Members of the Timisoara Society, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen:
It s a great honour to be able to join you from Ottawa to celebrate
the much-admired Proclamation of Timisoara released twenty years ago.
In 1989, Romania found itself with a broken economy, a 'justice' and
police system controlled by Securitate apparatchiks, and a severely
depressed national morale.The first steps towards restoring the rule
of law, multiparty democracy and an open society were taken in this
city in December, 1989. The Revolution of Timisoara exacted a costly
price in human lives and suffering--as documented in your city museum
on the period--but became a symbol of resistance to totalitarianism
across the world.
Innocent persons were killed in Timisora. There should be no
limitation period for murder prosecutions.
Proclamation of Timisoara
Hundreds of Romanian-Canadians and others of us were at your embassy
in Ottawa the night in December, 1989, when the Ceausescu regime fell,
thanks to the spark struck first by many thousands of courageous
residents of this city and Rev. Laszlo and Mrs Tokes. In March, 1990,
the Timisoara Society - of which I'm honoured to be a member - issued
the Proclamation of Timisoara. Your poet Ana Blandiana, co-founder of
the Civic Alliance, termed it the "most important political text after
'89 and in fact the only coherent program of changing . communist
Romania into a democratic society".
The best-known feature of the proclamation was its eighth point, which
called for all former nomenklatura and Securitate members to be barred
from holding public office for a period of ten years or three
consecutive legislatures, with a stress on the office of president.
The waves of multi-party democracy sweeping through much of the world
during the past thirty years are an extraordinary achievement,
resulting in the empowerment of civil societies. Democracy, of
course, subordinates states to people; they own their government, not
vice versa. Democracy means freedom of speech, association, assembly.
Democrats place the governance process above themselves.
Weakened commitment to good practices and mistaken actions by
governments comprise two great threats today for both established and
developing democracies. All of us must believe in and hold fast to
good practices if democracies are to flourish and survive. Some
governments undermine their own principles to pursue security or other
interests at the expense of human dignity in new, emerging or restored
democracies. Abusive and totalitarian regimes are tolerated, even
praised. It is too often 'inconvenient to help' fellow democrats
Support for democracy is also seen as 'inconvenient' when it gets in
the way of trade, investments and the demands of security. What
price are we willing to pay for self-government and for those who
fight for it despite high personal cost? We admire Nelson Mandela in
South Africa, Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma and Gao Zhizeng now
languishing in the Chinese gulag, who gave up everything for the
democratic ideals we admire and claim as our own, yet too many
governments are unwilling to help. The result is that democracy often
seems held hostage to economic and other interests.
There are democratic societies today in all parts of the world. Most
peoples want freedom, the principal guarantor of which is
constitutional democracy. Whether all can achieve it is currently in
some doubt. Fortunately, the universal desire for representative
government, guaranteed human rights, and the rule of law continues to
have momentum throughout most of the world. This is supported to some
extent by the U N Development Programme (UNDP), which serves 166
countries. In 2009, it dedicated $1.4 billion to democratic
governance programs, including 112 to promote transparency in
We democrats everywhere should be neither complacent nor over
confident. There are still dozens of tyrannies or quasi-dictatorships
in the world doing much harm to human beings and the natural
environment. Consider, as only one example, the destructive roles the
party-state of China is playing in Sudan, Burma, Zimbabwe and in
undermining democratic governance across parts of Asia and elsewhere
and domestically with a number of spiritual groups, including Tibetan
Buddhists, Falun Gong (www.david-kilgour.com), Christians and Muslims.
Let us resolve again today to apply the lessons of December 1989 in
Romania to all governments, civil societies and suffering peoples
across the world everywhere. We owe humanity the continued spread of
multiparty democracy, pluralism and human dignity. As so many speakers
have stressed today, the proclamation remains a key document for the
spirit of Romanians.
Long live the Proclamation Of Timisoara and Doru Mariesh (hunger striker).