COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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Romania/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.4 Cultural diversity and inclusion policies

In Romania there are 20 officially recognised minorities: Albanians, Armenians, Bulgarians, Czechs, Croats, Greeks, Jews, Germans, Italians, Macedonians, Hungarians, Poles, Lipovan Russians, Roma, Ruthenians, Serbs, Slovaks, Tatars, Turks, and Ukrainians. In line with the Romanian Constitution, each minority is represented in the Deputies' Chamber (save for the Hungarian minority, which is represented by a political entity – the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania).

Recent years have seen a growth in the number of immigrants from China and Moldavia.

The most recent statistics on ethnic minorities within Romania population are from the 2012 Census. According to these statistics, Romanians represent 88.6% of the total population. The largest minority group are the Hungarians 6.5% and Roma 3.2%. Each of the other minorities makes up less than 0.3% of the total population. (http://www.recensamantromania.ro/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Comunicat_DATE_PROVIZORII_RPL_2011_.pdf).

Some of the ethnic groups are compact communities, such as Hungarians in the eastern Transylvania (Szekely Land), Turks in Constanta County, Slovaks in Bihor County. Other groups, like Roma are scattered all over the country.

Article 6 of the Romanian Constitution states:

(1)State recognised and guarantees people from national minorities the right to preserve, develop and express their ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity

(2)The protection measures taken by the state for the preservation, development and expression of national minorities' identity must comply with the principles of equality and indiscrimination in relation to other Romanian citizens. 

While the Constitution provides the legal basis for minorities' rights, a precise framework for regulating their status has not been created. In recent years there have been some discussions about the Law regarding the status of national minorities in Romania. A very controversial project has been written by the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania in 2005. This draft law proposes a model of cultural autonomy defined as the right of a national community to have decisional powers in matters regarding its cultural, linguistic and religious identity, trough councils appointed by its members. For the past six years, this law has not past the parliamentary commissions, but this year there had been some talk concerning its ratification in a modified form.

There are distinct approaches adopted for minority groups in Romania's cultural policymaking, reflecting the significant differences in the socio-demographic composition of these groups.

The Department for Interethnic Relations was established by Government Decision no. 111/2005 as public institution, subordinated to the Prime-Minister and aiming to preserve, affirm and develop the ethnic identity of national minorities. This department coordinates the activity of the Council of National Minorities, an organism that ensures the relation with the officially recognised national minorities. (http://www.dri.gov.ro/index.html?lng=2)

Another entity coordinated by the Department for Interethnic Relations is the Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities. Based in Cluj-Napoca, the institute develops inter- and multidisciplinary research in order to preserve, develop and express ethnic, historical, cultural, linguistic, religious or other aspects of national minorities and other ethnic communities in Romania. For the years 2008-2012, the institute has developed a research strategy regarding the issues of Roma people. Some of the studies that the institute has developed in recent years include: Cultural Consumption in 2010. Comparative dimensions: Romanians and Hungarians, The touristic potential of Covasna, Harghita and MureÅŸ counties, Narratives from and outside the ghetto, Sociolinguistic behaviour in minority linguistic communities. Studies concerning the Croatian, Ukrainian and Slovak linguistic communities, The Ukrainians in Maramure county (http://www.ispmn.gov.ro/eng/page/despre-institut).

The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage has developed several specific programmes to support the cultural and linguistic identities and the diversity of expressions, cultural activities and artistic practices of minorities groups, such as:

  • "Proetnicultura" – a programme designed to support cultural events, festivals etc.;
  • "Roma - together in Europe" – the main objectives are the preservation and promotion of the cultural and linguistic heritage of the Roma minority;
  • Support for book publishing in minority languages; and
  • Support for the publishing of cultural magazines in minority languages.

In several cities such as Tirgu-Mures (Maros Folk Ensemble), Timisoara (State German Theatre) and Cluj-Napoca (Hungarian Opera) there are cultural institutions in minority languages supported by the state budget. The NGO sector also supports the cultural life of these groups, especially in the case of the Roma population. Significant support for cultural activities, advocacy and education programmes are carried out with funds from NGOs, such as the Open Society Foundation.

In the Public Broadcasting Services, there are TV and radio programmes in the languages of some ethnic minorities.

Figure 1:    Structure of radio broadcast in minorities languages in 2008

Roma

As before mentioned (see chapter 3.4.5), The Roma National Cultural Centre was established by Government Decision no. 834/2003, as a public institution subordinated to the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the central aims of its work is preserving and promoting traditional Roma culture, but also the creation and dissemination of modern culture ethnicity. Some of the events organised by the Roma National Cultural Centre since 2008 are: a permanent exhibition at the Village Museum, an exhibition of Roma history and culture, events in the field of performing arts (B`Art - Charity Ball for raising funds, Roma music and dance show, art and documentary film festival, developing intercultural dialogue).

The RNCC is funded by public contributions and in turn it finances organisations (i.e. associations, foundations, cultural public institutions, private companies which are involved in cultural activities or which have social-educational or cultural missions focused on the Roma) which are active in the field of Roma culture (http://www.romanikultura.ro/docs/Regulamentul_de_finantare.pdf)

In 2011 RNCC funded :

  • editorial projects (e.g. publishing books, magazines and other written materials) with a literary-artistic character; and
  • visual arts and new media projects such as exhibitions of painting, sculpture and photography, documentary films focused on Roma issues.

The proposed projects focused on themes which were less circulated in relation to the Roma such as: folklore and Roma traditional customs (both in Romanian and Romani languages), literature, Roma slavery, the Holocaust, anti-racism, personality portraits, and identity pedagogy.  The centre had already organised an event together with other NGOs for the promotion and preservation of Romani culture a year before, in 2010. (http://www.romanikultura.ro/index.php?cnc=concursuri)

In addition, other independent cultural events have taken place, organised in collaborations between NGOs, local or central administration and private entities. These include: "Know Roma people before judging them" - a project realised with the financial support of The Department of Interethnic Relations.

Another recent issue regarding cultural minorities is related to The National Plan for modernisation of the Roma culture, which was proposed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Parliamentary Subcommittee for Roma and Roma Associations Framework Convention. The framework has the purpose of involving the Roma community in identifying and implementing solutions for recovery and revitalisation of Roma through the creation of the Parliamentary Subcommittee for Roma and the development of a national communication network.

Hungarians

The overwhelming majority of the Hungarian population lives in the Transylvanian counties, five of them being run by members of Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (Bihor, Harghita, Covasna, Mures and Satu-Mare).

At Babes-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca, one of the largest state-funded tertiary education institutions in Romania, more than 30% of courses are held in Hungarian language.

Romanians Abroad

The Romanian Central Administration has a Department for Romanians Abroad run by a secretary of state. The department focuses both on neighbouring ethnic communities of Romanians and other Romanian cultural communities, but also on Romanian citizens abroad.

The department funds projects in the cultural and educational field, focused on affirming and promoting Romanian culture and enhancing dialogue between these communities and the larger societies in which they live. Special attention is given to Romanian cultural and ethnic communities from the neighbouring countries, such as the Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Albania, and Hungary.

In 2011, the Department financed cultural, media and educational projects in European, Asian and American countries. (http://www.dprp.gov.ro/despre-noi/)


Chapter published: 04-06-2013

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