Blog

Ceausescu’s ghost alive and well in Székelyföld

The title may be provocative, but how else to explain why a group of Romanians residing in Transylvania would oppose by all means – even to the extent of going to court against their own government – the development of a crumbling stadium, which is home to not one, but two sports teams bringing international recognition to the country.

How else would one explain that the Civic Forum of Romanians from Covasna, Hargita and Mureş Counties (or Forumului Civic al Românilor din Covasna, Harghita şi Mureş, also known as FCRCHM), which also benefits when the region sees improvement, is fighting against these developments in Székelyföld?

During the communist period – and especially during Ceauşescu’s reign – the country was kept in darkness. Not only were human rights not respected at all, but development was stopped, especially in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities. The frightful Securitate dominated everywhere. Dreadful high-rises sprung up destroying towns and villages and their historic street scenes. Aside from Ceaşescu’s two, pet projects – the Casa Poporului, now home to the Romanian Parliament and the second biggest building in the world, and the never-finished canal to the Danube Delta, both of which are outside the region of Transylvania – no tangible, let alone lasting, investment was made.

Romania is a country that cannot come up with money for infrastructure. We do not have motorways. Our schools and our churches are restored by EU funds. Hungary also subsidizes these restoration projects, making a meaningful contribution to the quality of life in these communities.

So, what prompted the revival of Ceauşescu’s ghost? You’d never guess. It’s a place where football and basketball champions have brought fame to Sepsiszentgörgy/Sfântu Gheorghe and to the whole country. Yes, a sports facility. A stadium.

The Civic Forum of Romanians, which allegedly has its roots in the former communist leadership (one of their members was a local leader of Ceauşescu’s Communist Party), is fighting against the development of the stadium and seems determined to prevent the local council from investing in its infrastructure. By opposing it, the group is effectively robbing local residents of a sports facility and the local teams from bringing success and pride to Sepiszentgyörgy.

Yes, they are working against their own country. Unfortunately, they also seem to have the means to do so. At the end of last year, the Romanian state transferred administrative authority over the stadium to the Sepsiszentgyörgy/Sfântu Gheorghe municipality. There were two reasons: the stadium was in urgent need of repair, and the government had no money to pay for it; and secondly, two internationally acclaimed sports teams in Sepiszentgyörgy – a football team, Sepsi OSK, and a basketball team, Sepsi Sic – needed a sports facility for training and a place to host their games. The city council has the means and the will to invest in the stadium as Antal Áprád, the mayor of Sepiszentgörgy, has declared a number of times.

But it’s not so easy. Civic Forum of Romanians from Covasna, Hargita and Mureş Counties have challenged the state’s decision in court. So, yet again, Ceauşescu’s ghost is applauding. Ceauşescu wanted all decisions to be centralized. He wanted to decide personally about anything and everything and to keep the people in cold and darkness. In most civilised countries, such sports facilities are maintained either by local councils or private clubs. But this particular “civic forum” wants to return to communist times. Preferring to live in misery, they’d rather have a slowly crumbling sports facility rob their children from enjoying a healthy life than to see a new sports arena in the hands of the Hungarian-led municipal council.

You have probably read about the problems with the Romanian legal system. Well, let me add one more thing: as I already mentioned in a previous blog post, “One of the main problems arises from the fact that in Hungarian-inhabited areas the judges, public prosecutors and policemen are all Romanians, and their working language is exclusively Romanian. In 2013 in Covasna County, for example, out of 55 judges, only five were Hungarian-speaking, and among the 50 public prosecutors, only two spoke Hungarian. In the local police force, 95 percent spoke only Romanian.”

Could this be the reason that the Civic Forum hopes that the court will stop the local council of Sepiszentgyörgy from having the authority to manage the stadium and invest in it?

Beyond the stadium, there is a more general problem with the representation of the Hungarian minority in public administration. While the 1.2 million ethnic Hungarians make up 6.5 percent of the country’s population, there are only 3 to 3.5 percent Hungarian-speaking employees in public administration. This is blatant discrimination. It’s also clearly discrimination that this Civic Forum never challenged decisions that gave sports facilities over to local authorities in other areas of Romania. In those cases, they do not want to go to court. Apparently, they have a problem only in the municipalities of Székelyföld, when the council wants to do something good for its citizens.

Beyond their clear bias against one particular minority group, they seem oblivious to the indisputable fact that whatever is built, improved or upgraded in Moldova, Transylvania or other region of the country ultimately benefits the entire country.

Ceauşescu would certainly be proud of them. Or is there someone else who is helping them today? Well, be that as it may, let us assure the Civic Forum and its cronies from the communist past: Transylvania and Székelyföld are our home and we are not going anywhere. We want our homeland to develop, so we can all live better, and we are going to use every penny – given by the EU, Hungary or anyone else with good intentions – to enjoy a healthy and prosperous life.