Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó paid an impromptu visit to Bucharest on Tuesday in an effort to mend some fences in the recently deteriorating relationship with its eastern neighbor, NATO ally and fellow European Union member state.
The year 2020 was going to be an auspicious year in bilateral relations anyway, as it marks the 100th anniversary of the June 4, 1920 Trianon Treaty that carved out Transylvania from Hungary and handed it to its eastern neighbor of Romania.
One of the peace treaties that officially ended World War I, the Trianon Treaty divided more than two-thirds of the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary among its neighbors. This territory included the Kingdom of Romania, the Czechoslovak Republic, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and — most ironically — the First Austrian Republic, which is considered the half of the then Austro-Hungarian Empire that was involved in igniting World War I even if it was not directly responsible for causing the war.
As a result, Hungary lost 72 percent of its territory and 64 percent of its population to the above-mentioned neighboring countries.
Just two weeks ago, the Romanian Parliament declared June 4 a national holiday to celebrate the treaty, and the topic featured prominently at Tuesday’s meeting. Both foreign ministers stated their countries’ respective positions at the meeting – showing no real sign of thawing – while both also pointed out that instead of the past, the two neighbors should focus on the future.
“As a nation over a thousand years old, we expect respect. The cooperation with Romania must be built on understanding. It is better to have a good relationship than a bad one,” Szijjártó said, while his Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu pointed out that “Romania has a vested interest of getting out of the confrontational logic with Hungary and build a modern relationship of mutual trust and respect along the lines of the 21st century.”
Today, the Romanian Parliament will vote the proposal of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) to make March 15, the day of the Hungarian anti-Habsburg uprising a national holiday for the ethnic Hungarian minority in Romania.
RMDSZ submitted the bill to the Romanian bi-cameral Parliament back in 2017. At the time, a joint session of the Public Administration and Human Rights Committees of the upper house, the Senate, passed the motion, but a subsequent plenary session of the Senate voted it down. On Wednesday, it will be brought to vote in the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, which is the decisive ballot on the matter.
Many of the later battles of the 1848-49 Hungarian uprising were fought in Transylvania, where the small revolutionary army waged a losing war against the combined might of Russia and Austria.
Title image: Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó (L) and Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu (R) bump elbows in Bucharest on May 26, 2020. (MTI/Mátyás Borsos)