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Transylvania Today: October 2016

Backdrop:
Hungarian minority rights continue to be limited throughout Transylvania, but the people’s resolve remains strong and has been encouraged by the recent visit of the American Ambassador to Romania.

Corund (Korond), world-renowned for its ceramic pottery, has a population that is 96.7% Hungarian with 3% Roma (Gypsies). Its municipal building carries, in both Hungarian and Romanian, the designation “municipal building” over the front entrance.Ethnic Tolerance Curtailed: 
Corund (Korond), world-renowned for its ceramic pottery, has a population that is 96.7% Hungarian with 3% Roma (Gypsies). Its municipal building carries, in both Hungarian and Romanian, the designation “municipal building” over the front entrance.

Corund (Korond), world-renowned for its ceramic pottery, has a population that is 96.7% Hungarian with 3% Roma (Gypsies).Romanian nationalists insist, despite facts to the contrary, that Romania is a unitary state. Furthering this advocacy, ADAC, a Romanian association led by Dan Tanasă, sued over half a dozen predominantly Hungarian ethnic municipalities over the use and display of the sign Községháza on their principal building. Recently, the county court of Hargitha (Hargita), which handled the Corund (Korond) case, ruled that displaying the sign Községháza is illegal since there is no Romanian word for it; and the court gave Corund (Korond) thirty days to remove the sign and obligated the municipality to pay the legal expenses of ADAC, the plaintiff. Local opinion is widely shared that multiculturalism, advocated by the EU, is still a prospect for the future in Transylvania.

Hungarian Days Celebrated in Cluj (Kolozsvár):Hungarian Days Celebrated in Cluj (Kolozsvár):
For the seventh year in a row, a festival lasting eight days was held in August 2016, in Cluj (Kolozsvár). It offered a variety of programs including literary, film, gastronomical, dance and children's programs. The opera by Ferenc Erkel, Hunyadi Lászlό, and several concerts by well-known rock bands received an enthusiastic reception.

The song, "I Hate the 20th Century" by the band Beatrice, was used by opponents of the festival to try to label it in an unfavorable light.  Images of Hitler and Stalin were projected onto the screen while the song was performed. The accusers labeled it a criminal act. The police were notified by Romanian media and some locals. The police investigated the matter and concluded that the complaint was without merit. The law (4th clause of the 2002/31 government decree) permits such image projections for "artistic purposes." The lawsuit was another attempt to harm the Hungarian minority.

Restitution of Hungarian Properties in Limbo:
A quarter of a century after regime change, the restitution of illegally seized and used property is still unresolved. In fact, the Romanian state even seeks to renationalize some of the returned properties. A pertinent example is the ongoing process regarding the restitution of the Batthyáneum library of Alba Iula (Gyulafehérvár). The restitution was put on hold by the judge handling the case, who requires that the last will and testament of Bishop Ignác Batthyány, who deeded the property as dated July 31, 1798, be translated by someone who is not only an expert in Latin but also a medieval expert. As yet, no such expert has been found.

Significantly, the government decreed that all restitution processes must be completed by December 31, 2016.

U.S. Ambassador’s Visit was an intitial Encouragement:
Hans Klemm, the U.S. ambassador to Romania, was invited by leaders of the counties of Transylvania where a considerable portion of the 1.2 million of ethnic Hungarians live. He was photographed with his hosts as he was received and posed with them with the Szekler flag.  Immediately, the Romanian media and the government expressed its displeasure. Rareş Bogdan, known for his anti-Hungarian pronouncements and anchorman on News-TV, also expressed his displeasure.  Another channel, B1 TV, urged the government to express its affront as did Bogdan Diaconu, the head of the large political party PRU (Partidul România Unită). The former mayor of Cluj (Kolozsvár), Gheorghe Funar, claimed that the ambassador deeply offended the Romanian constitution and people. Diaconu also reiterated that Szeklerland does not exist.

Regrettably Ambassador Klemm has since followed his earlier courageous act of being photographed with the Szekely flag by reportedly saying that Romania has become a model in the region with respect to democracy and open governance, including the observance of the rights of minorities. AHF will check the accuracy of the report and, if necessary to correct the record, will respond accordingly.

Events provoked reaction outside of Romania. The AHF (American Hungarian Federation) congratulated the ambassador congratulated the ambassador while there were others, like HFP (Hungarian Free Press), that erroneously tried to associate the Szekler flag with right-wing politics. In fact, the flag is cherished by ethnic Hungarians throughout Transylvania. It is a reminder that minorities in multicultural Europe wish to retain their cultural values. The EU certainly supports such aspirations.

There is a constant effort by the authorities to wipe out any reference to the sizeable minorities in Romania. This also includes the substantial Roma (Gypsy) communities.

A Glimpse into the Past as It Used to be:
BBC commentator Michael Portillo retraced George Bradshaw's journey through Transylvania as described in the latter's rail travelogue published in 1913. From Transylvania to the Black Sea, a part of the Great Continental Railway Journey, is accessible through the Telegraph.co.uk Web site. Portillo remarked that not much has changed in a hundred years. The virgin beauty of the landscape and the presence of wild animals, unusual for Europe today, is a frequent occurrence. Of Europe's regions, Transylvania has the largest numbers of brown bears and wolves.
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Contributed by Csaba K. Zoltani, editor of Transylvania Today: Diversity at Risk. (2013), for the American Hungarian Foundation (AHF)

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In 2004, the Szekler National Council (SNC) created an emblem for the Szeklers of Transylvania, the descendants of the original Hungarian settlers. On a light blue background with a horizontal gold bar in the middle and an eight pronged gold star representing the eight Szekler regional jurisdictions and with the crescent moon next to it symbolizing the Szekler belief of a better future. The symbolism is derived from a 1659 seal of the National Assembly of Transylvania.Founded over 100 years ago, the American Hungarian Federation (“AHF”) has for decades promoted human and minority rights, including the rights of Hungarians living in the countries neighboring Hungary.

AHF's International Relations Committee is proud to announce, consistent with andin furtherance of its continuing and long-standing tradition and mission, AHF launched a new initiative -- quarterly, brief updates relating to the Hungarian minority in Transylvania.

Shortcuts

Why So Many Hungarians Across the Border?

How Hungary Shrank: Ostensibly in the name of national self-determination, the Treaty dismembered the thousand-year-old Kingdom of Hungary, a self-contained, geographically and economically coherent and durable formation in the Carpathian Basin and boasting the longest lasting historical borders in Europe. It was imposed on Hungary without any negotiation, drawing artificial borders in gross violation of the ethnic principle, it also transferred over three million indigenous ethnic Hungarians and over 70% of the country's territory to foreign rule.One thousand years of nation building successfully delineated groups based on culture, religion, geography, and other attributes to create the countries with which we are so familiar. While some Western European nations would continue power struggles and princely battles and civil wars, Hungary, founded in 896, was a peaceful multi-ethnic state for a 1000 years and her borders were virtually unchanged. Until 1920...

The Treaty of Trianon in 1920... in the aftermath of WWI, was extremely harsh on Hungary and unjustifiably one-sided. The resulting "treaty" lost Hungary an unprecedented 2/3 of her territory, and 1/2 of her total population or 1/3 of her Hungarian-speaking population. Add to this the loss of up to 90% of vast natural resources, industry, railways, and other infrastructure. The clear winner of the land grab, was Rumania, who, established only 60 years earlier, more than doubled in size overnight.

Ethnic Distribution in the Kingdom of Hungary in 1910 (Hungarians shown in red)

Ethnic Distribution in the Kingdom of Hungary in 1910 (Hungarians shown in red)
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Hungarian populations declined significantly after forced removals such as the Benes Decrees and other pograms, the effects of WWI, and Trianon in 1920. With continued pressure and discriminative policies such as the 2009 Slovak Language Law, this trend continued over the past 90 years.

Hungarian populations declined significantly after forced removals such as the Benes Decrees and other pograms, the effects of WWI, and Trianon in 1920. With continued pressure and discriminative policies sucha s the 2009 Slovak Language Law, this trend continued over the past 90 years.

  • In Upper Hungary (awarded to Slovakia, Czechoslovakia): 1,687,977 Slovaks and 1,233,454 others (mostly Hungarians - 886,044, Germans, Ruthenians and Roma) [according to the 1921 census, however, there were 1,941,942 Slovaks and 1,058,928 others]
  • In Carpathian Ruthenia (awarded to Czechoslovakia): 330,010 Ruthenians and 275,932 others (mostly Hungarians, Germans, Romanians, and Slovaks)
  • In Transylvania (awarded to Romania): 2,831,222 Romanians (53.8%) and 2,431,273 others (mostly Hungarians - 1,662,948 (31.6%) and Germans - 563,087 (10.7%)). The 1919 and 1920 Transylvanian censuses indicate a greater percentage of Romanians (57.1%/57.3%) and a smaller Hungarian minority (26.5%/25.5%)
  • In Vojvodina 510,754 Serbs and 1,002,229 others (mostly Hungarians 425,672 and Germans 324,017)
  • In Vojvodina and Croatia-Slavonia combined (awarded to Yugoslavia): 2,756,000 Croats and Serbs and 1,366,000 others (mostly Hungarians and Germans)
  • In Burgenland (awarded to Austria): 217,072 Germans and 69,858 others (mainly Croatian and Hungarian)

[read more on the Treaty of Trianon]

AHF Statements on Trianon:

Selected AHF Articles on Rumania:

  • Romania: Diversity at Risk6/17/2014 - AHF Book Review: "Transylvania Today: Diversity at Risk," edited by Csaba Zoltani. Written by noted experts, describes the issues faced by minorities in Transylvania in their effort to retain their identity in an adverse environment. The essays of the book capture some of the fault lines in Transylvania, created by the incorporation of a territory with western traditions into one of Byzantine culture. Minorities, according to the official census, constitute nearly one-quarter of the population of Romania. Contributors include Amb. Geza Jeszenszky, Prof. Andrew Ludanyi, Tilhamer Czika, Viktor Segesvary, and Andreas Bereznay. [read more]

  • Congressmen Frank R.Wolf (R-VA) and James P. McGovern (D-MA), Co-Chairmen of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the United States Congress, today sent a letter to Traian Basescu, President of Romania, in connection with Bishop Tokes and the threatened revocation of the Order of the Star of Romania.Congressmen Frank R.Wolf (R-VA) and James P. McGovern (D-MA), Co-Chairmen of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the United States Congress, echo AHF's call, and send a letter to Traian Basescu, President of Romania, in connection with Bishop Tokes and the threatened revocation of the Order of the Star of Romania. [read more]

    Amerikai képviselők tiltakoznak Tőkés László miatt Amerikai képviselők tiltakoznak Tőkés László miatt: Frank Wolf és James McGovern amerikai kongresszusi képviselők, a Tom Lantos emberjogi bizottság társelnökei tiltakozó levelet küldtek Traian Basescu román elnöknek, amiért Tőkés László kitüntetését Románia visszavette. [tovább]

    Demonstrators against Rumania's planned destruction of churches, cemeteries, homes and displacing an entire village to make room for one-mile-wide, open-pit cyanide mine.1/15/2014 - In 2009, PBS Television presented a documentary film on the planned open pit cyanide gold mine at Verespatak in Transylvania, now called Rosia Montana. In 2014, the Unitarian Church of Transylvania produced this English-language video entitled "Life over Gold - a Unitarian stand for Roşia Montană." [read more] and view both videos.


    Romania withdraws the Knight's Order of the "Star of Romania" from hero of the Romanian Revolution, Bishop László Tőkés.11/24/2013 - Romania revokes the Knight's Order of the "Star of Romania" from hero of the Romanian Revolution, Bishop László Tőkés. AHF writes to the US Helsinki Commission on this latest anti-Hungarian measure: "The Federation respectfully and strongly urges you  to publicly on behalf of the Helsinki Commission raise Romania’s most recent anti-Hungarian  phenomenon – the revocation of the Medal Star of Romania previously awarded Bishop Laszlo Tokes for his extraordinarily courageous  role in toppling the Ceaucescu dictatorship during the 1989 revolution.  And what was Bishop Tokes’s transgression resulting in the revocation? Exercising his constitutional rights by standing up for the interests of the Hungarian minority in Romania.  The revocation should be reversed." The revocation comes years of a coordinated smear campaign against him. [read more]

    Tőkés kitüntetése - Az amerikai Helsinki Bizottsághoz fordult az Amerikai Magyar SzövetségTőkés kitüntetése - Az amerikai Helsinki Bizottsághoz fordult az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség (Forrás: MTI | 2013. november 25)
    Levélben sürgette az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség (AMSZ) elnöke az amerikai Helsinki Bizottság két társelnökét, hogy mint az emberi jogok megsértését és magyarellenes jelenséget nyilvánosan vessék fel az általuk vezetett testület nevében, hogy semmisítsék meg Tőkés László kitüntetésének visszavonását. [tovább]


    AHF submits memorandum to US Helsinki Commission in follow up to both the Congressional letter to Secretary John Kerry requesting that the “State Department vigorously engage the Romanian government to end the travesty of justice which it has perpetuated by failing to fully restitute properties illegally confiscated from religious denominations after 1945" and AHF's April 25th meeting with the Commission during which AHF expressed its deep concern about threats to democracy and human rights arising from discriminatory actions and policies affecting members of the Hungarian minority in some of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.6/19/2013 - AHF submits memorandum to US Helsinki Commission in follow up to both the Congressional letter to Secretary John Kerry requesting that the “State Department vigorously engage the Romanian government to end the travesty of justice which it has perpetuated by failing to fully restitute properties illegally confiscated from religious denominations after 1945" and AHF's April 25th meeting with the Commission during which AHF expressed its deep concern about threats to democracy and human rights arising from discriminatory actions and policies affecting members of the Hungarian minority in some of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. [read more]

    Kiállást vár az amerikai Helsinki Bizottságtól az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség6/19/2013 - Kiállást vár az amerikai Helsinki Bizottságtól az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség: Az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség feljegyzésben szólította fel ismételten a szervezetet, hogy június 27-ig "nyilvánosan és bizalmasan is vesse fel" a romániai egyházi és közösségi javak, beleértve a levéltárak igazságos és azonnali visszaszolgáltatásának kérdését. [tovább]

    John Kerry és a Helsinki Bizottság segíthet a magyaroknak6/19/2013 - Kiállást vár az amerikai Helsinki Bizottságtól az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség: Az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség feljegyzésben szólította fel ismételten a szervezetet, hogy június 27-ig "nyilvánosan és bizalmasan is vesse fel" a romániai egyházi és közösségi javak, beleértve a levéltárak igazságos és azonnali visszaszolgáltatásának kérdését. [tovább]

  • AHF expresses concerns for Hungarian Minority in Rumania to Vice President Joe Biden

  • The American Hungarian Federation urged Vice President Biden to discuss policies with his 'Romanian interlocutors that they should adopt to strengthen Romania's democratic institutions and respect the rights of its Hungarian minority' during his trip to Romania.1/12/10 -- The American Hungarian Federation urged Vice President Biden to discuss policies with his "Romanian interlocutors that they should adopt to strengthen Romania's democratic institutions and respect the rights of its Hungarian minority"  during his trip to Romania. Frank Koszorus, Jr., co-president and chairman of the Federation's International Relations Committee reports, "We understand that issues relating to the Hungarian minority were raised." [Read more] The letter to the Vice President included a statement on AHF's concerns for the Hungarian minority in Transylvania.
  • How Hungary Shrank: Ostensibly in the name of national self-determination, the Treaty dismembered the thousand-year-old Kingdom of Hungary, a self-contained, geographically and economically coherent and durable formation in the Carpathian Basin and boasting the longest lasting historical borders in Europe. It was imposed on Hungary without any negotiation by vengeful leaders who were ignorant or ignored the region’s history, and mercilessly tore that country apart. By drawing artificial borders in gross violation of the ethnic principle, it also transferred over three million indigenous ethnic Hungarians and over 70% of the country's territory to foreign rule.4/7/2010 -- AHF article on Autonomy for Romania's Hungarian Communities published in Foreign Policy Review...The article entitled, "Autonomy:  The Path to Democracy and Stability in Romania," makes a compelling case for the recognition of autonomy as a means of strengthening democracy and stability in Romania. [read more]

  • AHF Reacts to Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, who questioned democracy in Hungary and criticized expressions of concern for Hungarian minorities.AHF Reacts to Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, who questioned democracy in Hungary and criticized expressions of concern for Hungarian minorities. AHF's letter expressed its steadfast conviction that judgments be "objective, fair, balanced and based on facts and not generalizations and speculation." It also urged the Helsinki Commission not to ignore the Hungarian minorities but to publicly and privately encourage Slovakia and Romania "to build tolerant societies by respecting the rights of their Hungarian and other minorities and the rule of law." [read more]

    Levélben fordult az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség (AHF) Benjamin Cardin demokrata párti amerikai szenátorhoz, aki a múlt héten a Kongresszusi Közlönyben Magyarországgal kapcsolatos nyilatkozatot tett közzé.Levelet írt az egyik szenátornak az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség [tovább]

    Miért támadja Magyarországot az amerikai szenátor? [tovább]

    American-Hungarian federation strike back at US senator over critical comments, by MTIAmerican-Hungarian federation strike back at US senator... [read more]

  • AHF Concerns related to the Hungarian Minority in Transylvania
  • Controversy at the Babes-Bolyai State University
  • Church and Synagogue Property Confiscation
  • "There are no Nationalities in Romania" The American Hungarian Federation Co-Hosts Lecture by Bishop Arpad Szabo from Kolozsvar
  • Révai Miklós emléktábla Nagycsanádon
  • Rumania's Basescu in the US
  • AHF on Dual Citizenship for Hungarians
  • The Csango Hungarians of Moldavia
  • The Tragedy of the Treaty of Trianon
  • An Essay on the foundations of Rumanian Identity, Nationalism and Ethnic Cleansing - CONCEPTUAL CONFUSIONS CONCERNING THE ROMANIAN IDENTITY: NEAM AND POPOR AS EXPRESSIONS OF ETHNO-NATIONALISM (PART 3) - "...the motivation and the goal was common: racially determined mass murder." (Appeared in RFE/RFL Newsline, 6/5/2005 By Victor Neumann, professor of history at the West University of Timisoara, Romania.) [download]

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Articles and Essays by AHF Members

  • "NATO Enlargement" by Frank Koszorus Jr. March 29, 2004
    Remarks on the Occasion of the Enlargement of NATO, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. [download]
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  • "Nato Enlargement And Minority Rights: Prerequisites To Security" by Frank Koszorus, Jr., April 2003
    A memorandum that was submitted to Robert A. Bradtke, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, and Heather A. Conley, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs during a roundtable discussion on "NATO Enlargement and the Current State of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance." This submission follows several other intiatives, including submissions to Lord Roberston, Secretary General of NATO. [download]
    ---
  • “Nato Enlargement: Promoting Western Values, Strengthening The Alliance” by Frank Koszorus, Jr., April 29, 2003
    A Statement Before The United States Senate Committee On Foreign Relations.
    [download]
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  • "U.S. Senate Unanimously Ratifies Nato Treaty; Senators Raise Rights Of Minorities: Federation Supports Efforts Aimed At Encouraging Romania And Slovakia To Respect Rights Of Hungarian Minorities And Restore Communal Properties" - Press Release by Zoltan Bagdy, May 9, 2003 [download]

Congressional Resolutions and Records

  • H.RES 191 - A RESOLUTION urging the "prompt and fair restitution of church properties by Romania and Slovakia - TOM LANTOS / TOM TANCREDO (April 6th 2005) in the House of Representatives [download]
  • A RESOLUTION REGARDING THE ISSUE OF TRANSYLVANIAN HUNGARIANS -- HON. DONALD E. `BUZ' LUKENS (Extension of Remarks - February 26, 1990) in the House of Representatives [download]
  • VIOLENCE IN TRANSYLVANIA -- HON. DON RITTER (Extension of Remarks - March 22, 1990) in the House of Representatives [download]
  • Transylvanian Monitor #14: Property Restitution.
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