Foreign Minister: Autonomy Debate ‘Legitimate’

  • 15 Jan 2018 8:00 AM
Foreign Minister: Autonomy Debate ‘Legitimate’
Asked if the Hungarian government thought it was worthwhile engaging in a debate on Hungarian autonomy efforts when the Romanian government opposes autonomy, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said the debate was a legitimate one, arguing that it had been initiated in a lawful manner by political parties in Romania.

This is a debate that can be had in a civilised manner, he said. Asked about potential economic consequences Romania could face if Tudose did not apologise for his remarks, Szijjártó said: “Let’s wait and see what Romania’s political leaders say and do about this.”

The minister said he was in constant dialogue with the ethnic Hungarian RMDSZ party on the matter. He added that “despite all the fluctuations in Hungarian- Romanian political cooperation” over the recent period, bilateral economic and trade ties have been expanding. “We hope that these kinds of uncivilised remarks don’t cause any problems in the everyday context,” Szijjártó said.

The opposition Socialists also condemned Tudose’s remarks, saying that responsible European politicians could not talk about “hanging minorities” without consequence. “Mihai Tudose no longer has a place in European public life,” Socialist Party leader Gyula Molnár said. “Hungary and Romania are both members of the same community, the European Union, which was founded, in part, to ensure that ideas like Tudose’s do not gain ground in Europe again,” Molnár said.

Radical nationalist Jobbik called on Tudose to step down immediately and called on Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to recall Hungary’s ambassador to Romania until Romania “draws the right conclusions”. Speaking at a press conference in front of the Romanian embassy in Budapest with a Szekler flag in his hand and a rope around his neck, Jobbik lawmaker István Szávay said that Tudose’s remarks had proven that Romania was preparing for the centenary of the union of Transylvania and Romania with “the darkest, most primitive chauvinistic propaganda”.

Ruling Fidesz and opposition LMP also called Tudose’s remarks “unacceptable and unforgiveable”. Balázs Hidvéghi, Fidesz communications director, said that Tudose’s words “cross every line, are unprecedented in European politics and are forever etched into the soul and memory of all Hungarians”, adding that an immediate apology “would be the minimum”.

He pledged that Hungary’s ruling coalition would protect ethnic Hungarians in Romania, even from their own “primitive” prime minister. Péter Ungár, green LMP’s board member, called Tudose’s statement “outrageous” and called on the Hungarian foreign minister to use all diplomatic means to extract an apology from Tudose.

Republished with permission of Hungary Matters, MTI’s daily newsletter.


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