FUEN (Federal Union of European Nationalities) is concerned about the escalating confrontation between Budapest and Bucharest, which has been keeping the media in the region busy for many days and which is already called the “war of the flags”.
The reason for the fierce confrontation is already some days old, when in the Szeklerland, an area in the eastern part of Transylvania in Romania that is inhabited by a majority of Hungarians, the former prefect personally visited the mayor of a Hungarian municipality in the Szeklerland and handed out a penalty order to him. The offence by the mayor was that a Szekler flag was flying from the town hall. The penalty order amounts to 1000 Euro in local currency. Before the inauguration the new prefect the representatives of the government of had the historic flags of the Szekler people removed. In Romania it is common that historic flags are flown next to the official flag of the state. But the government in Bucharest argued that the Szekler flag is the symbol of a “non-existing territorial entity” and that the Hungarians aim at separation from the Romanian nation state. This however is firmly rejected by the representatives of the Hungarians, elected recently with 90 percent of the Hungarians votes.
These incidents were followed by a very strong reaction by the Hungarian FIDESZ-government towards Bucharest, which made the issue of the Szekler again into a bulging international conflict between Romania and Hungary. FIDESZ sees itself as the voice of all the Hungarians abroad, which is highly problematic for the relations with the Hungarians in Romania, as Budapest frequently pursues an agenda that is not always in the interest of the people who legitimately represent the Hungarians in Romania.
The Hungarian collective movement and political representation in Romania, the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) is member of FUEN. “We expressly support the path towards compromise that has been successfully pursued by RMDSZ in the past decades. We support the Hungarians in Romania”, states FUEN.
“We cannot accept this line of action. Of course Romania has to allow the Szeklers to use their flag – not in the last place on official buildings. Anything else would be improper from a European minority perspective. It should be the duty of the European Union, as protector of the minorities, to intervene in such issues and to take a stand for the minorities. It must be made clear to the governments in Budapest and Bucharest that such a dispute shall not be fought at the expense of the minorities concerned”, says FUEN-vice-president Martha Stocker, who is also working as Regional Assessor in South Tyrol.
Together with the South Tyroleans and the Hungarians in Romania FUEN started to work on a European Citizens’ Initiative. By collecting one million signatures the initiative shall raise attention for the importance of the minorities in Europe. “The current situation makes once again abundantly clear that Europe has to do much more than it has been doing before in addressing minority issues”, says Martha Stocker.
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