Romania sees Hungarian minister’s call for Trianon apology as a provocation

A spokesperson for Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed “disappointment” over remarks that a high ranking Hungarian government minister made about the 1920 Treaty of Trianon and demands for an apology to Hungary. János Lázár, in a speech on the anniversary of a treaty which saw historic Hungary lose three fourths of its territory and two thirds of its population, made several demands, most of which implicated neighbouring Romania, a beneficiary of Trianon.

Mr. Lázár, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, remarked:

“A trauma never only has victims, but also perpetrators, collaborators and beneficiaries. It is their responsibility, yet we do not find the monuments of atonement and apology in Paris, in the castles of Versailles, in southern Slovakia, Transylvania, Partium, northern Serbia, nor in Subcarpathia. Nowhere do we find even a symbolic gesture of apology or an attempt to face the past on the part of the successor countries of the Entente.”

The minister then added emphasis: “Trianon was a diktat, a historic injustice against a nation. The entire western world is indebted to Hungary.”

János Lázár speaking during a Trianon commemoration. Photo: MTI.

To be clear, Mr. Lázár pointed out that the government of Hungary did not seek a redrawing of national borders, but it does demand rights for Hungarian minorities living in neighbouring countries, including the preservation of bilingual street and road signs, guarantees for Hungarian minority institutions, as well as local autonomy for Hungarian communities and regions. What type of regional autonomy does Mr. Lázár have in mind? He brought up the autonomous community of Catalonia and also South Tyrol as two examples. He was most likely thinking first and foremost of the Hungarian majority counties of Hargita and Kovászna, in Romania, as well as parts of Maros county, which also has a dominant Hungarian presence. The question of autonomy for this region, called Székelyföld, has broad support among ethnic Hungarian politicians in Transylvania, although it is not widely seen as a priority, nor actionable in the near future. Romania is a unitary state and no mainstream Romanian political party supports autonomy for Székelyföld.

Spokesman for the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Paul Ciocoiu responded to the address, as well as to other comments by Hungarian leaders on Trianon. “We express our disappointment to Hungarian leaders for their consistently provocative stance vis-à-vis Romanian authorities, the Romanian people and its history,” said Mr. Ciocoiu. He added that such provocations are “dangerous.”

There is no question that the Treaty of Trianon remains a very sensitive point for many Hungarians, nor is it deniable that around 3.3 million Hungarians suddenly found themselves without guaranteed rights in successor states that were often hostile to their presence. Romania has made progress in terms of guaranteeing some of the cultural and language rights of Hungarians in Transylvania and we are now thankfully well beyond the days of Kolozsvár (Cluj Napoca) Mayor Gheorghe Funar, who built his political agenda on mawkish displays of Romanian ultra-nationalism and the demonization of around one fifth of the city’s population who spoke Hungarian. One of the positive outcomes is the growing number of bilingual signs in those towns where the Hungarian population exceeds 20%.

Yet at the same time, significant problems remain. I recall visiting Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureș) two years ago, where ethnic Hungarians form 43% of the local population and where the mayor has had a very checkered past, in terms of inter-ethnic relations. While the ethnic Romanian taxi driver who drove me from the train station immediately made a good effort to speak Hungarian when he realized that I did not speak Romanian, getting Hungarian language services from national institutions (such as the post office) is difficult. A local friend of mine who had worked at the post office for well over a decade remarked that Hungarian employees are discouraged from speaking in Hungarian with each other–and sometimes it is none other than their ethnic Hungarian supervisor who instructs them to switch to Romanian.

Surely there is work to do in terms of expanding the rights of ethnic Hungarian minorities and communities in neighbouring countries. And surely one way to do this is to maintain strong, close working relationships with the governments of those countries that show an openness to the needs of their Hungarian populations.

7 Comments

  1. Bendeguz79 says:

    Mr. Lazar is wrong on history. Those borders were made in November of 1918 by all those nations that declared themself free and independent from Hungarian rule. The world only ratified it two years later at Paris.

    To demand a foreign nation of what kind of street signs to post is interference in their own internal affairs.

    What Hungary is morally obligated to do is to see that Hungarians do NOT have their basic human rights violated by any one. Starting with the very Hungarian government. Setting examples is the very best way to do it. Time to start doing it at home.

    Beyond that, they seem to suffer with a mania of lost real estate possessions.

  2. Bendeguz79 says:

    Mr. Lazar just repeating Zseranovsky’s slogans, after they lost power and control over a part of eastern Europe and central Asia.
    Just as they want Alaska back, DDR back, all the Peoples Republics back, etc.
    He that refuse to learn from the past, will repeat it in the future too.
    What a bunch of greedy, power-hungry jerks !

  3. Cetatean Alin says:

    Bull shit.In Târgu Mureș ,Mureș,Harghita and covasna mostly all the institiusons are bilingual,beside this în those regions the romanians suffer They are discriminated by the majority,the secui and maghiari.

    • Hungarian Free Press says:

      Cetatean Alin,

      The mayor of Târgu Mureș/Marosvásárhely — Dorin Florea — has been known for numerous prejudiced statements and discriminatory action against the city’s large Hungarian minority. As for Kovászna and Hargita, I would hope that the Romanian minority is treated just like Hungarians would like to be treated in regions of Romania where they, not the Romanians, form a minority.

  4. Let’s hear the opinion of the Romanian population of those areas. In Hungary, and In Canada, and elsewhere , all want the immigrants to assimilate into the society, and not to stick out like sour-thumb. How about in Romania, despite they that all were born there.
    As well the question, did the Hungarians gave the same chance to the Romanians back when all that was part of Hungary?

  5. Gyula Bognar says:

    Even this article is distorting history: “a treaty which saw historic Hungary lose three fourths of its territory and two thirds of its population, ”

    The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy broke up as a result of loosing WWI in 1917. The territories given to the surrounding countries, historic or newly created countries, were part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, a multi-national Constitutional Monarchy under Emperor Franz Joseph, and from 1916-18 Charles I and IV of which the Kingdom of Hungary was part of.
    These territories together have never been part of an independent Kingdom of Hungary, but some areas were, before the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was formed in 1867 and some of the population was speaking Hungarian as the mother tongue.
    ——————-
    The Treaty of Trianon was not unjust to the loosing nations (Austria and Hungary) and it should not be sold falsely to generations of Hungarians, as if Hungary had lost a great deal of territory of its own, beyond the obvious material destruction and human lives in WWI, which by the way was started by the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and people in Hungary were all enthusiastically taking part in it.

    AUSTRIA LOST THE MOST!!!! Yet they are not complaining incessantly and they don’t bring up Trianon for their lack of success, just the opposite. They went to work and became a successful country on their own and now within the EU.

    Hard work pays off, blabbering lies constantly, corruption and cheating brings failure.

    Austria and Hungary are the good examples in that same order.

  6. BOGNAR GYULA soraira;
    Several statements are incorrect.
    The war ended on November 11, (at 11 a.m.) 1918.
    Not 1917.
    Those nations declared their independence than. They did NOT wate to 1920, when the Peace Treaty finalized it all.
    Hungary has ruled those neighbouring nations since about 1300.
    After the Turks were pushed back in the 1600s, as Hungary was not in position to debate the rule of some of the southern slavs, Ferdinand offered the same right as the Hungarian kings gave them. Thus they agreed to be part of the Habsburg Empire.
    Austria has NOT lost any of its Autrian land, only those nationalities that the Habsburgs has ruled.
    As matter of fact, on the basis of population ,Austria gained land, Burgenland, that was part of Hungary since the XI century. But most people were German Austrian. So it went to Austria.

    Mr. Bognar is correct to point to the fact that the Austria has never did cry like some Hungarians about the loss of the Empire. They took it like adults and made the best of it.
    Just why could not the Hungarians do the same ?
    May be time to grow up Hungarians !

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