Politics

Bucharest stops Hungary’s funding of Transylvanian communities

“Romania is interested to get out of the logic of confrontation with Hungary and to create a modern relationship of mutual trust and respect in line with the 21st century.” As a nation of more than 1,000 years, we also expect respect. A collaboration with Romania has to be based on understanding. It is better to be in good relations than in bad ones.”

These were two of the messages launched yesterday in Bucharest during a joint press conference of the Romanian and Hungarian diplomatic heads, Bogdan Aurescu and Péter Szijjártó.

The visit by the head of Hungarian diplomacy came as surprise; as Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu admitted, Bucharest did not really wish for such a visit before June 4, the date of the centenary anniversary of the Treaty of Trianon – probably out of fear of statements being made that would further escalate the tension between the two countries.

Thus, the visit came in a loaded context. Bucharest can find disturbing the political and media lynching of the Romanian ambassador in Budapest or the presence of Hungarian officials at different events commemorating Greater Hungary. Both were considered, at the very least, provocative by Romania.

On the other hand, Hungary can invoke the declaration of President Klaus Iohannis and his accusation that Romania’s Social Democratic Party conspired with the government of Viktor Orbán for the surrender of Transylvania.

Péter Szijjártó posted a remark on his Facebook account stating: “The relations with Romania in the last weeks have not been about mutual respect but rather a sharp exchange of replies.”

The parties have come to an agreement to refrain from statements that could heighten tensions even more.

But a very important subject of discussion in Bucharest was the direct funding by the Hungarian government of Hungarian communities outside of its borders.

This program, through which communities or different businesses are directly funded by Budapest, did not have the consent of the Romanian State according to the norms of international law. Now, the two countries have agreed on the negotiation of an agreement on this matter, something that was insistently requested by Bucharest.

But until then, what happens to direct Hungarian funding of the communities? Minister Péter Szíjjártó affirmed that for the moment there are no new financing contracts, so it would be the perfect moment to come to an agreement.

The head of Hungarian diplomacy said that there was already an agreement in place with former Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodor Meleșcanut, reached in 2017. But Bucharest now says that if such an agreement existed, it cannot be taken into consideration, and Bucharest now has a new condition: any agreement must have an ethnic and territorial aspect. Thus, Hungarian funding must address everyone, not just Hungarians, and must go to all of Romania, not just to Transylvania.

As for the problem of Trianon, Romanian Minister Bogdan Aurescu said that for Romanians, the Treaty of Trianon of 1920 is just an official consent of the act of the 1st of December, 1918. “We do not contest Hungary’s right to commemorate historical events. A different interpretation of historical facts is possible, but we have to look into the future, in the spirit of the 21st century,” said the head of Romanian diplomacy.

The Treaty of Trianon

Nearly 100 years after it was signed, the 1920 peace treaty signed at Trianon remains one of the most traumatic events in Hungary’s collective memory and a recurring issue in current politics.

The Treaty of Trianon was signed by the representatives of Hungary on one side and the Allied powers on the other on June 4, 1920, at the Grand Trianon Palace at Versailles, in France. It was one of the many peace treaties that were signed in the aftermath of the First World War.

According to the terms presented by the Allied powers, Hungary was stripped of two-thirds of its territory and population: Czechoslovakia received Northern Hungary, sub-Carpathian Ruthenia and the region of Pressburg (Bratislava), along with other minor territories; Austria received most of the Burgenland (Western Hungary); and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes took hold of Croatia-Slavonia and part of the Banat region. Romania was given most of the Banat province and Transylvania, while Italy received Fiume. This distribution left Hungary with less than 93,000 of the original 325,000 square kilometers of its territory.

 

Featured photo: Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó and Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu at a joint press conference on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bucharest.  

 

Author: Blanka Székely