From: Kacso Judith Andrea 

      Date:  Sat, 26 Nov 2005 09:40:09 +0100 (CET) 
      From:  stefano bottoni <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> 

                      Paris-Bologna-London, 25 November 2005    

   Dear Colleagues and Friends,

   First of all, let us introduce ourselves. We are two young scholars 
interested in twentieth century Romanian history: Francois Bocholier, an ancien 
élève of the Ecole normale supérieure (Ulm), who is to defend a PhD thesis on 
the political strategies of the Transylvanian Romanian élites in the '20s 
(Sorbonne University, Paris), and Stefano Bottoni who has recently got his PhD 
in Contemporary European History (University of Bologna) with a thesis on the 
Stalinist nationality policy in Romania focused on the short-lived Hungarian 
Autonomous Region (1952-1960).

  We are calling on you to protest against the difficult conditions of research 
that we have been experiencing for years, along with many other scholars (both 
foreigners and Romanians). We are in no doubt that many of you have shared our 
situation when doing research in Romania, even after the end of the Communist 
régime. Based on personal experience and background information collected by 
Romanian officials, we have been able to put together a broad documentation on 
the present research conditions both in the National Archives (Arhivele 
Nationale Istorice Centrale), based in Bucharest, and in the county branches 
(Directie judetene), especially those in Transylvania, the area our study has 
been focusing on. Work on this documentation was completed in summer of 2005, 
and will be made accessible to those who may be interested in it. Let us give 
you just two examples which illustrate how bad the conditions of research in 
Romania have become:

  -          Since 2003 the internal rules for access and consultation of 
documents in the National Archives have been getting worse: the use of laptops 
has been expressly forbidden; the scholars are not allowed to consult freely 
all the inventories; the internal management document makes official 
discrimination between Romanian scholars and non-Romanians.
  -          Since 2001 the number of former police officers who are employed 
by National Archives has increased considerably. The current assistant director 
himself is general of the Romanian Gendarmerie. The Faculty of Archival Studies 
of the Romanian Police Academy is a military body, that is to say a branch of 
the Ministry of the Interior, and not a civil institution. All its graduates 
enjoy the status of police officers.

  Let us add now only a brief remark concerning another archive whose study is 
crucial for recostructing the recent history of Romania and, broadly speaken, 
of Communist East-Europe as a whole: the so-called Securitate archives (Arhiva 
Consiliului National pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securitatii - ACNSAS). Although 
already possessing a research pass for the National Archives, Stefano Bottoni 
had to pay (as a foreign scholar) a sum of 16 million lei (more than 500$) to 
the National Treasury in order to get access to this institution in late 2003. 
We must mention that Romanian scholars have been also requested to pay a 1 
million lei fee for getting this permission. François Bocholier applied for the 
permission, which was granted him in July 2004, but when he finally got into 
the archive, he discovered that there was no list of fonds (inventar) relating 
to the personalities he was searching for. Then Bocholier was told to wait some 
time to allow CNSAS to carry on the necessary investigations. Unfortunately, 
the positive answer came too late for him, after nearly one and a half year of 
complete silence.
  We are informed that for undefined "administrative reasons" not a single new 
pass for access to the ACNSAS has been issued since April 2005. As Stefano 
Bottoni personally experienced, during 2005 research conditions severely 
worsened even in this institution, which was formerly considered more 
transparent and user-friendly than the National Archives. As a consequence, 
research has been virtually blocked.

              All this is happening on the eve of the Romanian accession to the 
European Union, an event of utmost importance for Romania. As young scholars 
and European citizens deeply involved in and fascinated by Romanian past, we 
strongly believe that such a situation should not be tolerated any more. In our 
opinion, EU enlargement should represent not only a sequence of political 
decisions, but first of all an occasion to restabilish in Central-Eastern 
Europe some basic values like consistency, transparency, the rule of law, and 
last but not least, free access to information.

  We are asking you to join our civil action by signing this document, which 
will be addressed to the Romanian Government, to the European Union and the 
Council of Europe and also to a professional body such as the International 
Council on Archives. We will also publicize this protest in the Romanian and 
international media, in order to urge the Romanian authorities to address this 
situation and guarantee for the future fair conditions of access to the public 
archives to all scholars, without discrimination on the basis of nationality, 
institutional affiliation, or research topic.

  Thank you in advance for your attention and for your help.

                              Sincerely yours

  Francois Bocholier (Sorbonne University, Paris)
                    Stefano Bottoni  (University of Bologna)
                         Dennis Deletant (SSEES, London)

  PS: If you know of others who might be interested in joining this action, 
please send an e-mail to us at the following addresses: [EMAIL PROTECTED], 

  Thank you!

  810271 Braila, Al. Cinematografului 2, bl. H3, sc. 2, ap. 27
  tel. 0740.026091

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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