In its Monday commentary, German weekly magazine Der Spiegel pointedly condemned the statements of Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, which were made last week regarding the alleged plotting of the Social Democratic Party with the Hungarian government to take back Transylvania. As Iohannis affirmed in a short video statement, the largest opposition party has a secret deal with the Hungarian government to “give away Transylvania to the Hungarians.”
Der Spiegel begins its piece, naming Iohannis an “agitator as a laureate” in its title, by saying Iohannis is to be awarded this month with the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen, meant to honor work done in the service of European Unification. “Nevertheless, the current winner of this prize incites hatred against the ethnic Hungarian minority in Transylvania, reminiscent of the ways of dark times,” emphasizes the publicist of one of the most influential magazines of continental Europe.
As the commentary underlines, Iohannis has been regarded in the past as a politician who resisted nationalist temptations, unlike most of the Eastern European heads of state and prime ministers. And that is why he is about to receive the Charlemagne Prize, a highly regarded distinction awarded to personalities for their contribution to the greater idea of European unity and civilization. Klaus Iohannis belongs to the Transylvanian minority of the Saxons, who were collectively accused of fascism after World War II, and – as with every minority of Romania – were hurt by the grotesque nationalism they had to face during the dictatorship of Ceauşescu, the German publication emphasizes.
“But now, Iohannis himself is playing a political game, using the ugliest clichés Romanian nationalist once resorted to – mainly, the myth that Hungary fights to separate Transylvania from Romania, and also presents the Hungarian minority as the fifth column,” points out Der Spiegel. The originally Spanish term refers to a group within a country that are sympathetic to or working for the country’s enemies (editor’s note).
Der Spiegel also mentions in its piece that the conspiracy theory regarding the plan of separation of Transylvania from Romania brought Romania to the threshold of civil war in March 1990. The publication emphasizes that “it is unprecedented for a head of state of an EU country to accuse a neighboring state it has separatist plans in the midst of a full-blown coronavirus pandemic,” states Der Spiegel. The publication also admits that the majority of the Romanian public opinion was shocked by Iohannis’ speech; several publicists and politicians have sharply criticized and condemned his allegations, qualifying them as a relapse to the prevailing mindset during very troubled times, when public life was imbued with extreme nationalism.
Title image: Klaus Iohannis has been regarded by many as a Europe-centric personality