Romania condemns irredentist statements by Hungarian politician

Romania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has strongly condemned a recent statement made by the leader of the Hungarian radical nationalist party, Jobbik, claiming that Hungary should seek autonomy for the Hungarian-populated Székely Land in Romania.

According to the Hungarian agency MTI, Gábor Vona, leader of the Hungarian radical nationalist party Jobbik, accused the government of Viktor Orbán of failing to raise issues regarding the peace treaty of Trianon on the autonomy of the so-called Székely Land  – or Szecklerland – with international fora.

The Székely Land or Szeklerland is a historic and ethnographic area in Romania, inhabited mainly by the Székelys, a subgroup of the Hungarian people from eastern Transylvania. Its territory is roughly 16,943 square kilometres and its population is of 809,000 inhabitants, according to a 2002 census.

The Treaty of Trianon was the peace agreement signed in 1920 at the end of World War I. The treaty left Hungary with 93,073 square kilometres, only 28% of the 325,411 square kilometres that had constituted the pre-war Kingdom of Hungary within the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.

Jobbik registered as a political party in 2003, and gained increasing influence as it radicalised gradually, vilifying Jews and the country's 700,000 Roma.

The group gained notoriety after founding the Hungarian Guard, an unarmed vigilante group reminiscent of World War II-era far-right groups. It entered Parliament at the 2010 elections and now holds 44 of 386 seats.

Vona reportedly made these statements on 10 August at the Joseni summer camp, in the central Romanian county of Harghita.

Without naming Vona, the Romanian foreign ministry “firmly condemns and rejects the statements made at the Summer Camp of Joseni”.

Bucharest states that the statements made “blatantly” go “against the contemporary European spirit and realities, against the principles of the international law, the Basic Political Treaty [between Hungary and Romania, concluded in 1996], as well as those of the Bilateral Strategic Partnership”.

“Such positions are completely anachronistic and must be condemned in all firmness by all responsible stakeholders of Romania, Hungary and Europe in general,” the foreign ministry states, calling on the Hungarian authorities to disassociate themselves from the Jobbik statements.

In response, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry said that Jobbik was not part of the government and did not share its responsibility.

The Hungarian website Politics.hu quoted Vona saying on 12 August that the Romanian press had given a “completely distorted” interpretation of his statements.

In an open letter to Romanian politicians Vona said that their reactions to his remarks were “hysterical”, adding that the alliance between Romania and Hungary required “tolerance and mutually granted rights”.

Vona insisted that the Romanian press represented a “false picture” of peaceful Romania and aggressive Hungary. He added that Romania’s political elite had a “bad conscience” arising from “invariably thwarting the endeavours of Hungarians in Transylvania”.

The Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) took distance from Vona’s statements in a communiqué. 

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