If Balázs Izsák is your friend, you don’t need enemies...

If you never understood why Szekler autonomy efforts have been completely ineffective in the past thirty years, I suggest you read the press release issued yesterday by Balázs Izsák, the president of the the Szekler National Council. After the first reading I found it difficult to decide if this manifesto was driven by dilettantism or perhaps something much worse. Let’s take a look...

Theoretically speaking, the Szekler National Council strives to achieve autonomy for Szeklerland, which means that Szeklerland would be given decision-making rights in certain fundamental issues within the framework of Romania. We have seen things like that; assertive and target-oriented diplomacy may get you there. But what does Balázs Izsák write in his release? 

“We will say again and again, whether we are talking about self-determination within a state or even independence, that the European Union must review the rigid and outdated interpretation of self-determination rights which says that these rights may only be granted to the populations of states.” 

Let’s look at this statement from a professional point of view! 

Balázs Izsák has been involved in this matter long enough to know that the issue of rights for self-determination is usually raised in connection with the declaration of fully independent states. In fact, Mr Izsák does write that he may be talking about self-determination within a state or even independence, and calls on the European Union to help him in that. There are two possible explanations here: Even after so many years of work, Balázs Izsák either doesn’t know the difference between independence and autonomy or the real purpose of this release was to say something big and to drop a rock in the swamp of Romanian politics. The latter is understandable but it doesn’t take us any closer to autonomy. If Balázs Izsák is seriously thinking about independence, then his declarations, releases and watch fires are very far from his goal. Independence is not won on paper. It is won by armies. Does Balázs Izsák perhaps have something in his back yard; something we’ve been unaware of? The next sentences raise the stakes even higher.

“It’s unbelievable and unacceptable that 21st-century Spain and Romania both find prison as the right retaliatory answer for the legitimate efforts of national communities living in ethnic blocks.” 

Let’s look at it from the professional aspect again: For decades now, Catalonia has had a kind of autonomy that all ethnic Hungarian communities would give an arm and a leg for. It has its own parliament, police, independent native language education and its own flag, coupled with substantial amounts of euros from the Spanish budget. Catalonia has all that. The only areas it is connected to Madrid are military affairs and foreign policy. The reason why Catalonia’s far-left leaders were sentenced to prison was because they subverted this agreement even though Catalonia had already been Spain’s richest province. Does Balázs Izsák really think that it can be compared to today’s Romania where anti-Hungarian hatemongering is a standard campaign feature for most Romanian political parties? Does Balázs Izsák believe that Szekler autonomy should take an example from the far-left Catalonian politicians who subverted their wide autonomy and are considered as troublemakers by the whole of Europe? Should they really be an example for Szekler autonomy, which is always referred to as an arrangement that would benefit Romanians, too? Is Romanian politics supposed to learn the nature of autonomy from that? Or did Balázs Izsák mean something different when he talked about autonomy? He has the right for that but why doesn’t he do so openly? Or one of the anointed advocates of Szekler autonomy doesn’t know what he wants?

As a leader of a party that was deeply involved with the Szekler cause back when it was not yet in fashion, let me throw in a few ideas. If Balázs Izsák refers to the European Union, he might as well ask the government of EU Member State Hungary that if they can build a pro-Fidesz clientele in Transylvania on the Hungarian taxpayers’ money and are willing to go as far as to sabotage international agreements, then how come they lose all that bravery when it comes to asking something from Romania? Why doesn’t he ask the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, the organization which regularly does business with the otherwise anti-Hungarian Romanian Socialists (PSD) and has delegated ministers to the Romanian governments over the past thirty years: what about that autonomy? Couldn’t it be made a part of the deals with Fidesz and the Romanian PSD? Or is perhaps Balázs Izsák just a valve to let off some steam from the system?

The communiqué has a part that borders on immorality and it goes like this: “The Catalonian leaders and the youngsters sentenced in the so-called terrorist trial in Szeklerland are victims of show trials.” So he puts the Szekler youth, who were dragged through the mire by the court for nothing, on the same platform with the Catalonian politicians who organized an uprising against the state. According to Balázs Izsák, instigating anarchy is the same as telling your friend a few stupid things on the phone and get indicted for terrorism on that basis. If Balázs Izsák’s goal was perhaps to give ammunition to the Romanian state, he succeeded. Meanwhile, the two persecuted Szekler men can acknowledge that if you have such advocates as Balázs Izsák, you don’t need enemies. We are not a centimetre closer to autonomy, so Balázs Izsák will still have some other people to defend next year. I don’t know who they will be but I certainly don’t envy them.


Published on Márton Gyöngyösi's Facebook account