Hungary National Day celebrations in Romania spark new tensions

The celebrations on Hungary’s National Day in Romania provided another tense moment after two ethnic Hungarian mayors were fined after the event.

The mayors of Sfântu Gheorghe and Târgu Secuiesc, two cities in central Romania, were fined for flying the Hungarian flag for the event without also putting up the Romanian one.

The law requires foreign country flags to be flown on public institutions accompanied by the Romanian flag, the prefects of Harghita and Covasna counties explained on the fines, which amounted to RON 5000 (EUR 1,075).

Peter Szijjarto, Hungary’s foreign affairs minister, asked the Romanian authorities to not fine the Hungarians celebrating their national day.

“Such fines are unworthy of an EU member state and have nothing in common with mutual respect. The Hungarians do not hurt Romania by commemorating their heroes, and such celebration gestures should not be disturbed,” Szijjarto said.

The Harghita and Covasna counties, alongside Mures county, make up the so called Szeklerland (Tinutul Secuiesc), where a large part of the population is Hungarian. These counties have been asking for autonomy for many years.

In Odorheiu Secuiesc, a city in Harghita county, mayor Arpad Galfi said the city was not decorated with symbols of the Hungarian state but of the Magyar nation, to mark 170 years since the 1848 revolution, Agerpres reported. He explained that the Hungarian flag was flown on March 15 at the City Hall, alongside the Romanian one, as a show of respect for the visiting Hungarian delegation, led by state secretary Miklos Soltesz.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă sent a message on Hungary’s National Day, arguing it was time to focus on the things that unite Romanians and Hungarians. She said that the neighboring country’s national day was an opportunity to “celebrate the Hungarian community in Romania and the good mutual cohabitation relations that have developed in the past decades.”

Hungary’s president, Janos Ader, was in Romania on March 14. He inaugurated the Arany Janos Memorial Museum in Salonta, in western Romania’s Bihor county. One day before, Zsolt Semjen, the Hungarian deputy prime minister, visited Cluj-Napoca. After the two ethnic Hungarian mayors in Romania were sanctioned, Semjen expressed solidarity with them and condemned the local authorities’ decision.

Thousands march for Szeklerland autonomy in Romania

(Photo: Bokor Tibor Facebook Page)

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