Hungarian officials announced on Wednesday that they had suspended support for Romania joining the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Romanian Foreign Ministry (MAE) replied that Hungary’s reaction is “contrary to recent openness messages.”
“It is completely inadequate, hostile and counterproductive to make the situation of the Roman Catholic High School in Targu Mures dependent on other topics, such as support for Romania’s accession to OECD,” MAE said in a press statement issued on Wednesday.
According to MAE, Romania meets the criteria for joining this organisation, a fact acknowledged by partners, including Hungary, which has recently expressed its intention to support Romania’s candidacy.
At the same time, MAE says, Romania rejects any kind of conditional approach in its bilateral relationship with Hungary.
On Wednesday, Romania’s ambassador in Budapest Marius-Gabriel Lazurca was summoned by the Hungarian Foreign Ministry after the activity of the Roman Catholic Theological High School in Targu Mures was suspended, the MTI news agency informs.
The Hungarian Government has decided to suspend, for an undetermined period, its support for Romania’s bid to join various international organisations, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Hungarian Foreign Ministry Secretary of State Levente Magyar announced.
“The Government has decided to suspend support for Romania’s bids to join various international organisations, such as the OECD, for an undetermined period, despite the fact that it had previously promised to do so. The vote on Romania’s bid to join the OECD will take place on September 8, and the vote of every member state is needed to obtain the status of member,” Magyar stated, according to a Hungarian Government communique.
Levente Magyar added that the Hungarian Foreign Ministry has informed the Romanian ambassador about Hungary’s consternation with the fact that Romanian authorities decided, a day after the visit that Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto paid to Bucharest, to suspend the activity of the Roman-Catholic High School in Targu-Mures.
“Hungary considers this an attack on the Catholic Church, the Hungarian minority, the Hungarian children, families, and on the process of restitution in Romania. This is an extremely unfriendly measure on the part of the Romanians,” Magyar said.
According to the Hungarian Secretary of State, the decision will put hundreds of Hungarian families in an untenable situation just a few days before the start of the school year. Levente Magyar asked Romania to solve the problem of Hungarian-language education in Targu-Mures in the shortest time possible.
MAE: Roman-Catholic High School in Targu-Mures, electioneering topic in Hungary
The Romanian Foreign Ministry (MAE) pointed out, against the backdrop in which the Romanian ambassador to Budapest was summoned at the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, that Romanian authorities regret the fact that the Roman-Catholic High School in Targu-Mures has been transformed into an electioneering topic in Hungary.
“Romanian authorities are interested in identifying some solutions that would ensure real intercultural dialogue, meant to promote tolerance and good inter-ethnic cohabitation at the level of Romanian society and that would ensure the good integration of Romanian citizens – regardless of their ethnicity – in Romanian society. At the same time, it has to be taken into account that any educational institution in Romania, without exception, must observe Romanian law, the law not being implemented in a discriminatory fashion based on ethnic, religious or other criteria,” reads the MAE communique released on Wednesday, in reaction to Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjarto Peter’s decision to summon the Romanian ambassador.
The Romanian Foreign Ministry reminds it cannot intervene in the decisions taken by Romanian courts and considers that the topic concerning the high school is being tackled in an electioneering manner in Hungary. “Romanian authorities regret the transformation of this topic, which does not affect in any way the right to education of the Magyar minority in Romania or of persons of Roman-Catholic faith in Romania, into a topic of electioneering in Hungary, and the sacrificing, in the name of some political interests, of the students’ right to quality education ratified in accordance with relevant norms,” reads the communique.
The Romanian Foreign Ministry points out that the Catholic High School’s situation cannot be considered disregard for the rights of national minorities, since there are numerous examples of educational units at all levels of education, which confirm that the Romanian state ensures the highest standards of the right to education in the maternal language for the Hungarian minority in Romania.
The Foreign Ministry also reacted to Hungary’s warning that it may oppose Romania’s bid to join the OECD. “In what concerns the linking of the situation concerning the Roman-Catholic High School in Targu-Mures to other topics, such as the support offered to Romania’s bid to join the OECD, this is completely inappropriate, unfriendly and counterproductive. Romania meets the accession criteria, a fact recognised by partners, including by Hungary, which recently expressed its intention to support Romania’s candidacy. At the same time, Romania rejects any kind of conditional approach in the bilateral relationship,” the aforementioned source points out.
PM Tudose: I do not think Hungary will sever diplomatic ties that badly
Romania’s Prime Minister Mihai Tudose said on Wednesday he does not believe Hungary will sever diplomatic ties with Romania, as Hungary said it would no longer support Romania joining the Organisation for Co-operation and Economic Development (OECD).
“I do not think that Hungary will sever diplomatic ties and common economic interests with Romania that badly, because it is not only Romania that has economic interests in Hungary, but Hungary has its own here. I do not think we will get there,” Tudose told Antena 3 private broadcaster.
Asked about the conflict fuelled by Hungary, Tudose replied, “I think we are also fuelling it by talking about it.”
He went on to say that the whole tense diplomatic situation is the result of a misinterpretation.
“Romania is an example in the world in terms of religious, ethnic tolerance and tolerance of every other kind. And that’s what everyone knows,” Tudose pointed out.
Dragnea: Hungary’s reaction to Roman-Catholic High School case is exaggerated. Solution must be found
PSD President Liviu Dragnea labelled as “exaggerated” Hungary’s decision to withdraw its support for Romania’s bid to join the OECD in reaction to the situation concerning the Roman-Catholic High School in Targu-Mures, but also criticised the action carried out by the “alphabet agencies,” which led to the suspension of Hungarian-language classes there, asking the authorities to come up with solutions.
“I believe both the Government and the Education Ministry should look more carefully and with more courage into the situation of that high school in Targu Mures. We can’t have double standards in what concerns treatment toward ethnic communities in a country. We’re talking about several hundred children who are learning in that institution, we’re talking about buildings that the Roman-Catholic Church made available for a period of another 10 years on condition that such a high school would be functioning there,” Dragnea said.
He criticised the DNA’s action at the high school.
“I don’t know whether the Romanian alphabet agencies’ action is beneficial for Romania and for the peace and quiet we all want, especially in 2018. I don’t know why the children there should suffer. I believe that the Education Ministry should, with courage and wisdom, seriously look into it and find a solution,” the PSD leader said.
Nevertheless, Dragnea also deemed that Hungary’s reaction to withdraw its support for Romania’s bid at the OECD “can be considered exaggerated.”
“It’s not the first time it has this reaction, but now it’s truly exaggerated. But I see two distinct topics here: if we are to discuss only Hungary’s reaction, we’ll exchange communiques and we’ll have measures and counter-measures, but the problem remains unsolved. The situation there, in my view, is not resolved. It’s not being resolved via answer to Hungary’s communique,” he said.
Dobrovolschi: Romanian President was permanently kept informed, there was dialogue and activity at the level of the Presidential Administration and the MAE
The Presidential Administration has stated that it has been permanently in contact with state institutions that have handled the row that has erupted between Romania and Hungary over the suspension of activity at the Roman-Catholic Theological High School (RCTHS) in Targu-Mures.
“The Romanian President has been permanently kept informed, there has been dialogue and activity at the level of the Presidential Administration and at the level of the Foreign Ministry. State institutions have already reacted, there is already a very clear communique which expresses Romania’s position, a communique made public by the Romanian Foreign Ministry,” Presidential Spokesperson Madalina Dobrovolschi stated on Thursday.
Senate’s Tariceanu: Hungarian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s reaction surprised me;matter in Targu Mures easy to fix
President of the Senate Calin Popescu-Tariceanu said on Thursday evening that he was surprised by the reaction of the Bulgarian Foreign Affairs Ministry on Wednesday, that said it will withdraw the support for Romania’s accession to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), adding that the situation of the Roman Catholic Theological High School in Targu Mures can be fixed “very simply.”
“A week ago I have welcomed the Hungarian Foreign Affairs Minister. (…) Certainly we also have pending issues, but if we focus on these topics instead of making progress and doing things that serve our countries, our people, our communities, we will get stuck in these matters. In this context, I won’t deny that I was surprised yesterday with the Hungarian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s attitude. The reaction of the Romanian Foreign Ministry was also in a diplomatic language, perhaps it raised the bar a little, perhaps it did not, but I don’t think that’s the most important thing. Hungary’s attitude to possibly oppose our accession to OECD it’s concerning, but in the end we take things too far,” Tariceanu told Antena 3 private television station.
The Senate President believes that the issue in Targu Mures can be fixed through decisions of the Education Ministry and local authorities.
PM Tudose: I do not consider MAE position very fortunate
Romania’s Prime Minister Mihai Tudose told Digi 24 private broadcaster on Thursday that the position of Romania’s Foreign Ministry (MAE) on the diplomatic scandal between Romania and Hungary was not “very fortunate,” arguing that the response to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry’s press statement was too harsh.
“I have read Hungary’s message in a different key. The message comes from a state secretary, without minimising the function, a message of such importance on the position of a state towards a neighbouring and allied EU and NATO state does not originate with a state secretary. I believe that was rather exacerbated misunderstanding. I was not very happy with the position of the Romanian Foreign Ministry, which was also released by a state secretary, the exacerbation of a situation that does not lead to anything good,” said Tudose.
He said that was “an exacerbation somewhere of a bureaucratic situation.”
Asked about his reproaches of MAE in the scandal with the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, Tudose said: “It responded too quickly or too harshly to a statement from the Hungarian Foreign Ministry. I understand that they are the essence of diplomacy, it was a reaction expected rather from the Ministry of Sports like in a boxing bout: you hit me and hit back at you”.
Tudose added that the situation will calm down. “I do not think Hungary will vote against us,” Tudose said, referring to Romania joining the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).