It is a strong political dogma in Romania that the country solved in an exemplary way the protection of national minorities. But if one takes a closer look to the real situation will observe that the reality is totally different. Just some recent examples:
- The preambul of the Framework Convention states:
Considering that the upheavals of European history have shown that the protection of national minorities is essential to stability, democratic security and peace in this continent;
In the draft strategy on public order and public safety for the 2015-2020 period, recently released for public discussion, the Ministry of Internal Affairs is calling a legitimate community demand, the Szekler autonomy aspiration, a “criminal phenomenon” that "poses a constant threat to the citizens' welfare and safety”.
- Article 1
The protection of national minorities and of the rights and freedoms of persons belonging to those minorities forms an integral part of the international protection of human rights, and as such falls within the scope of international co-operation.
Romania signed 20 years ago the Framework Convention, but whenever the Hungarian authorities raise their voice to sustain the legitimate aspirations of the Hungarian community living in Romania, the Romanian authorities consider that an interference in the internal affairs of the state and express their protest.
- Article 4
The Parties undertake to guarantee to persons belonging to national minorities the right of equality before the law and of equal protection of the law. In this respect, any discrimination based on belonging to a national minority shall be prohibited.
The Parties undertake to adopt, where necessary, adequate measures in order to promote, in all areas of economic, social, political and cultural life, full and effective equality between persons belonging to a national minority and those belonging to the majority. In this respect, they shall take due account of the specific conditions of the persons belonging to national minorities.
- In accordance with these provisions, the Romanian constitution stipulates in article 128, that Romanian citizens belonging to national minorities have the right to use spoken and written their mother tongue in courts, and this should be done in a way, that does not imply for them additional costs.
Despite this, the new Civil Code stipulates, that in case that a document written in a language other than Romanian is presented to the court, that has to be accompanied by a legalized official translation to Romanian. This means – sometime very high – additional costs.
- Another infringement of this article is the way how pupils can obtain the baccalaureate degree. Romanian pupils have to sustain six exams while pupils belonging to national minorities have to sustain eight.
- Article 10
The Parties undertake to recognize that every person belonging to a national minority has the right to use freely and without interference his or her minority language, in private and in public, orally and in writing.
In areas inhabited by persons belonging to national minorities traditionally or in substantial numbers, if those persons so request and where such a request corresponds to a real need, the Parties shall endeavor to ensure, as far as possible, the conditions which would make it possible to use the minority language in relations between those persons and the administrative authorities.
The above mentioned provisions of the Civil Code are not in line also with the provisions of this article.
- Article 11
The Parties undertake to recognize that every person belonging to a national minority has the right to use his or her surname (patronym) and first names in the minority language and the right to official recognition of them, according to modalities provided for in their legal system.
In areas traditionally inhabited by substantial numbers of persons belonging to a national minority, the Parties shall endeavor, in the framework of their legal system, including, where appropriate, agreements with other States, and taking into account their specific conditions, to display traditional local names, street names and other topographical indications intended for the public also in the minority language when there is a sufficient demand for such indications.
Despite the provisions of the first paragraph, in official files and document (including ID and passport), the Romanian authorities use the names of persons belonging to national minorities without accents, using only the letters of the Latin alphabet.
Regarding the last paragraph of this article there are countless cases, when the authorities are literally chasing all kind of bilingual inscriptions (for instance street signs), threatening people with enormous fines (even more than 10.000 euros) for displaying such an inscription.
- Article 12
The Parties shall, where appropriate, take measures in the fields of education and research to foster knowledge of the culture, history, language and religion of their national minorities and of the majority.
In this context the Parties shall inter alia provide adequate opportunities for teacher training and access to textbooks, and facilitate contacts among students and teachers of different communities.
The Parties undertake to promote equal opportunities for access to education at all levels for persons belonging to national minorities.
As we mentioned above, in order to obtain the baccalaureate degree (necessary for the access to a university), a Romanian pupil has to sustain six exams, A Hungarian one eight. This does not comply at all with the provisions of the last paragraph of this article.
- Article 16
The Parties shall refrain from measures which alter the proportions of the population in areas inhabited by persons belonging to national minorities and are aimed at restricting the rights and freedoms flowing from the principles enshrined in the present framework Convention.
The plans of the government regarding creating administrative regions in the country, all of them with an overwhelming Romanian majority, does not comply at all with the spirit of this article.
Unfortunately the dogma of solving the minority issue in an exemplary way is far from being true. And this is not only the conclusion of those directly concerned (like us). The last report of ECRI (issued last year) mentions not less than 20 problems only related to the Hungarian community living in Romania. We consider, that instead of jubilating, it is time for the Romanian authorities to keep an honest self-examination, and to begin to put really in practice the documents and principles of the Council of Europe regarding national minorities. In this respect let us recall another sentence of the preambul of the Framework Convention:
Being determined to implement the principles set out in this framework Convention through national legislation and appropriate governmental policies,
Kolozsvár/Cluj, the 30th of April 2015
president of the Szekler National Council
Issued on the occasion of the conference organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Babes-Bolyai University to commemorate that Romania signed 20 years ago the Framework Convention for Protecting National Minorities, a conference where the organizations of national minorities were not invited and those representatives of the minorities who were present were not allowed to speak or ask questions.