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October 21, 2020

Budapest backs Szeklers’ autonomy, pleads for Constitution change

Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi endorses autonomy statements that sparked a diplomatic row with Bucharest.  At the same time, Budapest is threatening Romania with ‘diplomatic measures’, says ‘strategic partnership’ jeopardized. President Basescu declined to comment on the row
The row sparked by the statements made by Hungarian Foreign Ministry’s secretary of state Nemeth Zsolt, who asked Romania to lift the ban on the use of Szekely symbols and to put an end to “symbolic aggression,” is far from over. Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi announced yesterday that nothing of what Ambassador Oszkar Fuzes stated on Szekely Land’s autonomy “diverges from the Hungarian Government’s position,” Hungarian press agency MTI ireported. Answering a question during an unrelated press conference, Martonyi stated that for the past 22 years Hungary has maintained a clear position concerning the efforts to secure the Szekely Land’s autonomy. “If a community democratically calls for a form of autonomy the ethnic majority should take the request into consideration,” he stated.

In what concerns Romania banning the hoisting of the Szekely Land flag on the buildings of public institutions, Martonyi stated that Hungary will act as a partner in solving the situation. “Romania is undoubtedly in a position in which it has to take measures; the judiciary procedures initiated in connection with the hoisting of the flag in Romania have to be abandoned,” he stated. Martonyi also stated that he was due to meet his Romanian counterpart Titus Corlatean. The two are in Brussels at the European Council meeting..

He stated that the situation has to be managed with calm, not as presented by the Romanian press. “It’s very important not to start a flag battle,” the Hungarian Minister stated. “In recent months Romania was told that the good relations and the strategic partnership between the two countries could be put at risk,” he added. “While the answer often was that there are no reasons to worry, the Romanian measures on the issue of the Szekely flag belong to the category of negative gestures.” He stated that a community’s right to display a symbol is currently “a European minimum.”

“Diplomatic measures’

Budapest will take diplomatic measures following Romania’s ban on the hoisting of Szekely flags on official buildings, Zsolt Nemeth, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry’s Secretary of State, told Radio Kossuth, Hungary’s public radio station. He added that the nature of such measures were about to be announced later that day.

At the same time, President Traian Basescu refused on Thursday to react to the statements made by Hungarian secretary of state Zsolt Nemeth and Hungarian ambassador Oszkar Fuzes on the issue of the hoisting of the Szekely flag in Hungary. He pointed out that Romania’s answer to the statements of an ambassador should come from a secretary of state. “I’ll speak when the Hungarian President speaks,” Basescu stated before leaving for Brussels where he is taking part in the European Council summit.

Romanian FM criticized the Hungarian Ambassador
On Wednesday night, Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean accused the Hungarian Ambassador of breaching diplomatic norms. He may be expelled from Romania unless he “stays within the scope of his authority,” he said. Speaking on Romanian television channel on Wednesday night, Corlatean slammed the ambassador for voicing support for autonomy for Szekler Land. Oskar Fuzes had stated that Romania should make the “Szekely Land” official because that is the Hungarian minority’s wish. “Make the Szekely Land official, this is an old request that people living in the region have. (…) The Hungarian state supports the request of Hungarians in Romania. (…) Romanians can start a dialogue with the Hungarian community for the setting up of the Szekely Land,” Fuzes told Realitatea TV.
At the same time, Fuzes underlined that Budapest is supporting the Hungarian minority’s request for the setting up of Szekely Land autonomy along ‘ethnic and territorial lines’ and agrees with the hoisting of the Szekely flag.
“I agree with the statement of Mr. Nemeth Zsolt, not only because I am a government representative, but also with all my heart. I believe that we have the right to express our opinion even if it differs from the Romanian side’s opinion. I don’t understand why a Szekely flag is becoming such a big problem in Romania. We’re talking about a native national minority. The Szekely flag is not a foreign flag in Romania. I don’t understand the problem,” Oszkar Fuzes stated. The ambassador said he supports UDMR’s bid for the amendment of Romania’s Constitution in order to strip of the syntagm “national state’.

PSD MEPs to ask EC for point of view on Szekely Land flag issue

PSD MEPs will ask the European Commission (EC) and the European Council to present a point of view on the diplomatic row between Hungary and Romania, a row that started over the hoisting of the Szekely Land flags, PSD spokesperson Catalin Ivan stated on Thursday. Ivan, who is also the leader of the PSD delegation within the European Parliament, pointed out that the cause of this diplomatic row “appeared overnight” and is “artificially hyped,” pointing out that the statements made by Zsolt Nemeth on this issue are “irresponsible” and “primitive from a political and European point of view.”

Dusa: Law stipulates when foreign flags can be used

Defence Minister Mircea Dusa, who is also a PSD MP, stated on Wednesday on Realitatea TV that the law clearly stipulates when the flags of other states or symbols of a minority can be used, pointing out that they can be used during celebrations but not hoisted on the buildings of public institutions.

He pointed out that the Hungarian Foreign Ministry’s secretary of state Zsolt Nemeth should solve his problems through diplomatic channels with the Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry. He reminded that in what concerns the so-called Szekely Land’s flag there are final court rulings that have declared illegal the decisions taken by county councils to hoist it. At the same time, Internal Affairs Minister Radu Stroe stated on Thursday that he has asked the Prefectures, the Gendarmerie and the Police to enforce the law in case foreign flags are hoisted on the territory of Romania.

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