Distinguished delegates, guests,
It is an honour for me to address representatives of over 90 member organizations across Europe, representing national minorities, ethnic communities and linguistic groups gathered this week in Cluj to discuss the future of their communities and make important decisions about the ways in which, by acting together, we can make this future more secure.
I am a Hungarian from Transylvania, so from the bottom of my heart, I say: Welcome / Isten hozott / Bienvenue / Willkommen in Cluj / Kolozsvár / Klausenburg, the historic capital of Transylvania, now the capital of all national minorities in Europe for four days.
I am, as I was saying, a Hungarian from Transylvania, a Member of the European Parliament, and I am often faced with a difficult choice; I have to choose the language in which I address my audience. Today, I am enthusiastic to be before you and I wish I could be able to speak in each of your respective mother tongues, but this is impossible. My first option was, of course, to deliver the address in my native language, in Hungarian, which is the language of my soul, as for each of you, the mother tongue is the language of the soul, is the language we dream in. However, the technical conditions were decisive, as it often happens, so I speak to you in English, which is the means of communication chosen today.
I would like to talk to you about the most important value that any community needs to cherish. This value is solidarity. Whether we are talking about nations, national communities, peoples of the Member States of the European Union, but also about the European Union itself, solidarity is the key to success in any endeavour that a community initiates. What is more, solidarity is the fundamental value, without which we, the communities of national minorities, cannot be successful in our efforts.
We are very rich today, in Cluj / Kolozsvár / Klausenburg. Our wealth is the pan-European solidarity of national minorities, ethnic communities, and linguistic groups, joined around the European Citizens’ Initiative Minority Safe Pack. “You are not alone,” says the FUEN slogan attached to the initiative to collect one million signatures for diversity in Europe and I am convinced that each of the participants at the FUEN Congress in Cluj shares this feeling. We are not alone, we can support one another, our organizations cooperate efficiently, and so we have proven that the European solidarity of the minorities knows no boundaries. 32 European countries, more than 90 member organizations, representing almost 60 million citizens of Europe; this is the force of our solidarity, it is on this wealth that we can count on, when facing challenges of dimensions unmet by us so far. We have to prove in the next 10 months that all members of our communities are alongside us, they support our demarches and are ready to do so in a concrete way as well, by offering their signatures for the success of the “Minority Safe Pack” Initiative.
I am standing proudly in front of you today because more than 5 years ago, the idea of using the EU´s democratic instrument, the European Citizens’ Initiative in favour of national minorities, was born in the European Parliament from the collaboration and joint thinking of FUEN representatives and the Intergroup for National Minorities in the European Parliament. During the recently hosted, “Hit The Road” conference, also organized in the European Parliament, on May 4, former FUEN President Hans Heinrich Hansen remembered the determination with which I myself promoted the idea that we must be amongst the first users of the European Citizenship Initiative, because we want to draw the European Commission´s attention to a legitimate issue that needs to be tackled. It is the ´Copenhagen dilemma, namely the double standard the EU is applying to the issue of the rights of national minority communities. I am also remembering the beginnings with great emotion, and wish to praise the courage proven back then by Hans Heinrich and all members of the FUEN Presidium, when they decided to engage in the steps that led to the creation of the “Minority Safe Pack” Initiative.
All of us who are present in Cluj today know very well that it is not easy to belong to a minority. This has been fully demonstrated in our Minority Safe Pack joint initiative, the registration of which was initially refused by the European Commission. A new, likewise bold decision was taken, to sue the European Commission. We believed in our just cause, in the noble character, but also in the profoundly European spirit of our initiative, and the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled in our favour. As a result, on April 3, the European Commission registered the “Minority Safe Pack” Initiative, and we received the green light to continue the journey that started 5 years ago.
Throughout this process, the organization I represent, the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania/RMDSZ, played a key role. Representing the Hungarian community in Romania, RMDSZ was formed in the days of the fall of communism in December 1989, and is an organization with a very special character. We are the legitimate representatives of the Hungarian community in Romania, fighting for the interests of our community and fulfilling the important mission to represent our community both at national and European level. RMDSZ is a FUEN member since 1991. We are also active members of the most important institutions and forums that represent the interests of national minority communities. RMDSZ assumes at the same time the task of political representation of the Hungarian community in Romania. We are present in the local public administration with 195 elected mayors and over 2,000 elected local and county councilors. We are present in the Romanian Parliament and in the European Parliament. Representing community interests and the political representation are two complementary dimensions of our work.
You can therefore understand very easily, dear friends, the reason why I am fighting for an ever-closer cooperation between FUEN and the Intergroup for National Minorities in the European Parliament. For all of us, members of minority communities in Europe, civic action and political action are two complementary tools that must be used for the same purpose: the secure future of our communities in the places where we were born. As the idea of the Citizens´ Initiative was born out of this cooperation, through our joint work, I am convinced that the continuation of this cooperation is needed to materialize our intent and for the success of the “Minority Safe Pack” Initiative. Our organizations will make every effort to collect the 1 million signatures and even more through the campaign that we will launch in a few hours. At the same time, this following year is very important from the point of view of the legislative work that members of the National Minorities Intergroup will undertake in the European Parliament. We want to prepare the legislative framework that we will propose to the European Commission, together with the presentation of the signatures. These will give weight to our legislative undertaking.
So these are the challenges ahead of us. The difficulties are not few and it will not be easy to overcome them. To succeed, we must bear in mind the need for solidarity in every working day, in the midst of all the difficulties we will face and against all the obstacles that will come in our way. We have to attract young people, and the campaign period that stands before us is the best opportunity for reviving and rejuvenating our organizations. I am well aware of the opening that FUEN President, Loránt Vincze, shows in the relationship with the Youth of European Nationalities (YEN), and this trust will bear its fruits in the near future.
Together we will succeed! Our goals are noble. Our approach is a deeply European approach. The EU is on the path of searching for its own future. I am convinced that we, the national minorities and the ethnic and linguistic communities living in the EU, are not a burden for the majorities of our regions and our countries. On the contrary, we represent an irreplaceable wealth. Only together with its national minorities, will the European Union of tomorrow be complete. “United in diversity” is more than a slogan. It is the recipe for the European Union´s success.
You are not alone! Together we will collect one million signatures for diversity in Europe!
Thank you and I wish you great success!
Cluj, May 19 2017
Photo: Bethlendi Tamás