FECL 05 (April 1992):

TWO MINORITIES - TWO TREATMENTS

From Zoltan Basza we received the following reports on the situation of two minorities in Romania - the Germans and the gypsies. While the first community seems to benefit from considerable support from Germany, the latter, victim of the Nazi holocaust, faces a bleak future.

 

Germans...

At a press conference during a three day visit to Romania, the state secretary of the German federal interior ministry, Mr Waffenschmidt, mainly focused on the situation of the German minority in this country. According to Waffenschmidt, the German minority, a factor of equilibrium in the country's political life with a "glorious past" of social, economical and culural development is facing "serious problems of survival".

After discussions with the Romanian prime minister Stolojan, Mr Waffenschmidt concluded that a certain stabilization could be observed concerning the German minority's emigration to the FRG. Under communist reign large numbers of Germans emigrated when faced with expropriation, imprisonment and deportation, which led to a gradual decrease of the community in Romania. But the massive exodus began with the 1990 revolution in Romania, with 110,000 ethnic Germans(about 50% of the community) leaving the country within a year. This mass emigration into Germany was then strongly encouraged by the government of chancellor Helmut Kohl. In 1991 emigration declined considerably, with "only" 32,000 emigrants (in Germany, general enthusiasm for "bringing home" ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe had considerably diminished). At present, about 100,000 Germans remain in Romania.

"I would like to point out that there is equal treatment for all Romanian citizens", said Mr Waffenschmidt. "I was also assured that the government intends to support the German minority and that there will be no conflicts between German and Romanian communities."

The German government's policies vis-à-vis the ethnical Germans in the former communist countries is based on two principles: on one hand, they are helped to stay in their native countries, and on the other, they are promised that the door to immigration into Germany remains open for them in special situations.

The FRG's assistance for the German minority is substantial: more than 4,5 million DM in 1990, 18,4 million DM in 1991 and over 20 million forseen for this year.

"We wish to support them to have their own cultural institutions, schools, kindergartens, farms, enterprises, and a wider access to mass media", Mr Waffenschmidt said.

The Romanian government declared that it will have to provide part of the funds for this objective, in order to comply with its obligations with regard to the protection of ethnic minorities and that it wished to assure the existence of the German community in Romania.

Source: România libera, 6.3.92

 

 

...and gypsies

The fall of the "iron curtain" provoked a massive flux of gypsies towards Western Europe. A particularly large number came from Romania and first arrived in Vienna. From there, they spread mainly to Germany, Italy and France. Soon, the gypsies met widespread rejection among native populations. Gypsies were accused of being unwilling to work, thievish and eager only to obtain social aid surreptitiously by making unfounded asylum requests.

After the the miners' march on Bucarest in June 1990, a new wave of gypsies fled Romania. Most of them headed for Germany, where 5,750 applied for asylum within a month.

In spite of ever more strict border controls, the gypsy migration westward continues. Many of them are undocumented. The town of Gataia (Timis county) seems to be among the major gathering points, for those who prepare to leave the country. Many make the journey from Romania via Yugoslavia to Italy or France locked in international transport trucks. The clandestine passengers pay up to 30,000 french francs for the travel. Since the beginning of the civil war in Yugoslavia, the preferential travel route seams to be via Hungary and Austria to Germany.

After the 1990 revolution 25 gypsy settlements were attacked and destroyed by Romanian "fellow-villagers". The former government of Petre Roman allowed 10 million lei (about 30,000 dollars), in order to rebuild their houses. The German gypsy communities granted 20 million lei in solidarity assistance.

Nothing indicates that gypsy migration westward will come to a halt in a near future. 2,7 million gypsies presently live in Romania.

 

Source: Tineroma, 2.4.92