Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó and Hunor Kelemen, president of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, met in Kolozsvár/Cluj on March 20. While the two parties said after their meeting that they had mostly discussed issues related to helping citizens move between the two countries during the coronavirus pandemic, the visit also had a symbolic significance.
March 20, 1990, also known as “Black March,” was the day when Romanians from neighboring villages attacked the Hungarian community in Marosvásárhely/Târgu Mureș, sparking the bloodiest interethnic conflict in post-communist Romania. Five people died and 300 were injured, including well-known Transylvanian writer András Sütő, who lost one eye when the Romanian crowd attacked the local headquarters of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, otherwise known by its Hungarian acronym of RMDSZ.
“I thank him for coming and not postponing this long-scheduled meeting even at the time of the epidemic,” Kelemen said. With regard to the cross-border movement between the countries after Hungary closed its borders last week, Kelemen said that many people living on both sides of the border commute daily between the two countries. “In the interest of their livelihood, I asked Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs and trade for the Hungarian state to remove obstacles to their daily crossing.”
Also on the topic of border crossings, Szijjártó said the coronavirus pandemic has shown how interdependent the two countries are. He said that in the past few days, there hadn’t been a single request of the Romanian foreign minister or Romania’s ambassador to Budapest that Hungary hadn’t accommodated, and it would continue to do so.
He mentioned, however, that the Romanians returning home from Western Europe – and whom Hungary allowed to pass through the country for humanitarian reasons, despite the border closure – have been clogging the Hungarian-Romanian border on the Hungarian side due to procedures on the Romanian side.
“We asked the Romanian authorities to adjust their procedures so that Romanian citizens returning from Western Europe do not back up on Hungarian territory,” Szijjártó said.
Title image: Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó (L) and RMDSZ President Hunor Kelemen (R) meet in Kolozsvár on March 20, 2020. (MTI/Gábor Kiss)