Iohannis’ statement opens Pandora’s box of nationalism

Last week’s inflammatory statement by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, accusing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the Romanian opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD) of secessionism, has triggered several protests across the political spectrum in the country as well as reopened a nationalist discourse that many ethnic Hungarians hoped was a thing of the past.

In the latest development, Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban lashed out at his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orbán, who wished good luck to students attending their high school graduation exams with the image of a 19th-century globe, on which Hungary is shown with its borders as they were at the time, including Transylvania and parts of Slovakia, Ukraine and Serbia. Hungary lost these areas at the end of World War I.

Romania’s Orban reacted by saying that “pasărea mălai visează ( “a bird dreams of hominy,” the Romanian version of the Hungarian saying “a hungry pig dreams of acorns”).

The globe in question is a replica of the famous 1862 “Perczel globe,” a 1:10,000,000 scale representation of Earth, which won a gold medal at the 1881 Venice International Congress of Geography. The original is kept in the cartography archives of the National Széchenyi Library in Budapest.

In the video statement released by the President’s Office last Thursday, Iohannis accused the ethnic Hungarian minority in Transylvania, the Social Democratic Party and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of plotting to give Transylvania to Hungary.

Also on Wednesday, Hunor Kelemen, President of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (known by its Hungarian acronym of RMDSZ) reminded people in a video message what Iohannis had said back in 2014 about Transylvanian secessionism:

“Claiming in front of the electorate that someone would want to tear apart Transylvania is not a political statement, but cretinism,” effectively causing a major embarrassment to the Romanian President with his own words.

Title image: The Perczel globe in Viktor Orbán’s office (source: Facebook)


Author: Dénes Albert