Monday, February 25, 2008

What does Kosovo mean for Székelyföld ?

Obviously I have a few travelogues to file at some point on this blog, but since I arrived back here on Friday night one issue has dominated the Romanian and local news. That is the issue of Kosovo's independence and what it means for Székelyföld autonomy.

Romania is (it seems) looking askance at this development with the eyes of a country who would rather this can of worms were not opened. This is partly down to good neighbourliness, but partly to do with worries about Székely demands for more autonomy. So, do they have a reason to worry? Are there any points of commonality between the two?

In some regards there are distinct similarities between the two places. Both Yugoslavia and modern day Romania emerged from the post WW-I shake up of Europe. Until last weekend both Kosovo and Székelyföld were regions in which a national minority were in the local majority. In both cases the simplistic nationalist line that you hear from the Serbian or Romanian far-right is along the lines of "If they don't like it here, they should piss off to their own countries" (which of course leaves aside the significant point that Hungary/Albania isn't "their own country").

But that's about it, to be honest. There is no danger of Székelyföld declaring itself independent. The responsibility for the existence of Kosovo as an independent nation lies almost entirely with Milosevic. Without his murderous policies of ethnic cleansing in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo there is absolutely no chance that this unilateral declaration would garner any attention, let alone recognition. Post-Ceausescu Romania, for all its faults, is not brutalising and oppressing the Székelys. It has not attempted to drive them out of the country. It might not be a completely level playing field, but it's completely uncomparable with Kosovo. Indeed (and paradoxically) the only way that Székelyföld would ever stand the slightest chance of becoming some kind of independent nation (and to be totally honest, I don't actually know anyone who wants such a thing anyway), would be the election of some vile extremist PRM/PNG coalition government from hell, which then set about attempting to turn Transylvania into the new Bosnia. Such a thing is (thank fuck) not likely to ever come about, so in turn, there is no chance of an independent Székelyföld. What is up for debate, though, is a level of autonomy.

The words have been flying. Hungarian politicians have been on talking about the opportunity provided by Kosovo to get the issue of autonomy back on the table (I disagree, by the way, and think this is a bad time to raise it because the EU will be looking to keep a lid on all this talk despite the precedent they have set). Funar, bigot-xenophobe-wanker ex-mayor of Cluj has come out with a proposal to ban Hungarian medium education, stop Hungarians talking to each other and generally attempt to suppress dissent and oppress a significant minority of Transylvanians (I'm told that Funar is actually quite an intelligent bloke, but this strikes me as being the most stupid thing anyone could have said - if there's one thing that's likely to give Transylvanian Hungarians a chance of being heard beyond Bucharest and Budapest it's proposals like this one). Meanwhile Basescu has repeated his insistence that Székelyföld will have no more nor less autonomy than anywhere else. This is not a position with which I disagree in principle, but since he trotted it out two years ago and has done absoultely nothing towards decentralisation in Romania since, it is clear that what he means by "Covasna will have the same amount of autonomy as Calarasi and Constanta" is, in fact, "absolutely none". I know he's fully locked into the Bucharest political scene, being ex-mayor of that city, but I suspect he needs to get out a bit more.

It will be an interesting few weeks. And all this while the final of the Romanian Ice Hockey championship is being fought out between TWO teams from Csikszereda.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Sorry for not posting anything here for a while. Been very busy with work and not really had the chance. I am currently in Kathmandu, and do realise that I have a lot of catching up to do.