Szekler National Council

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Twenty five years after the fall of the dictatorship Romania has yet to restore most of the properties confiscated from the Hungarian churches, even though this was one of the conditions for its entry into the Council of Europe.

In the past few years several laws were made to settle the restitution of properties, but in the lack of political will, the process is slow. A good example of this is that the latest law, enacted this year, specifies very remote deadlines, but Emergency Government Decree No. 115/2013 of 24 December has prolonged these deadlines even further, continuing to limit the churches in practicing their social, cultural and educational activities.
In contrast, Emergency Decree No. 114/2013, which the government released on the same day, makes the following statement in its preamble:
"Given the necessity of supporting the Orthodox Church, a fundamental institution of the Romanian state, which plays a vital role in preserving the national identity of the Romanian people..."

The above statement reflects accurately the fact that the Romanian Government de facto treats the Orthodox Church as state Church in spite of what the relevant law (No. 489/2006 on the freedom of religion, and the general order of the Confessions) clearly states that "There is no state religion in Romania; the state is neutral towards all sorts of religious beliefs or atheist ideology".

This law states that "all Churches are equal before the law and the public authorities. The state, through its public authorities, will not grant special privileges or discriminate any Church", and regulates state support that may be granted to Churches: "upon request, the recognized Churches may receive support from the state for the operating expenses of religious institutions, construction or repair costs of such institutions. Such support shall be granted in proportion to the number of believers of that Church, and in accordance with their realistic needs."
Despite the provisions of the law the government donated a hotel, with an inventory value of 10.5 million lei (2.34 million euros), to the Orthodox Episcopacy in Szeklerland through Emergency Government Decree No. 114/2013.

With this measure, the government:
- violated the Romanian constitution, since disposal of state assets is under jurisdiction of the parliament and only in exceptional cases, under that of the government.
- violated multiple provisions of the law on religion by:
- donating property that serves no religious purpose, to the Orthodox Church
- treating orthodoxy as a state religion, and the Orthodox Church as state Church
- discriminatively allocating high value property to the Orthodox Church, while not granting any support to other Confessions, proportionate to the number of believers.
- made it clear that the restitution of the confiscated properties of historical Hungarian Churches is not being delayed for objective reasons. The government wishes to deliberately disadvantage the Hungarian minority while supporting the Orthodox Church, the most important institution of Romanian expansion in Szeklerland, by any means possible.

Romania has once again managed to successfully prove, that they care nothing for the international obligations they have undertaken, and will continue their policy to assimilate Szeklerland.

We call the Romanian Government to abandon these illegal practices, and in the current case, to modify the Emergency Decree No. 114/2013 so that the hotel complex in question enters into the possession of Kovászna City, rather than the Orthodox Church.
Seeking the appropriate legal remedies available, the Szekler National Council suggests all parties discriminated against, including the historical Hungarian churches, and all natural persons belonging to their congregations based in Háromszék, to launch a lawsuit against the Romanian Government based on, among others, the provisions of the constitution.

We call on the officials of the Council of Europe, the European Union, the OSCE and the UN, to keep under observation – even through institutionalized monitoring processes - the events that are currently taking place in Romania, and ensure that Romania fulfills its obligations, and ceases with the oppression of the Szeklers, and the assimilation of Szeklerland.

Tg-Mures/Marosvásárhely, the 31st of December 2013

 

Izsák Balázs
President of the Szekler National Council

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