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Diplomatic row with Romania over the Szekler flag

January 19th, 2018

A left-wing commentator explains that the Prime Minister of Romania resigned for reasons unconnected to the Hungarian protest against his statement on the Szekler flag.

Prime Minister Mihai Tudose of Romania resigned on Monday after he lost the confidence of the leadership of his Social Democratic Party. Earlier, the Romanian ambassador had been summoned to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry in protest against Mr Tudose’s statement in a radio interview. Mr Tudose said the flag representing the Hungarian minority in Szeklerland, three Hungarian majority regions in Romania, may not be flown from public buildings. He added that ‘wherever that flag flies, those responsible for flying it will fly beside it’. The Hungarian side interpreted that sentence as threat to hang Hungarians. The Romanian side denied that reading.

In Népszava, Mária Gál agrees with the government’s interpretation of Mr Tudose’s words, in common with all opposition parties who also reached the conclusion that the formula meant ‘hanging’. She deems a person who threats to hang people for symbolic acts worthy of immediate dismissal from government, but warns that Mr Tudose’s sudden departure was due to reasons totally independent from the incident. He had clashed with his party leader – that is why he was forced to resign. Six months ago, the Social Democrats dismissed Mr Tudose’s predecessor, which shows that infighting within a ruling party can be politically suicidal. In a clear hint at Hungarian party politics, Gál warns that personal anger, the lack of compromise and factitious struggles within a party can bring down even a strong and otherwise successful government.

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