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Recognizing The Historic Treaty Between Hungary And Romania

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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Mr. President, I rise today to bring attention to a historic event in Central Europe that, given the world focus on Bosnia, may have been overlooked, the signing of a treaty this month making the end of a rivalry between Hungary and Romania that dates back at least 1,000 years.

Our admirable Ambassadors, Donald M. Blinken in Hungary, and Alfred H. Moses in Romania, have written an article that nicely sums up the significance of this agreement in securing a stable Central Europe and protecting the rights of ethnic minorities. It deserves as wide an audience as possible.

I ask unanimous consent that the full text of the attached article from the Washington Post be placed in the Record at this point.

There being on objection, the article was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

The attention devoted to events in Bosnia overlooks other important and positive developments in the region which, in history's ledger, could prove equally important. This week Hungary and Romania signed a basic bilateral treaty marking the end to centuries of contention. The treaty has the same significance to Central Europe as the Franco-German reconciliation had to Western Europe. Similar treaties have been concluded between longtime rivals Slovakia and Hungary and between the former Yogoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece. Historic rivalry between Hungary and Romania dates back at least a thousand years to the Magyar migrations from Central Asia. This led to Hungarian domination of the Carpathian basin, including modern-day Transylvania now in Romania, which was part of Hungary until 1919, when the Treaty of Trianon put an end to 300 years of Austro-Hungarian dominance in the region. Unfortunately, Trianon did not end the rivalry, and at the end of World War II, Budapest found itself occupied by Romanian troops for the second time in the century. The people of Romania and Hungary liberated themselves from communism seven years ago. But their rivalry remained. Now, together, they are engaged in one final act of liberation, this time from the unresolved legacies of their own tragic and angry past. The heart of the treaty also is the heart of post-Cold War Europe's security challenges: how to reconcile the rights and responsibilities of minorities with majorities in a part of the world where peoples and borders do not match. Bosnia is a brutal reminder of the power of these ethnic and nationalistic hatreds. It shows how dangerous this power is to peace not just in the Balkans but to Europe as a whole, and how important it is to defuse ethnic grievances before they explode. The basic treaty obligates both countries to protect the civil liberties and cultural identity of their national minorities. Education at all levels is guaranteed by the state in the minority's native tongue, as is the right to use one's historic language in administrative and judicial proceedings in areas of minority concentration. The same is true of road signs, print and broadcast media and almost every other aspect of communal life. The test, of course, will come with implementation, but the overwhelming support for the treaty in both countries is reason for optimism. Moreover, both sides are committed because both know the treaty clears an important hurdle to an even more historic goal: integration with the West. President Clinton's January 1994 decision, embraced by our allies, to open NATO to new members and new partners, together with efforts by the European Union to enlarge eastward, has given every nation of Central Europe an incentive to strengthen democracy and improve relations with its neighbors. Both Hungary and Romania have been active participants in the Partnership for Peace, the innovative U.S. initiative that has as one of its purposes to prepare NATO aspirants for eventual membership. Romania was the first to join. And Hungary hosts U.S. forces engaged in Bosnia. Troops from both countries participate in joint Partnership for Peace exercises on the territory of the other and are serving with the implementation force in Bosnia. NATO and the European Union have made it clear that states aspiring to membership that have unresolved border disputes or are unable to respect international norms on the treatment of minorities ``need not apply.'' This clear message moved Hungary and Romania to look beyond traditional boundaries and historical divisions toward a new vision of a secure and prosperous continent no longer mired in the conflicts of the past. In this spirit, both nations have committed in the basic treaty to support NATO and EU membership for the other. By embracing countries in Central Europe that show the will and the means to contribute to the stability and prosperity of the continent as a whole, the EU and NATO can help bring an end to historic enmities based on ethnic, cultural and religious differences, including the historic divide between Catholic West and Orthodox East. The example of Hungary and Romania may point to the end of a millennium of Central European history marked by perpetual conflict and human tragedies past counting.