Leaders representing the largest national minority in Romania, the 1.2 million-strong ethnic Hungarian community, visited Washington D.C. from November 27 to December 2 at the invitation of the New York-based Hungarian Human Rights Foundation.
During their first post-COVID visit, Hunor Kelemen, President of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) and Loránt Vincze, Member of the European Parliament had a total of 27 meetings across a wide spectrum: State Department, Members of Congress, leading think tanks, academia, as well as Hungarian-American community engagement.
The delegation presented insight into the current domestic political landscape in Romania with particular focus on the alarming increase in the popularity of extremist political forces that threaten national and regional stability, Western values and existing rights for the Hungarian minority.
In the forefront at a State Department meeting led by Nathaniel P. Dean, Director of the Office of Central European Affairs in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, was Romania’s ongoing failure to provide Hungarian Churches full “equitable, prompt, and fair restitution to all religious communities for property confiscated” as set forth in House Resolution 191 of 2005.The delegation additionally provided first-hand information on the language and education roadblocks the community faces at a briefing by the Hungarian Congressional Caucus, and meetings with co-chairs Rep. Andy Harris (MD-1) and Rep. Marcy Kaptur(OH-9), as well as with key Members and those with large Hungarian-American constituencies in Ohio and Florida.
At a Marymount University forum, the delegation engaged with students, professors and the administration in lively discourse on the future of national minorities in Europe.
Nuanced dialogue at four think tanks – Atlantic Council, Heritage Foundation, Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute – rounded out the deliberations.
Hunor Kelemen, has been a Member of the Romanian Parliament since 2000, President of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) since 2011 and, until June, was Deputy Prime Minister of Romania. For over three decades, RMDSZ has played a key role in providing stability in the country as part of six, both right and left-leaning governing coalitions since 1996.
Loránt Vincze, RMDSZ Member of the European Parliament since 2019, is also the President of the Federal Union of National Minorities (FUEN), the largest umbrella organization for Europe’s national minorities (50 million people). He led the campaign behind the fifth European Citizens Initiative ever to succeed, the Minority SafePack.