Novák's visit to Szeklerland causes diplomatic tensions between Romania and Hungary again

May 30. 2023. – 08:23 AM


Novák's visit to Szeklerland causes diplomatic tensions between Romania and Hungary again
President of the Republic Katalin Novák at a church service in the Reformed Castle Church in Sepsiszentgyörgy on 28 May 2023 – Photo: Nándor Veres / MTI


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The Hungarian president's recent visit to Transylvania has once again caused diplomatic tensions. The Romanian foreign ministry contacted Hungary's ambassador in Bucharest on Sunday over "inappropriate public messages" made by Katalin Novák.

Novák attended the Csíksomlyó pilgrimage on Saturday, after which a video of the first part of the Szekler anthem was posted on her Facebook page. The title of the video was “Our God, don't let Transylvania perish!”

The Szekler anthem has been the official anthem of Szeklerland (home to Romania's Hungarian minority, numbering around 1 million) since 2009 and has been the subject of repeated Romanian-Hungarian nationalist tensions. In 2016, several Romanian political parties tabled a draft amendment to a law that would have banned the anthem from being performed or played under any circumstances on the territory of Romania. The draft was rejected by the Chamber of Representatives.

The Foreign Ministry's statement was followed by a statement from Marcel Ciolacu, president of the Social Democratic Party, the largest political group in Romania, who called the gesture by Katalin Novák revisionist and a source of tension.

“I firmly reject the gesture of the Hungarian President, Mrs. Katalin Novák, who made completely unacceptable, revisionist statements about Transylvania during a religious pilgrimage in Romania. The whole world has learned that the Romanians are a tolerant people who know how to welcome their guests with love. But there are limits to everything! The Romanians will no longer tolerate a public dignitary from Hungary coming to our country and making such provocative statements that create social tensions! We want normal relations with our neighbouring country, but that does not mean that we have to remain silent in such scandalous situations. Mrs Novák, do not worry! God will never allow Transylvania to have a different destiny than the one written in the blood of millions of Romanians: it will remain the soul of the Romanian nation forever.”

Katalin Novák's office commented on the matter via Mandiner on Monday.

"The Romanian foreign ministry's objection is excessive and uncalled for, but not unusual. The post in question, which displays the Szekler anthem being sung at the Csíksomlyó procession is still available on the social media platforms of the President. To quote the greeting of the Transylvanian Reformed: “Peace from God!”

Even her first private visit as President of the Republic last year had provoked a furor with the Romanian Foreign Ministry. Her first presidential statement in Transylvania was that she was the president of all Hungarians: "As President, I consider it my priority to represent all Hungarians, so for me it makes no difference which side of the border someone lives on. A Hungarian is a Hungarian, full stop," she wrote on her Facebook page, which the Romanian foreign ministry also took to task.

After this weekend's events, the Romanian Foreign Ministry said that despite repeated calls from the Romanian side for the Hungarian officials visiting Romania to exercise restraint in their statements, the President's recent private visit to Romania had also included "inappropriate public messages, including some concerning a historical region of Romania". Agerpres reports that the foreign ministry immediately contacted Hungary's ambassador to Romania and expressed its strong objection to this, they added.

Such statements, they stressed, run counter to the desire to promote good neighbourly relations and cooperation between the two countries, which are enshrined both in the 1996 Timisoara Treaty and in the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the two countries.

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