Hungarian American Coalition Participates in Bucharest Conference: “The Romanian Model of Ethnic Relations: The Last Ten Years, The Next Ten Years”

Washington, DC – On July 7-8, 2000 in Bucharest, Romania the Hungarian American Coalition participated in a conference devoted to the treatment of minorities in the Romanian political system.

Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu of Romania stressed the importance of analyzing the model on interethnic relations as an alternative to the Milosevic “model” on ethnic cleansing and minority oppression in former Yugoslavia.

U.S. Ambassador James C. Rosapepe said that “the forces of democratization in Romania were healthy even if there are significant problems that have to be addressed.”

Participants included representatives of the government coalition, of significant opposition parties, the numerically most important minorities of Romania, scholars and human rights activists from Western Europe and the United States, (U.S. Congressmen: Rep. Joe Pitts, R. from PA and Rep. Benjamin Cardin, D. from MD), Foreign Minister Petre Roman, as well as other important officials, including Teodor Melescanu, György Tokay, Hildegard Puwak, and Horia Rusu.

The first panel, which focused on the international context of Romania’s policies toward its minorities, was moderated by Carl Siebentritt, former Consul at the US Embassy-Cluj/Kolozsvár Office. The panel included presentations from representatives of the Helsinki Committee of Romania, Gabriel Andreescu, the Swiss Ambassador to Romania, Jean-Claude Joseph, and NGO representatives from the United States, Armand Scala (President of the Congress of Romanian Americans), and Andrew Ludanyi (Hungarian American Coalition).

Andrew Ludanyi of the Hungarian American Coalition stressed that because Romania is home to two million co-nationals the Hungarian-American community has its own window of concern regarding Romania’s treatment of its minorities. Ludanyi stated that: “The leading elements of Romanian society must become more committed to defending the rights and the interests of all. Politics must become a win-win proposition, and not just a winner-take-all process. It is the responsibility of the Romanian elite to communicate this to the rest of society, because Romania as a whole has everything to gain by becoming a positive model.”

The conference’s sponsors were USAID, the Ethnocultural Diversity Resource Center, World Learning, and the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest.

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