On 26 November 2014 a final ruling was adopted in Romania in the restitution case of the Székely Mikó High School of Sepsiszentgyörgy (Sfântu Gheorghe) which had caused international consternation and concern. This ruling – despite some minor corrections – rejects the appeal of the Reformed Church and the defendants, and confirms the judgment of the first instance, declares the members of the restitution committee guilty and re-nationalizes the building of the school. The decision of the court calls into question the emergence of the basic democratic values and the rule of law in Romania.
The Székely Mikó High School (in Hungarian: Székely Mikó Kollégium) located in Sepsiszentgyörgy (Sfântu Gheorghe) is an integral part of the educational system of Transylvania’s Reformed Church. Similarly to other reformed church high schools like the Bolyai High School in Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureș), the Bethlen Gábor High School in Nagyenyed (Aiud), the Backamadarasi Kis Gergely High School in Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc), or other Reformed church schools of Transylvania in Kolozsvár (Cluj Napoca), Zilah (Zalău) and Szatmár (Satu Mare), the Székely Mikó High School has always been an integral part of the Reformed Church’s educational system.
Nationalization in Romania took part in several waves between 1945 and 1960: by Decree 176 in 1948 the state confiscated health care and social institutions, lands, private wealth, private manufacturing, cultural institutions and, last but not least, educational institutions. The institutions, first of all, schools of the Hungarian historical churches were also among the victims of this nationalization. Decree 176 declared that the high school of the Reformed church (“bis. reformate” in Romanian, which means “belonging to the Reformed Church”) located at Iskola street 1 would also be nationalized. Other famous educational institutions – regardless of denomination – were nationalized in the same way.
Although the restitution of lands started earlier, the process of real restitution procedure began only at the end of the 1990s. The restitution of church properties was regulated by several laws. The first laws concerned only a certain number of properties which were named in the specified annexes of the law, while later (after 2000) general restitution and compensation laws were adopted. The annex of one of the first laws (government decree 83/1999) contained the restitution of the Székely Mikó High School. For the execution of this law a three-member committee was established to examine the legal situation of the concerned properties and conclude a protocol on the restitution.
Read the full analysis here.
The Research Institute for Hungarian Communities Abroad has been established in Budapest, Hungary under the Office of the Hungarian Communities Abroad, which continues its work under the Prime Minister's Office. Its primary objective is to conduct research in the ﬁeld of minorities, to harmonize and encourage research on minorities and Hungarian communities abroad and to process the research ﬁndings for further policy implementation.
The study was originally published on the website of the Research Institute for Hungarian Communities Abroad.