H.E. Mr. Lluís Maria de Puig
representative at the Council of Europe
The Szekler National Council welcomes the recommendation nr. 1811/2007 of the Council of Europe regarding the regionalisation in Europe, adopted on the 3. of October this year. We consider that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe realised that the regionalisation process underway in the European Union has an impact on those universal values, individual and collective rights for whose protection the Council of Europe came into being, more then a half century ago.
We consider that it is not a coincidence that the preparation of this important document, this report on regionalisation was undertaken by a Catalan representative. The Catalan people created an exemplary institutional system securing the exercise of the right for self-determination which can be a model for all national minorities around the world. The Szekler National Council would like to achieve the creation of institutional guarantees for the collective freedom of the Szekler people, in the same way and reach that level of self- determination which the Catalans had achieved right after the the collapse of the Franco regime. We are aware that there is a 17 years delay already, from the starting of the democratic transition in Romania.
After 1989 the new political elite in Romania became unfortunately the beneficiary of that concentration of power, inherited from the past which was created and offered by the centralised state, and considers decentralisation and subsidiarity as the limitation of its own power, nowadays. In this way those holding power in Romania are actually playing a double game. On one hand they try to keep up the apparences that they comply with the European expectations regarding regional democracy and regionalisation, but on the other hand they want to maintain exactly the opposite power mechanisms in reality, which serve their narrow interests only. Romania became member of the European Union while practising this duality!
The Szekler National Council tries to achieve the territorial autonomy of Szeklerland using as examples the functioning European models of autonomy and taking into consideration the generally accepted international norms and standards in this field. For this reason the Szekler National Council submitted a bill to the Romanian Parliament, concerning the territorial autonomy of Szeklerland, which complies with the recommendations of the Council of Europe and the unilateral commitments taken by Romania when it was admitted as a member-state into the Council of Europe. The bill on the territorial autonomy of Szeklerland is in concordance with the recently adopted recommendation nr. 1811/2007 as well, since at the very beginning of its foundation, the Szekler National Council declared in a resolution that Szeklerland has to become an independent, full-fledged region of the European Union. The Romanian Parliament rejected the bill on the territorial autonomy of Szeklerland without any debate.
Following this the Szekler National Council initiated a referendum to be held on the territory of Szeklerland. It has done so with reference to the pertinent Romanian law in force, which prescribes that by the occasion of organising local referendums concerning bills aimed at changing the administrative borders, the population of the affected territories should be consulted by a referendum. The local self governments of many Szekler settlements decided to hold the referendum but these decisions were sued in the administrative courts by the prefects (the representatives of the central government at county level) and achieved the overruling of these decisions. As in Romania the courts are not independent, they justified their decisions in accordance with the expectations of the central government; reasoning that only a countrywide referendum can decide the unification of the three Szekler counties into a single autonomous region. By doing so, the Romanian authorities violated the principle of subsidiarity and deprived the inhabitants of Seklerland of their rights to express their opinion about their own fate and future in a free manner.
The Szekler National Council initiated dialogues with Romania’s competent authorities for many times, concerning the ways in which Romania wishes to fulfill its obligations taken for the implementation of Recommendation nr. 1201 of the Council of Europe (with special reference to its article nr.11), but the Romanian authorities excluded even the possibility of any dialogue. Following these, the Szekler National Council initiated an unofficial referendum, during which, approximately 170.000 inhabitants of Szeklerland were questioned in the presence of neutral observers. The overwhelming majority of those questioned said YES to the territorial autonomy of Szeklerland.
Your Honourable Excellency!
You, as the preparatory reporter of the recommendation nr. 1333/1997 regarding the Aromanian language and culture have already showed great empathy towards national and ethnic minorities and have proven that you are an expert concerning the Romanian situation and you know comprehensively the concepts of the Romanian authorities regarding the problem of national and ethnic minorities.
I am asking You personally to support the designation of a reporter by the Council of Europe, who is going to asses the general situation of the autochthonous, compact Szekler national community of Hungarian self-identity, of Szeklerland, and to examine the community’s demand for autonomy, in order to enable the Assembly of the Council of Europe to adopt a resolution concerning the territorial autonomy of Szeklerland. We ask you to support this decision-making process and urge that the pertinent resolution of the Coucil of Europe to formulate a strong recommendation for Romania to treat the referendum-based will of the people of Szeklerland accordingly, also reminding the Romanian authorities that they must respect the obligations they undertook.
The Council of Europe has formulated several times special recommendations regarding European national and ethnic minorities, particular groups of people and specific cultures, beside its recommendations of general character. Besides the above mentioned recommendation concerning the Aromanians, it is enough to mention the recommendation nr. 1521/2001 regarding the Hungarian Csángós, nr. 1291/1996 concerning the Jiddis culture , nr. 1203/1993 regarding the Romas in Europe and nr. 1171/1998 concerning the endangered Uralian ethnic minorities living in Russia.
A recommendation from the Council of Europe regarding the specific situation of the Szekler national community could help to bring the Romanian regionalisation process in accordance with recommendation nr. 1811/2007,and help the Szekler people’s right to self-determination to prevail, in the form of the territorial autonomy of Szeklerland, which would serve the economic prosperity likewise the future stability of the whole area as well.
With sincere respect and reverence,
President of the Szekler National Council
The 30th of November 2007.
Marosvásárhely, Szeklerland, Romania