Misperception and Minority Rights: Romania's Security Dilemma?

In: European Yearbook of Minority Issues Online
Author: Paul Roe 1
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  • 1 Paul Roe is Assistant Professor in the Department of International Relations and European Studies at the Central European University, Budapest.

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  • 1 The worst of the violence took place on the second day, 20 March 1990. Separated only by a thin line of police, around 5,000 Hungarians faced 2,000 Romanians in the city's central Square of Roses. By the end of the day, estimates put the joint casualty figure at six people dead and between 250 and 300 seriously injured. See Catherine Adams, "Six Killed in Ethnic Clashes", The Times (22 March 1990); Ian Traynor, "Emergency Clamped on Riot Town", The Guardian (22 March 1990). 2 Tom Gallagher, "Danube Detente: Romania's Reconciliation with Hungary after 1996", 1(2) Balkanologie (1997), 85-107, at 85.

  • 3 This section of the chapter is adapted from Paul Roe "Misperception and Ethnic Conflict: Transylvania's Societal Security Dilemma", 28(2) Review of International Studies (2002), 57-75. 4 Barry Posen, "The Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict", 35(1) Survival (1993), 27-47, at 28. 5 See Paul Roe, "Actors' Responsibility in 'Tight', 'Regular', or 'Loose' Security Dilemmas", 32(1) Security Dialogue (2001), 103-16. 6 Kenneth Boulding, "National Images and International Systems", in James N. Rosenau (ed.), International Politics and Foreign Policy: A Reader in Research Theory (New York, 1969), 422-31, at 429-30.

  • 7 Herbert Butterfield, History and Human Relations (London, 1951), 10. 8 Ibid., 21. 9 Charles Glaser, "Political Consequences of Military Strategy: Expanding and Refining the Spiral and Deterrence Models", 44(4) World Politics (1994), 497-538, at 515-6. 'o Posen, "The Security Dilemma ...", 28.

  • " See e.g. Stuart J. Kaufman, "An 'International' Theory of Inter-Ethnic War", 22(2) Review of International Studies (April 1996), 149-72; Erik Melander, "Anarchy Within: The Security Dilemma Between Ethnic Groups in an Emerging Anarchy", Uppsala University, Report No. 52 (Uppsala, 1999); William Rose, "The Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict: Some New Hypotheses", 9(4) Security Studies (2000), 1-51. '2 Posen, "The Security Dilemma ...", 27.

  • " Brian L. Job, "The Insecurity Dilemma: National. Regime and State Securities in the Third World". in Brian L. Job (ed.). The Insecurity Dilemma: National Security of Third World States ( Boulder, 1992). 11-35, at 29. 'a Joel S. Migdal, Strong Societies and Weak States: State-Society Relations and State Capabilities in the Third World (Princeton. 1988), 208. 'S This refers primarily to the collaborative work of Barry Buzan and Ole Waever at the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute (COPRI). '6 yose( Lapid and Friedrich Kratochwil. "Revisiting the 'National': Toward an Identity Agenda in Neorealism", in Yosef Lapid and Friedrich Kratochwil (eds.), The Return of Culture and Identity in IR Theory (Boulder, 1996), 105-''6, at 116-7. 17 Ole Waever. "Societal Security: The Concept", in Ole Waever, Barry Buzan, Ivlorten Kelstrup and Pierre Lemaitre, ldentity, Migration and the New Security Agenda in Europe ( London, 1993). 17--40.

  • 18 carry Buzan, "Societal Security, State Security and Internationalisation", ibid., 41-58, at 43. '9 For a comprehensive exploration of the 'societal security dilemma' and its role in generating ethnic violence, see Paul Roe, The Societal Security Dilemma: Ethnic Violence in Krajina and Transylvania (London, forthcoming). 20 judith Pataki, "Free Hungarians in a Free Romania: Dream or Reality?" RFE/RLReport on Eastern Europe (23 February 1990), 18. 21 Particularly since the middle of the 19th century, the question of native-language education has been fundamental to the Romanian-Hungarian struggle over Transylvania. For much of the second half of the 1890s, Hungary attempted to 'Magyarize' Transylvania, sustained by the closure of many Romanian-language schools. Likewise, successive interwar Romanian governments sought a reversal of Hungarian assimilatory policies through 'Romanianizing' the education system in much the same way. The pattern was continued in Hungary's occupation of Transylvania during the Second World War, and in Romania's reacquisition of the region in 1945.

  • zz Tom Gallagher, Romania After Ceausescu: The Politics of Intolerance (Edinburgh, 1995), 80. z3 Arguments for the postponement included the objections that it was simply unfair to disrupt the pupils' education partway through the academic year, and that the Romanian Government did not yet have sufficient funds to fully implement school separation. 24 Martin Rady, Romania in Turmoil: A Contemporary History (London, 1992), 146. zs According to Romanian census figures, in 1948 nearly 75 per cent of the population of Tirgu Mures were Hungarian. By the time of Ceausescu's demise, however, the figure had fallen to barely 50 per cent.

  • zs In Covasna County, over 75 per cent of the population is ethnie Hungarian, while in Harghita County the figure is closer to 85 per cent. 27 Pataki, "Free Hungarians in a Free Romania ...", 21. ze Gallagher, Romania After Ceausescu ..., 78. z9 Rady, Romania in Turmoil ..., 148-9.

  • 'o Gallagher, Romania After Ceausescu ..., 82. " That Hungarians also misperceived Romanian security requirements is a trickier case to make, and essentially concerns the question of whether the NSF government was indeed prepared to allow some measure of educational reform. I do not wish to explore this at any great length here, but suffice it to say that Hungarian interpretations were also significantly affected by the weakness of the Romanian state.

  • 32 Alan Collins, The Security Dilemmas of Southeast Asia (London, 2000), 179. " For example, this may well be the case where there exists what James Fearon refers to as a "commitment problem". A commitment problem arises when majority groups are unable to convince minorities that they will not be suppressed. Ethnic minorities "anticipate that regardless of what the ethnic majority leaders agree to now, there is no solid guarantee that the leaders will not renege in the future ..." In a situation where majorities cannot commit themselves not to pursue policies which threaten the minority, third-party intervention is seen as the only possible solution. Unlike the (tight) security dilemma, as Fearon acknowledges, "the majority and the minority have conflicting prefer- ences". James Fearon, "Commitment Problems and the Spread of Ethnic Conflicts", in David Lake and Donald Rothchild (eds.), The International Spread of Ethnic Conflict: Fear, Diffusion, and Escalation (New Jersey, 1998), 108-17. In other words, the incompatibility between their security requirements is real. Here CBMs cannot reveal misperception (as there is no misperception to be revealed), and instead sanctions (positive or negative) might well be necessary to induce policy changes. " Article 1 of Government Order No. 137/1993.

  • 's Article 9 of Government Decree No. 17 notes that "[w]ithin the Department for the Protection of National Minorities there shall function, as a consultative body, the Council for National Minorities".

  • '6 Kinga Gal, "Bilateral Agreements in Central and Eastern Europe: A New Inter-State Framework for Minority Protection", European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI), Working Paper No. 4, 1999, 11, at http://www.ecmi.de/doc/public_papers.html. The text of Article 11 states that "in the regions where they are in a majority, the persons belonging to a national minority shall have the right to have at their disposal appropriate local or autonomous authorities or to have a special status, matching the specific historical and territorial situation and in accordance with the domestic legislation of the state", ibid., 11. " Steven Nelson, "The Hungarian Minority in Romania: A Case for the 'Security-Based' Approach to Minority Rights" (Central European University, MA Thesis), 2001, 42. '$ Quoted in Gal, "Bilateral Agreements in Central and Eastern Europe ...", 12. 39 Ibid., 16. 4' Ronald Linden, "Putting on Their Sunday Best: Romania, Hungary, and the Puzzle of Peace", 44(1) International Studies Quarterly (1997), 121-45, at 137.

  • 41 Commission of the European Communities. "Commission Opinion on Romania's Application for Membership of the European Union" (Brussels, 15 July 1997), 12-4. °2 EC Rapporteur for Romania, Emma Nicholson, has been particularly concerned about the protection of abandoned children in the country. Indeed, the heavy criticism of the Romanian Government in this respect in the EC's draft country report for 2000 resulted in almost immediate announcements in Bucharest of new measures intended to help local government better cope with the financial burden of orphanages. °3 Max van der Stoel was succeeded as HCNM by Rolf Ekeus in July 2001.

  • '° Walter A. Kemp, Quiet Diplomacy in Action: The OSCE High Commissioner of National Minorities (London, 2001), 30. 'S Visits by the HCNM are usually targeted towards meetings with state representatives, local officials, and group leaders with a view to offering recommendations (where the HCNM may call on interna- tional experts). Such visits may also include meetings with representatives from the minority's kin-state. '6 The PDSR, the Romanian Party of Social Democracy, was the main successor party to the NSF. " Kemp, Quiet Diplomacy in Action ..., 238. 48 Ibid.

  • 49 Also during 1996, van der Stoel was instrumental in furthering negotiations over the Romanian- Hungarian bilateral Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation. Indeed, following the signing of the treaty in September of that year, Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister Melescanu commented as to how the High Commissioner had the effect of a 'catalyst' on the conclusion of the negotiations, and both the Hungarian and the Romanian Governments thanked van der Stoel for his mediation efforts. however, the work of the commission soon shifted towards the possibiliy of a joint Hungarian- and German-language establishment: the Petofi-Schiller University. quoted in Kemp, Quiet Diplomacy in Action ..., 240. 52 This was due in part to the commission having become split along ethnic tines.

  • 53 Quoted in Kemp, Quiet Diplomacy in Action ..., 241. 54 In the first round of elections, held on 26 November 2000, Iliescu gained 36 per cent of the vote, with the leader of the extreme-right Greater Romania Party (PRM), Corneliu Vadim Tudor, securing some 28.3 per cent. In the second round, the margin of Iliescu's victory was decisive, with him gaining 66.8 per cent of the votes cast. In the parliamentary elections, the PDSR also secured a decisive margin of victory, winning 155 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and 65 seats in the Senate.

  • ss See "Romania", in Janes Sentinel: The Balkans (London. June-November 2001), 489. S6 Stoica accused the PDSR of having breached the limited cooperation agreement on several occasions. including the removal of PNL representatives from public administrative posts. Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said he was in fact pleased that the agreement between the two parties had finally collapsed, and described the PNL as "dupGcitous".

  • 5 "Romania", in Jane's Sentinel ..., 491. sa In June 2001, the PDSR merged with the similarly named Social Democratic Party of Romania (PSDR), the new formation calling itself the Social Democratic Party (PSD).

  • 59 RFE/RLNewsline (27 August 2001) (emphasis added). 60 Robert Hislope, "Intra-Ethnic Conflict in Croatia and Serbia: Flanking and the Consequences for Democracy", 30(4) East European Quarterly (1997), 471-94, at 471-2. 61 Ibid., 472. bz Eugen Tomiuc, "Hungary's Status Law Causing Dispute with Neighbours", RFE/RL Newsline (5 October 2001). ). 6' RFE/RL Newsline (14 May 2001).

  • ba RFE/RL Newsline, 23 June 2001. bs RFE/RL Newsline, 13 August 2001.

  • 66 Venice Commission Report on the "Preferential Treatment of National Minorities by Their Kin State", DOC.CDL-INF (2001)019, 48th Plenary Meeting, 19-20 October 2001, Venice. according to Romanian Deputy Foreign Minister Diaconescu, these include: assurances that the law is not aimed at modifying historical borders; that the issuance of ID cards will follow 'functional', not ethnic, criteria and that the law will not apply to non-Hungarian spouses. 68 Incompatibility in this respect might be attributed to the two sides articulating security requirements from fundamentally different positions. The Hungarian Government arguably views the implementa- tion of the Status Law through the perspective of a post-EU accession Central and Eastern Europe, where the salience of state borders is lessened (and thus increasingly marking a post-nation-state Europe). In the context of the EU space, minority rights provisions should be less the sole preserve of the state in which minorities reside and more the collective preserve of home-state, kin-state, and EU. Unlike Hungary, though, Romania, it might be said, continues to frame the question of minority rights through a pre-EU accession perspective. While Hungary is expected to accede to the EU as early as 2004, Brussels has been reluctant to afford Bucharest any such degree of certainty concerning their prospective membership timctable. With Romania bringing up the rear of the second-wave candidates, the message from the EU is consistent in that "Romania has a long way to go". Thus, set in a context where being within the EU space is very much in the distance, the nation-state is still the primary form of political organization. Sovereignty cannot be devolved, and certainly not over such a historically sensitive issue as minority rights. s9 RFE/RG Newsline (26 November 2001 ).

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