Below a letter from Mr. Zoltán Márton, mayor of Ghindari/Makfalva to Mr. Liviu Dragnea, Deputy Prime Minister of the Romanian government (original and English translation).
As we informed earlier, a number of local councils from Szeklerland (33 until now), in accordance with the Charter of Local Self-Government, adopted petitions to the Romanian government, in which they expressed their position regarding the ongoing regionalization of the country.
It is also worth to note, that the prefects of Mures/Maros, Harghita/Hargita and Covasnsa/Kovászna appealed in court against all these resolutions, pretending that these are against the law and the constitution. We will keep making available information about the outcome of these trials.
The press office of the Szekler National Council
To the government of Romania
In the attention of Deputy Prime Minister Liviu Dragnea
Dear Mr. Deputy Prime Minister!
We have acknowledged the Romanian Government’s response to our letter filed under No. 20/8844/IM/26.06.2014, in which we informed you about Resolution No. 24/30.04.2014 of the Local Council of Ghindari/Makfalva, Mures/Maros County. In your response, we were told that the letter and the attached memorandum “was forwarded to the Ministry of Regional Development, the competent body of central administration, which analyzes such requests and can take the necessary measures concerning them, in accordance with the relevant laws”.
Through the above mentioned resolution and memorandum, we expressed - on behalf of the people of Ghindari/Makfalva - our position concerning Romania’s planned administrative reform, as well as the desire of the village’s population in this regard.
With regard to the European Charter of Local Self-Government, adopted in Strasburg on the 15th of October 1985, and ratified by Romania by Law No. 199/1997, we find that the Romanian Government has neglected one of its legal obligations. They failed to consult the local authorities, and ask their opinions on Romania’s administrative reform as the Charter requires it in Article 4 Paragraph 6: “Local authorities shall be consulted, insofar as possible, in due time and in an appropriate way in the planning and decision-making processes for all matters which concern them directly”.
The decision for this reform has already passed the stage of planning, considering the steps aiming to amend the constitution. The joined committee of the two houses of the parliament which are preparing the bill to amend the constitution has drafted amendments for the third paragraph, expanding the categories of Romania’s administrative units (village, city, county) with a new category: the region. Constitutional Court Decision Nr. 80, adopted on the 14th of February 20144, does not raise any objections to this bill, so the way is clear for an administrative reform. It’s well known that this step is needed to realize the government’s plan of granting administrative powers to the development regions. This project was widely presented by the press, but also by you personally Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, when you declared that “the relevant legislation is almost complete, and once the constitution will be amended, it will be presented to the Parliament, the regions will be created through legislation, elections will be organized, and in a transitional period of one and a half years the regional institutions will be operational”.
Consequently, the government considers the boundaries of the administrative regions to be definitive, and even more, it had already begun the administrative reorganization in various areas (finances, healthcare), by creating regional structures.
To support the plan, the Romanian government has ordered a scientific study, known as the “CONREG” report.
These actions are contrary to the legitimate interests of the people of Ghindari/Makfalva and generally the local communities of Szeklerland, and were not preceded by any consultation with the local authorities, as required by Law No. 199/1997 on the ratification of the Strasbourg charter.
In its resolution No. 24/30.04.2014, the Local Council of Ghindari/Makfalva has clearly expressed their position on these measures. It would have been your obligation, the obligation of the Romanian government to consult the council about its position, as stated in Law No. 199/1997. Even more, the Romanian Government not only neglected this obligation, offending public interests through the violation of it’s obligations undertaken by ratifying the Charter, but the county’s prefect contested before the court the ability of the local council to express the desires of the population.
Thus, the prefect of Mures/Maros County has brought an action before the administrative court, on the 17th of June 2014, requesting the annulment of resolution No. 24/30.04.2014 of the Local Council of Ghindari/Makfalva.
The obvious intent of suppressing the freedom of expression and of discouraging the citizens is explained also by your press statement:
“Arriving to Galati/Galac on his tour called “Public Debate on Regionalization and Decentralization in Romania”, Deputy Prime Minister Liviu Dragnea answered the question, inquiring whether the Hungarian Autonomous Province may be reestablished, by paraphrasing a famous phrase: - I only have two words to say on the matter: ‘Ex Cluded’”
It is with deep consternation that we have taken note of the irony with which you treated the legitimate efforts of the inhabitants of the former Hungarian Autonomous Province, Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, a province that was dissolved by the worst dictatorial regime of post-war Europe, the Bolshevik dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu. Even if we are Hungarians, we are full citizens of Romania, and we expect the serious and responsible handling of our demands, in the spirit of Art. 4, par. 2 of Romania’s Constitution:
“Romania is the common and indivisible homeland of all its citizens, without any discrimination regarding race, nationality, ethnic origin, language, religion, sex, opinion, political adherence, property or social origin.”
On the other hand, we consider the Romanian Senate’s treatment of resolution No. 24/30.04.2014 of the Local Council of Ghindari/Makfalva, to be correct. The Senate’s Public Administration and Regional Organization Committee thanked us for our “proposals and suggestions” on the administrative reform, and ensured us that these will be “carefully analyzed, and taken into consideration, when reviewing the bills brought before the committee”.
We demand from the government of Romania to treat our requests in the same way, and to this end, we ask that they:
1. Instruct the prefect of Mures/Maros County to withdraw his action requesting the annulment of resolution No. 24/30.04.2014 of the Local Council of Ghindari/Makfalva.
2. To consult without delay the local authorities in an appropriate way on Romania’s administrative reform, and cease all forms of hindering the freedom of expression of the local communities.
3. Responsibly prepare a thorough and in-depth analysis of our requests contained in the above mentioned resolution, and take action based on the following:
a) Respect the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages ratified by Romania by Law No. 282/2007, and which in article 7, states that:
“In respect of regional or minority languages, within the territories in which such languages are used and according to the situation of each language, the Parties shall base their policies, legislation and practice on the following objectives and principles:… the respect of the geographical area of each regional or minority language in order to ensure that existing or new administrative divisions do not constitute an obstacle to the promotion of the regional or minority language in question”
b) Respect Article 16 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, ratified by Romania by Law No. 33/1995, and which states that:
“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.”
c) Respect the European Charter of Local Self-Government, ratified by Romania by Law No. 199/1997, which regulates the protection of the boundaries of the administrative-territorial units, according to which:
“Changes in local authority boundaries shall not be made without prior consultation of the local communities concerned, possibly by means of a referendum where this is permitted by statute.”
I would like to emphasize that this letter is part of the preliminary proceeding in accordance with article 7 of Law 554/2004. In the event that the above mentioned requests are not met, and you continue to refuse consulting the local authorities regarding the administrative reorganization of the country (which is of public interest, and the legitimate right of the local communities), I shall turn to the administrative court.
Ghindari/Makfalva, the 9th of September 2014