Timisoara’s Spirit


What made me participate in this conference in a moment when the Romanian political and civic space is very tensioned and divided, is the homage it brings to Timisoara’s citizens fight and sacrifice for freedom. I would like to address sincere thanks from all my heart to the organizers for their initiative to hold this conference and to the participants for being here together today.

I was very impressed to see in the title of the Conference in Budapest the syntagm „Timisoara’s spirit”, which comprises the essence of the events happened twenty years ago.

These bold people, few at the beginning but then many and many have won with empty hands both the Army and the Securitate (political police), have conquered the communist power headquarters and have made Timisoara a free town within a country that knew the toughest south eastern Europe dictatorship. They have won in spite of  the fully equipped troops from the Army, Securitate and Militia as well as armored face conveyors and tanks sent against them and have opened full fire towards them, have killed and wounded them, have arrested and tortured them. They made it because they neutralized those two instruments used by the communist power to dominate: fear and split. Ceausescu and the Security could not imagine that orthodox Romanians can make a common cause with a Hungarian pastor and have not taken into consideration the heroic sacrifice during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956; this was a lesson the communist government in Budapest took into account in 1989.

The moments when crowds of people are ready to fight and die for ideals are rare and this is why they must be kept alive in our memory.

Today we know that the Romanian Revolution was not only the scene of major actions, either criminal or heroic, wise or stupid. It also means the sum of several events that ordinary people had the chance or the misfortune to suddenly find themselves in, awkward situations they were not prepared for. These people have brought out then what was best or worst in them, have followed orders blindly, in a balanced manner or with excess. Some of them have understood the grandeur of the moment they were experiencing and were ready to consciously risk their lives for liberty, truth and justice. Others have just followed their instincts, some people have followed the bold ones with a courage they did not know they have, other have cunningly expected to see who is winning or remained stunk in the indifference towards everything that seemed it would not touch their personal lives, an indifference they were condemned to by the habits of surviving at any price.

The people we are all these, even it is true that in those astral days of December 1989 only the deeds of some of us have led to the change of the national destiny. In order to fully understand what happened in 1989 is not sufficient to record the deeded of some people, their connections and consequences. It is necessary to do more than that. In 1938, Rădulescu Motru wrote: „ every people strive to assure its future by putting value to its own forces. And when we say „capitalizing their own forces” we do not refer to capitalizing the ethnic characteristics, but we talk about capitalizing the ethic characteristics. The people lives ethnically, but rises itself to a historical destiny through its ethics.” Thus, it is the time to talk about the Revolution ethos.

The Revolution in 1989 was for Romania, like for the other former communist countries from Eastern Europe one of those moments the history calls „defining moments”.

In such crucial moments, a people do not act only following its interests, but according to its individuality, meaning the very behavior that defines its identity.

There are peoples which ion such crucial moments act according to their national myth, or they may create a new one.

Which is the Romanian defining myth and to what extent the Romanians’ heroic riot in 1989 may create a new national myth?

The French political scientist Raoul Girardet identifies four myths he considers essential for the entire modern European society: the conspiracy myth, the savior’s myth, the golden age myth and the unity myth. All these correspond to social and political events that have radically changed Europe during the last two decades.

If we talk about the revolutions in 1989 that had led to the disappearance of the Iron Curtain and to the fall of the communism, or about  the European nations’ evolution during the short time just after these revolutions, if we approach the idea of a European unity or of the danger represented by a possible return to the communism – in all these we can find characteristics of those for political myths.

The fact that the politics of the states within this geographic space was associated to these myths in an identical manner, had drawn the attention upon a common psychology. We talk about a common sensitivity, coming from the century-old cohabitation marked by tragical conflicts and surprising affinities. This common sensitivity reveals itself within the myths that tell us things about ourselves that we do not know yet.

Even though Girardet is not wrong in identifying those four political myths with the springs that have led to shaping the present European civilization, none of these four myths can be considered significant for the Southeast European world. The unique myth that I consider as defining from all points of view for this cultural environment is the myth of the builder’s sacrifice (of the creator’s one). A long series of Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian, Albanese, Serbian, Hungarian legends have a character that creates, through his talent and sacrifice, a unique and eternal structure.

Assuming the myth of faith trough sacrifice as a defining political myth brings about a physiological gain by des-locating from the collective mental the myth of passivity and introducing the construction rigour within the behavior.

It means in the same time something more profound and more actual. I believe that in order to surpass the present global crisis we need more than economic, political or social solutions; we need to act solidarily. Are we able to defeat the divisions in our society two decades after the Revolution?

My activity during the last two decades was dedicated to the ideal of a reconciliation trough truth. In the consciousness of all the East European peoples, the creation sacrifice is the one, which gives birth to an entire social, cultural and even religious system. If we look at the meaning of the anticommunist resistance, at the over four decades of martyrdom  that peoples and nations under communism were subjected to and at the redeeming spring of the 1989 revolutions under the sign of a constructive sacrifice, then it is the very moment when peoples from former communist countries should express themselves in innovating the political environment too, leaving behind the humiliating stereotypes, even if at a certain moment they were fit to a reality we perceive today as obsolete. It is the moment for them to have a new vision upon the world. My belief is that now, at the beginning of the 21st century, when the globalized world passes through not only a economical crisis, but also a crises of ideas, the experience of the former communist countries in South Eastern Europe may become a reference point for the „other Europe”.

Starting from this point, we may head to the rigour and the seriousness necessary to build a politics based on action instead of a culture of sufferance and patience that we have surpassed in 1989.

During the two decades since the Revolution in 1989, the Romanian state has fulfilled „two major political interests”: integration with the NATO and the European Union. The first guarantees our state independence, unity and security and frees us from secular fears and the second acknowledges the statute of consolidated democracy and functional market economy and offers us protection in a moment of globalized financial crises.

As great as theses achievements might look at the scale of the whole Romanian history, we talk about interests (political, military, economical, social, cultural), and not about ideals based on which we may build the solidarity defining a nation.

Politics, economy, justice as well as the moral state of the Romanian society were and will still be a short time from now on under the sign of the „original sin” – the criminal repression in December 1989 and the usurpation of the power gained through popular riot.

The martyrs of the Revolution in 1989, along with the martyrs of the resistance against communism during 1945-1989 and who have died for freedom, truth, justice and democracy, putting these ideals above their own lives represent the „founding sacrifice” of the Romanian nation rebirth.

If we want to free ourselves from the „original sin” and to give a meaning to the „founding sacrifice”, we need to change the behavioral pattern based on a „surviving strategy” with a behavior based on „self-respect”.

Only then the Revolution in 1989 will become that defining moment based on which we may build a new model of dignity and a new vision upon the world we live in.