Letter: Hungarian hero too outspoken

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The Independent Online
Sir: Adrian Bridge ("Bishop carries torch for Romanian minority", 23 September) is right to hail the Hungarian Calvinist Bishop Lszl Tokes as one of the heroes of the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe because of his courage in defying the Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu.

But his influence over Romania's large Hungarian minority is exaggerated. On regular visits to Romania since 1990, it has been made clear to me by Hungarians dissatisfied with their rights that the bishop should confine his public role to religious duties. They fear that his outspoken criticisms of the government, and sometimes insensitive comments about Romanians in general, will only create fresh dangers for the community he genuinely seeks to champion.

Bishop Tokes, like Lech Walesa in Poland, is an inspired rebel who has found the transition to orthodox politics hard to accomplish.

What minorities such as the Hungarian one in Romania need is pragmatic leaders who can combine with reform-minded members of the majority group to promote the real political and economic improvements which Romanians have yet to see seven years after Ceausescu's demise.


Department of Peace Studies

University of Bradford