Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose threatened hungarian politicians with hanging if they chose to display the Szekler flag. The inflammatory comments occurred during an interview about the autonomy aspirations of the Szeklers on Wednesday.
The statement was recorded on the occasion of a joint initiative of ethnic Hungarian parties in Romania. This initiative aims to initiate honest Hungarian-Romanian dialogue within society on the autonomy of Hungarian-majority Szeklerland.
Tudose said that autonomic aspirations are illegal and out of question, and claimed that their only aim is to destabilize Romania by threatening its territorial integrity. Ethnic Hungarian parties in Romania shouldn’t be taken seriously, he added.
Unsurprisingly, the Hungarian reaction has been one of disapproval and condemnation. In Budapest, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjáartó summoned the Romanian ambassador for consultations. Ethnic Hungarian leaders in Romania condemned the statement, asking for its withdrawal and an apology. Bálint Porcsalmi, president of Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ), said that Mr. Tudose can disagree with autonomy aspirations, but he cannot threaten anyone with hanging.
Fidesz communication chief Balázs Hidvéghi claimed that Tudose’s statement recalls the darkest periods of the 20th century, and that Fidesz is ready to defend ethnic Hungarians even from a “primitive” Prime Minister. MP István Szávay of Jobbik (an once far-right party that has worked its way toward the center in recent years) showed up at the Romanian embassy in Budapest with a rope around his neck protesting against the statement.
To this day Romania has 1.5 million Hungarian ethnic citizens, and is often accused of treating them as second class citizens. Under proposed autonomy plans, Hungarian-majority areas would gain territorial autonomy, while Hungarians in other parts of the country would receive greater cultural autonomy. In the past several decades, the blue and yellow Szekler flag has become a symbol of ethnic Hungarians’ desire for autonomy.
via mno.hu, image via hvim