Bucharest (Jan. 13)
The bill introduced into Parliament a month ago (on December 13th.) by the Minister of Justice, M. Harmangiu, to modify the regulations of the existing 1924 Nationality Law enabling a number of persons belonging to the category of Staatenlose to acquire Roumanian citizenship, has been shelved, in consequence of M. Harmangiu’s resignation, and the appointment of a new Minister of Justice, Professor Valerian Pop, who has been till now Under-Secretary for Justice, and is a former Minister for Transylvania.
Several other bills for the modification of the 1924 Nationality Law have been shelved in the same fashion, by the retirement of the Minister of Justice, and the explanation that the new Minister would have to go into the matter again for himself. This happened with the bill introduced in 1928 by M. Junian, who the Minister of Justice in the Maniu Government, and again with the bill introduced by his successor, M. Nitescu, the Minister of Justice in the last National Peasant Government.
In this way, the whole question of the Staatenlose in Roumania, which affects large numbers of Jews, has been dragged for years.
M. Harmangiu’s bill, which consisted of only one clause, provided that all persons who were outside the country at the time of the promulgation of the Nationality Law of 1924, and were for that reason unable to be included in the register of citizens, although they were in possession of the necessary legal requirements. would be given the right to acquire citizenship by lodging applications up to December 31st., 1932.
The bill was not considered in Jewish quarters to be satisfactory. The Jewish Deputies complained that it did not put right the injustices committed by the Nationality Law of 1924, and at best provided only a partial solution of the Staatenlose problem, which would modify the position of the Staatenlose of Roumanian nationality living in the new provinces, but would not help the great mass of Jewish Staatenlose in the country.
The shortcomings of M. Harmangiu’s bill were also indicated by Dr. Filderman, the President of the Union of Roumanian Jews, in a memorandum, in which he pointed out that according to paragraph 66 of the Nationality Law enacted on February 24th., 1924, all inhabitants of the annexed provinces, as well as of the Old Kingdom, should have received full Roumanian citizenship without any further formalities.
This provision was, however, practically annulled, he said, by paragraph 64 of the same Law, which conferred the power on the administrative authorities in the towns of establishing the legal position of each applicant for citizenship. Paragraph 65 of the Law contains provisions, Dr. Filderman declared, which are to be found in the legislation of no other country. According to this paragraph, anyone whose name did not appear in the register of citizens and who did not appeal against the exclusion within 20 days is considered to have forfeited his right and that of his descendants to claim recognition of their citizenship rights. It so happens, he proceeded that the Citizenship Law was put into operation at a time when there was disquiet and a great deal of agitation in the country. Many inhabitants whose names were not included on the register of citizens had no means of knowing of the omission. In many places the lists of citizens were not even posted up, and demands that they should be posted up were rejected. Naturally, such people could not make an appeal as required by the law. In many other cases appeals were made, but were ignored, because of some technical formality.
M. Harmangiu’s bill would affect only a very small number of people, Dr. Filderman said, and from the point of view of the Jewish population could be regarded as non-existent, because it did not take into account any of the complaints made on the Jewish side against the Law of January 1924.
I AM NOT AN ANTISEMITE IN BAD SENSE OF WORD: NEW MINISTER’S STATEMENT WHEN HE LEFT CUZIST PARTY
Professor Valerian Pop was at one time a violent antisemite, but of late he has shown considerable understanding and sympathy for Jewish problems. At the end of November he spoke in Parliament in defence of the Jews, in reply to an attack made on them by one of the Cuzists, Deputy Robu, who had protested against Jews being allowed to hold judgeships in Bukovina. His statement that all Roumanian judges were regarded by the Government as highly responsible and trustworthy, without any distinction of race or religion, was received with great satisfaction by the Jews of the country.
At the end of the war, Professor Valerian Pop founded, together with Professor Hatzigan, former Minister for Transylvania, and other University professors, the “Actiunea Patriotica”, an extreme Nationalist Organisation, which was in 1924 amalgamated with Professor Cuza’s League of Christian National Defence. A number of the leading members of the “Actiunea”, including Professor Hatzigan, left the Cuzist League in 1926, declaring that they no longer accepted Cuzist antisemitism and Professor Pop did the same the following year, explaining in a statement to the press that he was not an antisemite in the bad sense of the word.