Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said on Tuesday at a joint news conference with the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto held in Bucharest that in the Romanian-Hungarian relationship “a climate of trust and mutual respect” needs to be restored, calling for “restraint and discernment.”
“Romania is deeply interested in moving away from a logic of defiance and confrontation and we propose to create the premises for shaping a constructive, modern, civilised, pragmatic, European Romanian-Hungarian relationship. We need to restore a climate of trust and mutual respect in the bilateral relationship. We have a very good relationship that we built a long time ago, so that we can give the bilateral relationship a trajectory that fits our strategic partnership. We want a positive approach of the relationship with Hungary, as good neighbours. We want to act together on the basis of the principles of the 1996 political treaty, on the basis of the 2002 declaration of the Romanian-Hungarian strategic partnership for 21st Century Europe. That is why we have called for restrain and discernment and pleaded – especially in the current context marked by the harmful effects of the COVID-19 crisis affecting all citizens of our countries – for full and genuine involvement in building a good neighbourly relationship of a genuine strategic partnership,’ Aurescu stated.
He said he had a “very substantial” discussion on the bilateral relationship. He also specified that, “despite the tense moments that have taken place lately,” the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs “has refrained from reacting,” aiming to de-escalate those moments. At the same time, Aurescu underscored that “a logic of partnership” avoids escalation “at any cost, and especially in critical moments.”
“This is a visit that is taking place in a sensitive period of this bilateral relationship, and, as I confessed to the Minister, I was reluctant at first to organise this visit now, because we are ten days away from the day of the signing of the Treaty of Trianon, June 4, which has different meanings for Romania and Hungary. Also, recently there have been a number of tense moments in the bilateral relationship. And this is also an exceptional context as a state of alert is in force in Romania,” said Aurescu.
He called for “the avoidance of unjustified deterioration of the bilateral relationship” and the “development of natural good neighbourly relations” in which dialogue and mutual respect prevail.
“A first concrete signal of the Hungarian side’s desire to adopt a constructive attitude in our country is that in the period immediately ahead – as I told the Minister candidly is for the Hungarian officials on Romania’s soil not to give public remarks running contrary to the spirit of our strategic partnership, in such a way as to respect the logic of this strategic partnership, of the basic political treaty, while showing respect for the constitutional order in Romania. Any such remarks in the context of the current time that marks the anniversary or the commemoration of the Treaty of Trianon before June 4 will lead to the deterioration of the bilateral relationship and we do not want that,” Aurescu emphasised.
According to him, during the talks, the significance of June 4 was also addressed, explaining that to Romania “The Treaty of Trianon means only the legal consecration at the level of international relations of the action of truly primordial importance of the December 1, 1918 Greater Union by the exercise of the right to self-determination of the Romanian nation, which to Romania signifies the main moment of reference in the creation of the modern unitary state.
“We do not call into question the sovereign right of Hungary to establish ways of celebrating or commemorating significant historical events for the Hungarian state and people, only that for us this moment has a different meaning. It is a secondary meaning to the significance of December 1, 1918. Therefore, a different interpretation of historical facts is possible, but it is necessary to overcome the confrontation generated by this different interpretation of historical facts, looking forward to the future in the spirit of the 21st century, to co-operate in a modern, pragmatic European spirit for present and future generations,” said Aurescu.
The economic development program for Transylvania does not have the approval of the Romanian side
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bogdan Aurescu, stated on Tuesday that he will have in the coming period discussions with his counterpart in Budapest on the topic of the economic development program for Transylvania, emphasizing that presently this program does not have the approval of the Romanian side and that it must respect the European and Romanian legislation, but also that it must not discriminate.
The remarks were made during a joint press conference held by the Romanian Foreign Minister, Bogdan Aurescu, and the Hungarian Foreign Affairs and External Trade Minister, Peter Szijjarto, at the headquarters of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE).
“I proposed to discuss the conclusion of an agreement with regards to this program that has in view the management in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner of these elements of the program, not on ethnic criteria, not by infringing European or Romanian legislation regarding competition on the market. Consequently, we will have discussions in the coming period regarding this program and we hope to reach an agreement on the basis of these parameters,” Bogdan Aurescu said.
The contracts which were concluded regarding support and investments are done. The government is prepared to continue to grant these investments. Surely, I desire that we reach agreement with Mr. Minister Aurescu on how to continue. At this time there is no contract that is ongoing and now there is a particularly important opportunity to establish what we will do in the future. (…) In 2017 I spoke to Teodor Melescanu [at the time, Foreign Minister – e.n.] on this issue and we discussed conditions then. Sure, we never wrote them, we looked into each other’s eyes and we established the program thusly. I understand that Mr. Minister desires we make a written agreement. Sure, we will. The program will take place on the territory of Romania and it cannot be without this signing, said Peter Szijjarto.
Aurescu emphasized that presently this program does not have the agreement of the Romanian side and has no validity, as it was not written.
“I am not doubting what my colleague Peter is saying, but in order to be truly legal with such a program it needs to be done with the involvement of Romanian authorities, be without an ethnic target – so, non-discriminatory – to have in view not only a certain region, inhabited eventually only by a certain ethnic community and, very importantly, it needs to respect European and Romanian legislation in matters of competition and state aid,” Aurescu also said.
In other matters, Aurescu emphasized that Romania is interested in identifying some mutually advantageous projects, such as the dynamization of economic cooperation, especially in realms such as infrastructure or energy. He relayed to the Hungarian side his appreciation towards the identification of viable solutions in view of creating a transit corridor for Romanian citizens and ensuring the circulation of cross-border workers. Aurescu added that Romania desires the development of economic relations, given that there are important commercial exchanges between the two countries, with potential for growth. Last year, the bilateral commercial exchanges reached 9.4 billion euro.
Aurescu also mentioned that he convened with Peter Szijjarto the resumption of the activity of the Bilateral Committee on Economic Matters, which hasn’t met for over four years. Furthermore, the Romanian side proposed the organization of a joint Romanian-Hungarian economic forum, which would promote the IT&C sector, environment technologies and the digital economy. The extension of cooperation in the realm of healthcare was also approached, given that there is “already an important collaboration” in the realm of pulmonary transplant, as were matters in energy, including the topic of the BRHA gas pipeline.
Szijjarto calls on Romania to consider the Hungarian ethnics in Transylvania as a solid link between the two countries
Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto told a joint press conference delivered on Tuesday with his Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu at the premises of the Foreign Ministry in Bucharest that good relations require efforts from both sides, which must respect each other’s sensitivities. Voicing Hungary’s commitment to continuing to build a mutually respectful cooperation with Romania, Peter Szijjarto said that he has invited ForMin Aurescu to come on an official visit to Hungary so that they carry on the extremely constructive dialogue they had in Bucharest.
Referring to the two sides having tackled history, Peter Szijjarto remarked that the two states have different views on the same historical events, and that what can be a reason for joy for some countries can be a reason of sadness for others. For Hungary, the events related to the Treaty of Trianon are a reason of great sadness, as it lost two-thirds of its territory back then, but – Szijjarto underscored – this must not influence the two states’ bilateral relations.
“We respect our partners, but as a nation dating back more than 1,000 years, we also expect respect. We trust our collaboration with Romania to be built on good relations and understanding”, said ForMin Szijjarto.
He also called on Romania to consider the Hungarian ethnics in Transylvania as a solid link between the two countries. This is how we look at the Romanian community in Hungary and we support them to enjoy their traditions, to use their language and we ask the same from the Romanian side. Our government, which has been at rule for more than ten years now, has fivefold increased the budget support for the Romanian community in Hungary, and we also have a law on the minorities living in Hungary. We support the children of these minorities to visit the neighboring countries, go there on camps, and we are happy if Romania supports the participation of Romanian students who live in Hungary in Romanian camps. We equally support all the religious and economic activities of the respective communities. We know that these communities are a bridge between the two countries, said the Hungarian Foreign Minister.
In terms of economic relations, he said that Romania is Hungary’s ninth most important partner, with trade exchanges worth over 9 billion euros.
OTP and MOL operate on the Romanian market, the Hungarian top diplomat went on to say. Thanks to the Hungarian economic development program launched in neighboring countries, 250 million euros of investments have been made in Romania so far. I welcomed the initiative of Mr. Minister Aurescu that we should continue this program under a future agreement. We consider our energy cooperation is highly important, he said, noting that works to connect the two countries’ gas networks – which will also allow gas to be transported from Romania to Hungary – will be completed soon, in the first period at 1.75 billion cubic meters per year, and that another motorway connection between the two countries is expected by August.
Peter Szijjarto: Would be good for us if Hungary were not subject of Romanian electoral campaigns
Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto told on Tuesday a press conference held in Cluj-Napoca (426 km northwest of Bucharest), together with the leader of the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR), Kelemen Hunor, that he would like his country not to be the subject of the forthcoming electoral campaigns in Romania.
“We are absolutely aware that Romania is facing electoral campaigns. So, it would be good for us if Hungary were not the subject of these campaigns. (…) June 4 is approaching. In our relations with Romania, we base these relations on mutual respect, but this mutual respect means that we accept or at least understand that the same historical event may have a different meaning for two different nations. For us, the Treaty of Trianon is one of the most difficult moments in Hungary’s history, which is a historical fact. But we must not have a negative relationship, we must accept this historical fact and build positive relations in the future. We are prepared for that,” Szijjarto said.
He added that he calls on the Romanian authorities to help the Hungarian minority.
“We would like to have positive, good relations with Romania, because this is also the interest of the Hungarian community in Romania. We ask the Romanian authorities to look at the community of 1.5 million Hungarians in Romania as a valuable resource, a resource that ties us, Romanians and Hungarians, a resource that brings its contribution to Romania’s performance. We therefore ask the Romanian authorities to help the Hungarian community to use its national emblems, mother tongue and to preserve its traditions,” said Peter Szijjarto.
For his part, UDMR leader Kelemen Hunor said, in reference to the Treaty of Trianon, that “you cannot ask a child to celebrate his mother’s death.”
“I can accept the fact that June 4 is a happy day for the Romanian community, but you have to understand that from the perspective of the Hungarians this day is not a happy one, because it was the day when we became the minority. So, you cannot ask us to celebrate this day, just as you cannot ask a child to celebrate the death of his mother. However, we can still project a future together (…) because in Central Europe, in this region, we need each other and we have to live in peace and with mutual respect, we have to step beyond these difficulties, because we are not enemies,” said the UDMR chairman.