The Szekler Flag caused a diplomatic incident, over which the Ambassador of Hungary was summoned in Bucharest. The Szekler flag is the regional symbol of the Hungarian-speaking Szekler ethnic group living in the centre of Romania, in a region where Hungarians comprise the majority of the population. The Romanian state has been trying to remove the Szekler flag from all public spaces using all means at its disposal. This caused tension between Romania and Hungary once more.
The Ambassador of Hungary was summoned after the chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the Hungarian Parliament, Zsolt Németh, member of The Hungarian Civic Alliance (FIDESZ), in one of his Facebook posts wrote that the Szekler flag would be displayed on all the Hungarian public institutions until the Romanian state allows its use throughout the territory of Romania.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania explicitly rejected the comment made by Chairman Németh and pointed out that Romania does not have any administrative region called Szeklerland, therefore it cannot have its own accepted symbol.
At the same time, the Foreign Ministry of Romania requested that the Hungarian officials show restraint in their public statements, the Ministry also asked them to act responsibly regarding the matter of the strategic relationship between the two states.
Erika Benkő, director of the Mikó Imre Minority Rights Legal Services Assistance said in connection with the incident: “I think, as a Szekler myself, that if a group has a developed regional consciousness, its existence does not depend on whether the region is an administrative-territorial unit or not. If there is a need for such regional self-expression, the Romanian state should respect it. It is not difficult to see the double standard that Romania applies in this regard. We do not know any case when the Moldovan historical flag was removed from anywhere in Moldova, on the grounds that it is not the flag of an administrative unit. I think that the persecution of the Szekler flag in the 21st century is totally absurd and restricts the Szeklers’ regional freedom of expression, which negative tendency is totally unacceptable.”
The use of symbols of the Hungarian community in Romania constitutes a constant problem. Authorities remove the Szekler flag from public spaces, ban county and city flags that use local symbols, not to mention that the use of Hungarian national symbols is a problem on every 15th of March. The political representation of Hungarians, the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR/RMDSZ) has tried to tackle this problem several times on the level of legislation, but the parliament always automatically rejects such legislative proposals.