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Vona raises Trianon issue in Romania

August 13th, 2013

Magyar Nemzet acknowledges that Hungarian far-right extremists do proselytise in Transylvania, but dismisses a claim by the Romanian Foreign Ministry that the Hungarian government should dissociate itself from Jobbik leader Vona’s statements. Népszabadság blames PM Orbán for exporting Hungarian party politics to Romania and setting an example for Jobbik’s absurd campaign.

Gábor Vona, leader of the extreme right-wing Jobbik party, told a radical right-wing youth gathering in Romania that “all Hungarians should live in one single country”. He criticised the Hungarian government for not raising ”the Trianon-issue” (i.e. the revision of the borderline between Hungary and Romania); and said “potential conflicts” should not deter Hungary from confronting Romania on minority issues. Vona’s statement provoked anger in the Romanian media, and the Romanian Foreign Ministry called on the Hungarian government to dissociate itself from Vona’s statements. The Hungarian Foreign Ministry issued a swift statement explaining that Jobbik is an opposition party and does not take part in shaping government policies. Meanwhile, addressing a seminar of Romanians living within and outside Romania, president Traian Băsescu said the traditional “summer university” held each year by Fidesz in Tansylvania (see BudaPost July 30 and 31) will not be authorised in the future “if it is held in the same fashion”. Without mentioning MEP László Tőkés by name, he condemned “the speaker” who said Hungary should claim he role of “protecting power” over Hungarians in Romania. Mr Băsescu also dismissed Hungarian demands of ethnic territorial autonomy. Hungarians complain that Romanian regional reform plans envisage separating two neighbouring Hungarian majority counties, instead of uniting them into a Hungarian majority region. Such an autonomous Hungarian region existed, although only nominally in the 1950, and the president said Romania would not return to Stalinism. He added that Hungary was a hotbed of ethnic instability and Romania would take the lead in disciplining her.

In his Magyar Nemzet editorial, István Pataky firmly dismisses Vona’s statements in strong words but also blames the Romanian media for the “hype”. While Vona’s project has no real local backing, he writes, “right-wing extremism has appeared among Hungarians in Romania”, as a result of the activities of Hungarian forces (i.e. Jobbik). Pataky deems that particularly harmful because the presence of paramilitary uniforms can only discredit the demands  of autonomy for Hungarians in Romania. As to the statement released by the Romanian foreign ministry, Pataky believes it is a carbon copy of the tactics used by Hungarian Socialists, who regularly call upon Fidesz and Prime Minister to dissociate themselves from Jobbik, implicitly suggesting thereby that the government is somehow connected to the far right. Hungarian-Romanian relations have not been as bad as that for a long time, he concludes, and predicts no early improvement as elections are approaching in both countries: “campaigns are not the best time for reconciliation”.

Népszabadság’s editorial, on the other hand, acknowledges that the injustice of Trianon (the post-World I peace treaty that deprived Hungary of two thirds of its pre-war territory leaving large ethnic Hungarian communities behind the borders) “can never been forgotten”. However, the only way the impact of Trianon can be mitigated today is through EU membership where national borders become meaningless. The author ridicules Vona’s efforts to take a hard stance, but warns that Fidesz favourite László Tőkés came up with another controversial idea, suggesting a Hungarian mandate over Hungarians in Romania. Népszabadság accuses Fidesz politicians of having introduced the habit of provocative appearance by Hungarian political parties at Romanian summer festivals. “Perhaps we could do without such summer holidays,” the editorial concludes.

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