Hungarian President Katalin Novák sparked outrage within the Romanian foreign ministry on Sunday after what the department deemed to be “unacceptable remarks” after she praised Hungarian national unity during a private trip to Transylvania.
After visiting the region in central Romania, a former territory of the historic Kingdom of Hungary, as part of a Catholic pilgrimage to Csíksomlyó, Novák posted on Facebook:
“‘A mother is happy when her family is together,’ said today’s sermon. Likewise, as a head of state, I am always pleased to feel this national unity when the nation is together, as we felt today during the farewell. May God bless the Hungarian people!”
This and other posts were not well received by the Romanian government, and late on Sunday the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it was “fully opposed” to Novák’s remarks. It said it had immediately informed Hungary’s ambassador in Bucharest that it considers unacceptable the public messages made by the Hungarian head of state, despite the fact that Romania has repeatedly indicated that restraint is needed when Novák visits the country.
It is unclear exactly which statement by the Hungarian president struck such a chord with the Romanian foreign ministry, but according to Romanian news portal Stiripesurse, it was some lyrics from the Szekler anthem, which Katalin Novák posted on her social media page: “Do not let Transylvania be lost, our God.”
On Monday, Romanian Prime Minister-designate Marcel Ciolacu reacted to Katalin Novák’s remarks, posting on social media that he “strongly rejected” the “unacceptable, revisionist” comments of the Hungarian president.
“We want normal relations with the neighboring country, but that does not mean that we have to keep quiet in front of such outrageous situations,” Ciolacu wrote in a Facebook post. “Mrs. Novák, watch out! God will never let Transylvania have another destiny than the one written with the blood of millions of Romanians: to be the eternal soul of the Romanian nation.”
Asked by news portal Mandiner, Novák’s office responded that while the Romanian reaction was “unwarranted and excessive, it was hardly surprising.”