Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hungarian Minority in Romania: Reform Delayed?

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Prime Minister Tariceanu has stated that Romania’s general election may delay autonomy plans for ethnic Hungarians but reform will occur.

Below is an article published by the MTI Hungarian News Agency:

A joint Romanian-Hungarian government session was held in Szeged, S[outh] Hungary on Tuesday [21 October 2008] morning to discuss issues such as gas pipeline links and a Vienna-Budapest-Bucharest express rail line.

A government-level agreement on the Nabucco natural gas pipeline project may be signed before the end of the year [2008], Romania's prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu told reporters following the session, adding that Romania fully supported Hungary's initiative to hold a Nabucco summit next January [2009]. He said it was of utmost strategic importance that the Hungarian and Romanian gas and electricity networks should be integrated. The first step of that integration - a gas pipeline between Szeged and west Romania's Arad - will be completed in the near future, Tariceanu added.

Romania wants to join the European Schengen border control system in 2011 - during Hungary's EU presidency - and relies on a Hungarian support in its endeavours, said Tariceanu.

Hungary maintains its position of opposition to a planned Romanian gold mine project in Rosia Montana, Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said at the press conference. "We continue to disagree with that project," he said. He added that legal proceedings were still underway concerning the contested scheme, which involves a cyanide-leaching technology posing a potential threat to Hungarian waterways.

At the session, the Romanian PM noted that his country's planned law on national minorities -- a piece of important legislation for Romania's Hungarian community -- would have to wait to be passed by the next Romanian parliament, as the general elections was drawing near. Tariceanu voiced support for cultural autonomy, but warned that it could lead to isolation of an ethnic minority. Ethnic minorities enjoy a wide range of rights in Romania, he noted, adding that the planned act will summarise currently effective regulations.

Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said that cultural autonomy for ethnic minorities should be promoted. He argued that minorities need to have the right to live according to their respective national identities. Gyurcsany also said that he thought that today's Romania was a lot more sympathetic to those endeavours than in the past. The prime minister praised Hungarian-Romanian relations and said that there had been a breakthrough in bilateral relations during the past four years.

Following the joint session the two heads of government laid wreaths of commemoration at a plaque marking the Hungarian-Romanian reconciliation of 1849. That year representatives of the two countries had signed a draft memorandum which recognised the Romanians of Transylvania -- a part of Hungary at that time -- as an independent ethnic community and which it granted multiple cultural and economic rights.

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