by Dan Tanasă
On February 6th, The New York Times published an article, signed by James Montague, in which it literally promotes the Hungarian theory of revisionism of the Trianon Treaty signed in 1920 after the First World War which lead to the extinction of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and birth of Romania. The author clearly had no intention of writing an objective piece and to plainly inform the readers of the big picture of the so called SzekelyLand.
I do understand that it is hard to see the real issues writing an article 8000 km away, so assuming that Mr. Montague is of good faith and did not write the article on commission, I will kindly reply to his article with a few ideas.
First of all, Mr. Montague compares the Catalan issue with the SzekelyLand “struggle”. This is like comparing two different things. They might look the same for a superficial analyst but they are not the same. While the Catalans fight for Cataluña, in Romania the Hungarians fight for the independence of the Szekely Land. In a country where less then 200 people have declared themselves as being Szeklers when asked by the Census bureau, somebody is fighting for the autonomy of SzekelyLand! It doesn’t make any sense. And that is because the main porpoise of the so called autonomy of the SzekelyLand is in fact the revisionism of the Trianon Treaty by creating a smaller Hungary in the middle of Romania. How could anyone believe that 200 people can claim autonomy for a territory in the middle of a sovereign EU country? This makes sense only if we consider that, in fact, the main subject here is not the preservation of the Szeklers traditions and culture, but the creation of a smaller Hungary in Romania, in which Hungarians can fell “at home”.
Secondly, Mr. Montague chooses to ignore that fact that almost 40% of the population of the so called SzekelyLand is non-Hungarian, made by Romanians and other nationalities, which do not support the autonomy of the so called SzekelyLand. In fact, right at this moment the ethnic Romanians from the counties of Covasna, Harghita and Mureș, composing the so called SzekelyLand, are the ones that are constantly discriminated by the public authorities controlled by the ethnic Hungarians (city hall, county halls, public libraries, etc.). There are many public institutions (city halls, public libraries, other public institutions, etc.) in which there are no Romanians working at the present time and there will never ever be. Why? Because of the fact that the Hungarian language is forcedly imposed in the public space in the so called SzekelyLand. Despite the fact that Romania has only one official language, Romanian, Hungarian is imposed at all levels, in private and public institutions. For new job openings Hungarian is mandatory, whether the job is in a public or private sector. For ethnic Romanians it is a matter of learn Hungarian of leave the area. This is basically a form of ethnic cleansing against Romanians.
Thirdly, Romania was presented several times, including by the former president of the USA, Bill Clinton, as an example when it comes to promoting, defending and respecting minority rights, including Hungarians. Every minority in Romania has a member elected in the lower house of the Romanian Parliament. The Hungarian minority is represented in the Romanian Parliament starting 1990 with a handful of members. In the legislature that started December 9, 2012 the Hungarians have 28 members in the Romanian Parliament. Starting 1990, the Hungarians where constantly represented as well in the Romanian Government. Starting 2004, every department of the Romanian Government had dozens of Hungarians hired due to the presence of the Hungarian political party present in the government of Romania. The Hungarians in Romania even had a vice prime-minister in the person of an ethnic Hungarian, Marko Bela. Ethnic Hungarians are involved even at this moment in every major decision making in Romania, from the central government to the local level, in Covasna and Harghita counties, where they control everything: city halls, county halls, local public institutions, public funding, etc. Hungarians in Romania have access to public schools in their mother tongue; they have access to positions in public institutions, newspapers, TV shows, churches, all in Hungarian and all funded by public funds. Basically they have all the rights that any Romanian has. And this is as it should be. Having this, the allegations that Hungarians in Romania are discriminated or oppressed are pure lies.
The Hungarian leaders that currently lead public institutions locally in Covasna and Harghita counties constantly choose to disobey the Romanian laws and Constitution. The disrespect of the law and Constitution goes so far that they even choose to disregard decisions made by courts of law. I wonder how Mr. Montague would react if a mayor in USA would choose to disrespect the USA Constitution or a court order. Or is it that only the American Constitution is holy?
The Hungarian leaders from Romania support, by different ways and means, a vast number of far-right extremist groups that promote the revisionist ideology. The paradox is that fascist groups that have been banned by courts in Hungary are promoted freely in Romania by the Hungarian leaders simply because they support revisionism. It is well know the case of the writer Albert Wass, condemned in Romania for crimes against humanity, that is promoted by the Hungarian leaders, sometimes with public founds, just because he was a supporter of the revisionism and annulment of the Trianon Treaty that lead to the dissolution of the Great Hungary.
A simple journey of Mr. Montague in Covasna and Harghita counties would have shown him that those two counties are almost Hungarian and almost nothing there reminds the visitor that that part of territory is still Romania. Hungarian national flag is up on many public buildings, the so called Szekely Land flag as well is up on public institutions, despite the fact that it is illegal, Hungarian inscriptions are all over the places, people asking you in Hungarian when you enter stores, menus exclusively in Hungarian in restaurants, all mark the freedom that the Hungarians enjoy in the so called Szekely Land. This entire situation leads to grating privileges to the Hungarians living in the area and the emigration of Romanian to other parts of Romania, with a more friendly air.
Talking about friendly air and promoting tolerance I would point out the declaration of the mayor of Sfântu Gheorghe, the ethnic Hungarian Antal Arpad, made in 2008 while he was a member of the Romanian Parliament: Romanians in SzekelyLand could face the same fate as the Serbs in Kosovo if Romania does not grant autonomy to SzekelyLand. Basically, a leader of the Hungarians threatened Romania with a civil war if autonomy is not granted. Would Mr. Montague live in such an area with this “friendly” air?
The author chooses to ask Laszlo Tokes to testify on the subject. If the author would have had the decency to google him he would have seen that Tokes, considered a “symbol” of the struggle for the autonomy of the Szekely Land, is considered by a vast part of the Romanian society one of the most toxic characters of the public life in Romania, supported only by President Traian Băsescu for political reasons.
Lastly, I have to say that I believe it is totally unprofessional to ask a 22 years old boy to testify concerning the life of Hungarians in Romania during the communist era when that boy was not even born when the communist regime ended in Romania.