDMR) leadership, with which relations have been strained for
some time, and from the leadership of the Slovak Coalition Party (SMK),
part of which is also opposed to Orban's particular strand of
nationalism. Not when it comes to overcoming the hated symbol of
Trianon, however. Does this mean territorial irredentism? For most
ethnic Hungarians abroad this is not the case. But carrying a Hungarian
passport would have a powerful sentimental value. Whatever the result of
the referendum, Orban did not have much to lose. Had the "yes" vote come
out on top, he could have counted on many more fresh votes from those
who had acquired (or reacquired) Hungarian citizenship thanks to him. If
he lost, he could point his finger at those who argued against the move
on mainly economic grounds. Indeed, according to the government, there
was a danger that after gaining citizenship, some 800,000 ethnic
Hungarians from less-developed neighboring countries would want to move
to Hungary. That would supposedly entail yearly costs of 537 billion
forints ($2.8 billion) -- about one-half of the 2005 budget deficit. As
a politician, Orban has long been moving toward a conservative,
nationalist populism. He may thus try to use this instance to reach the
patriotic-inclined Socialist electorate. It is not by chance that the
skillful manipulator of words told a gathering in Budapest's Hero Square
on 27 November: "The invitations to the 5 December wedding were sent 84
years ago, before adding that recreating a 15 million nation from a 10
million country is a historic deed." And emulating former West German
leader Willy Brandt's famous 9 November 1989 speech at the Brandenburg
Gate in Berlin, Orban told the crowd that the vote was about "forging
together what history has broken to pieces".

Author: Michael Shafir - RFE/RL

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