5 C
January 27, 2022

The Thorn

At the initiative of the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Laszlo Tokes, the ‘Szekely Land’ has opened a representation in Brussels. While the initiators claim the move will bring economic benefits, detractors see it as a step towards winning European officials’ support of the Szekely autonomy cause. UDMR MEPs have not made a secret out of their involvement, but their colleague in the Bucharest Government, the foreign minister, deplored the action. With so many representations of all kinds in the capital city of the EU, one more is no extraordinary thing. In a Europe of the regions, the representation office of a region – even if it is just a reality of the past and an aspiration of the future – is not going to be singled out.

Before Romania could set up regions measuring up to those in Europe – meaning stronger and more responsible than the current ones, the community who wanted such region the most – the Szekely – stepped ahead of the Romanian administrative reform effort.

While, in Romania, the unpredictable and independent President Basescu has dared propose such a topic of public debate and even public decision in the latest years, the only genuine interest came from the Hungarians. The theme of the Szekely autonomy has been dominating the political rhetoric used in the Hungarian Romanian communities for a few years now. So much that it has become almost the only important one, actually showing a crisis of programme of minority policies. It is more than just an internal political conflict determined to a certain extent by competition and ambition. Inclined to a maximal policy, Laszlo Tokes has intuited the neuralgic spot of an UDMR leading team who has always been very good at screwing itself deeply in Romanian politics in order to benefit from the kind of power going even beyond its own expectations. Tokes has also speculated on the Szekely autonomist trend which goes back several centuries, even to the times when they were under Hungarian administration.

The truth is that there have been no credible projects for an economic boom in am autonomous ‘Szekely Land’ so far. With ministers and many heads of national and local institutions, UDMR has pumped money and strategic decisions to Szekely-inhabited counties.

However, such a political programme has had ambivalent consequences. On the one hand it accentuated the view that the association with the power is good for the Hungarian community and, on the other hand, it grew the discontentment of the people who see all that as a poisoned fruit. In other words, the ‘small’ benefits prevent ‘big’ expected changes from happening. Even the recent Hungarian party referred to as ‘Tokes’ party’  wants to make a radical change of approach, subordinating any advantage of being in the government to the autonomist effort. Between autonomy and power, Tokes’ emulators would happily sacrifice the latter. By that, autonomy became an aim per se, making any pragmatic approaches look suspect. To Romanian political debate, regionalisation is becoming even more difficult in such a context mined by distrust. Between benefits and prudence, the scales are usually tipped towards the latter. And so Romanian regions that could use the association in a bigger administrative structure are missing opportunities.

The ‘Szekely Land’ remains a thorn in the flesh of Romanian politics.  It is no surprise that even doable plans of economic development of the region would hardly ever receive the endorsement of Romanian politicians, because it cannot be ignored that economic growth thanks to administrative autonomy would be going hand in hand with political discrimination in the area.

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