05BUCHAREST1623 / 2005-07-22 12:30:00
Embassy Bucharest
                C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 06 BUCHAREST 001623 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - WILLIAM SILKWORTH; JANE MESSENGER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/23/2015 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, PINR, RO, biographic information, political assessment 
SUBJECT: ROMANIA'S ETHNIC HUNGARIANS: BIOGRAPHICAL 
INFORMATION ON KEY LEADERS AND POLITICIANS 
 
 
Classified By: POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF ROBERT GILCHRIST FOR REASONS 1.4 
 B AND D 
 
1. (U) Summary: Romania's ethnic Hungarian party, the 
Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, (UDMR) has 
supported or participated in governing coalitions in Romania 
since 1996. Post provides below updated biographical 
information on a dozen key ethnic Hungarians, inside and 
outside the UDMR, who have an impact on political life and 
who regularly appear in the press or Embassy reporting.  End 
Summary. 
 
2. (C) Post divides the ethnic Hungarian political class 
roughly into two groupings: the Moderates, who have taken a 
gradualist approach toward greater ethnic rights and autonomy 
for Romania's ethnic Hungarians; and the so-called 
"Radicals", who seek more rapid reform.  Since 1993, the 
Moderates, led by Bela Marko, have dominated UDMR politics 
and achieved their goals via cooperative dialogue with 
incumbent Romanian parties and leaders.  The Radicals are 
divided into many factions, and include many former UDMR 
members disenchanted with the slow pace of change or lack of 
opportunities for younger members. Some also seek changes 
such as nearly complete autonomy for the Szekler land region 
in Central Transylvania, and a completely segregated 
education system.  Key Radical groups include the National 
Council of Hungarians in Transylvania (CNMT), the Hungarian 
Civic Union (UCM), and the National Szeklers' Council (CNS). 
 
3. (U) Post also provides biographic information on two young 
up-and-coming ethnic Hungarian politicians as well as 
biographic information on two prominent local leaders in 
Cluj-Napoca and Maramures County. 
 
------------- 
THE MODERATES 
------------- 
 
 
BELA MARKO: UDMR President and Minister of State 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
4. (SBU) Bela Marko remains the UDMR's most prominent 
politician.  He has led the party as president since 1993 and 
served in Parliament since 1990.  In December 2004, he was 
tapped by incoming National Liberal Party (PNL) Prime 
Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu to serve as a Minister of 
State, one of the three senior "Vice Premier" positions in 
the government.  Marko's official responsibilities as 
Minister of State are for Culture, Education, and European 
Integration.  In real terms, however, his placement in this 
senior slot was intended to reinforce politically the UDMR's 
position within the ruling coalition. 
 
5. (C) Known for his seemingly perpetually calm demeanor, 
Marko has focused the UDMR's efforts on working with the 
established political parties rather than against them. 
Indeed, when he was first elected as president of UDMR, he 
stated in an interview that moderates such as himself have 
the "same goals" as more radical ethnic Hungarians.  The 
difference, he said, lay only in the means used to pursue 
those goals.  He subsequently led his UDMR on a path toward 
greater cooperation with other Romanian parties, effectively 
defining the UDMR's role as a centrist "dealmaker" party 
tipping coalition majorities to the left or right.  Over 
time, this strategy has paid off, on issues such as the 
creation of separate Hungarian language schools, the 
restitution of important Hungarian religious properties, and 
the use of native languages other than Romanian in courts and 
other official settings. 
 
6. (C) Marko has also thus far kept more radical factions of 
the ethnic Hungarian movement in check, although not without 
strong dissent from vocal opponents such as Reformed Bishop 
Laszlo Tokes or Zsolt Silagyi (see below).  He has refused to 
enter a dialogue with the Hungarian Civil Union (UCM), a 
Radical fraction within UDMR.  He and those around him have 
repeatedly expressed concern that by seeking to run its own 
candidates against the UDMR, the UCM risks dividing the 
ethnic Hungarians vote.  Such a division would make it 
difficult for any ethnic Hungarian party to meet the five 
percent threshold necessary for entering Parliament.  Marko's 
grouping in the UDMR has repeatedly taken measures to prevent 
the UCM from running as a party, such as successfully 
challenging the validity of a petition the UCM circulated in 
order to run as a party in June 2004 elections.  UDMR 
contested that some of the over 40,000 signatures on the 
UCM's petition were not valid.  The constitutional court 
ruled in UDMR's favor. 
7. (C) Personal relations between Marko and Tariceanu are 
good, according to Embassy contacts.  This is despite the 
fact that -- as is the case with many in UDMR -- Marko is 
known to prefer working with PSD-led governments.  Prior to 
the November/December 2004 national elections, the UDMR under 
Marko's leadership had negotiated a planned coalition with 
the PSD.  However, after PNL-PD presidential candidate Traian 
Basescu's surprise victory in the fall 2004 elections, and 
the latter's appointment of Tariceanu as PM, UDMR insiders 
tell us Marko saw no other option than to enter new 
negotiations with the PNL-PD.  This fit squarely with his 
philosophy that the party can achieve success best through 
incremental change and through cooperating with both 
political blocs. 
 
8. (U) Prior to assuming the leadership of the UDMR, Marko 
was a writer, poet, and the Editor-in-Chief of a Hungarian 
language literary magazine.  He was born on September 8, 1951 
in Targul Secuiesc, Romania.  He is married with three 
children.  He speaks Hungarian, French and Romanian, and has 
basic knowledge of English and Russian. (An interpreter is 
required for English.) 
 
 
LASZLO BORBELY: 
--------------- 
Minister Delegate for Public Administration 
------------------------------------------- 
9. (C) Lazlo Borbely is one of the three powerful, 
behind-the-scenes moderates within UDMR, commonly called "the 
Neptun Three."  Together with Gyorgy Frunda (see below), and 
Gyorgy Tokay, he held a secret meeting in the seaside town of 
Neptun in 1993 with the PDSR party, the current day Social 
Democratic Party (PSD).  At that meeting, he negotiated the 
UDMR's first cooperate dialogue with a mainstream Romanian 
political party.  Leaders of the Radical movements (see 
below) frequently point to this initial cooperation with the 
PSD as a form of betrayal. 
 
10. (C) Borbely is known for his affinity with PSD leaders, 
and for his strong organizational and negotiating skills.  He 
was the key ethnic Hungarian architect of the UDMR-PSD 
cooperation protocols, signed annually between 2000 and 2004 
while PSD was in power.  During this period, the UDMR 
supported in Parliament the minority PSD government in 
parliament in exchange for incremental concessions provided 
in the protocols.  Borbely was outspokenly disappointed with 
the surprise victory of Basescu's presidential election in 
November 2004.  He did not hesitate to inform Embassy staff 
the day following Basescu's victory that UDMR would continue 
its cooperation with the PSD party, although just a few weeks 
later the UDMR would join the coalition led by the 
Liberal-Democratic (PNL-PD) Alliance. 
 
11. (SBU) Borbely has been a Chamber of Deputies member of 
Mures County since 1990.  In addition to being a Cabinet 
member, Borbely also serves as Executive Chairman of UDMR, 
the second most position within the party. 
 
12. (U) Borbely was born on March 26, 1954, in Targu Mures. 
He graduated from the Institute of Economic Sciences in 
Timisoara followed by post-graduate studies at the Academy of 
Economic Studies in Bucharest.  He is married with one 
daughter.  He speaks English, Romanian, and Hungarian. 
 
 
GYORGY FRUNDA: Senator, Moderate UDMR Leader 
-------------------------------------------- 
13. (SBU) Many would consider Gyorgy Frunda "the most 
European" among UDMR leaders.  He was a prominent member of 
Romania's parliamentary delegation to the Council of Europe 
(COE) and has strong ties with EU Parliamentarians.  He is 
charismatic and many UDMR members characterize him as the 
best speaker within the party.  His primary professed goal 
has been to "ensure Western European rights for ethnic 
Hungarians, and other minorities."  He is currently the chair 
of the Senate Human Rights Commission.  His background as a 
human rights lawyer has also aided the UDMR on a number of 
occasions. 
 
14. (SBU) Frunda was a member of the parliamentary commission 
that drafted Romania,s Constitution in 1992.  One of the 
original "Neptun Three" who first negotiated with the 
mainstream PSD, he supports Bela Marko's "policy of small 
steps."  Frunda ran as the UDMR presidential candidate in the 
1996 and 2000 elections.  Within the UDMR, he chairs the 
Council of Representatives, a so-called "mini-Parliament" for 
setting policy within the movement. 
 
15. (U) Frunda has been an MP since 1990, first as a Deputy, 
and from 1992 onwards, as a Senator representing Mures 
county.  He was born on July 22, 1951 in Targu Mures.  He 
graduated from the University of Babes-Bolyai, Faculty of Law 
and also attended post-graduate studies at the Salzburg 
Seminar.  He is married with two daughters.  He speaks fluent 
English and French, and has basic knowledge of German. 
 
 
ATTILA VERESTOY: Senator, Leader ) UDMR Senate Group 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
16. (SBU) Verestoy represents the rare UDMR politician who 
became a multi-millionaire businessman.  Weekly Romanian 
economic magazine, Capital, recently named him one of 
Romania's 300 richest people, estimating his fortune to be 
between USD 38 to 40 million, ranking him as the 60th 
wealthiest Romanian.  He has a PhD in chemistry and was a 
researcher by profession during the Communist period.  He 
earned his wealth in the timber and food industries after the 
fall of Communism.  Since 2003, his wife and son have largely 
managed his businesses. 
 
17. (SBU) Verestoy reputedly had close business ties in the 
early 1990s with representatives of the anti-Hungarian party, 
National Union of Romanians (PUNR).  He is also known to have 
close ties with PSD leaders, having been one of the 
architects of the signed protocols of cooperation with PSD 
between 2000 and 2004.  Thanks to his economic influence, 
Verestoy is one of the most powerful members within UDMR.  He 
is the UDMR's faction leader within the Senate group. 
 
18. (U) Verestoy is the Senator representing Harghita County. 
 He was born on March 1, 1954 in Odorheiul Secuiesc.  He 
attended the Polytechnic School of Bucharest in the Faculty 
of Chemistry.  He is married with one child and speaks 
English, French, Hungarian, and Romanian. 
 
 
IULIU WINKLER: Minister Delegate for Commerce 
--------------------------------------------- 
19. (C) Appointed Minister Delegate for Commerce in December 
2004, Winkler has been active in ethnic Hungarian politics 
for more than a decade.  A thoughtful, soft-spoken 
interlocutor, Winkler is well-liked within and without the 
UDMR.  In private conversations with Embassy staff, he has 
articulated pro-US, pro-business points of view that reflect 
considerable insight and reflection. 
 
20. (SBU) An electronic engineer by training, Winkler has 
risen through the ranks of the UDMR since he first joined in 
1991.  From 2000 to 2001, he was Vice-president of the 
UDMR-Hunedoara Organization and in 2001 he became its 
President, re-elected in 2003.  As an MP from 2000-2004, he 
was a member of the Chamber of Deputies Budget and Finance 
Commission and of the EU Integration Commission. 
 
21. (SBU) Winkler speaks fluent English, as well as 
Hungarian, Romanian, and German.  He holds two bachelors 
degrees and is a 2003 graduate of the Bucharest-based 
National Defense College.  He has also attended several 
postgraduate courses in Romania and abroad.  He took business 
courses in Germany, Hungary and France and studied civic and 
political action at a US-affiliated school in Timisoara. 
 
 
PETER ECKSTEIN-KOVACS: 
---------------------- 
Senator, Human Rights Advocate 
------------------------------ 
22. (SBU) A lawyer with expertise in human rights and local 
public administration, Eckstein-Kovacs remains a staunch 
advocate for minority rights in the Human Rights and Legal 
Affairs Commissions of the Senate.  During a one-year period 
in 1999, he was also the Minister for Ethnic Minorities.  In 
this role, he repeatedly criticized and opposed the actions 
of the former extreme nationalist mayor of Cluj. 
 
23. (SBU) Eckstein-Kovacs is a founding member and President 
of the Liberal Club Union within UDMR, which advocates 
economic liberalization and aligns itself more closely with 
the National Liberal Party (PNL) than with other mainstream 
parties.  He is also a founding member of several local human 
rights NGOs and a strong advocate for the restitution of 
Hungarian churches and other religious properties seized 
under communism. 
 
24. (SBU) During the campaign for 2004 local elections, 
Eckstein-Kovacs outwardly supported a DA alliance candidate 
rather than a PSD one.  This was despite the fact that the 
UDMR supported the PSD government at the time.  He was also 
outspoken in expressing dissatisfaction with the UDMR-PSD 
cooperation protocols.  He voiced strong support for PNL-PD 
presidential candidate Traian Basescu during the December 12, 
2004 presidential election run-offs, although the UDMR had 
already arranged an electoral pact with the PSD.  With his 
free market economic views, his outlook contrasts greatly 
with the larger number of UDMR politicians who espouse social 
democratic views. 
 
25. (U) Eckstein-Kovacs has represented Cluj county in the 
Senate since 1996.  He was born on July 5, 1956, in 
Cluj-Napoca to parents of both Jewish and Hungarian descent. 
He graduated from the University of Babes-Bolyai, Faculty of 
Law.  He attended post-graduate studies at the Academy of 
Economic Studies in Bucharest.  He is married with one 
daughter.  He speaks English, German, French, Hungarian, and 
Romanian. 
 
------------ 
THE RADICALS 
------------ 
 
 
LASLO TOKES: Protestant Reformed Bishop 
--------------------------------------- 
26. (SBU) Tokes is commonly known in Romania and 
internationally as the priest who sparked Romania's 
revolution.  After Tokes criticized publicly the Ceaucescu 
regime in December 1989, hundreds of Romanians surrounded his 
house to protect him from threatened internal deportation by 
the former secret police.  This was the first large-scale 
public protest against Ceaucescu's regime and produced the 
first bloodshed.  In return for his important role at the 
outset of the so-called "Revolution," the UDMR awarded Tokes 
the title of Honorary Chairman.  In the initial 
post-Revolution years, Tokes was an important face for the 
UDMR internationally and among the most influential members 
within the movement 
 
27. (C) However, his radical agenda of pressing the UDMR to 
demand full autonomy for ethnic Hungarians has isolated him 
over time, particularly as other UDMR leaders took on a 
moderate approach.  At the same time, his prestige has 
diminished domestically and internationally, as accusations 
surfaced of embezzlement and collaboration with the former 
internal intelligence service.  Between 1996 and 2000, when 
UDMR was part of the then center-right ruling coalition, 
Tokes continuously pressured the UDMR to withdraw from the 
government. 
 
28. (SBU) In 2003, the UDMR revoked Tokes' position as 
Honorary Chairman.  He left the party and has since become 
one of the fiercest critics of UDMR leadership and policies. 
During the 2004 electoral campaign for mayor of Cluj, for 
example, he asserted that he would prefer "an extremist 
Romanian" to a "a treacherous Hungarian," casting his support 
behind extreme nationalist Gheorge Funar over the moderate 
UDMR candidate. 
 
29. (C) Tokes is presently the Chairman of the National 
Council of Magyars from Transylvania (CNMT), an 
ethnic-Hungarian faction.  UDMR leaders have repeatedly 
expressed that Tokes' opinions do not remotely represent the 
party's majority views.  Many lament that it is unfortunate 
that Tokes, who once was the symbol of Romania's 
"Revolution," is now viewed more as a marginalized radical. 
 
30. (U) Bishop Tokes was born on April 1, 1952, in Cluj.  He 
attended the Theological Institute of Cluj.  He is married 
with two children.  He speaks English, Hungarian, and 
Romanian. 
 
 
ZSOLT SZILAGYI, Former UDMR Deputy 
---------------------------------- 
31. (SBU) Zsolt Szilagyi became the youngest Deputy in the 
Chamber of Deputies when he entered Parliament in 1990 at the 
age of 21.  He was known as the protege of Bela Marko early 
in his career.  Their ideologies diverged over the years, 
however, and by 2004 Szilagyi had become the most vocal 
Radical.  In 2004, together with 17 other members, he walked 
out of the UDMR.  His attempts to create a rival ethnic 
Hungarian party -- the Hungarian Civil Union (UCM) -- have 
been unsuccessful to date.  But he has vowed to continue 
trying to form an electoral alternative to the UDMR.  His 
efforts have gained the support of Hungary's Opposition 
Party, FIDEZS. 
32. (SBU) No longer in Parliament, Szilagyi now resides in 
Oradea.  He is a strong supporter for both Bishop Tokes and 
the latter's push for autonomy in the Szekler Land region. 
In addition to his leadership of the UCM, he is also Vice 
Chairman of the Transylvanian Hungarian National Council, led 
by Tokes. 
 
33. (SBU) Szilagyi was born on July 29, 1968 in Oradea.  He 
graduated from the Polytechnic School of Timisoara in 
Construction Management.  He is married and speaks English, 
German, Hungarian, and Romanian. 
 
----------------- 
TWO UP-AND-COMERS 
----------------- 
 
 
ATTILA MARKO: State Secretary for Inter-Ethnic 
--------------------------------------------- - 
Relations 
--------- 
34. (SBU) Human-rights expert Attila Marko is an 
up-and-coming UDMR politician currently serving in the 
politically appointed position of State Secretary in the 
Department of Inter-ethnic Relations.  He began his political 
career as the founding member of the city of Brasov's UDMR 
branch.  With a solid background in legal issues, he soon 
became human rights advisor to UDMR president Bela Marko. 
 
35. (SBU) In 1997, Attila Marko began his career with the 
department which he presently heads.  He witnessed de facto 
the development of the department, then named the Department 
for the Protection of National Minorities.  He has served in 
various positions in the Department, becoming State Secretary 
in January 2005.  Besides being an expert on human rights, 
Marko is also a specialist on property restitution issues. 
He has been Vice President of the commission in charge of the 
restitution of religious property ) formed by the so-called 
Law 501/2002 - since 2002.  Like his contemporary, Anton 
Niculescu, Marko is more of a technocrat and not involved in 
party infighting. 
 
36. (U) Marko was born on September 27, 1968, in Brasov.  He 
attended the Law School of Budapest.  He is married and 
speaks English, Hungarian, and Romanian. 
 
 
ANTON NICULESCU, State Secretary 
-------------------------------- 
37. (SBU) Anton Niculescu was appointed State Secretary at 
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in spring 2004.  From 2003 
until his appointment, Niculescu was UDMR's Executive Vice 
President, heading the party's EU Integration Department. 
Before 2000, he worked for the rightist coalition government, 
first as Deputy Secretary General and then as State Secretary 
for European Integration.  In between the governmental 
positions, he also worked as a Political Specialist for the 
U.S. Embassy. 
 
38. (SBU) A young and dynamic politician, Niculescu has been 
involved in a broad range of activities since his student 
days.  In the early 1990s, he was a journalist at a 
Hungarian-language publication and a contributor to 
Radio-Free Europe.  He later became political counselor to 
the Freidrich Naumann Foundation, Foreign Affairs advisor to 
the UDMR President Bela Marko, and Parliamentary Expert in 
the Senate.  During the electoral campaign in 1996, he was 
the spokesperson for UDMR presidential candidate Gyorgy 
Frunda. 
 
39. (SBU) In more recent years, Niculescu has specialized in 
EU integration issues, working as Director of the Open 
Society Foundation and advisor to other EU-funded programs. 
He is known to dislike squabbling within his party, and known 
to Embassy Officers to be even more moderate than the 
moderates of the UDMR.  He may possibly follow in Frunda's 
footsteps and pursue a career focused on EU integration. 
Although Niculescu lacks Frunda's legal background, he is 
highly knowledgeable in EU issues and well connected to the 
EU Parliament. 
 
40. (U) Niculescu was born on May 6, 1964, in Targu Mures. 
He graduated from the Polytechnic School of Bucharest, 
Faculty of Chemistry.  He also has a Masters in International 
Relations.  He is divorced.  He speaks English, German, 
French, Hungarian, and Romanian. 
 
 
--------------------------- 
Two Prominent Local Leaders 
--------------------------- 
 
 
GYONGYIKE BONDI: PREFECT, MARAMURES COUNTY 
------------------------------------------ 
41. (SBU) Gyongyike Bondi represents the rare female ethnic 
Hungarian who has risen to a position of significance within 
the UDMR.  A Communist Party member during the Ceausescu 
period, Bondi was a founding member of UDMR and held her 
first important position within UDMR as the party's Secretary 
in 1998.  Between 1996 and 2004, she represented Maramures 
County in the Chamber of Deputies for two terms.  In 2004, 
she left Parliament and was appointed to Prefect of Maramures 
County, holding also the title of Executive President within 
UDMR's branch in Maramures.  Bondi's focus as Prefect has 
been on the economic, industrial, and tourism development of 
her county.  During a visit by an Embassy Political Officer, 
Bondi expressed tremendous interest in the flow of U.S. 
direct investments and the possibility of tourism development 
targeted at foreigners in her county of high potential. 
 
42. (C) At present, no UDMR female members are present in the 
Parliament or in State Secretary positions.  Indeed, several 
ethnic-Hungarian politicians have lamented to Post "the 
apparent lack of equal opportunity" within the UDMR 
leadership.  Bondi currently represents the exception to the 
rule to this barrier. 
 
43. (U) Bondi was born on October 2, 1952, in Cluj.  She 
graduated from Babes-Bolyai University, Faculty of Economics. 
 She is married with two children and she speaks English, 
French, Romanian, and Hungarian. 
 
 
JANOS BOROS: VICE-MAYOR, CITY OF CLUJ-NAPOCA 
-------------------------------------------- 
44. (SBU) Boros has been Vice-Mayor of Cluj-Napoca since 2000 
and is known to have a close working relationship with 
influential PD Mayor, Emil Boc.  In his second term as 
Vice-Mayor, he is closely involved with the Mayor in city 
renewal projects such as the development of new housing for 
young families, the restoration of the city center, and the 
creation of more parking spaces within the city limits. 
Separately, he also oversees the provision of basic 
infrastructure for the whole city.  Boros has held positions 
of increasing responsibility in the Cluj County branch of the 
UDMR.  Prior to being elected Vice Mayor, he was Secretary of 
the City Council and City Councilman of the UDMR from 1995 to 
2000. 
 
45. (C) During several meetings with an Embassy Political 
Officer, Boros repeatedly indicated his strong support of 
U.S. investments in Cluj-Napoca.  He recently partnered with 
an American investor in the opening of "Justin's," an upscale 
caf-bar named after his American partner. 
 
46. (U) Boros was born on January 24, 1948 in Cluj-Napoca. 
He received a B.A. in Engineering from the Technical 
University of Cluj.  He also studied four years of theology 
at the Roman-Catholic Institute of Theology in Alba-Iulia. 
He is married with one daughter; his wife is currently a 
physics professor in Budapest.  He speaks some English, 
Romanian, and Hungarian. 
 
47. (U) Amembassy Bucharest,s reporting telegrams are 
available on the Bucharest SIPRNET Website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/bucharest. 
 
TAPLIN 

            
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