Governor George Pataki Speaks Out on Education, Language and Autonomy Rights in Transylvania:
“It is still important to fight for the basic human rights of Hungarians in Romania”
Former New York Governor George Pataki visited Oradea (in Hungarian: Nagyvárad), Romania, on January 15 to meet with Rev. László Tőkés, Vice President of the European Parliament and head of the Transylvanian Hungarian National Council (THNC). Pataki emphasized the importance of education rights for the 1.2 million-strong Hungarian community and the potential benefits of regional autonomy. Accompanied by his daughter Allison Pataki-Levy, the Governor participated in Sunday services followed by a meeting with prominent members of the educational and academic communities. Referring to the 600,000 plus Hungarians who collectively comprise the majority in three administrative counties making up the Székely (Szekler) Region in Transylvania, Pataki underscored that the region is “unique with its own culture, values, distinctive language and history.” He expressed hope that the Romanian government pays attention to this, adding that in New York State “there are many autonomous regions with their own cultures and ethnic groups existing in harmony with the law.”
Tőkés introduced the former governor as someone “coming from the Free World who has always stood up for the freedom of East Central Europe’s peoples” and recalled Pataki’s last visit to the city in 2006 when he voiced concern over the state’s confiscation of the playgrounds of a local Hungarian-language high school.
Tőkés thanked the three-term Governor for his moral and political support on behalf of Hungarian-language higher education and the cause of regional autonomy, which the Member of the Parliament envisions based on European models, as a developmental euro-region. Tőkés also praised the Governor for his support of the Reconnect Hungary Birthright Program meant to strengthen ties between young Hungarians living in the United States and their country of origin.