Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said on Friday that the statement by Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose in relation to Hungarian autonomy aspirations is totally unacceptable, and shows disgraceful disregard for European values and 21st-century norms. Mr. Szijjártó informed reporters that Romania’s ambassador to Budapest Marius-Gabriel Lazurca had been summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Friday morning in relation to the affair.
At his Friday press conference Mr. Szijjártó was responding to a report on news portal Scnews.ro on Wednesday evening which stated that the Romanian Prime Minister had told television news station Realitatea the following in relation to Hungarian autonomy aspirations: “My answer is the same as it was when, to mark some day or other, they tried to raise their flag. At the time I made it clear that if that flag is fluttering in the wind, the local people responsible for it will also be hanging up there next to it”.
Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade stressed that “In the interests of the Hungarian national minority living in Romania, the Hungarian government has always aspired to build bilateral relations with Romania on mutual respect. This has been met with differing levels of reciprocation by the various Romanian governments”.
The Minister added, however, that “It is beyond dispute that the statement by Romania’s current prime minister – in which, to all intents and purposes, he threatened a national minority and its representatives with execution – is absolutely unacceptable, and shows an utterly disgraceful disregard for Europe, European values and 21st-century norms”.
“For precisely this reason we regard it as self-evident and beyond dispute that Romania’s prime minister and government must rectify this situation at the earliest opportunity”, he declared, noting that Romania’s ambassador to Budapest had been summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Friday morning. At that meeting, he said, “the Deputy Minister made the Hungarian governments’ standpoint clear to him”. Meanwhile, he said, the Romanian ambassador had tried to explain that the statement was a “linguistic misunderstanding”.
“The Hungarian government’s position, however, is that this isn’t a question of semantics, but something much more important”, Mr. Szijjártó said. He noted that “In the interests of the Hungarian national minority living in Romania, Hungary’s goal continues to be to maintain a balanced, calm and level-headed relationship with Romania based on mutual respect”. He added, however, that “there is no doubt that this statement does not facilitate this”.
“We expect the Prime Minister and the Government of Romania to rectify the situation at the earliest opportunity”, the Hungarian foreign minister declared.
He also stressed that in Europe disputes over the rights of national minorities are regular occurrences, and the sensitive nature of these issues mean that civility and mutual respect are important. The statement by the Romanian prime minister totally lacked these qualities, however. “To physically threaten someone else, to threaten them with execution – and especially a whole community and its representatives – is absolutely unacceptable”, the Minister said, adding that the Romanian government and the Romanian prime minister must take appropriate action to ensure that the dispute does not become unmanageable.
Asked whether the Hungarian government expects the Romanian PM to apologise, Mr. Szijjártó said that if in the 21st century someone – particularly a country’s Prime Minister – threatens a national community with execution for whatever reason, the very minimum is that they should apologise and make it clear that they did not mean it in this way, “If they didn’t mean it”, he noted. In reply to another question, the Hungarian foreign minister told reporters that the Romanian ambassador’s linguistic explanations concerned the forcefulness of the statement, and how the verbs “fly”, “flutter” and “hang” relate to each other. However, the Foreign Minister noted, “this is not a literary or linguistic issue, but a fundamental question of security, because it does not promote the feeling of safety of a national community living in a country if that country’s prime minister threatens to hang its members”.
When asked whether action against Romania’s total rejection of autonomy was utterly futile, Mr. Szijjártó said that “The debate on autonomy is legitimate, and this initiative has been launched by political parties operating legally within the territory of Romania; and it is a debate that can be conducted in a civil manner”. He stressed, however, that “the fact that in relation to this a country’s prime minister threatens a national community with execution by hanging is unacceptable; these two issues must not be confused – they have nothing to do with each other”.
In reply to a question on the possible economic repercussions if the Romanian prime minister fails to apologise for his statements, the Foreign Minister said: “Let’s wait and see how Romania’s political leadership reacts, and what their standpoint on the issue is”. Mr. Szijjártó indicated that in relation to the affair the Hungarian government is in continuous contact with the leaders of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ).
He also pointed out, however, that recently “no matter how much the level of trust in Romanian-Hungarian political cooperation has fluctuated”, economic and trade cooperation has continued to increase dynamically. “We hope that such uncivilised statements will not lead to problems at the level of everyday life”, he added, according a release published on kormany.hu.
In reply to a question, Mr. Szijjártó also said that if the Government assigns the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade any duties within the action plan to combat the Soros Plan, the Ministry will perform the related tasks.
The Minister was also asked how it was possible that Hungary had secretly given Hungarian residency to 1,300 refugees, but was at the same time campaigning against the resettlement of 1,294 migrants. “Hungary is fighting against the mandatory resettlement quota because they want to use it to bring illegal immigrants into the European Union, and they want to strip Member States of their right to decide for themselves who they want to allow in”.
According to Mr. Szijjártó, the question of how Hungary accepts refugees in accordance with the Geneva Convention is a totally independent issue.
Romania’s Foreign Ministry: Premier’s statements on autonomy emphasize need to respect Romania’s constitutional order
The statements of Romania’s Prime Minister bring into attention the responsibility of our country’s central and local authorities to ensure the observance of the law, and have no ethnic or anti-Hungarian overtones, but highlight in the first place the need to observe Romania’s constitutional and legal order in Romania, which is a unitary, sovereign and indivisible state, the Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday in a release.
The message of the Foreign Ministry comes in the context of Romania’s ambassador in Budapest being summoned on Friday to the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to offer explanations on PM Tudose’s statements.
The Foreign Ministry also details the broader context of the discussions on the tentative autonomy of the Hungarian community of Romania.
“We also note that the public debate on this issue occurs in the context of the multiplication, in the last period, of initiatives regarding various forms of territorial autonomy on ethnic criteria, culminating in the signing on January 8 of the Joint Resolution of Hungarian political organizations of Transylvania on the alignment of autonomy concepts,” the Foreign Ministry said, pointing out that “these approaches, on a subject that is strictly related to Romania’s constitutional order and on which both the political factors as well as Romania’s constitutional court have previously pronounced, contribute neither to maintaining a harmonious interethnic coexistence nor to progress in the bilateral relationship.”
The Romanian Foreign Ministry concludes that “such gestures are all the more so regrettable as they deliberately ignore the substantial measures adopted over time by the Romanian authorities for the benefit of the members of the Hungarian minority in Romania, in line with the highest relevant protection standards, a commitment that Romania sticks to and will constantly pursue in all its policies.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs discards any such provocation, “particularly in the year when Romania is set to celebrate the Great Union Centennial in a spirit of unity, tolerance and mutual respect among all its citizens, regardless of their ethnicity,” the cited source said.
“The Foreign Ministry of Romania expresses its confidence that the political and legal pillars represented by the Basic Political Treaty and the Declaration on Cooperation and Strategic Partnership for Europe in the 21st Century will further provide the foundation for the Romanian-Hungarian relations that will hopefully develop in the spirit of European values,” the Foreign Ministry’s release states.
Photo: Márton Kovács, http://www.kormany.hu