Despite the numerous international commitments and the national legislation, as signaled several times by our organisation, Romania continues to be in debt regarding the restitution of property confiscated from the church during to communist regime. The restitution process in Romania has been stagnating for years and involves mostly the estates of Hungarian churches and numerous castles, mansions and estates formerly belonging to Hungarian landowners.
One of the oldest libraries in Transylvania is the Batthyaneum Library in Alba Iulia/Gyulafehérvár. A 1999 government decision states that the library should be returned to its rightful owner, the Roman Catholic Church. In 2012 the European Court of Human Rights fined Romania for not settling this case within a reasonable amount of time.
The most recent development as far as this particular cultural heritage is concerned is a first degree court decision of the Alba Iulia Court of Appeals, in which the court rejected the request of the Roman Catholic Church to return the library that rightfully belongs to the church.
The point of the view of the church is that according to the testament of Ignác BATTHYÁNY, the library and the planetarium were left to the Roman Catholic Church and that in the testament the term “Province of Transylvania” – on the basis of which the Romanian state considers itself the rightful successor – signifies the church itself.
A recent similarly absurd decision of the Giurgiu Tribunal concerns the property of the BÁNFFY family, a woodland of 9300 hectares. Although a 2007 restitution decision clearly stated that the property belongs to the BÁNFFY family, the decision was attacked in 2014 on the request of the former Mureș County Prefect, Vasile-Liviu OPREA. The decision of the Giurgiu Tribunal is final and states that the property of the BÁNFFY belongs to the state.
It is thusly apparent that the restitution process in Romania is not only stagnating, but is rather reversed. These developments are an affront to the basic right of ownership and an open discriminatory campaign against certain religions and ethnic minorities.