Romania: Bill on Szekler Land’s statute of autonomy leads to unrest in and outside the country

Romania: Bill on Szekler Land’s statute of autonomy leads to unrest in and outside the country

Hungary reacted strongly to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis’ statement on Szekler Land’s autonomy.

“Today (29 April 2020), the President of Romania proceeded to an uncivilized address that promotes incitement to hatred. It should be made clear to President Iohannis that the vast majority of Hungarians living in Transylvania and Szekler Land voted for him in the presidential elections. That should be clear to everyone. That is why our request, our message and our appeal to the President of Romania is simple: more respect for the Hungarians”, Hungarian Foreign and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto says in a video posted on his Facebook account.

“We want to maintain good relations with Romania because we are important economic partners; but it is also in the interest of the Hungarians living in Transylvania and Szeklerland that the relations between the two countries be normal. Unfortunately, in recent days, the representatives of the Romanian state, one after the other, have proceeded to statements that clearly make it difficult to maintain good neighborly relations”, Minister Peter Szijjarto underlined.

In response, the Romanian Foreign Ministry described the Hungarian official’s statements as “provocative and inappropriate”.

“Romania’s Foreign Ministry, taking responsibility for the very important relations between Romania and Hungary – strategic partners, EU member states and NATO allies – has recently avoided reacting to a series of provocative statements by the Hungarian side, seeking to avert absolutely unnecessary and artificial damage in bilateral relations. As a result, especially in the current context of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which affects all citizens of our states, the Romanian Foreign Minister calls for restraint and full participation in building good neighborly relationships and an authentic strategic partnership based on the bilateral legal framework and the shared European commitments, for the common good of Romanian and Hungarian citizens, regardless of their national origin”, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis highlighted the Senate’s rejection of the legislative proposal for the autonomy of Szekler Land and noted that such initiatives should never find their way again in Parliament, according to an article in the state news agency.

“The President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, has highlighted the Senate’s decision, as a decision-making body, to reject the legislative proposal for the statute of autonomy of Szekler Land (…)”.

The President of Romania stated that the promotion of such legislative proposals “first and foremost harms the Hungarian community and creates artificial tensions within society, which are in danger of escalating. Such legislative initiatives, which defy the constitutional order, should never be included in the agenda of the Romanian parliament!”

According to the same source, “without the steady intervention” of President Klaus Iohannis, who “drew attention to the seriousness of this dangerous and toxic approach to the stability of Romanian democracy, the Senate would not have voted today by a large majority against the unconstitutional, extremely dangerous bill, which was tacitly adopted by the House of Representatives, with the irresponsible complicity of the PSD”.

Ciolacu goes after Iohannis

The bill on Szekler Land’s statute of autonomy was never voted in the House of Representatives, PSD interim President Marcel Ciolacu said on Wednesday, describing President Klaus Iohannis’ statements as “a serious attack”. “Mr. Iohannis! Being a good Romanian and a patriot means you do not send your Romanians to die collecting asparagus in Germany without protection, without medical help and without legal agreements”, said Ciolacu. He added that being a good Romanian and a patriot meant defending the Romanian ambassador to Budapest when he was attacked for defending the interests of your country. “Dear Romanians, no one has sold Transylvania and will never do so. Transylvania was, is and will be part of Romania”.

The National Council on Combating Discrimination (CNCD) is reviewing President Klaus Iohannis’ statements on Szeklerland’s statute of autonomy plan after the Mikó Imre Association for the Protection of Minority Rights filed a petition.

CNCD President Csaba Asztalos told Mediafax news agency that this was the only complaint to date against Iohannis’ allegations. “His statement creates an unpleasant atmosphere in the Hungarian community. The fact that he is speaking from the position of President of Romania further aggravates the situation, as it gives the impression that the Romanian state itself is acting against its Hungarian citizens”, the announcement sent by the “Mikó Imre” Union for the Protection of the Rights of Minorities to CNCD notes. Lawyer Gheorghe Piperea also said on Wednesday that the National Council for Combating Discrimination should intervene after Klaus Iohannis’ statements, who specifically claimed the PSD wanted to sell Transylvania to the Hungarians. /ibna