A speech by Botond Csoma, Leader of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR/RMDSZ) Parliamentary Group caused nationalist hysteria at the commemoration of the National Holiday in Romania, on the 1st of December. It is important to know that in 1918 Transylvania, which was part of the Kingdom of Hungary, became part of Romania. Therefore, the 1st of December is a highly sensitive topic for Hungarians in Transylvania.

Botond Csoma, Member of Parliament, spoke, among other things, about the Hungarian community envisioning their future in Romania, and that UDMR/RMDSZ is a partner in all the ideas that improve the living standards of citizens regardless of their ethnicity.

In his speech, the MP stressed that UDMR/RMDSZ understands the importance of the 1st of December for the Romanian people, nevertheless recalled that many different nations lived in this country before the Great Union, not only Romanians, but also Hungarians, Saxons and Jews, and for the Transylvanian Hungarians this date marked the beginning of an era of uncertainty.

The speech sparked a huge nationalist hysteria and blacklash among Romanian politicians and a riot broke out in the chamber during the festive speech, because members of the Alliance for the Unity of Romanians (AUR) were continously interrupting the speaker.

Marcel Ciolacu, leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), qualified the speech of Botond Csoma as a provocation, and noted that there would be political consequences if the President of UMDR/RMDSZ will not apologise. According to the leader of the largest ruling party, Romania is the most tolerant nation in the world, and UDMR/RMDSZ, as a member of the ruling coalition, should not complain about anti-Hungarian sentiment. Ciolacu also found Botond Csoma’s statements unacceptable, saying that „Transylvania is a Romanian land, where Hungarians, Jews and other nationalities live together (with Romanians).

Adrian Cozma, deputy from the county of Satu Mare/Szatmár, member of the National Liberal Party (PNL), also participated in the patriotic demonstration. According to him, the composition of the government should be reconsidered, he also noted that UDMR/RMDSZ has no place in the government.

Erika Benkő, Director of our organization, a former Member of Parliament, commented on the incident by pointing out that during her mandate she made much stronger political statements regarding the political goals of  the Transylvanian Hungarians, but she herself had never seen such a political hysteria because of a statement based on historical facts. „I have often witnessed that the political goals of Hungarians, namely autonomy, are taboo subjects in Romanian public life and in the Romanian Parliament, but I find it unfortunate and worrying that the statement that other nationalities have lived and continue to live in Transylvania would provoke such a mass hysteria. This is a troubling trend, which shows that the right to self-expression of minorities in Europe is being seriously undermined, and this is definitely a concern for the future.