I thank you for the kind invitation to the gathering your organisation is holding in the memory of the historically important figure King Matthew, the symbol of peaceful inter-ethnic coexistence in this land. At the same time, I would like to express my appreciation not just of the work undertaken by you and your organisation, but more particularly of this open hearted initiative, which through its exceptional ethical bearing stands in direct opposition to the "monument sickness" currently raging in Cluj.
I am convinced that your prominent presence in Cluj is an important part of the process of national liberation and rebirth which began in Timisoara in 1989. This process has been characterised from its very beginnings by people of different nations and denominations finding one another. The falsification of the past and the manipulation of the masses' sense of historical identity threaten to prevent the process from achieving the democratisation and social emancipation of Romania. This process can only be continued, made permanent, and fulfilled through the mutual understanding and common work of all those who are able to overcome national prejudice and oppose the use of divisive politics and ultra-nationalist propaganda.
We can state that there is no other alternative for any of us, for this country's Romanian, Hungarian and German citizens, than "inter-ethnic dialogue" and national reconciliation.
May God grant that in the spirit of the statue of "Mathias Rex - Matthew the King" and the noble idea of the Cluj meeting, we will be able to overcome the hatred we have inherited from the past; the xenophobia, the insecurity and the cowardice, which this country's post-communist regime gives life to, and which the extreme nationalist leadership of Cluj maintains.
May the Lord of Salvation bless all those who wish for peace and understanding in the city of historical monuments and throughout the world.
May God bless all the participants in the open air meeting at the statue of King Matthew.
7 June 1994, Oradea
On the Funeral of Octavian Buracu
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
(I. Corinthians 3:16)
We can call it an absurdity that after five years of Octavian Buracu's revolutionary Mayorship, a person like Gheorghe Funar is now at the head of Cluj. This fact only adds to our deep mourning. The grave of Octavian Buracu shall stand as a symbol of our resolution against the extreme and depraved chauvinistic-nationalism. Despite the overwhelming influences that will lead to a communist restoration, the figure of Octavian Buracu is prominent in its almost unique quality. We mourn over the loss of a true Romanian who has won our unanimous appreciation by his impartiality towards other nations and for his active solidarity with the minorities of Romania.
I was devastated to hear of Octavian Buracu's tragically early death. Apostle Paul's words, from his First Letter to the Corinthians, come to mind: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I. Corinthians 3:16)
In the Holy Gospel, Jesus speaks about "the temple of His body" (St. John 2:21). This is what St. Paul reflects in the First Corinthian Letter - by this time with a general validity and meaning.
Applying this biblical metaphor to Octavian Buracu we may say that, according to the exceptional characteristics of his personality and humanity, he indeed was "the temple of God". "Know ye not that?"
On the altar of this temple - in Octavian Buracu's heart - the holy fire of Christ's self-sacrifice was burning. According to the alignment of his faith, origin and Christian belief, he devoted his life to the reconciliation of nations incited against each other, after the changes of 1989. The Association for Interethnic Dialogue, of which he was president until his death, served this aim in an exemplary way and with an unimpeachable morality.
In the temple of his own life, on the altar of his own service, he sacrificed real values, that in this overturned society of forgotten values, chaotic transitions, godlessness and inhumanity, following the communist regime, Octavian Buracu's human greatness ornamented by Gospel traits, and those values which are also determinative factors in social rebirth and Romanian-Hungarian reconciliation.
Octavian Buracu was characterised by an ardent love of justice. He did not subscribe to unilateral Romanian national interest. He also recognised and defended the legal demands of the national minorities in Romania.
His fidelity towards the Romanian nation and his patriotism were harmonious with his respect towards other nationalities. His Orthodox belief did not prevent him from undertaking the protection of minority beliefs.
He showed uncommon morality and political courage when going against the stream, he bore even the - false - mark of "betraying his nation". He put into words the truth and he had the courage not only to express but to act in the spirit of this truth.
His solidarity towards the Hungarians in Romania, who are exposed to the siege of a continuous, unbridled, rabble-rousing propaganda, and his upholding of the banner of equality before the law for all minorities, places Octavian Buracu next to Lajos Mocsary, the great advocate for minorities in Hungary in the previous century.
Octavian Buracu's "temple of body" was destroyed by death. But we believe the words of Christ: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (St. John 2 :19).
Who serves and supports eternal values is heir of eternity - according to the promise of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
5 September 1995, Oradea
Pages from the
Romanian–Hungarian Reconciliation, 1989–1999:
The Role of Civic Organizations
Octavian Buracu was a founding member of the Civic Alliance9, of the Cultural Foundation of Transylvania in Cluj, and of the Romanian–British Organization for Education in the Human Rights Field and honorary member of the Hungarian-Romanian Friendship Association of Pecs. But above all, his name was tied to the Interethnic Dialog Association, for which he was founder and director.
At the reading of Laudatio, on February 27, 1999, on the occasion of conferring on Octavian Buracu the post mortem title of “Honorary Member of the Pro-Europa League,” the following rhetorical question was asked “Is it any wonder that in Octavian Buracu’s 1993 interview for Gazeta de Mures, just after he had been fired, (…) he said regarding the Cluj ethnic incitations, that ‘as a Romanian, I am more indignant than the Hungarians’?”
The reader of the Laudatio continued:
Isn’t this particular dignified consistency the most natural characteristic in the world for a man of honor? What could be more dignified for this authentic Romanian and European patriot than the apology he addressed to the minorities in the name of his people, for the xenophobic nonsense of the Cluj Mayor? What could have been more natural than the wisdom he expressed a few months before his demise:
9 Civic Alliance is the largest civic organization in Romania.
“there are no good nations or bad nations, there are only good and bad people.”10
Starting in 1990, Octavian Buracu initiated contacts, meetings, associations, seminars, children exchanges, took stands, declarations, communiqués, and lists of signatures in the name of Romanian-Hungarian friendship. He was the most consistent of all Romanian voices that expressed disapproval against the paranoid excesses of Gheorghe Funar, the Mayor of Cluj, the capital of Transylvania. Together with the voice of Doina Cornea, the well-known political dissident during the Ceausecu regime, he joined in opposition to the Romanian nationalists.
Just like Doina Cornea, he had no doubt about the connection between the noisy ultra-nationals and the political group around President Ion Iliescu who took over power in Bucharest after the first freely held elections after Ceausescu. Free elections do not automaticaly result in democracy, however. As far as Doina Cornea was concerned, she had remained as staunch against the nationalist provocations of the post-revolution regime as she had been against the totalitarian manifestations of the previous communist regime. This is what she wrote after Gheorghe Funar, the Mayor of Cluj and the PUNR (National Unity Party of Romania) President, opened an archaeological site in the central city square (actually for the purpose of moving the statue of St. Stephan, the most important Hungarian monument in the whole of Transylvania):
10 Szokoly Elek, “Laudatio for Octavian Buracu”, Pro-Europa League Gazette No. 2/1999, pg. 6-7. The xeno-phobe Mayor of Cluj was Gheorghe Funar, PUNR president between 1992 and 1996.
I am convinced that the Cluj diversion has a far greater meaning than the strictly local one. Funar is not a fool, as they call him, but an instrument in the hands of the Power and at its disposal (like all the other extremists in its circles). I think we can call it a KGB-like desire to Yugoslavise Romania, that serves the Power’s mean interests of self-preservation.11
Starting with the founding of the nationalist organization Vatra Romaneasca and the PUNR in 1990, but mostly after the election of Gheorghe Funar as Mayor, the city of Cluj had become the center of anti-Hungarian provocations. This negative development took place in a city that, up until the first World War, had a majority of Hungarian ethnics and currently still is 23 percent Hungarians. Cluj was the center not only of economic and university life, but also of the symbolic competition between Romanians and Hungarians. But since 1992 it has been dominated by the presence of Gheorghe Funar, the mayor who was the leader of PUNR (between 1992 and 1996), the second most important party in Romania as far as parliamentary importance is concerned. He is a national extremist whose speeches often reach the pathological. Within the city, Hungarian monuments were toppled, participants at Hungarian meetings were arbi-trarily fined, statues were under threat of being moved, the flag from the Hungarian Consulate
11 Doina Cornea, “The Cluj Conflict Is Not An Interethnic Conflict”, 22, No. 28, July 8, 1994
was stolen following the advice of the mayor (!), park benches were dyed red, yellow and blue, etc. The Hungarians protested, held demonstrations, participated in processions, warned, reacted passively and sometimes with anger.
Still, the reason why Cluj did not become the center of bloody confrontations also lies with the presence of certain Romanian personalities who associated themselves with the Hungarians in Cluj. Perhaps the most significant event took place in 1994, when the Interethnic Dialog Association and the Civic Alliance branch called on the people to march together with the Hungarians in one of the tensest moments in the life of the city. The extremists of Vatra Roman-easca were preparing to quell the Hungarian demonstration.
This is why Octavian Buracu, Doina Cornea, Dana Prelipceanu12, Virgil Lazar13, Marius Tabacu14, Liliana Bocu15 and their colleagues, although few in number, gave life to the main civic organizations of the city and had a considerable role in the prevention of a bloodshed similar to the one in Targu-Mures in March 1990.
12 Her husband, a doctor, treated Doina Cornea during the time of her dissidence. This was in a time when such ordinary acts of professionalism were noted as a sign of opposition.
13 Virgil Lazar was also the correspondent of the national newspaper Romania libera. His articles bore a consid-erable importance on correct presentation. This paper took sides with the Opposition between 1990 and 1996, especially after its nationalistic tendencies deepened.
14 TV Cluj journalist for a while.
15 Liliana Bocu also had the rare initiative to launch a program for Gypsy children.
Romanian militants of interethnic communi-cation have also been active in other cities of Transylvania. Ana Maria Pop, a well-known Hun-garian-Romanian translator, was active in Satu-Mare. Another city that cannot be overlooked is Timisoara—the most cosmopolitan and multicul-tural city in Romania. All of the important associations in this city, such as the Civic Alliance branch, Solidaritatea, Timisoara Society, the Writers Union branch, and exceptionally, the leaders of religious communities, supported the region’s tradition of tolerance.