MINELRES: Romania: Bulletin DIVERS on Ethnic Minorities - 48(176)/2005

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Divers Bulletin no. 48 (176) / December 19, 2005




BUCHAREST – On Wednesday, December 14, in Government session, the
decision on assigning important financing funds for ethnic Hungarian
education units in Transylvania was passed, according to a press
release. The RON64.12 bn were allotted from the funds of government
budgetary reserve, to a number of 62 schools and kindergartens in
counties Harghita, Covasna, Hunedoara, Mures, Brasov, Salaj, Timis,
Bihor, Satu Mare and Cluj. The money can be used to renew as well as to
expand the schools nominated in the Government decision. "This support
for the education field is a part of the UDMR Program by means of which
the Union undertook to support the development of the ethnic Hungarian
education in Transylvania and to ensure the material resources for it",
UDMR says.
Author: DIVERS


In an interview to Bucharest Daily News, Marko said the development of
the minorities' draft law is one of the main achievements of UDMR in

Reporter: What were your party's achievements in 2005 of which you are
most proud?
Marko Bela: I believe the fact that we managed to continue Romania's
accession process at a proper pace is a success of the government and of
the coalition, but at the same time a success of the UDMR. We signed the
accession treaty in spring and this autumn's report showed a certain
progress. Referring to achievements of the UDMR program, I would
underline the elaboration of the minorities' draft law and the approval
given by the government and several measures for infrastructure
development in Transylvania. For example, the construction of roads in
Covasna and Harghita and the fact that the Bechtel contract was
renegotiated. It seems that the highway's construction will continue
even if at a certain moment it was criticized.

R: What were the weak points of the coalition after the first year of
M.B: The lack of discipline, organization and coordination.
Nevertheless, I would say that the performance of the government and of
the coalition is better than the image we managed to build in the media
and in public opinion because, unfortunately, we constantly sent a
message of differences, of litigation, of contradictory discussions
inside this coalition and I believe that, unfortunately, these
controversies have slowed down some of our measures. We cannot deny this
aspect. I spoke about the Bechtel highway. It is a positive example
because its construction will continue, but I can include it in the list
of failures because one year has gone and we have not built anything. In
general, a strategy of infrastructure development was delayed, which is
an emergency in Romania. Also, we could not solve the education problem
in a reassuring way.

R: Talking about compromises, would you be willing to make one by
accepting changes to the minorities' law, as some of your coalition
colleagues have suggested?
M.B: When talking about the need for compromise, I would add something
else: the need for agreements to be respected. The minorities' law was
part of the governing program. When we put this project together and we
debated it in the government, we reached a compromise. The current draft
is not the initial project of the UDMR, it is the project of the entire
coalition, because the ministers, our colleagues from the coalition,
came with suggestions and proposals, with changes to the project UDMR
had prepared. The current text is the result of a compromise. Those who
deny this and state that now we should accept a compromise, in my
opinion, act in a hypocritical manner.

R: Who exactly are you referring to? Are you talking about the latest
statements made by the Democratic Party's representatives, who said they
will not approve the draft unless changes are made?
M.B: Yes, the Democratic Party also had the chance to express their
opinion on this draft and they did so. So this text is also their text.
We do not have other obligations than to take into consideration the
opinion of the Venice Commission, because this was a project accepted by
everybody back then. In a coalition, if you constantly withhold your own
signature, if you constantly try to renegotiate the agreement you
already made, then you will not manage to achieve performance and to
govern in a firm manner. 

R: What is the cause of these refusals to approve the minorities' law?
M.B: I am convinced that the reason for the refusal is not the text of
the draft law. The text is a pretext, if I may say so. As I already told
you, my colleagues knew the text and they even contributed to it. But
seeing that the opposition has managed to generate resistance inside the
coalition to this draft and has succeeded in creating a certain tense
atmosphere over inter-ethnic relations, I have the impression that our
colleagues inside the coalition got scared, instead of realizing that
the opposition always has the role of attacking the government on its
weak points. (…) In my opinion, this draft would be beneficial for
inter-ethnic relations. It would not harm the majority's interests at
all, but it would help the minorities to have a word to say about
cultural and educational institutions in their native language.

R: You recently said in an interview that the minorities' law is a
maturity test for politicians. What grades would you give them so far?
M.B: These grades are different. For example, I have to say that I
highly appreciate that the prime minister respected his word and his own
opinion on this draft and acted as a responsible politician. Not all my
colleagues acted in this way. For now, the grades range from
"unsatisfactory" to "very good," from 4 (F) to 10 (A).

R: What do you wish for UDMR in 2006?
M.B: I wish to succeed in using the tools we have due to our presence in
the government and in the governing coalition, both for the good of the
Magyar community in Romania and for the good of Romanians. 
Author: DIVERS


BUCHAREST – During December 12-13, the National Agency for Ethnic Roma,
in collaboration with the Open Society Institute, organized the
conference on "Past and future programs and projects: how to act the
most efficiently upon the status of the ethnic Roma people?" 
The conference was developed under the aegis of the international
program "Decade of Ethnic Roma Inclusion 2005-2015", whose presidency is
filled in by the Government of Romania, through the National Agency for
Ethnic Roma, during July 2005- June 2006.
In the opening of the event, Mariea Ionescu, president with the National
Agency for Ethnic Roma, talked about the availability of its institution
to cooperate with the Health Ministry and with the National Health
Insurance Department in order to complete the legislative framework, to
achieve the chances equality for the ethnic Roma citizens.
On his turn, Cristian Vladescu, the president of the National Health
Insurance Department, announced that the institution he runs is opened
to any recommendation in the respect of improving the existent
legislative framework, where possible, saying that if the conference
triggers a certain legislative proposition, it might be included within
the legislative package "Health Insurance Law".
Several participants stressed upon the fact no viable dialogue exists
between these institutions of the state that might have an important
impact upon the health of the ethnic Roma, and it is required a tighter
collaboration between them, so that the measures taken in this field are
complementary. Also, the solution for the ethnic Roma’s health problem
cannot only originate from the sanitary system, but it holds external
connections with the education, living, occupation and other
social-economic factors. Therefore, if the improvement actions are
headed to one of these components, the impact upon the ethnic Roma
health status is reduced.
One of the central issues approached during the conference was the
program of sanitary mediators. The instrument leading the debates on
this program was a survey of the Open Society Institute, which
critically evaluated the program of sanitary mediators in Bulgaria,
Finland and Romania.
In brief, the survey concluded that despite of the fact the program of
the sanitary mediators proved to be efficient for the members of the
ethnic Roma communities at an individual level, it brought no change in
the system and it is not enough oriented to fixing the discrepancy
between the ethnic Roma and the majority. Moreover, it was acknowledged
that some of the programs of sanitary mediators are developed in an
isolated way, not being accompanied by the necessary legislative changes
or are not adequately integrated in the overall public health system.
Most of the participants agreed on the idea the health is misinterpreted
by the medics as well as by the ethnic Roma patients, as being
synonymous with the absence of the lack of a visible disease. They also
criticized the lack of prophylactic measures, the medics slightly
focusing on informing the ethnic Roma patient.
Despite of the fact the sanitary mediators help a lot the members of the
ethnic Roma communities, they cannot eliminate certain obstacles such as
the discrimination, the patients’ lack of money, the statute of the
double-marginalized groups etc. 
Author: DIVERS


TIRGU MURES – The President of Democratic Union of ethnic Hungarians in
Romania (UDMR) Marko Bela, made on December 10, towards the
representatives of the Council of Union Representatives with UDMR, the
account of the governing, one year since the Union has been a partner of
the Ruling Alliance. He talked about UDMR’s successes, namely about the
enactment of the ownership laws, the opening of ethnic Hungarian schools
and the construction of roads in the areas with majority ethnic
Hungarian population; one of the flaws of this group is the
non-enactment of the laws on the statute of the minorities.
As a representative of the ethnic Hungarian community, UDMR has
registered successes as well as failures since the general elections,
Marko Bela said. As for the accomplishments, he nominated the ownership
laws (247/2005), the fact that "Bolyai Farkas" High school in Tirgu
Mures has exclusively become ethnic Hungarian, the opening of an ethnic
Hungarian school in Simleul Silvaniei, the compensations for Churches,
the highways in the Szecklers’ area, on the route Balauseri - Miercurea
Ciuc and the fact it could grant help to all the flooded persons in that
area as well as the certainty it continues the construction of the
highway Brasov - Bors.
As for the chapter non-accomplishments, Marko Bela talked about the
teachers’ strike, the fact the law on the confessional education has not
been drawn up, the non-accomplishment of the highway and the problems
connected to the law draft on the statute of national minorities.
"Some of the failures are the vote in the Senate (regarding this law
draft, e.n.) and the other persons’ claims on the minorities’ law",
Marko Bela said. 
Author: DIVERS


BRUSSELS – Seven ethnic Roma diplomats in Romania took part last week in
the international conference called "Ethnic Roma diplomacy: a challenge
for the European institutions". The initiative, developed during
December 8 and 9 in Brussels, aimed to contribute at making the skills
that enable the youngsters to represent the interests of the ethnic Roma
within the public diplomacy field. The conference was inaugurated by the
President of the European Parliament, Joseph Borell Fontelles, who
talked about a "historic amnesia" when speaking about the most
discriminated minority in Europe. According to the leader of the
Democrat Liberal Group in Europe, Graham Watson, "the ethnic Roma do not
have a visible and powerful elite or institutions committed to protect
their rights. This brings about a diminished or an inexistent political
influence as well as a total lack of representation at the governmental
level. "Watson congratulated the organizers of the project and urged to
a better representation of the ethnic Roma at all the levels: "I am
convinced that one of the final results of the initiative connected to
the Diplomacy for Ethnic Roma might be the establishment of a "think
tank" that brings the problems of the ethnic Roma on the EU’s list of
priorities". The participants to the program of Diplomacy for Ethnic
Roma will present the European institutions various recommendations on
improving the status of this minority. 
Author: DIVERS


BUCHAREST – On December 18, Romania is celebrating the Day of national
minorities, to commemorate the enactment by the United Nations, 13 years
ago, of a decision on the linguistic, religious and ethnic rights of the
national minorities. Different events were organized in Bucharest and in
several cities to celebrate this date.
“The traditions, the culture, the language of a community enrich the
entire society, reason for which the measures contributing at the
conservation and development of these values – including the enactment
of the law on the minorities – are very important”, vice-premier Marko
Bela said on the occasion of launching in Bucharest various events
related on the Day on national minorities.
Author: DIVERS


Dear friends, 
as the year 2005 comes to an end we at DIVERS decided this issue to be
the last one for this year and to resume publication in the mid-January
2006. By then, we wish you a pleasant holiday season and a prosperous
new year.

Don’t forget: for any queries regarding DIVERS (www.divers.ro) please
drop a line at maricu13@gmail.com 
Author: DIVERS

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