EDITORIAL

A Romanian leader for the Szekler Land

Liviu Dragnea claims being a bold man. However, would the Social Liberal Union (USL) dare to accept, if not a Szekler region, than at least one that would not split the `historic` Szekler Land, but incorporate it? Which would be equivalent to accepting a steadfast demand from Romania’s major ethnic group. In other words, could he conquer his fear of a future territorial secession and take into account a more pragmatic economic and even political considerations instead? And would such boldness pay off, supposing that politicians’ words would really translate into actions?
Magyar Romanians launched the pro-autonomous region propaganda in the early `90s following a few European examples: Catalonia, South Tyrol etc. However, the EU enlargement marginalized such discourse based on post-war implemented models meant to settle old conflicts.

Border transparency has made relative the concern for preserving some ethnic identities that some consider to still be threatened. At the beginning of the next decade, another model – Kosovo – gained pre-eminence, even if more as a scarecrow meant to favor compromises. Still, the `models` lacked power, so that propaganda largely vanquished them.
As mentalities changed and became more tolerant, he stress shifted to domestic public debates. Various actions have thus popularized Szeklers’ aspirations to have an official region of their own: inscriptions, marches, legislative initiatives, associations of locally elected officials. The long due regionalization train followed, which the Magyar try to jump on while running, in a bid to take advantage of astringent administrative reorganization. Yet, what are the arguments called upon in favor of the Szekler region, `positive discrimination` aside? Economically peaking, no serious study has been conducted to support such project, except a call to the local ego argument, which would be reason enough in the eyes of its defenders, for producing an economic boom in the region. Dominating institutions of local administration and even having some major ministers, Magyars managed to significantly change the region. The lack of varied resources, emigration and low demographics weigh heavily. Also, the lack of genuine industrial pole of the not distant Brasov’s type, as well as the inevitable political monopoly in an autonomous Szekler Land would not be able to offer a genuinely competing economic area. The example of the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) is not always positive in this respect.
Let’s look at Italy’s example, which is now trying to get rid of regions in order to diminish administrative costs (and the all too many corruption scandals, we might add). What guarantee is there that the regions, with the Szekler one first and foremost, would not rather be a step back, given other state institutions are reformed to a small extent? And why is it that the optimum dimensions of the future regions is not a more seriously approached issue? While Magyars’ argument may look interesting, the dilemma is real nonetheless. The differences noted between Romania’s regions today could resurface, in an even more painful way, in the case of regions that prove being all too large.
Actually, despite the reserve, a Szekler region could not be rejected if it includes 15-20 small Romanian regions (or an ethnic mix in some cases). If studies were to point to such alternative as the optimum one, the only serious argument favoring prudence would regard the means by which a genuine decentralization could be achieved (with the corresponding autonomy of local decisions) and   preventing discrimination. To put it differently, how could the Szekler autonomy models conveyed so far should be implemented without significant connections. Unless this happens, it would make room for just another frustration, and both communities would end up as losers. The protectionism in which the aforementioned autonomist projects are rooted is damaging, anachronistic and deceiving as well. If a Magyar could become deputy premier, why couldn’t a Romanian be the president of the Szekler region? In order to keep democratic symmetry, Magyars too should no longer be suspicious but open to such cooperation above ethnic obsessions.

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