Archivists and researchers of the Blinken Open Society Archives at CEU express their concern regarding the restriction of access to the National Archives of Romania on the basis of “protection of classified information.”
On May 26, 2022, the National Archives of Romania announced a decision—at the indication of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to which it is subordinate, and especially of the General Directorate for Internal Protection—resulting in the re-classification of documents produced before 1989. These documents do not pose a threat to the national security of Romania, and had previously been researched. This measure prevents issues concerning either the Second World War (deportations, ethnic cleansing, assassinations) or the Communist regime (repression, planning policies, collectivization, nationalization) from being thoroughly studied and understood. The fundamental constitutional right to information is also violated. The decision is accompanied by other worrying phenomena, including the destruction of documents on the surveillance of political prisoners by the Securitate, the conditions of factories and the treatment of institutionalized minors under Communism, or the Mineriads of the 1990s.
Blinken OSA, an archives committed to the principles of access to public information, protests against the above trend, and expresses solidarity with the researchers affected by it. The Council of Europe, of which Romania is member state, repeatedly promotes its expectations toward public archival institutions in Europe, as is laid down in Recommendation No. R 2000 (13) on a European Policy on Access to Archives. Restricting access to archival documents that were lawfully accessible earlier is a clear violation of Recommendation’s principles. We believe that 33 years after the fall of Communism, the full declassification of all documents created at least 30 years ago would be the right solution for the institutional culture of a democratic country.