Meeting with Dora Mircea-Radu, Communication Coordinator of Hungarian Culture Days of Cluj

Hungarian Culture Days in Cluj is an open-for-all event that takes place in 30 different spots around the whole city for 8 days. It is organized by Treasure Cluj Association . It is a multinational event that is held in three different languages, Romanian, Hungarian and English. It includes over 500 events such as concerts, exhibitions, cinema nights, dance performances and children activities.

Dora says during our interview that the last years’ event welcomed over 300.000 guests from all over the region and the broader Europe. The final concert in the Main Square attracted over 50.000 people.

The Hungarian Days are organized for 2 purposes:

“The celebration of the founding of the city: On the 19th of August 1316, Károly Róbert gives back the privileges of Cluj and gives it the title of city.

And Creating a community building event for the Hungarian people of Cluj and the people who have their origins in Cluj but now live elsewhere.”

Dora calls this an “umbrella event” where all the artists and performers are encouraged to take place and enrich the general experience. Hungarian Culture Days is one of the most well-known events in Romania but there are many other events scattered throughout the year.

Our Roundtable Discussion with Dora

Dora Mircea-Radu is the communication coordinator of the Hungarian Cultural Days whom we had the chance to meet her through our connection with Florin Ştefan, the Romanian painter about whom we wrote about in the preceding pieces. She normally works in the field of Communication and branding and follows a multicultural approach in this Events’ creation. She also has a Hungarian grandmother although rest of her family is Romanian.

As you can read from our recap of Romania on the website, Transylvania was taken by Romania according to the Bucharest Treaty in the beginning of the 20th century and the Hungarian minorities were also left under Romanian authority following this agreement. Currently, the population of Romania is 22 million, two and a half million of which are of Hungarian origin. 96% of that Hungarian population is living in the Transylvania region and Banat.

Hungarians have extensive rights in Romania, Hungarian as the primary language in education, Hungarian Radio and Television, Newspapers, political parties, cultural groups and so on. The Hungarian minority has the right to study everything in Hungarian until the end of the high school and learn Romanian as a second language. There are 3 universities in Romania who give education in Hungarian in Targu-Mereş, Cluj-Napoca and Timişoara. It is important to note that this is not a newly acquired right, Hungarian minority had nearly all these privileges in the communist era as well. Yet Dora says that there is a problem especially in the University level education for the complete curriculum is not provided in Hungarian. The schools generally have separated classes for Romanian and Hungarian education like 6 classes for Romanians and 2 classes for Hungarian languages.

Despite all these efforts, Dora mentions a language barrier in Romania still in existence. Also, certain Romanian-Hungarian families and vice-versa are not very positive towards the notion of inter-ethnic socialization between their children thus the process of integration is hampered by the attitudes of families as well.

During the election time, certain political parties which represent Romanian-Hungarians take part in the elections and they usually become the coalition partners in governments. Although the Hungarian population is around %6 of total population, their parties generally pass the %8 threshold. National Hungarian Union, is the current member of the coalition government and they had 12 ministers in the last cabinet.

During the time of communism ethnic background was never raised as a question for the population had bigger issues to think about regarding the economy and politics yet after the end of 1989 ethnical problems started to surface following the rise of nationalistic tendencies. The differences between the two population started to create a rift through the 1990’s.

Dora says that the problems that the Hungarian minority faces in Romania is rather different than the other minorities’ problems of the world. The minority in Romania has a nation that is ready to accept them just across the border but they feel the attachment to this land where all their ancestors lived and they decide to stay and cope with problems instead of moving. These lands are clearly their homeland for they have lived here for centuries and while they stayed put, only the countries’ borders changed.

She gives an example from her own life about the culture shock she had when she travelled to other parts of Romania other than Transylvania where she always lived. She said that she felt more adaptable abroad than in other parts of Romania where there are significant cultural differences although they are the same country. This is because different parts of Romania were ruled by different forces throughout the history, thus 3 regions of Romania lived under the hegemony of different cultures simultaneously.