Romanian and Hungarian foreign ministers on Tuesday agreed to focus on improving relations between their countries despite occasional political tensions over the ethnic Hungarian community which lives in Transylvania.
Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said „Romania most sincerely wants a return to a real strategic partnership with Hungary.”
„Romania expects the bilateral relationship to be communicated in a frank and direct way, like real partners,” adding that talks with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijarto „were very substantial and inclusive despite recent moments of tension.”
Ahead of his arrival, Szijarto said bilateral relations were currently marked by a lack of mutual respect.
The first meeting on his itinerary was talks with Aurescu which wasn’t on his original schedule.
„We need to think it is better to be in good rather than bad relations and our interest is to have good relations, it’s what’s best for the more than 1.5 million Hungarians who live in Transylvania,” Szijarto said.
Szijarto then headed out of the capital to meet ethnic Hungarian leaders northwest Romania.
Ahead of his visit, Szijarto said: „In recent weeks, relations haven’t been about mutual respect, but more about a sharp exchange of words,” he wrote on Facebook adding “Let’s see what we achieve today.”
In April, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis accused Romania’s Social Democratic Party of arranging a secret deal with Budapest to give “Transylvania to the Hungarians.” Most of Romania’s 1.2 million ethnic Hungarians live in Transylvania.
Iohannis himself is a member of the tiny ethnic German community and is a native of the Transylvanian city of Sibiu.
Iohannis later clarified that his issue was with Romanian politicians and not Hungarians, but the episode brought sharp rebukes.
The minister starts his visit talks with Aurescu, and then travel to Cluj and Alba Iulia in Transylvania where he will meet ethnic Hungarian leaders.
Transylvania, an ethnically and linguistically diverse region, has changed hands over the centuries. It was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the 17th century until the end of World War I when Romania regained the territory.
Romanian King Michael the Brave controlled the region in 1600.