The High Court of Cassation and Justice, Romania’s supreme court, in a final judgement annulled a decision of the National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD) from 2014. The decision in question was a milestone as far as minority rights protection is concerned, since it stated that the lack of bilingual street name signs in Târgu Mureș/Marosvásárhely constitutes discrimination and suggested that the Mayor’s Office placed the street name signs in two languages: Romanian and Hungarian. As a reaction to this, the Mayor’s Office brought the CNCD and the NGO that put up the bilingual street signs to court, asking for the Council’s decision to be annulled.
The supreme court’s decision comes after the Mureș Court of Appeal’s first degree ruling in favour of the Mayor’s Office. It is worth mentioning that the Romanian Law on the Local Public Administration clearly states that in the territorial-administrative units where the citizens belonging to the national minorities account for over 20% of the inhabitants, the public local authorities must ensure the use of that language in relations with them. Interpretations of these provisions lead to applying the law exclusively in the case of the name signs of the settlements and the inscriptions of the respective authorities, but not the street name signs.
Moreover, Romania has ratified the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages in 2008, in which it undertook to use the place-names in regional or minority languages in conjunction with the name in the official language. In a 2012 report on the application of the Charter, several recommendations were included, interpreting the term “place-name” as meaning not only the name of settlements, but also street names, for example. Nota bene, Târgu Mureș/Marosvásárhely is a city in Transylvania, Romania, having a 45% Hungarian population.
Anti-Hungarian hate-speech persists in Romanian football
Throughout this year our organisation has been drawing attention to the increasing xenophobia that Hungarian football players and their supporters have to endure in the Romanian football league. However, anti-Hungarian hate-speech during football matches does not seem to be abating.
During a recent football match between two U19 teams, FC Botoșani and FK Csíkszereda Miercurea Ciuc/Csíkszereda, the players and the supporters of the latter were exposed to very vulgar and racist language coming from the fans of the hosts. The referee did not stop the game, nor were there any measures taken after the match had ended.
Following the incident, the president of FK Csíkszereda, Zoltán SZONDI, addressed letters to the Romanian Football Federation and to the Central Committee of Referees, in which he complained that this is not the first instance in which the junior teams of his club have to endure xenophobic and racist slurs during games. He demanded for adequate action to be taken in such cases, and for the rules stipulated by the Romanian Football Federation to be respected. Only by taking firm action against racism and xenophobia can such incidents be avoided in the future.