Source ::: AFP
BUDAPEST: Romania will “never” grant territorial autonomy to a Hungarian-speaking minority in Transsylvania, Romanian President Traian Basescu said Tuesday, during an official visit to Hungary. “Never,” said Basescu when asked at a joint news conference with his Hungarian counterpart, Laszlo Solyom, as to when Hungarians in Transsylvania might be awarded territorial autonomy. “There will never be territorial autonomy as long as Romania is a unified and sovereign state.” “Romania will never recognise the collective rights of ethnic minorities,” Basescu said.
But Bucharest would always recognise “the individual rights of representatives of minorities in matters of mother-tongue education, culture and parliamentary representation,” he added. For his part, Hungarian president Solyom reaffirmed his country’s support for making the region in Transsylvania autonomous, but “strictly within a constitutional framework”. Close to 1.5 million Hungarians currently live in Romania, after Hungary lost two thirds of territory and half its population under a peace treaty concluded at the end of World War I. Hungarians form the largest ethnic minority in Romania.
Basescu insisted that Romania’s policies towards minorities are in line with European Union standards. The head of the Hungarian Democratic Alliance in Romania (RMDSz), Bela Marko, said that while Basescu’s stance on autonomy had been known already, the comments he made in Budapest on Tuesday were “much sharper and less diplomatic than ever before.” Hungarian news agency MTI quoted an unnamed source close to Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany as saying the demands for autonomy by ethnic Hungarians in Romania were “legitimate.