The collection of signatures for the European Citizens’ Initiative on protecting national regions, continued earlier this month after the EU approved a later deadline for the petition due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Campaign manager László Pesty told pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet that the organization is trying to involve Renée Zellweger, two-time Oscar, and four-time Golden Globe-winning American actress-producer in the signature drive.
The citizens’ initiative of the Szekler National Council (SZNT) can be signed online in all EU Member States until November 7th, but the SZNT is collecting signatures on paper as well. In order for the initiative to be discussed in the European Parliament, one million petitions must be collected in at least seven EU member states. While one million signatures have indeed been gathered, the threshold has only been reached in three countries. Thus, the organizers have also launched an English campaign.
Hungarians living in Sweden are also fighting for the Szekler cause, and they approached the leaders of the local Sámi minority (indigenous Finno-Ugric people inhabiting Sápmi which today encompasses large northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula) in connection with the petition to ask for their participation in the collection of signatures.
The request also reached the Sámi Parliament. During the reconciliation between the Hungarian and Sámi minorities in Sweden, it emerged that since Renée Zellweger’s mother is also Sámi, they will contact the world-famous American actress together and ask for her help in the campaign. This support would be much needed because the biggest task for the campaign team and the forces supporting them is to make the Szekler petition better known in Europe.
According to the SZNT, the legitimacy of the initiative would be greatly increased if millions of more signatures were collected, and the territorial threshold reached in at least 10-15 countries (instead of the officially needed 7). According to a previous interview with Pesty, they had selected seven new countries where they would collect signatures. In Croatia, Slovenia, Spain, Lithuania, Sweden, Estonia, and Latvia, the team produced special campaign materials in the languages of local ethnic minorities in order to gain their support.
featured photo: MTI/EPA/Etienne Laurent