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Romanian protest over the Szekler flag

February 10th, 2023

A left-wing columnist describes the exchange of irritated messages between Bucharest and Budapest as a senseless exercise in posturing.

The Hungarian ambassador to Bucharest was summoned by the Romanian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday and was told that the Romanian side felt offended by a Facebook post by a Fidesz MP who demanded that the Szekler flag be authorised in Romania. There is no such an administrative unit as Szeklerland, the Ministry said, therefore no such official flag exists. In his FB post, Zsolt Németh, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Hungarian Parliament had written that the Szekler flag would continue to be hoisted on Hungarian public institutions until Romania authorises its unrestricted use. Szekler Hungarians represent the overwhelming majority in two Romanian regions. Reacting to the Romanian protest, Mr Németh said the practice of removing the flag from their buildings by Romanian authorities has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights.

In Népszava, Mária Gál finds all this sensitivity over the Szekler flag grossly exaggerated. She remarks that far from being a traditional Szekler symbol, the blue-and-gold flag was only invented in 2004. She describes symbolic altercations over the issue as needless and harmful exercises that divert attention from more serious matters, including Romania’s failure to accede to the Schengen area. According to the latest Romanian census, ethnic Hungarians in Romania number 600 thousand less than three decades ago, she notes, which ought to give everyone serious pause for thought.

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