On December 26 Károly Király was called to Bucharest to be appointed National Vice-President of the National Salvation Front. He had discussed with András Sütö which Hungarian should deputise for him as the leading Hungarian office-holder at the county level. Unfortunately, they thought of me. They called me to Király's office and told me of the role which they intended for me.
I replied that I did not want to cease my solicitor's work. To this Sütö and Király answered that at such times I had no right to stand aside, the less so since undertaking the defence of László Tõkés had made me an authoritative person in the eyes of both the Hungarians and Romanians,
Király was in a great hurry and entrusted me to Sütö, who invited me to his home and convinced me to accept this extremely important office. I said I accepted the task until national elections could be held [they were set for May] and after that I would return to my solicitoir's office.
The Mures County Council of the National Salvation Front should have been elected on the Previous day, December 25. But on this occasion Nistor Man tried to have elected a council which did not reflect the real composition of the -nationalities and which would have included some servants of the old regime. Károly Király responded with a masterly stroke: he left the meeting and had a communiqué, published which said that objections had been raised in connection with certain members of the county, municipal, town and district councils, and consequently their positions would be discussed in those working communities to which they belonged.
If they were voted down at their place of work, they could not become members of the council, which it was now planned should be elected at a meeting on January 2.
At this meeting, after a rather harsh political struggle, the Mures County Council of the National Salvation Front was elected. The council elected the executive committee. This was:
Károly Király, (H) president,
Ion Scrieciu, (R) reserve army general, first vice president,
Valer Galea, (R) engineer, vice-president,
Elõd Kincses, (14) solicitor, vice-president,
Dan-Eugen Baculea, (R) public notary, secretary.
Prior to the above County elections, and while Király was in Bucharest (December 27), the Tirgu Mures Town Council of the National Salvation Front was elected.
The Romanian army engineer, Colonel loan Judea became chairman, and the Romanian judge loan Sabau became secretary. Judea swiftly went on to become the vicepresident of the Party of Romanian National Unity, the political wing of the Vatra Romaneascd. Sabau became the vice-president of Vatra.
Vatra Romaneasca means "Romanian Hearth" a term designed to emphasise the alleged longevity and continuity of Romania's historical claims and rights to Transylvania. Vatra called itself a"cultural" organisation however.
We now know that it was also on December 27 that this cultural brigade, Vatra Romaneasca, was founded in Tirgu Mures. Until February 1, however, it functioned underground, and did not come out into the open. But the consequences of its activities became increasingly public and obvious.
Despite the incubus of Vatra secretly planted on December 27, these post-revolutionary days continued to be euphoric for most of us. Even if we saw that not, everybody was happy with the new course, for the time being the will of the people swept away the partisans of regression. They did not try to oppose openly the forces demanding democratisation.
For in Tirgu Mures at this time, not only was the (as-yet unheard-of) Vatra
Romaneasca founded. Also founded was the Friendship Platform of the Romanian and Hungarian Democratic Intelligentsia. This followed an initiative of local literary periodicals representing both Romanians and Hungarians. Our Friendship Platform assembled on December 26. We spoke quite openly about the points between us which hurt us, and we decided to do everything possible to relax the old restrictions, and to establish a new Hungarian-Romanian relationship.
It is not possible to forget the words of the Hungarian Reformed pastor, Dénes Fülöp. He began by saying that historical incidents remembered as evil must not be made the object of idolatry in themselves. If we sincerely want peace between our two peoples, he said, we must refrain from ecclesiastical politicking which exacerbates the negative nationalistic sentiments of simple (and not-so simple) people.
In 1985, for instance, a mural was painted in the Romanian Orthodox church in Tirgu Mures. It depicts Hungarians in national costume beating a Romanian saint while the Romanian people of the village cry in the background.
Coming from the locality depicted in this mural (Ocna de Jos), Fülöp knows through what tragedies the people there really lived as the Austro-Hungarian Empire began to come apart - in 1916, for instance, when Romanian troops arrived and carried off 70 local Hungarian youths and old men along with plundered grain, cattle and wagons. None of those prisoners ever returned. The memorial in the centre of the village lists the names of the victims.
But it is not such events that must be recited now. These memories which cause hatred must be removed from our souls!
We all shared Dénes Fülöp's responsible anxieties. And I felt that I too had to speak. I gathered all my courage and said that the theory of the Daco-Romanian continuity is nothing other than the ideological foundation of contemporary Romanian supremacy and privilege. This popular theory so important to Romanians posits a direct line of ethnic descent between the ancient Romans who colonized Dacia (including Transylvania) and the modern Romanians who now live there. I announced that I did not contest this Dacian continuity theory, and that in my opinion there were not more than 100 experts in Romania and Hungary qualified to argue it. I said that they should be entrusted with the debate. I only asked that the Romanian press and politicians should stop repeatedly quoting the theory, and that then it might be easier to arrive at truly equal rights and a democratic, pluralistic Society.
I added that nobody can contest that those values which we can agree do exist in today's Transylvania had been created mostly in the last 700 years, and it is entirely certain that in those years Romanians, Hungarians, Germans and the other national groups of Transylvania lived together and got along well in the common homeland.
No Romanian present attacked me for iny words. On the contrary, they proposed that I should be one of the formulators of the text of our movement's platform. The text is the work of the editors of the local Romanian and Hungarian literary periodicals and myself. The platform was subsequently published in the local press of both nationalities.
Unfortunately, the Central press and television did not provide adequate publicity, and thus, instead of breaking through the wall of mistrust and silence, our initiative was lost.
I believe it is worthwhile to quote the text of our platform, however:
On December 26, we intellectuals of Tirgu Mures sat down to speak frankly and responsibly about the Romanian-Hungarian, Hungarian-Romanian relationship in the new, free and democratic Romania, We are aware of the responsibility this occasion places upon us in the reconstruction of relations between the two peoples. And we are concerned not to miss the historic chance which has been created by the collapse of the dictatorship. We Romanian and Hungarian intellectuals consider it our duty to make public those ideas which have been voiced at our roundtable.
We have joined the Democratic Programme declaration of the National Salvation Front. We who live here together in Transylvania have in our hearts (a concern for) the full and genuine equal rights of each son of our home. In this we see one of
the pledges and bases for the creation of a genuinely democratic Romania belonging to Europe. We consider it extremely important and urgent that every single intellectual should stand up against any kind of chauvinistic, nationalistic or xenophobic manifestation in order to prevent the outbreak of violence, hatred and entirely unacceptable personal and collective vengeance. We therefore consider it
In order to achieve our noble goals we are not satisfied with simple declarations of intent alone. We shall speak out in the broadcast and printed media, mututally supporting each other in our everyday activities. We call on the clergymen of the Transylvanian Churches to support and spread these uplifting ideas. In building up the new institutionalised political, administrative, social and cultural system, let us restore genuine values to their rightful place. Let us find the competence and moral stamina to block the return of swindles and lies. Those who wish to express their agreement with our platform should indicate this in the editorial offices of our literary periodicals, "Látó"" [H - "Seer"] and "Vatra" [R - "Hearth"].
(Let it be stressed that the Romanian literary journal was unfortunate enough to share its name with the Vatra Romaneasca movement. Though that was their only point of contact.)
András Béres, Ferenc Boér, Ioa Boitan, István Borbély, Zoltán Brassai, Ioan Calion, Radu Ceontea, Alexandru Cistelecan, Constantin Copotoiu, Anton Cosma, József Eltetö, Dénes Fülöp, György Gálfalvi, György Jánosházy, István Káli Király, Elöd Kincses, Lazar Ladariu, Béla Mark6, Éva Máthé, Ion Ilie Milesan, Augustin Morar, Cornel Moraru, Pál Nagy, László Nemess, loan Pascu, Grigore Ploesteanu, Mihai Sin, András Sütö, Gheorghe, Sincan, András Tökés
Looking through this list of signatories now, we find among them Radu Ceontea and Grigore Ploesteanul. This is interesting inasmuch as they and some of their companions met next day and founded the Vatra Romanesca. Oh well.
Not only were we in such a europhoric state in those days because of our own efforts, but also because of the consignments of aid that appeared immediately from Hungary, and later from other countries too. I recall one incident at this time: I addressed - in Romanian - a young man wearing an armband in the Romanian colours and who had just delivered aid. He answered self-consciously that he was from Hungary, and did not speak Romanian, but was proud to be able to wear the red-yellow-blue armband,
Also I recall the Hungarian doctors Marika and Peter Koválszky who had settled in the United States, and who rang on New Year's Eve, and said: "Only you who stayed at home were truely able to live through these days. And nobody will ever be able to take them away from you."
I told them that in the regional Medical and Pharmaceutical Institute, where - as I then believed - there would again be an Hungarian section. they would be needed. Even after the pogrom of March 20 they still said they would help, at least as guest lecturers helping to put the Hungarian section on its feet. But in the present Vatra climate, the country cannot count on the work of such experts,