Language Communities favourable to Romanian FCNM State Report

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Jul 8 14:04:03 UTC 2005

Language communities favourable to Romanian FCNM State Report

Kolozsvr/ Cluj 6/23/2005 , by Aron Ballo

Initial reactions from minority-language speaking communities in Romania
find the second state report of the Framework Convention for the
Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) submitted by Romania to the
Council of Europe (CoE)to be satisfactory and realistic. It is now up to
the Advisory Committee to consider it and adopt an opinion intended for
the Committee of Ministers. The report finds a general improvement in the
legal framework and administrative capacity regarding ethnic minorities,
especially in connection with language usage, education and political
representation possibilities.

The report also shows a decline in minority-language speakers in 15 cases
out of a total of 20 minority groups.  Generally [fewer] people declared
themselves as belonging to an ethnic minority in 2002, compared to 1992.
At the same time, [fewer] people declared their native language as being a
minority one. There are 20 ethnic minorities in Romania. The report only
quotes the ethnic identity data and not the ones on mother tongue when it
compares the 1992 figures to the 2002 ones. According to this, in five
cases out of 20, the number of persons belonging to an ethnic minority
increased (Roma, Turks, Croats, Greeks and Italians).

In all other cases their number dropped. For example, the number of those
declaring themselves as ethnic Hungarians fell by nearly 200,000 (from
1,624,959 to 1,431, 807). This decline happened for a number of reasons:
emigration, working abroad, negative birth rate, ethnic assimilation, and
the different method of registering one's ethnic identity according to EU
standards in 2002 compared to 1992. There were also cases such as in
Kolozsvr/ Cluj where the nationalist Mayor, Gheorghe Funar, was in charge
of the census committee and where his employees tried to falsify ethnic

A draft version of the report was circulated by the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MAE) among the national minority leaders for opinions last year.
Because no reaction came, the Ministry and the Department for Inter-Ethnic
Relations (DRI) of the Government organized a meeting with them in March.
At this meeting, DRI President and State Secretary, Mr Attila Mark,
managed to postpone the sending of the report to the CoE, because it only
reflected the minority situation in Romania up to November 2004. Then,
parliamentary elections had overthrown the former ruling party and the new
Government Programme meant a favourable turn in Romanian minority policy.

Mark asked for the reports completion to include the new situation taking
into consideration that such a report was made every fifth year. "I am
content with the present report, because it has included my completing
remarks", Mark told Eurolang, "especially the ones that meant an answer to
the observations of the Committee of Ministers to the last report made
five years ago. Those remarks focused first of all on the necessity of
improving the situation in the field of minority-language media and
education. I suggested including the fact that more minority-language
schools had been set up, especially for the Csangos in Romanian Moldavia,
and that the media situation had improved as well."

No other minority group expressed its written view regarding the report,
except for the ethnic Italians, Czechs and Slovaks, who found it
satisfactory. Mark, who admitted he had not seen the report before
submission again since that meeting, said the document described the
minority situation in Romania without trying to be euphemistic. He found
that the state of these minorities was not ideal, but not as bad as in
France or Greece. The Advisory Committee will analyse the report and send
its view on it to the Committee of Ministers who are then expected to
adopt a resolution with the final conclusions. (Eurolang 2005)


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