A citizens’ legislative initiative, publicly supported by Laszlo Tokes, on declaring the autonomy of the Szekler Land, was published on Thursday in the Official Journal, and it will also be sent to the Parliament to be discussed, together with the lists of at least 100,000 signatures.
The legislative initiative establishes “the autonomy status of the Szekler Land” and it was issued by an initiative committee formed of 10 persons: Arus Zsolt Istvan, Elekes-Jozsa Martin, Baico Zsigmond, Kercso Attila, Marton Csaba, Czink Attila, Kolcsar Gheza, Takacs Jozsef, Cziriak Karoly, Kovacs Laszlo.
The law provides that the members of the committee cannot be persons who are elected in office by universal vote, members of the Government, persons who are appointed in their offices by the PM or members of any political party.
The citizens’ initiative was supported by the former MEP Laszlo Tokes, who in 2015 was elected as president of the initiative commission. The initiative was supported in partnership with CNS (National Szekler Council). However, Tokes is not included in the list of the members of the initiative committee officially registered by being published in the Official Journal.
The bill is accompanied by a negative opinion of the Legislative Council, who shows that constitutional provisions are breached, since “it targets actually the creation of a distinct state entity, which is parallel with the Romanian unitary national state”. However, the opinion of the Legislative Council is only advisory.
Article 1 of the Constitution provides that “Romania is a national, sovereign, independent, unitary and indivisible state”.
According to the Law no.189/1999 on the citizens’ right to have legislative initiative, after the initiative is issued, it has to be published in the Official Journal, and within 6 months the bill can be submitted to the Parliament. When submitted, the initiative has to be accompanied by at least 100,000 signatures, which have to come from at least a quarter of the counties, according to the Constitution, and no less than 5,000 signatures supporting the initiative have to be registered in each of these counties and in the municipality of Bucharest.
The lists of signatures have to be certified by the mayoralties of the localities where they were collected.
After formalities are met and the initiative is submitted to the Parliament, it will be sent to the Constitutional Court for an opinion.
The citizens’ legislative initiative is the second attempt to declare, by law, the autonomy of the Szekler Land. A law initiated by the UDMR parliamentarians on this matter was finally rejected in 2012, after 7 years in which it hasn’t been discussed in Parliament.
UDMR has launched another bill on the autonomy of the Szekler Land in 2014, but it wasn’t submitted to the Parliament in any form.
Which is the targeted territory and how is it administrated
The bill of the citizens’ legislative initiative on the autonomy of the Szekler Land provides that the region will be led by a president, who will represent it in the relationship with the state, and the regional authorities will take the attributions of the current local authorities, including those in the tax field, being able to issue their own regulations, provided to comply with the Constitution.
According to the explanatory memorandum, the Szekler Land is a “historical region with a special history”, which benefited from a broad autonomy, regardless of the state it was part of, including during the communist regime. The initiators claim that their proposal relies on the principle of subsidiarity, as one of the “fundamental values of all the European countries”, which provides that all the local communities should have something to say on the matters in which they are interested.
The initiators criticize the delays in the regionalization process of the country, and therefore they appreciate as “useful to implement a pilot project which demonstrates that regionalization does consist into a solution for Romania, too”. They also invoke the “unofficial” referendum in which 99.8% of the participants, namely more than 210,000 people, have voted for the creation of an administrative region “with increased prerogatives”.
The initiative committee also comments, in the explanatory memorandum, on Romania’s integrity and sovereignty, a constitutional principle that blocked such projects until now, stating that recognizing an autonomy would contribute to Romania’s territorial cohesion, and that thus the bill doesn’t infringe the integrity and the sovereignty.
According to the initiative, “as an expression of its historical identity, in order to provide equal opportunities to the citizens and to protect the Hungarian national identity, the resident people of the Szekler Land form an autonomous community”.
Szekler Land will be an autonomous region with legal personality inside Romania, with the right to decide and manage in the fields belonging to specific powers (including adopting and exercising a specific policy of the region). Article 3 of the bill provides that “the region’s autonomy doesn’t affect the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of the Romanian state”, because the decisions will be taken in the Szekler Land by delegation of powers.
The territory of the autonomous region will be formed by the current counties Covasna and Harghita, as well as Mures historical seat.
The autonomous region will be divided in 8 “seats”, representing traditional Szekler territories, each of them having a residence. Hungarian language will also be established as official language in the Szekler Land. It can be used in education, culture, judiciary and administration, according to news.ro.
Liviu Dragnea takes action: The Parliament will not approve such a thing
The citizens’ initiative on “the autonomy of the Szekler Land” will not be approved by the Parliament and there’s no risk in this matter, assured the President of the Deputies’ Chamber, the leader of the Social Democrat Party (PSD), Liviu Dragnea, on Friday.
“I didn’t see any hesitation of PSD, ALDE or other parties, in this regard. Our position is very clear: such a thing will not be approved by the Parliament, the Constitution’s provisions are clear. I regret that such initiatives exist, because they instigate certain parts of the population, they bring them into a state that is not so positive. But there’s no question about it as far as we are concerned, there’s no risk for such an initiative to be materialized in Parliament” Dragnea stated at the Parliament’s Palace.
Kelemen Hunor: There’s nothing illegal, there’s nothing immoral
President of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), Kelemen Hunor, appreciates that there’s nothing illegal, there’s nothing immoral or unusual in the case of the citizens’ initiative on the autonomy of the Szekler Land published in the Official Journal, in the circumstances in which it has been submitted to the Parliament before.
Asked by the press on Saturday, at the end of the CRU (The Council of the Union Representatives – e.n.) of UDMR held at Targu Mures, about the citizens’ initiative on the autonomy of the Szekler Land, Kelemen Hunor stated that the initiators did nothing illegal, since otherwise the bill wouldn’t have been published in the Official Journal, according to Mediafax.
“This bill has been submitted to Parliament before and no bad thing happened, it’s the beginning of the procedure, we don’t know if it will reach the Parliament or not, because the collecting signatures procedure is next, then it goes to CCR (the Constitutional Court of Romania – e.n.), and reaches the Parliament only after it is approved. We can talk about it when it reaches the Parliament. But it’s according to the law, any person who finds another 9 persons can make such approaches in many fields, including amending the Constitution, they did nothing illegal, otherwise it wouldn’t have been published in the Official Journal. There’s nothing illegal, there’s nothing immoral or unusual; this bill was submitted to Parliament many years ago, when it was a legislative initiative submitted by the parliamentarians. It’s much too early to comment on what will happen in Parliament”, stated the UDMR leader.