Another flag fine in Székelyudvarhely annulled by the court

The Court of Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc in Romanian) annulled the record in which the prefect of Hargita (Harghita) County imposed a fine on Mayor of Székelyudvarhely Árpád Gálfi for displaying the Hungarian flag on October 23, 2018, to commemorate the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Just three weeks ago, the same court annulled another fine imposed for displaying Hungarian national symbols on March 15, 2020, on yet another Hungarian national holiday, Hungarian News Agency MTI reports.

The abstracts of the judgments, from June 3 and May 13, were published on the website of the Romanian courts. Neither of the decisions is final, as the county representative can appeal both of them. However, the Mayor of Székelyudvarhely said during the trial that the prefect, who signed both of the records, never actually visited the sites where the flags and symbols were displayed; therefore, he could not have established any violation of the law

In 2018, government representatives started to impose fines on the mayors in Szeklerland for displaying Hungarian flags or symbols on the occasion of Hungarian national holidays. The leaders of the settlements requested the annulment of their fines but have achieved only small victories so far — most of the lawsuits are still ongoing.

When arguing against the use of Hungarian symbols, the prefects refer to the Romanian flag law from 1994, which states that “flags of other states may be displayed in Romania on official buildings and in public places only if it is accompanied by the national flag and only during the visits of foreign officials, international festivities or reunion.”

However, in their counterargument, the Szekler mayors use the governmental decision regarding the implementation of the law, which states that “ethnic minorities with national organizations can also use their own symbols at their events.” In addition, during the trials, the courts must decide whether other national symbols – like Hungarian tricolor ribbons, hearts and cockades – used by the city halls fall under the flag law or not.

Title image: Commemorating the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence on October 23, 2018, in Székelyudvarhely. Photo: Székelyudvarhely City Hall Facebook Page

Author: Orsi Sarány