Csíkszereda Musings

My life in and around Csíkszereda, also known as Miercurea Ciuc.

What does Kosovo mean for Székelyföld ?

Posted by Andy Hockley on 25 February, 2008

Obviously I have a few travelogues to file at some point on this blog, but since I arrived back here on Friday night one issue has dominated the Romanian and local news. That is the issue of Kosovo’s independence and what it means for Székelyföld autonomy.

Romania is (it seems) looking askance at this development with the eyes of a country who would rather this can of worms were not opened. This is partly down to good neighbourliness, but partly to do with worries about Székely demands for more autonomy. So, do they have a reason to worry? Are there any points of commonality between the two?

In some regards there are distinct similarities between the two places. Both Yugoslavia and modern day Romania emerged from the post WW-I shake up of Europe. Until last weekend both Kosovo and Székelyföld were regions in which a national minority were in the local majority. In both cases the simplistic nationalist line that you hear from the Serbian or Romanian far-right is along the lines of “If they don’t like it here, they should piss off to their own countries” (which of course leaves aside the significant point that Hungary/Albania isn’t “their own country”).

But that’s about it, to be honest. There is no danger of Székelyföld declaring itself independent. The responsibility for the existence of Kosovo as an independent nation lies almost entirely with Milosevic. Without his murderous policies of ethnic cleansing in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo there is absolutely no chance that this unilateral declaration would garner any attention, let alone recognition. Post-Ceausescu Romania, for all its faults, is not brutalising and oppressing the Székelys. It has not attempted to drive them out of the country. It might not be a completely level playing field, but it’s completely uncomparable with Kosovo. Indeed (and paradoxically) the only way that Székelyföld would ever stand the slightest chance of becoming some kind of independent nation (and to be totally honest, I don’t actually know anyone who wants such a thing anyway), would be the election of some vile extremist PRM/PNG coalition government from hell, which then set about attempting to turn Transylvania into the new Bosnia. Such a thing is (thank fuck) not likely to ever come about, so in turn, there is no chance of an independent Székelyföld. What is up for debate, though, is a level of autonomy.

The words have been flying. Hungarian politicians have been on talking about the opportunity provided by Kosovo to get the issue of autonomy back on the table (I disagree, by the way, and think this is a bad time to raise it because the EU will be looking to keep a lid on all this talk despite the precedent they have set). Funar, bigot-xenophobe-wanker ex-mayor of Cluj has come out with a proposal to ban Hungarian medium education, stop Hungarians talking to each other and generally attempt to suppress dissent and oppress a significant minority of Transylvanians (I’m told that Funar is actually quite an intelligent bloke, but this strikes me as being the most stupid thing anyone could have said – if there’s one thing that’s likely to give Transylvanian Hungarians a chance of being heard beyond Bucharest and Budapest it’s proposals like this one). Meanwhile Basescu has repeated his insistence that Székelyföld will have no more nor less autonomy than anywhere else. This is not a position with which I disagree in principle, but since he trotted it out two years ago and has done absoultely nothing towards decentralisation in Romania since, it is clear that what he means by “Covasna will have the same amount of autonomy as Calarasi and Constanta” is, in fact, “absolutely none”. I know he’s fully locked into the Bucharest political scene, being ex-mayor of that city, but I suspect he needs to get out a bit more.

It will be an interesting few weeks. And all this while the final of the Romanian Ice Hockey championship is being fought out between TWO teams from Csikszereda.

6 Responses to “What does Kosovo mean for Székelyföld ?”

  1. Gadjo Dilo said

    Hi Andy, glad you’re back to get us in touch with political events. I saw Funar on TV for the first time about 2 weeks ago. He’s clearly a throwback from the 1930s, he doesn’t belong in the 21st Century, you could argue that shouldn’t belong to any century, but as they say “the past is another country”… Hungarians must have done very bad to him, I’d really like to know what it was. The weirdest thing was that I watched this program at the flat of my wife’s aunt and uncle, who declared that they had been Funar supporters (and considered the mad-mayor to be both wit and sage) – and the uncle is half Hungarian. He speaks the language fluently, though he wouldn’t treat me to a sample of it.

    I suppose it’s all simply revenge for when the Hungarians oppressed the Romanians. (And Romanians claim that Hungarians still maintain these ideas of genetic/cultural superiority; unlike the Germans, who’ve generally apologised). But it’s all not very 21st century. Thankfully though I also can’t see Transylvania becoming Yugoslavia, though I can see little reason not to give Székelyföld some automony, perhaps on the Spain/Euskadi model. Yours in ignorance…. Sorry for the long post!

  2. Anonymous said

    “Hungarians oppressed the Romanians” this is a nationalistic propaganda slogan used by the romanian comunists as a motivation to the fact that they nationalised all the properties of the members of the hungarian and german minority living in romanian Transylvania (we speak about 2 million people), including buildings, land, money and other valuables.

    There is no historical fact and reason to belive that romanians were opressed by hungarians, actually romanians had a much better life in hungarian Transylvania compared to Moldova or Tara Romaneasca. This solgan is still used by romanian extremists to motivate their extremist actions.

    Many of the mentioned hungarian and german people were murdered, deported into forced work camps, beaten, put into jail, terrorised by the communist authorities, just because they were hungarians or germans.

  3. Andy H said

    I’m not convinced by that my anonymous friend.

    I think the policy of Magyarisation at the latter end of the 19th century did indeed constitute oppression. Whether Romanians in that system had a better life than those living in Wallachia or Moldova is open to question, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this wasn’t some benign regime looking after non Hungarian interests.

    (My own view is that the historical one-upmanship of “we were more opppressed than you” is entirely unhelpful and meaningless in the current debate)

  4. Gadjo Dilo said

    Mr anonymous, if you can diect me to some information (in English) that supports what you say then I will try to read it. Other than that, yes, we must try to move forward.

  5. Anonymous said

    anon… you’re an idiot. Nothing more to say.

  6. Anonymous said

    so well no idea how i found this blog but an interesting conversation. i am actually born in romania, ancestery german and raised with the hungarian language. this fact deriveded from historical happenings noone can change. well there are chances in diversity and it depends on the indidual if politicions are abele to agitate someone (especially from both ultra nationalistic parts, hungarians as well as romanians). i actually belive none parts were innosent when monachy/dictorship dominated (the head belongt to an ethincal group which was favored). so whats the solution? looking back and continue? nope!! romania is historicaly multi ethnical and it will stay in its borders how it is now. the only way i see is (how mentioned above)the decentralisation, statewide not just serveral provinces. as an conclusion every idividual can live in the province which is orienteted either more to one or to an other ethincal group (moderate of course without discrimination). sounds easy but it isnt i guess! an other way is to think on the european level, where the ethnical background will disappear by commingling on the longrun.

    take it easy!

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