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Tensions are running high between Budapest and Bucharest after the Romanian prime minister made a veiled threat to hang members of the country’s Hungarian minority, reported Politico (Germany).
On Monday, three Hungarian minority parties signed a resolution calling for autonomy for the Romanian region of Szekelyland, in which ethnic Hungarians are a majority.
In response, Mihai Tudose said on a late night TV show on Wednesday that “if the flag of the Székely community will wave over the institutions there, everybody will wave next to it,” according to Romanian media.
Tudose’s comment drew condemnation from Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, who on Friday summoned the Romanian ambassador to Budapest to explain the prime minister’s statement. After the meeting, Szijjártó said he wasn’t satisfied with the ambassador’s explanation.
Threatening an ethnic community with execution was “completely unacceptable,” Szijjártó said, adding that the debate about ethnic Hungarians in Romania should be held “in a civilized manner.”
Romania hosts the largest Hungarian community outside of Hungary, about 1.2 million, in Transylvania, a former region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which became part of Romania at the end of World War I. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been courting their votes ahead of elections in April.
Romania is this year celebrating the centenary of Transylvania becoming part of the country. However, the leader of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), Hunor Kelemen, one of the signatories of Monday’s resolution, said last year that his constituents had nothing to celebrate.
On Friday, Kelemen demanded an apology from Tudose, according to national media. He told Realitatea, the TV channel on which Tudose made his controversial statement, that he was surprised by the prime minister’s words.
UDMR has at times been an ally of Tudose’s Social Democrats (PSD) and supported some of the controversial changes to judicial laws proposed by the government, despite large-scale protests against them.
Tudose has not apologized.
The Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement that the prime minister drew “attention to the responsibility of the central and local authorities in our country to ensure the law.” It also criticized the Hungarian minority parties for seeking autonomy.
“Such gestures are the more regrettable as they deliberately ignore the substantial measures taken over time by the Romanian authorities for the benefit of those belonging to the Hungarian minority in Romania, which correspond to the highest standards of protection,” the ministry said.
show source https://www.politico.eu/article/romanian-pms-execution-comment-sparks-spat-with-hungary/