UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues visited Transylvania

- Press releases

UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues Fernand de Varennes visited Transylvania, Romania between 4-6 December 2018 to take part in the conference Hungarian Minority Communities: Struggles and Opportunities, on the invitation of the FUEN – Federal Union of European Nationalities and the MACISZESZ Transylvanian Alliance of Hungarian NGOs.

During his visit in Cluj-Napoca/Kolozsvár and Târgu Mureș/Marosvásárhely the Special Rapporteur raised awareness of his office’s mission and priorities and also gathered information on the local minority communities. At the conference at the Sapientia Hungarian Science University of Transylvania in Kolozsvár the leaders of the Hungarian communities from the Ukraine, Slovakia, Serbia and Transylvania presented the situation of their communities and a discussion about the application of language rights on practice took place with representatives of NGOs and researchers. At the Palace of Culture in Marosvásárhely the Hungarian school system from Romania was presented by specialists in the field, institutional leaders from public schools, rectors and deans of the five universities with Hungarian lines of study and student organisation leaders. Mr. Varennes also had a side meeting with the bishops of the historical Hungarian churches of Transylvania, who informed him about the restitution of church properties. Although Romania has a restitution law of properties confiscated by the communist regime to their rightful owners, there are severe problems as the process is practically stopped since 2010, and court decisions even took away already restituted buildings.

The community’s leaders made it clear: Romania has several good pieces of legislation on the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, many steps were taken in the right direction before Romania joined the EU and the NATO, but these laws are not always applied. This is specially true for the use of minority languages in the public administration, justice and in education.

The three-day visit of the UN Special Rapporteur concluded with a press conference. Fernand de Varennes explained to the journalists that although he is not here to comment on what he had learned, he can say that generally speaking there is always room for improvement in the field of minority rights.

The Special Raporteur  mentioned that education in minority languges is a hot topic right now, as next year the UN will organise three regional forums in Europe, Asia and Northern Africa on this issue, followed by a conference in Geneva in November. Mr. de Varennes specified that it is part of his mandate to clarify what are the human rights of minorities in language use and education. He invited FUEN to become a partner in preparing and organising the European UN forum, which will take place in Brussels in May 2019, as he considers the international minority organisation’s decades of expertise in the field an important added value.

„The visit of Mr. de Varennes was an excellent opportunity for the community to inform the UN and the Special Rapporteur of the problems they are facing. Next year his office will focus on the human rights of minorities in education, organising forums and conferences on this topic, so these meetings will also be helpful for the Hungarian community to get prepared with a clear message for these events” – said FUEN President Loránt Vincze.

Key Topics

  • Political Participation
  • Fundamental Rights
  • Linguistic Diversity
  • Solidarity with the Roma
  • European Citizens' Initiative
  • European Network
  • Forum of the European Minorities / House of Minorities


More photos at Flickr