MINELRES: Romania: Ethnic Diversity Briefs, No.39

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.delfi.lv
Tue Jan 21 07:19:51 2003


Original sender: Mediafax <divers@mediafax.ro>


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No. 39 / January 20, 2003

DIVERS
- reporting ethnic diversity -

SUMMARY

1. UDMR BASICALLY TO CONTINUE COOPERATION WITH PSD...
2. ...HINDERS PLANS TO REVISE CONSTITUTION
3. DISPUTES INSIDE UDMR TO CONTINUE
4. ROMA PEOPLE IN FAVOR OF SOCIOLOGY FACULTY

FEATURE
5. UN SAYS EUROPEAN ROMA FACE DISCRIMINATION

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UDMR BASICALLY TO CONTINUE COOPERATION WITH PSD...
BUCHAREST - Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), as a
main, accounts on carrying on the cooperation with ruling Party of
Social Democracy (PSD) also in year 2003, stated on January 9, the UDMR
chairman Marko Bela. He also pointed out that "it would be fair" for PSD
and UDMR to succeed in singing a new protocol, in this respect, by early
of February. The Hungarian Union aims for the 2003 protocol at "focusing
a lot" on regional development and on infrastructure from Transylvania,
on education and on setting up some chairs and faculties in Magyar
language at Babes-Bolyai University from Cluj. The establishment of
public University in Magyar language stands for one of UDMR's grievances
and "we are confident that we will succeed in accomplishing this issue
sooner or later", added UDMR leader, who also indicated such a matter is
not part of 2003 protocol. (DIVERS)

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...HINDERS PLANS TO REVISE CONSTITUTION
BUCHAREST - The ambition of The Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania to
eliminate the phrase national state from the 1st article of The
Constitution of Romania and to push for the introduction of the use of
minority languages in the justice system have become a liability for the
plans to revise The Constitution this year. Despite numerous rounds of
negotiation between the Hungarian ethnic party and the ruling Social
Democratic Party, no progress has been made on this issue, with the
former threatening to vote against the future version of the
Constitution if its demands are not met. UDMR Chairman Bela Marko
reiterated on 13 January that the formation will refuse to support
envisaged constitutional amendments in parliament unless its own
proposals are taken into consideration, RFE/RL reported. Marko said the
UDMR wants a clearer definition of the concept of national minorities
included in the amended constitution, which should also stipulate their
right to use their mother tongues in contacts with local
administrations. (DIVERS)

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DISPUTES INSIDE UDMR TO CONTINUE
CLUJ-NAPOCA - Tibor Toro, leader of the Reform Bloc in the UDMR, warned
on 13 January that the formation might split at the UDMR congress, which
is scheduled for 30 January-1 February in Satu-Mare, RFE/RL reports.
Toro said that in the 12 years that have passed since the UDMR was set
up, the Szeklers - many of whom back the bloc - were "merely given the
right to vote, but not the right to choose," since the UDMR leadership
has remained the same. Toro called for replacing "majoritarian
democracy" inside the UDMR with "consensual democracy." The Reform Bloc
is boycotting the next UDMR congress, claiming, as Toro put it on 13
January, that "the [electoral] game is over before it started" because
no internal elections were held ahead of the gathering. Marko responded
that the Reform Bloc is undergoing a "profound crisis" and its leaders
are trying to "expand it at the UDMR's general level in order to solve
their internal problems." He added that he would regret if some members
of the Union would make the decision of leaving this party or would not
attend the Congress. Marko expressed his conviction that UDMR needs all
the opinion trends and all the doctrines, also appreciating as
"bellicose" the statements made by some of the Union's members. (DIVERS)

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ROMA PEOPLE IN FAVOR OF SOCIOLOGY FACULTY
BUCHAREST - Roma candidates enrolled on special seats at Bucharest
University mostly directed to the faculty of Sociology and Social
Service, according to RomaNews agency. Ten students submitted for this
faculty, while as for the Foreign Languages Faculty (Romani language as
minor) seven students got enrolled. The Faculty of Letters and
respectively the Journalism faculty have three Roma students enrolled,
yet the Theology Faculty only one. In addition, the Roma candidates
showed a lot of interest in training teachers' programme with Romani
language as major, which is organized by the Teacher Training College.
(DIVERS)

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FEATURE

UN SAYS EUROPEAN ROMA FACE DISCRIMINATION
A United Nations report has warned that Roma, or gypsies, in central and
eastern Europe endure living conditions closer to those in sub-Saharan
Africa than to Europe, BBC reports. One in six said they were constantly
starving, while one in three Roma children failed to complete elementary
school The report, by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), calls on five
countries in the region to do more to tackle poverty and discrimination
among the Roma community. The countries - Hungary, the Czech Republic,
Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania - are all scheduled to join the European
Union. The Roma are the biggest ethnic minority in central and eastern
Europe, estimated at about five million people. They are also the
poorest of the poor.

Starvation
The UNDP report says that living conditions for most Roma are closer to
countries like Zimbabwe or Botswana. More than half of those questioned
in the survey said they went hungry at least a few days every year. One
in six said they were constantly starving, while one in three Roma
children failed to complete elementary school. But, despite low levels
of education and discrimination by employers, the report disputes the
staggering rates of unemployment often quoted in the media. It has been
reported that 20% of Roma were formally employed, while another 20%
worked in the shadow economy. But in some countries, up to 70% of Roma
households live on state welfare.

Distrust
As Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia prepare to join the EU next
year, and Romania and Bulgaria in 2007, many in Europe see this
impoverished but fast-growing population as a potential source of crime
and illegal immigration. The report calls for free textbooks and hot
meals in schools for Roma children, positive discrimination in local
government and more incentives to seek jobs. The EU has already spent
almost $70m to improve the plight of the Roma. But many of them remain
unaware of any aid programme, distrust even their own leaders and refuse
to carry national ID cards. It is also unclear how many Roma actually
live in central and eastern Europe, since, according to the report, half
of them routinely claim to be part of another ethnic group.

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DIVERS is a weekly news bulletin edited by the Mediafax News Agency
with financial support from
Ethnocultural Diversity Resource Center (EDRC) in Cluj.
For now, the full version of the bulletin is only available in
Romanian and can be found at www.divers.ro
e-mail: divers@mediafax.ro