Romania irritated by Hungarian president’s ‘Hungarians are Hungarians’ comments  during Transylvania visit

Romania has responded angrily to remarks made by Hungary’s new president in Transylvania where she suggested that Budapest had authority over ethnic Hungarians wherever they lived.

President Katalin Novak, an ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, made a private visit over the weekend to the northwest Romanian region which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918.

Ethnic Hungarian bishops blessed 10 churches around Alba Iulia, which have been renovated with Hungarian government funds. A statue of Bethlen Gabor, a 17th century prince was unveiled in the historical city’s fortress.

The events were considered as provocative by some as Alba Iulia is the city where Romania marked its reunification with Transylvania after World War I.

Romania’s foreign ministry said her comments did not “meet European standards”.

“Under international law, a state cannot claim any kind of rights regarding citizens of another state,” a statement said.

She also met deputy prime minister Kelemen Hunor, who is chairman of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, a source of further irritation.

After the meeting she said that as president it was her priority to represent all Hungarians “as it makes no difference to me whether someone lives(in Hungary) or outside the borders”.

Romania’s foreign ministry suggested it said it would be acceptable for Hungary to strengthening  cultural relationships with ethnic Hungarians in other countries.

“Romania remains deeply attached to the desire to promote a pragmatic relationship with Hungary in the direct interest of Romanian and Hungarian citizens regardless of ethnicity” – the statement added.

Most of Romania’s 1.2 million ethnic Hungarians live in Transylvania.

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