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October 2, 2022

New reactions in row over photo showing American ambassador holding Szekely flag: We were not “dishonest” with ambassador U.S Ambassador, says Sfantu Gheorghe Mayor

Sfantu Gheorghe Mayor Antal Arpad said on Thursday that the local officials and representatives of the Hungarian community were not “dishonest” with United States ambassador Hans Klemm, neither when explaining the communities’ issues, nor when taking the picture with the Szekely Land’s flag, which they all agreed to.

Antal Arpad said that the “hysteria” caused by the picture only showed the lack of tolerance for the Hungarian minority in the Romanian society and confirmed that the community’s rights problems are real.

“Such a simple gesture, such and elegant gesture on our side to offer a gift (e.i. the Szekely Land flag) and on Mr. Ambassador’s side to take a picture with the gift, brought to light all problems in the Romanian society and the attitude of Romanian media and part of the Romanian political elite toward the Hungarian community. I believe that no greater weight could have been given to what we told the ambassador, we couldn’t have had stronger proof for it than this anti-Hungarian and anti-American reaction to such a simple gesture. (…) I believe it was a matter that brought to light intolerance, anti-Hungarian and anti-American attitudes toward a very simple matter that could have been understood in a different way,” the mayor pointed out.

He also said that all those outraged by the US ambassador taking a picture with the Szekely Land flag should have kept in mind that the latest US State Department reports mentioned that Romanian authorities prevent Hungarian minority from using their national symbols.

“We’d better solve the problem, instead of turning everything into a circus and making a fuss over something that, let’s face it, did not help Romania at all, and did not help Mr. Ambassador, beyond the fact that he is now more informed, if he ever was confused when he left this town,’ the mayor said.

He added that, since Klemm was on an official visit, the pictures taken were also official, and the diplomat should have known they would be posted on Facebook. He also said that the Szekely Land flag has never been a symbol of secession or a breakup of the Szekely Land from Romania.

“We have never been the advocates of such thoughts. It’s a symbol of our freedom that should threaten no one. If some people in Bucharest want to give it another connotation, that’s another thing,” the mayor added.


US ambassador Klemm: U.S., Romanian flags are the only two flags important to me as ambassador


In response to controversies created by the respective photo, the United States ambassador to Romania Hans Klemm said on Wednesday that the only two flags that are important to him, as a diplomat, are the U.S. and the Romanian ones. He made the statement a day after a controversial picture was posted on Facebook showing the diplomat together with local officials holding on to a Szekely Land’s flag.

Klemm told the press at Craiova University, where he met Ford fellowship alumni, that he is proud to be the U.S. ambassador to Romania at this time and that his mission was to strengthen the strategic partnership and bilateral relations even further. He added that some of the political leaders in Covasna simply asked him to take a picture together and that he accepted out of politeness.

The ambassador also said that he spoke to the Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos and that the latter encouraged him to meet with students in Craiova and be honest about the incident in Covasna. The ambassador did not want to comment on the potential separatist feelings stirred by the picture and text posted by Sfantu Gheorghe Mayor Antal Arpad on his Facebook showing Klemm and local officials holding on to the Szekely Land’s flag.


Kelemen Hunor: Klemm’s gesture is not against Romanians. I was surprised by the political leaders’ hysterical reactions


Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) President Kelemen Hunpr commented on Thursday on U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm’s gesture to pose with the Szekely flag, stating that it was a “normal” gesture that was not directed against Romanians, despite the authorities’ and politicians’ “hysterical” reactions.

“It’s a normal gesture because he received a gift, he received this flag, this symbol, as a gift, and he posed for a photograph. It’s not a gesture against Romania, against Romanians, and I was extremely surprised by the hysterical reactions coming also from a very high level and from political leaders,” Kelemen Hunor stated on RFI.

The UDMR leader stated that the situation generated by the U.S. ambassador shows that UDMR’s recent fears are grounded and that authorities are not treating these issues “with respect and balance.”

Kelemen Hunor added that the U.S. ambassador visited not only Transylvania but Oltenia too and other traditional areas. Kelemen sarcastically stated that the authorities and Romanians should not be scared that the Szekelys will “steal” Transylvania.

“I see that from Nastase to Diaconu, every four years, everyone is scared that Transylvania is being stolen away; Transylvania hasn’t been and won’t be stolen away, no Szekely will pick up Transylvania and run off with it from Romania,” he said.

Sfantu Gheorghe Mayor Antal Arpad posted on Facebook a photograph showing him alongside U.S. ambassador Hans Klemm holding the Szekely Land flag.



Basescu on Hans Klemm’s gesture to pose with Szekely flag: It isn’t the official U.S. position


Ex-President Traian Basescu wrote on Facebook that U.S. ambassador Hans Klemm’s gesture to pose holding the Szekely flag during his visit to Covasna “does not represent any support for separatism, nor the official position of the U.S.”

“Propagandists, stop taking shots at the U.S.! Many were quick to bark their patriotism on account of a gesture that is, nevertheless, difficult to accept. Moreover, anti-Americans have found an unhoped-for opportunity to hurl stones at the United States. Ambassador Hans Klemm’s gesture to pose with the Szekely flag alongside Magyar leaders does not represent any support for separatism, nor the official position of the U.S., a major guarantor of our territorial integrity,” Traian Basescu wrote on Facebook.

The ex-President considers that Hans Klemm is “solely a diplomat insufficiently prepared for the position of U.S. ambassador to Romania and, because of this, easy to trick by some slick guys from the local administration in Covasna.”

“Don’t hurl stones at the U.S. because of Hans Klemm,” Traian Basescu concluded.


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