No agreement on minority rights will turn fools into better people

Author: Honza Cerny
Location: Usti nad Labem
I went to Romania as a member of a Czech delegation to participate in a seminar on the protection of minorities. The seminar was organized under the auspices of the Romanian government and the EU and took place in Praedal, a beautiful Transylvanian town.
Most of the fifty-odd participants were notorious conference travelers. And most of the time we traveled around and ate. Of the four days scheduled, only one and a half were devoted to discussions about minority problems and institutional support for minorities. We also had a trip scheduled to visit the Hungarian minority living in Romania.
The town was very nice. We saw signs on shops in both Romanian and Hungarian and other evidence that the Romanian government has a positive to the Hungarian minority. We were also going to visit a local museum which presented the history of the Hungarian minority in this part of Romania.
We were taken by luxurious coaches to the entrance to the museum, where we were welcomed by the local representatives and, surprisingly, one Rom dressed in an old dark suit and a worn but carefully ironed and snow-white shirt. In broken English supported by some German words, he tried to address people getting off the coach. Nobody paid much attention to him. I saw that the officials would have loved to get rid of him, and didn’t want him bothering the guests.
To me he looked very interesting.
I was among the last to get out. He approached me and asked whether I spoke English. I nodded.
His English was quite bad and he kept using more and more Hungarian and Romanian words. I did not understand very much and at first had no idea of what he was up to. The three Czechs there, two other people and myself, decided to take him in with us. I wanted to know what he wanted and inside there were people who could translate from Hungarian to English.
No way, though. Our hosts refused to let the Rom guy in. “He will stay outside,” they said.
So we, a colleague and I, stayed outside with him. Later, we were joined by a Slovak colleague who spoke Hungarian and could translate.
The guy told us about how much discrimination there was against the Hungarian Roma. The Hungarians are a minority, he said, but Hungarian Roma are considered a sub-minority. The Hungarian Roma are counted as a part of the Hungarian minority just to increase the head count, but the Hungarians do not like the Roma and consider them uneducated and without a culture. He spoke of difficulties, conflicts, efforts, and ideas. Most of his stories were sad. I did not go to the museum at all, and I spent the two hours just listening to him.
This story is about the ambivalent attitude of many large international organizations to minority rights. No Framework Agreement on Minority Rights, however good it is, will ever turn fools into better people.

No Responses to “No agreement on minority rights will turn fools into better people”

  1. I like your story. I’m a 13 year old. i been to romania this summer. i was woundering how much does it cost to teach someone romania? e-mail me back. a.s.p

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