Romanian PM makes controversial statement against Szeklerland autonomy

Romanian prime minister Mihai Tudose had a harsh reaction after the leaders of the three political parties representing the Hungarian minority in Romania, namely UDMR, PCM, and PPTM, signed a joint statement asking for the territorial autonomy of the region known as Szeklerland, in central Romania.

He said that if the Szekler flag will fly on institutions in the Szeklerland, “they will all fly next to them.” Some said the PM’s statement was inappropriate as some may interpret it as a threat, meaning that the prime minister wants to hang them. This was, however, the interpretation of Hungarian publication Hungarian Free Press.

“Without minimizing or ignoring the subject, my opinion is that this year will be one of trying to push the stick through the fence, we will jump on them, they will jump on us, and this year will become one of quarrels instead of a year of unification. These are not three major parties, it’s true that we shouldn’t ignore them, but I am simply telling you: I told them that if the Szekler flag will fly on the institutions there, everyone will fly next to the flag. Such an autonomy for the Szeklers is not possible,” Mihai Tudose said at local TV station Realitatea TV on Wednesday evening, January 10.

The next day, the prime minister also had a reaction on Facebook, saying that he refuses any dialogue on this subject, as this idea of autonomy violates the Constitution, which guarantees the unity and indivisibility of the Romanian state.

“Discussions about the autonomy of the Szeklerland are out of the law and are not worth taking into consideration, representing only an attempt to destabilize Romania’s unity in the Centenary,” the PM wrote on Facebook.

In his turn, Kelem Hunor, the president of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), said Tudose’s statements are “absolutely unacceptable.”

“In the EU, you can not propose without political consequences the reintroduction of the capital punishment and then say, for a smaller or bigger community, that you don’t agree with the ideas of that community and that they will fly, they will be hanged, killed. So from this point of view, I believe that this statement can not be without consequences,” Hunor told local RFI.

“First of all, I expect an apology from the prime minister, and I want him to withdraw these words. […] In the EU, I don’t think he can remain in office in the long run, such a politician can’t be credible if he makes statements like these, saying that some people will fly next to the flag.”

Meanwhile, the Hungarian Foreign Affairs Minister summoned Marius Lazurca, the Romanian Ambassador to Budapest, to give explanations, local Digi24 reported. The Hungarian foreign affairs minister Peter Szijjartoalso said Tudose’s statements are unacceptable, and is now demanding an apology.

The Szeklerland includes the counties of Harghita and Covasna and part of Mures county, where a lot of Hungarians live.

Irina Marica, [email protected]