What do Hungarians think of Romania

Boilers against the Hungarians

Transylvania: In Romania a legal war over minority rights and symbols has broken out. The country systematically violates laws and obligations.

Közseghaza is Hungarian and means the town hall of a municipality. Until recently, this inscription was on the building of the municipal administration in Csikkozmás / Cozmeni. Then it had to be removed: A Bucharest association had sued against it - and was right in all instances. Only Közseghaza had been on the facade, not the Romanian equivalent. Was that against Romanian law? The mandatory bilingual notice boards have always been attached to the town hall entrance, the inscription on the facade was more of a historical element: the town hall was built in 1943 when northern Transylvania was once again part of Hungary for a short time. The population consists of 96 percent Hungarian Szeklers, so the inscription never bothered anyone.

Ethnic cleansing underway?

Then came Dan Tanasa. The 36-year-old Romanian journalist has made it his life's work to prove that an ethnic cleansing is going on in the Szeklerland against the Romanian population. To this end, Tanasa founded the Civic Association for Dignity in Europe (ADEC) in 2014. He wages a legal war against the symbols of the Hungarian ethnic group. Tanasa asked the mayor of Csikkozmás to remove the label because it was illegal.

“This is not about bilingualism; they are anti-Hungarian acts, ”says Zsolt Árus, President of the Gyergyószék section of the Szekler National Council: ADEC is suing for the removal of Hungarian labels and flags, not the addition of the Romanian name. Árus has documented over 50 cases.

For example Csikszereda / Miercurea Ciuc, capital of the Hargita / Harghita district. 79 percent of the residents are Szekler. Mayor of the city of 42,000 is Róbert Kálmán Ráduly. The inscription Városháza can still be read on the town hall; that's the name of the town hall of a town in the Szeklerland. Next to it is the Romanian equivalent: Primârie. The district court ruled - on a complaint by ADEC - that the Hungarian part should be removed.

War against Hungarian inscriptions and flags

In Csikszereda, ADEC has also challenged the official city flag, which has been in use since 1989/90. "There is no legal provision that prohibits this," says Róbert Ráduly. The law only regulates the use of the national and European flags as well as foreign national flags. But the Romanian courts are simply reversing the old legal principle that what is not forbidden is allowed and ruling against the Szeklers that everything is forbidden that is not permitted by law.

"These are systematic attacks against the minority," says Katalin Takacs. “They start from the prefect's office,” says the lawyer, “there are lawyers employed there whose only task is to locate points for attacks against the minority.” The prefect is the representative of the state in the districts. He would have to watch over the observance of the law.

How is this drifting against the minority to be explained?
“Romania is a young state,” says Janos Mezei, the former mayor of Gyergyszéntmiklós / Gheorgheni, “the Romanians don't really feel at home here and are afraid of losing the area again”.
“The Romanians are not stupid,” says Róbert Ráduly: “They don't fight us Hungarians in parliament and through the government, but through the judiciary. Because in Romania the judiciary is not independent! ”Ráduly is convinced that faceless structures - including the secret service Securitate - are targeting the elite of the minority under the pretext of fighting corruption.

"Deep State" in Romanian

"The nationalist process used to be carried out by the political parties," says the political scientist Miklos Bakk, who teaches at the University of Kolozsvar / Klausenburg / Cluj, "now it is being continued by the Securitate." Bakk speaks of the "deep state", an interdependence of the military , Secret services, politics, justice and administration.
For many Hungarians, territorial autonomy for a united Szeklerland appears to be the only way out. The problem: "The Romanians think that we want secession," says Janos Mezei. "They don't know what autonomy is and they don't believe us."

The government is working in the opposite direction anyway: with an administrative reorganization of the country, the three districts of the Szeklerland are to be split into several large regions. This would mean that the minority itself would lose the low level of self-government that it currently has.

The umbrella organization of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSz), two smaller Hungarian parties and the Szekler National Council are biting granite with their demands for autonomy: Miklos Bakk says that since joining the EU, the government has no longer wanted to talk about collective rights: “Romania is working with us the RMDSz together - on one condition: no territorial autonomy. "

"The politicians create the problems"

But what about living together in the Szeklerland beyond political confrontation? “The local Romanians are not a problem,” says Janos Mezei, “they are not for and not against autonomy. The politicians create the problems. ”The Romanians have nothing fundamentally against the Hungarians, but fear of secession.
So the prospects for an understanding are gloomy. In Csikkozmás, the mayor has initially solved his problem in a creative way: The lettering Csikkozmás Közseghaza has been removed from the town hall - and now shines in full bloom in a newly laid out flower bed towards the visitor.

Four questions for Tamás Sándor, President of the Kovaszna / Covasna County

It is said that the situation of the Hungarian minority has been deteriorating for years.

Tamás Sándor: Romania has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1993, NATO since 2004 and the EU since 2007. Each time before, there has been a benevolent attitude towards minorities.

And then?

Each time the process went backwards. In practice, rights are not granted. For example, the return of property that had been expropriated in 1948: In recent years, property that was previously returned was even taken back in individual cases: for example, the Székely Mikó Kollégium high school in Sepsiszentgyörgyi / Sfantu Gheorghe. 100 lawsuits are currently in progress with an attempt to reverse such restitutions.

Is there no legal certainty?

Every day I see laws being used to curtail our rights. This is a political strategy of the system, which wants to show that independent courts do that, not us. This means that the government is off the hook on the outside. The Romanian Foreign Ministry intimidates Hungarian-speaking officials so that they can take the right position in public: In Romania, the minority issue has been solved in an exemplary manner. But it is not resolved! From the outside, the constitution and the laws look wonderful, but the reality is different: the state measures by double standards.

How is the coexistence between Hungarians and Romanians?

There are no problems between people. The problem is with the institutions.

By Hatto Schmidt, editor of the German-language newspaper in Italy, Dolomites.