According to the participants of a stage discussion held in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca) about the 1989 change of regime, it is necessary to raise awareness among young people of the fact that the freedom into which they were born cannot be taken for granted.

The discussion was attended by public figures from Transylvania and Hungary who experienced the 1989 changes as children. Gergely Gulyás, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office took the view that both history and academic research have yet to explore some facets of the 1989 changes; the artistic and literary works, and in particular, the films which could have shared the experience of the changes with wider strata of society have yet to be made. The Minister said the tools of the 21st century are essential for enabling society to process what happened at the time.

Mr Gulyás believes it is an omission that in Hungary no justice was delivered in connection with the crimes of communism. Despite this, it is joyous that in Hungary there was a Hungarian-style, rather than a Romanian-style change of regime. In his view, the greatest difference lies in the fact that in Romania the influence of the secret services remained intact for a long time. “Even today, one has the feeling that these networks continue to live on, even beyond generations,” he added.

The story that Balázs Gergely, President of the Kincses Kolozsvár Association – the association responsible for the organisation of the Kolozsvár Hungarian Days – related served almost as proof of this finding. He said that on Sunday, after the opening gala of the Hungarian Days, he and his conversation partners observed an elderly man who was evidently listening to their conversation, and later warned Mr Gergely that he was being “over-active” and could end up like Anna Horváth. The strange man referred to Kolozsvár’s Deputy Mayor whom the authorities kept under observation for nation policy reasons, and during the course of her surveillance over several months, they recorded a conversation, on the basis of which the anti-corruption prosecution service charged her with malfeasance in office and the court handed down to her a two-year suspended prison sentence on a final and absolute basis.

Lawyer András Schiffer said it is a surviving crime of state socialism that for decades it foiled critical thinking about capitalism in the countries of Eastern Europe. He recalled that even the soft Kádár dictatorship was able to drive people to their deaths.

Mr Schiffer took the view that whatever legitimate criticisms are levelled at today’s regimes, it is not right to draw a parallel between those and the communist regime. Today it is possible to seek legal assistance, to turn to the public or to go abroad if someone has an injury. None of these options existed before 1989.

Márton Tonk, President of the Senate of the Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania said today the measures that were not taken in the first few years after the change of regime cannot be taken any more. He took the view that the changes that occurred have not been processed by society, and with the passage of time, there is less and less chance for this to happen.