Hungary and Romania, two Warsaw Pact allies, appear to be on a collision course over what Hungarians have publicly branded as a "policy of apatheid" practiced by the Romanian government against its ethnic Hungarian minority.
Romania's policy of trying to disperse and assimilate various ethnic minorities, including nearly 2 million Hungarians, has been the source of deep covert hostilities between the two countries. Increased public attention given by Hungary to the plight of ethnic Hungarians marks a new departure in relations between Warsaw pact allies.
Romanian authorities are reported to have taken retaliatory measures against a prominent ethnic Hungarian who last month charged that ethnic people of Hungarian descent were being discriminated against and that the Romanian government was trying to stamp out the Hungarian language.
Karoly Kiraly, who was a member of the Romanian Communist Party Central Commitee until his resignation in 1975, made the charges in an open letter. Since its publication in the West, Kiraly reportedly has been subjected to threats of violence by "gangs of hooligans" and forced to leave his home town in Transylvania.
According to these reports from Budapest, Kiraly was called in by Romanian security officials ealier this month and told that he had to leave Tigru Mures, a predominatly Hungarian town of 150,000, within 10 days. He was told that there would be "bloodshed" unless he complied and was given a factory job in the Romanian town of Caransebes, about 150 [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]
According to a 1977 Romanian census, there are 1.7 million Hungarians in Romania, mostly in the Transylvania area. The region has for centuries belonged to Hungary and was detached from her by the Great Powers and awarded to Romania at the end of World War I.
The award has been a source of friction between the two countries throughout the interwar period. Since the end of World War II, the Communist goverments in Budapest and Bucharest have consistently maintained the fiction that the ethnic issue had been successfully resolved in the spirits of "socialist cooperation."
During this decade, Romania's policies have been privately criticized by Hungarian officials. The Hungarian government, however, has carefully avoided public discussion of Transylvania.
In Transylvania itself there have been growing signs of discountent over the suppression of Hungarian cultural and linguistic rights reflected most often in the closing or curtailment of Hungarian language education programs.
There has been a steady exodus of Hungarian intellectuals from Transylvania to Hungary over the past two years. But the degree of discountent survaced last month when Kiraly, once an alternate member of the party's ruling executive bureau, openly attacked the government of President Nocolae Ceasescu.
The Hungarian government in turn has mounted for the first time a public campaign on behalf of ethnic Hungarians in Romania. One of the country's leading poets. Gyulla Illyes, recently wrote a series of articles comparing the plight of the Hungarian minority to South Africa's apartheid policy.