The Senate, as a decision-making body, on Wednesday rejected the draft law on the autonomy of the Szeklerland, which provided that it would become an autonomous region with legal personality.
Senators voted by telephone in favour of the rejection report drawn up by the Administrative Committee – 126 votes “in favour” and 9 “against”.
The legislative proposal was passed earlier in the day by the Chamber of Deputies, tacitly, in the form submitted by the initiators, the UDMR (Hungarian Democrat Union of Romania) deputies, Kulcsar-Terza Jozsef-Gyorgy and Biro Zsolt-Istvan.
The tacit adoption by the Chamber of Deputies stirred vehement reactions on the political scene.
Iohannis: PSD, a toxic majority
President Klaus Iohannis harshly criticized the bill and stated that the social Democratic Party (PSD) helped the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) to pass this piece of legislation in the Chamber of Deputies.
“Jo napot kivanok [good afternoon in Hungarian], PSD. It is incredible, dear Romanians, what is happening in the Romanian Parliament. PSD has helped UDMR to pass through the Chamber of Deputies a law that gives wide autonomy to the Szeklerland. It is incredible where we have arrived with this PSD. It is incredible what agreements are made in Parliament. It is incredible while I, we, the government, the other authorities are fighting for the lives of Romanians, we are fighting to get rid of this pandemic, the great PSD is fighting in the secret offices of Parliament to give Transylvania away to the Hungarians. Jo napot, Ciolacu! What has the leader of Budapest, Viktor Orban, promised you in exchange for this agreement?,” Iohannis told a press briefing at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.
He warned Romanians that this means a “toxic PSD majority.”
“Therefore, my dear ones, it is now better understood why I wanted early elections. I no longer want the important problems of the nation to be decided by PSD. I no longer want this toxic PSD majority to decide against Romania and against Romanians. That is inadmissible and as long as I am the president of Romania, such a law will not exist,” Iohannis concluded.
The Romanian Academy, always defending the national rights and the unity of the Romanian territory, taking note of the legislative proposal regarding the ‘Statute of Autonomy of the Szeklerland’, rejects this approach which blatantly violates the Romanian Constitution. The announcement of the tacit adoption, by the Chamber of Deputies, of the draft law submitted by the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) regarding the autonomy of the so-called Szeklerland – an entity non-existent in the territorial administrative structures of Romania – creates an unprecedented situation in our country’s legislative process, a press release sent on Wednesday by the Presidium Office of the Romanian Academy.
The draft regarding the autonomy of the Szeklerland was never voted in the Chamber of Deputies, stated, on Wednesday, the interim chair of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Marcel Ciolacu, deeming the statements made by President Klaus Iohannis on the topic as a “crass attack”.
“Let us not let a lie distract us from the real problems of Romania. The draft regarding the autonomy of the Szeklerland was rejected now definitively in the Senate. It was never voted in the Chamber of Deputies, let it be clear. The government sent a point of view only after the term for tacit approval was fulfilled, namely after four months. They sent four words. This blocked the procedure to reject it in the Chamber of Deputies. (…) The President came with a crass attack. Today I had the feeling Vadim Tudor (e.n. – Corneliu Vadim Tudor, former chairman of the far-right Greater Romania Party – PRM) is alive and is the President of Romania,” said Ciolacu in Parliament.
Floor leader of the National Liberal Party (PNL) in the Chamber of Deputies Florin Roman has called the tacit adoption in the Chamber of Deputies of a bill on the autonomy of the Szeklerland a “political trade” between the Social Democratic Party and the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania, urging PSD to demand a debate on the bill in the Senate and defeat it.
“The tacit adoption of the bill on the autonomy of the Szeklerland is a covert political trade between PSD and UDMR. It is not the first time that in the Romanian Parliament PSD plays the UDMR game, putting party interests before the national interest. Full responsibility for the tacit approval of this territorial disintegration of Romania rests with the toxic majority of PSD and its allies in the leadership of the Chamber of Deputies who took advantage of the Easter time and the restricted activity of Parliament not to put the final draft up for a final vote. That is how a toxic majority operates when it wants to pass a bill surreptitiously,” Roman said in a press statement released on Wednesday.
The autonomy of the Szeklerland will never be sanctioned under law in Romania, says Save Romania Union (USR) leader Dan Barna.
“We saw during Dragnea’s government how competent the PSD is when in charge of an institution. That is why USR insisted in the autumn that a firm decision is needed to remove PSD from the power controls. President Iohannis and PNL chose back then another variant. Now they are finding out what the toxic majority in Parliament can do and how, under the leadership of the PSD leader, the Chamber of Deputies can pass absurd bills,” Barna wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.
ALDE leader Calin Popescu-Tariceanu spoke out against “autonomy based on ethnic criteria”, but called for “a political and administrative decentralization” of Romania and said ALDE senators are against the bill.
“I firmly believe that Romania must make, as soon as possible, the decision to switch to political and administrative decentralization, a decision which is now excessively concentrated at the central level and that the management of the coronavirus crisis solely by the Government and not at all by the local authorities is highly inappropriate and damaging. But I cannot agree with autonomy on ethnic criteria, which would defeat, as you well know, clear constitutional provisions in this respect,” added Calin Popescu-Tariceanu.
National chairman of the People’s Movement Party (PMP) Eugen Tomac said on Wednesday that the tacit adoption by the Chamber of Deputies of a bill on the autonomy of the Szeklerland is “one of the greatest humiliations Parliament could have brought upon the Romanian people and Romania, a signal of weakness from a political point of view.”
“This is one of the greatest humiliations that Parliament could have brought upon Romanian people and Romania at a moment of crisis. I strongly condemn the lack of loyalty on the part of the lawmakers who lead this institution during this period, because from a political point of view the adoption of this bill is a sign of weakness,” Tomac told AGERPRES.
UDMR leader Kelemen Hunor says that the statements made by President Klaus Iohannis about the Szeklerland convey “a message typical of PRM [Greater Romania Party], violent and dangerous” and should apologize. He voiced his hope, in context, that President Klaus Iohannis will “have time” to deal with economic and social issues, such as unemployment or saving jobs.
UDMR Senator Tanczos Barna considers that the demands of the Hungarian minority in Romania are “absolutely justified”, because they spring from the special status enjoyed by the Szeklerland throughout history, “from the Alba Iulia Declaration”.
In his view, today’s Europe “is far from the Europe of nation-states, it is an example of multiple solutions to the just need of national minorities to have a legal and institutional framework that gives them the security of preserving their cultural and linguistic identity.”