With guaranteed political participation, the representation of national minorities in the decision-making processes is complemented by rights to education in the native language and dedicated funding for preservation of cultural identity. In a region still plagued by interethnic strife of lower or higher intensity, Romania, with its sizable Hungarian, Roma, German, Ukrainian, Turkish, Tartar and other – overall 20 – national minorities is a living demonstration that divisions can be overcome through inclusive policy design, community integrated development (including by means of EU funding) and cooperative approach with neighbouring countries.
Right from the collapse of communism, the Hungarians, the largest national minority in Romania, gained political representation by passing the electoral threshold in the first free and democratic elections. Having a distinct, lower threshold than regular political parties, guaranteed the participation of minorities in the decision-making process and further enabled all 20 national minorities to advocate for their rights. Cases of bloody inter-ethnic conflict in the early 1990s remained isolated, as targeted measures and national inclusion strategies were put in place, allowing minorities to participate at every level in the Romanian political, social and cultural life and to enjoy electoral, legislative and association rights.
Romanian experts have also learnt one other valuable thing through their experience of building an inclusive participatory environment for national minorities: although it is often mentioned as a success story, the Romanian system of minority rights protection should not be regarded as a ready-made recipe to be replicated elsewhere. Instead, the lessons learned must be tailored to local needs, constitutional framework, minority representation and forms of official recognition, historical and cultural context. In achieving long-term inter-ethnic reconciliation, the process of negotiating differences is often as important as the end result.
This database provides you with exactly such a context-specific approach, tailored to your context and needs. You will find here minority rights experts, but also pathfinders and testers of different approaches, who thus have many do’s and don’ts to share.