Székely autonomy movement

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Székely Land as envisaged by the autonomy supporters

The Székely Land (Szeklerland) is a historic and ethnographic region in Eastern Transylvania, in the center of Romania. The primary goal for the Hungarian political organisations in Romania is to achieve Székely autonomy. The Szeklers make up about half of the Hungarians in Romania and live in an ethnic block. According to official data from Romania's 2011 census, 609,033 persons in Mureș, Harghita, and Covasna counties consider themselves Hungarian (56.8% of total population of the three counties). The Székelys (Szeklers), a Hungarian sub-group, are mainly concentrated in these three counties.

Political organizations[edit]

The most important political organisation of ethnic Hungarians in Romania is the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, which undertakes to represent all Hungarians in Romania (not only those living in the Székely Land). The demand for Hungarian autonomy has been part of their program since 1993.[1]

In 2014, the Hungarian Civic Party signed a settlement with the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania regarding cooperation and joint support for Hungarian autonomy.[2]

In 2014 September, the Democratic Union of Hungarians presented its draft project (written jointly with the Hungarian Civic Party) for the autonomy of the Székely Land (Ținutul Secuiesc).[3] The Hungarian People's Party of Transylvania also supports this.[4]

Events[edit]

Demonstrations in support of Székely autonomy in Budapest on 10 March 2013 (the Székely Freedom Day) with the Székely flag

A Székely Land-based organization, the Szekler National Council held a peaceful demonstration in Odorheiu Secuiesc on March 15, 2006, in favor of autonomy[5] where 4,000[6] to 10,000[7] people took part. Five days before this, President Traian Băsescu met with Jenő Szász (the mayor of Odorheiu Secuiesc and president of the Hungarian Civic Union), who assured the President of the peaceful character of the March 15 ceremonies, and also briefly presented the UCM's vision on autonomy.[8] On March 16, Băsescu visited the town[9] and met with local and county officials. Băsescu declared that the Romanian administrative system should be more decentralized, but only in a symmetrical way, with no more autonomy given to the Székely Land than to any other region in Romania.[10]

On February 12, 2007, Hungarian President László Sólyom visited Romania and met with Băsescu. The discussions included the controversial topics of minority rights and autonomy. Băsescu pointed out that the situation of the Székely in Romania is in full compliance with the standards of the European Union. He also mentioned that a referendum for territorial autonomy would be illegal, and characterized the Székely initiative not as a test of the public opinion, but as a test of Romanian laws.[11] Romania's Interior Ministry has said that organizing an informal poll is not illegal.[12]

On 10 March 2013, thousands gathered to demonstrate for Székely autonomy.[13] László Tőkés also participated on the march.[14] The protest was performed in the Székely Freedom Day (Székely szabadság napja).[13][14] This holiday had been established earlier on 6 January 2012 by the Szekler National Council.[15]

In Autumn 2013, the "Great Székely's March for Autonomy" was held with thousands of people forming a 53 km (33 mi) long human chain in Székely Land.[16]

On 10 March 2014, again on the Székely Freedom Day, thousands demonstrated for Székely autonomy in Târgu Mureș.[17]

On 2015, the Székely Autonomy Day was declared. It started being celebrated every last Sunday of October in 2016.[18][19]

In December 2019, two deputies of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians submitted a draft legislation favoring the autonomy of Székely Land.[20] It was tacitly adopted by the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of the Parliament of Romania), where the Social Democratic Party (PSD) held most seats, on 28 April 2020. After the draft bill exceeded the 45-day deadline for debate, it was automatically adopted.[21] However, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis criticized the adoption of the draft on April 29 in a television speech in which he stated "as we ... fight the coronavirus pandemic, ... the PSD ... fights in the secret offices of parliament to give Transylvania to the Hungarians". He also used the Hungarian language in a mocking manner: "Bună ziua ("good day" in Romanian), dear Romanians; jó napot kívánok ("good day" in Hungarian), PSD".[21][22][23] The same day, the Senate rejected the draft bill.[24]

Iohannis' speech caused controversy, with Hungarian and Romanian officials and politicians criticizing him for it.[25][26][27][28] In the end, Iohannis was fined RON 5,000 by the National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD) for discrimination and ethnicity/nationality-based violation of the right to dignity.[29]

Views of political parties[edit]

Territorial autonomy for the Székely Land was supported by the former People's Action Party, headed by former president Emil Constantinescu.[30]

In January 2018, Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose threatened the Székely community in a television interview by saying that "If they hang the Székely flag on institutions in Székely Land, the people who fly these flags will hang as well. Autonomy for Székelys is out of the question."[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Borbély az autonómiatervezetről: ejnye, hogy megijedtünk!". kronika.ro. 28 March 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
  2. ^ "Jövő héten egyeztet az MPP és az RMDSZ az autonómia-tervezetről". transindex.ro. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
  3. ^ "Project for Szeklerland autonomy in Romania, officially made public". Retrieved 2018-11-16. "A romániai Székelyföld autonómia statútuma" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-11-16.
  4. ^ "EMNT és SZNT: töretlen az erdélyi magyarság és a székelység autonómiaigénye". Retrieved 2018-11-16.
  5. ^ Manifesto of the 2006 Székely Assembly
  6. ^ (in Romanian) Cotidianul, Secuii au cerut autonomie in liniște (The Székelys Peacefully Demanded Autonomy), March 16, 2006
  7. ^ (in Romanian) Săptămâna Financiară, UDMR și restul lumii Archived 2006-04-09 at the Wayback Machine (UDMR and the Rest of the World), March 27, 2006
  8. ^ (in Romanian) Gândul,Primarul Szász l-a asigurat pe președintele Băsescu că "totul va fi OK", pe 15 martie, la Odorhei (Mayor Szasz Assures President Băsescu That "Everything Will Be OK", on March 15, in Odorhei), March 11, 2006
  9. ^ (in Hungarian) Article about the assembly
  10. ^ (in Romanian) Adevărul, Veți avea autonomie cât are și Craiova! Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine (You Will Have as Much Autonomy as Craiova!), March 17, 2006
  11. ^ (in Romanian) Romanian presidency's press release, 12 February 2007
  12. ^ International Herald Tribune Hungarian president calls for increased autonomy for ethnic Hungarians in Romania, February 12, 2007
  13. ^ a b "Székely Szabadság Napja 2013". erdelyinaplo.ro. 25 February 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
  14. ^ a b "Tőkés László beszéde a Székely Szabadság Napján megszervezett autonómia-tüntetésen". tokeslaszlo.eu. 12 October 2013. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
  15. ^ Gyöngy-Pethő, Krisztina (10 March 2020). "A székelyekben élő szabadságeszmény kiirthatatlan – Kovászna Megye Tanácsának elnöke a Vasárnapnak". Vasárnap.hu (in Hungarian).
  16. ^ "Thousands form human chain in Transylvania for Szeklerland autonomy". nationalia.info. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
  17. ^ "Megtartották a Székely szabadság napját". index.hu. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
  18. ^ Szoó, Attila (26 October 2020). ""Brussels should pay attention to the Szeklers" – Day of Szekler Autonomy". Transylvania Now.
  19. ^ "Ma van a Székely Autonómia Napja". OrientPress Hírügynökség (in Hungarian). 28 October 2018.
  20. ^ Bíró, Blanka (28 April 2020). "Hallgatólagosan elfogadta a képviselőház az autonómiastatútumot". Székelyhon.ro (in Hungarian). Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  21. ^ a b Barberá, Marcel Gascón (29 April 2020). "Romanian Opposition 'Giving Transylvania to Hungarians', President Claims". Balkan Insight. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  22. ^ "President Iohannis accuses PSD of fighting to give Transylvania away to Hungarians". Agerpres. 29 April 2020. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  23. ^ Gherasim, Cristian (4 May 2020). "Bucharest and Budapest in 'autonomy' region row". EUobserver. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  24. ^ HH (29 April 2020). "Elutasította a román szenátus a Székelyföld autonómiájáról szóló törvénytervezetet". Index (in Hungarian). Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  25. ^ "Szijjártó Péter üzent a román államfőnek: „Több tiszteletet a magyaroknak!"". Maszol (in Hungarian). 29 April 2020. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  26. ^ "MAE acuză manifestări provocatoare ale părții maghiare: Deturnează afirmațiile președintelui Iohannis". Digi24 (in Romanian). 29 April 2020. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  27. ^ "Orbán Viktor reakciója Iohannis magyarellenes kirohanására: egyelőre ne vegyük fel a kesztyűt". Maszol (in Hungarian). 1 May 2020. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  28. ^ "Elítélik a román pártok is Johannis autonómiatervezettel kapcsolatos kirohanását". Maszol (in Hungarian). 29 April 2020. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  29. ^ "President Iohannis fined RON 5,000 for statements regarding passage of Szeklerland autonomy bill". Agerpres. 20 May 2020. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  30. ^ Acțiunea Populară, de acord cu autonomia pe criterii etnice (People's Action Agrees with Autonomy Based on Ethnic Criteria), November 6, 2004
  31. ^ "Romania's prime minister threatens Transylvanian Hungarian politicians with hanging". Retrieved 2018-11-16.

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