Interview with Adrian Szelmenczi

Adrian Szelmenczi (born in 1979) grew up in a multicultural environment in Nord East of Romania, in a Hungarian-Romanian family. He is human rights activist working for Active Watch NGO. He is highly engaged into defending national minorities’ rights and the implementation of the legislation in this matter in Romania.


What did the transition mean to you?

First of all, when we commenced with the T-zero moment of the transition, I had turned 10 years of age. The moment before it was very interesting because all the information I’ve had access to in order to find out about the events in Timișoara and Bucharest respectively, it came from the Hungarian television – the television of the Hungarian state, that is. I was somewhere in the northern side of the country, it was Baia Mare where that I grew up in, and during the moments when the communist regime fell I was visiting my grandmother who doesn’t speak Romanian, in the county of Satu Mare. And I’ve accessed all the information, learned about everything that was taking place in Timișoara, through the Hungarian language broadcasts on the radio and television. You could watch it clandestinely with a lot of white noise. As a matter of fact, in my family, and it wasn’t only us… Romanian ethnics would watch these channels too, especially the children who saw cartoons on Hungarian television – but we had the advantage of understanding what was being said. There was a lot of information we would take from there and I remember very vividly an event that took place during the summer, when events were taking place in the Tiananmen Square in China. And I remember seeing the images, but there was no sound, as it was blocked or interfered with. And there were news broadcasts by the Hungarian national channel, but you couldn’t hear what was going on. That was when I asked my parents “Why aren’t we hearing anything?”. “Because those who lead us don’t want us to hear” was the answer I got. And that was a special moment… my father was very informed about the international events, and I don’t know if he told me this or not, but he knew this would mark the end of the Ceaușescu regime. We had the model of Hungary, also a communist state, which was already taking steps towards democratization… I didn’t understand too much of what was happening, but to me it was weird.

The first moment, that I remember vaguely, was in March 1990. Some inter-ethnic conflicts that are still unclear have taken place at the time in Târgu Mureș, and there wasn’t much talk about them. At the time I didn’t know where they started, but I remember that one morning… or afternoon… I’m not sure what time of the day I used to have classes then, the school teacher told us that something very, very serious was going on in Târgu Mureș, and that Transylvania is in danger and can be lost. We all had to stand and sing Romania’s national anthem, the same one we have now, “Deșteaptă-te Române”. So I had to do this thing just because… we didn’t even understand why they were fighting and what they were fighting for. I know that my father was very angry and used to say that only lies are told on television. I know that on Hungarian television there were images of smashed cars belonging to the reporters who went to Târgu Mureș to make the news. The environment I was living in didn’t have developed inter-ethnic conflicts, but there was a tension in the air. Later on, my parents told me that they wanted to just formally divorce, so that my sister and I could take my mother’s maiden name, just because it was a time of turmoil when they were afraid. They were afraid and there was a weird feeling in the air… to me it was very important to somehow get close to… the majority. However, I had the advantage that despite bearing a Hungarian name, I would speak Romanian very well. I don’t think I had an accent and correspondingly, I could do a lot and integrate and fit into a Romanian environment.

Bearing a Hungarian name and not knowing how to speak Hungarian in Transylvania wasn’t something usual. So it was common to declare yourself a Romanian, there was no problem with this process. So that fact that my name is Szelmenczi hasn’t necessarily made me a Hungarian in the eyes of other people, but having an accent would have had. However, at the same time I felt that there was something wrong and the colleagues from school who attended the classes taught in Hungarian were regarded as something rather special, different. I haven’t interacted with them at all. Accordingly, my experience in this sense was dual: in Baia Mare, while attending school, I was in an exclusively Romanian environment, and when I was visiting my grandparents in Livada, the population was majoritarian Hungarian. In Livada, all my playground friends were Hungarian. In Baia Mare, it was the other way around.

During the transition times, did you feel any kind of pressure due to your both Hungarian and Romanina ethnic belonging? Have you had inner conflicts of ethnic nature? Or was it all natural to you?

In those moments, not necessarily. Even though there was a moment, I’m not sure when, I’ve had this discussion with my grandmother and I’ve told her that I’m not a Hungarian, but a Romanian who speaks the Hungarian language. I don’t quite remember what the reaction was, but I was trying to solve it somehow, in a certain way that was due to outside pressure: being a Hungarian meant that you would get called a “bozgor” [Hungarian word for person without a country, used with offensive intentions by Romanian ethnics]. It was an insult that I’ve heard often, though it was never directed towards me. But it was used against other Hungarian ethnics and I didn’t want it to become an adjective for myself. Also, when we talk about pressure… the school I was attending had this custom to organize an artistic show at the local House of Culture, at the end of every school year. The whole school would attend this ceremony, which means that the hall would fill with students, parents, and teachers. Every class would do something: we would recite poems, stage theatrical scenes and plays, sing with the choir, and all sorts of such activities. But I remember very clearly when somebody, a child, has recited a poem by Mihai Eminescu which says “he who beloved foreigners, his heart should be eaten by dogs”. And I know that I’ve really felt it, I took it very personally because indeed, for the first time in my life, I felt as if it referred to myself and my family. Let’s not forget that at the time, even though Corneliu Vadim Tudor [well-known far-right politician who run for presidency election in 2000] wasn’t active in politics, there was a lot of nationalism in the air. For example, there was a great fear of going to Hungary. Right before March 1990, for the first time ever, we scheduled a road trip with the whole class to Hungary. We finally had the chance to go outside the borders, and which country was the closest? Obviously, the one that’s 70 kilometers away. But when the tension started to rise at the time, we had to cancel the plan.

Did your classmates know that you were speaking Hungarian?

Yes! Yes, they knew. They were accustomed with this fact but it happened to me so many times that it doesn’t really make sense to talk about it anymore: when in a group they talk about “bozgors”, I usually tell them “Wait a minute, I’m one of them!”. They quickly reply “But we’re not referring to you, you’re one of us, it’s not you we have problems with”. I would always hear “I hate the Hungarians” and stuff like that. But when we finally managed to take that trip to Hungary, everybody was shocked, the teacher included, about the high degree of civilization… or maybe it’s not right to call it “degree of civilization”, but it was a much more advanced society. Even if it used to be communist just like Romania, it was much more advanced than Romania at that time. And we were also very well received in the country; we also visited a school in Nyiregyhaza without even announcing our coming – who had telephones at the time? You couldn’t make calls between cities without using the operator. We went there completely incognito. My father had also assisted us, he played the role of a translator, and with his help we could visit a school from Hungary and see how in 1990 they had closed-circuit television. It was something way beyond our imagination at the time, there was indeed a huge difference. I don’t know about the difference between Romania and Occidental states, but there was a huge difference between Romania and Hungary. This event has left marks in regards to my education. But anyway, I continued my studies in school in Romanian.

The next important event was the shocking and controversial mineriade [violent events of counter- protests, when it is suspected that former communist leaders who in power have called the miners to beat down the protesters from Piața Universității]. All I knew about what was going on in Bucharest was that there was a state of pressure, tension, and the elections from May 20th were somehow under the sign of fear. My parents haven’t voted for FSN [The National Salvation Front, a political party created by former communist elites], but they instructed us to not tell anybody who they were voting for. It was a much divided society, or at least that’s how I perceived it. There were many things you were afraid to talk about.

Why do you think that in Romania, unlike other countries such as Poland – where the former communist elites have taken a political break for 5 years, the former regime has been reproduced?

As opposed to Poland and other Eastern European states, what happened in 1989 wasn’t really a regime change. I think that the power has been seized by the second tier of Communist Party members, who were nevertheless communists. In Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, there was a real dissidence. In Romania, maybe also because the regime was much more brutal than in other Eastern-European states, this dissidence could not be manifested. Starting from that simulation of a revolution where we still don’t know what happened, it quickly became clear that the new rulers were not willing to renounce the leverages of power, to step back. And accordingly, the first peaceful power shift took place later, after 6 years. Some people say that it was then that the communist cycle in Romania ended – and I agree with them.

So practically it happened in 1996?

1996, I think, was the moment when Romania has become much more viable from the point of view of a democracy governed by rule of law. Because until then, it really wasn’t the case. Anyway, I know that in 1996 there was the tension that the elections would be lost by Ion Iliescu, but it wasn’t known if it will happen, nobody could guarantee if he would renounce power. So the moment he announced on television that he acknowledges his defeat. All this was the milestone. I don’t know if it’s true and I might not remember it quite precisely, but I have recollections of Adrian Năstase [Minister of Foreign Affairs] saying that before the second round of presidential elections the military tanks would be taken out on the streets. Had it happened, it would have been a demonstration of force, and that’s why people were not convinced that the neo-communists would give up on their power.

What did this transition period mean through the lens of a member of the Hungarian ethnicity? Did you feel like you were more exposed to these changes as a Hungarian ethnic, or did you perceive them just like your Romanian-ethnic colleagues?

Well, except for the events from Târgu Mureș and somewhat of an attachment for those who belong to the same ethnicity, I tried to run away and escape from this subject. I didn’t discuss it, and nor did I have the chance to discuss it while living in an environment that was predominantly Romanian culturally and in my school. It really wasn’t a discussed topic. On the other hand, I can remember some of the discussions that carried more ethnic weight: for example, there was something about the Romanian-Hungarian treaty and bilingual street signs – I had to assist to moments when some of my friends manifested anti-Hungarian feelings. Sometimes I would choose to reply in a manner that closed the discussion, while other times I decided to just keep my mouth shut. But it felt like a continuous discomfort. The way I decided to manifest my identity in relation to others… I certainly didn’t hide my ethnicity, but I applied the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” principle. I saved myself from nasty words and everything. However, I could see what the treatment was for my co-ethnics. I’ve noticed ugly treatment in rather stupid situations: for example, the color green was taboo. I know a case when a classmate of mine had a rock thrown at her in the middle of the street. She wasn’t hurt badly, but some other kid hit her because she was wearing a green piece of clothing… so he threw a rock at her and called her “bozgoroaico”, for no other apparent reason. There were some things that kids would pick up from their parents or the political world.

How did you position yourself in relation to the communist period? Do you think that, for example, your father’s joy at the regime change was a mere hope for a better life, or did it have a component for ethnic affirmation? Was it a hope to get rid of ethnic-themed pressure?

No, from this point of view, my father didn’t feel disadvantaged. First of all, he was a mechanic locksmith at a company that produced clothing, so he was never interested in climbing the social ladder. He was never a member of the Communist Party, he wasn’t interested in pursuing a political career or attaining power, and even if he did he would be disadvantaged as a Hungarian ethnic. So, from this point of view, he didn’t have disadvantages because he had no reason to: workers were not excluded. I don’t know what he felt, I have no idea how he went through these things throughout life because we never discussed these things, but as far as he is concerned, his liberation after the moment we heard that the Ceaușescu regime had fallen… we truly felt a hope for the better. A sense of fear quickly followed the events and I’m grateful to God that my parents were smart enough and my mother was open to differences, as ethnic matters that could have separated a lot of families at the time had no relevance in our family. That was one thing, but I think a lot of families separated due to conflicting political views – support for either the neo-communist leader Iliescu or the historical National Peasants’ Party, I guess. But there was a division, a certain separation in our society and it’s hard for me to imagine how people lived at the time because I was too young to understand. On the other hand, now that I am interested in the subject of the Hungarian minority, both in the communist era and during the transition period, I’m am more interested in the election regional election turnouts from 1990 – as a post-factum experience. And I see how in Harghita and Covasna [the counties in Romania with the largest number of Hungarian ethnics], Iliescu had 20-25% of the votes, while nationally he scored 85%. So in Harghita and Covasna we had a different candidate who was preferred to win the elections, and the situation is completely reversed to the national result. And I think this tells a lot about the Hungarian minority and the way it positioned itself in regards to the majority. Because Iliescu was… well, the elections also took place a month later than the events of March 1990. And it’s absolutely certain that those incidents, if they weren’t organized according to the orders of Iliescu or FSN (The National Salvation Front), they most definitely took place without Iliescu’s attempts to stop it.

If we speak at the general level, the political option was either the National Salvation Front which was an emanation of the Communist Party, or one of the two historic parties: The National Peasants’ Party and the National Liberal Party. First of all, that separation took place because the new power’s propaganda, which had complete control over the television and the radio broadcasts. There wasn’t any alternative television except for the national one, and this situation worked very well in demonizing the other side. They would demonize intellectuals with slogans like “We are the ones who work, not the ones who think” or “Death to intellectuals” – we’re talking about the Mineriade [violent riots of the miners, suspected to be organized by the neo-communist elites]. Therefore, the enemy of this propaganda was either the intellectual, or the party leader who returned into the country after years of exile abroad. We can observe that even for the upcoming elections (of December 11th 2016), the antagonization of the foreigners still works very well. At the time it was about the one who ate soya salami [ the one who sufferend the communist oppression, soya is symbolic food of the communist times as meat was rarely available and often products were labeled as being of meat but in reality they were made out of soya]. And of course, there’s the legacy of national-socialism, from the times of chauvinistic discourse in the Ceaușescu era… I didn’t feel its consequences personally at the time because I was too young, but I’ve read and researched extensively on this topic later in my life – about “the foreigner”. And the last of the foreigners were also very well represented politically or they were represented by UDMR [The Democratic Hungarian Union of Romania Party). There weren’t many German ethnics left since most of them had left, and the Roma were invisible, nobody would talk about them. But back then, all this chauvinism was propagated through television, as the newly-instated power had no interest to create a democratic state. The new power’s sole interest was to get to power by any means, even if it involved turning people against each other. I’m afraid that, sadly, things continue to be the same today, somehow there are things that Romania can’t get rid of. In 2014 we had presidential elections in Romania, and the political messages were directed against the idea of a “foreigner” candidate [current German-ethnic president, Klaus Iohannis] by a left-wing party which also uses similar means to antagonize George Soros – who is both a Hungarian and a Jew. So this hate is still prominent, but the difference is that unlike today, back then there was only one way to get informed – through the Romanian National Television. Newspapers printed by the political opposition weren’t powerful enough and couldn’t reach everybody like television did.

How do you see the evolution of inter-ethnic relations from 1989 to the present day?

Hm… it’s very interesting because there are a lot of things that still happen now, it’s all an ongoing process and we can still see state-level tensions between Romania and Hungary. This time, they are generated by the Hungarian side through totally uninspired action and discourse. If we think about how the relations look today, you hear the very frequently-used expression “the relations between people are good, it’s just the politicians that ruin the situation”. Of course, to some extent, it’s the politicians who destroy the good relations, but I don’t think we currently have tensions between Romanians and Hungarians on the Romanian territory. My personal opinion is that the main actors responsible for the events are the Romanian state and the media. Why? Because there is a lot of intolerance in regard to the political aspirations of the Hungarian minority. For example, the topic of territorial autonomy is not even negotiated and it’s automatically scrapped under the “extremist” label. And it isn’t quite like that. I don’t know if having autonomy among Hungarian minorities is a good idea, but we should at least talk about it. This Hungarian problem is a great stake for the Romanian democracy, and there are many points and criteria where Romania simply fails. Yes, important improvements have taken place, but the discourse is very chauvinistic. I’m not saying that Romania is the worst state in regards to respecting human rights, but it certainly isn’t the best either.

Do you think that the communist past has had an impact on relations? And I’m talking about the fact that for a very long time you couldn’t talk about belonging to the Hungarian ethnicity and this made Romanian ethnics believe this is a taboo subject that they shouldn’t hear about.

Not necessarily… back in the communist days, there wasn’t such a term as “national minority”, there were just co-living nationalities, and the propaganda directed against them was really considerable. For example, I remember reading a report about the events from March 1990, and the Committee of Helsinki stated that the communist regime had tried to create a feeling of embarrassment within the Hungarian community, as mixed families were especially targeted in terms of language and culture. It was something incredible and it was happening due to the way history was being taught and passed on at the time. Hungarians were being presented as assassins of Romanians. Of course, these facts have played a major role in the contemporary events. But it doesn’t have its roots in communism. After 1920, Romania has tried to create a national state that is exclusively ethnic and around the time there were also anti-Hungarian messages. Right now, even the national day is an unfortunate choice for us the Hungarians, and it’s like an arrogance directed against us [the 1st of December 1918 was the day when Romania had officially received the territories of Transylvania]. It’s like saying “We’re celebrating the day when we defeated you”. And this is one of the subjects that isn’t discussed, and right now there is a strong feeling in public opinion that works according to the principle “if you were born in Romania, then you can’t be anything else but a Romanian”. I don’t know If the same principle is applicable to the Romanians who get born in Serbia and Ukraine, but the Hungarians from Romania are supposed to be considered Romanians. This is a phenomenon that can also be observed in public policies.

Which rights have the Hungarians won since the 1989 regime change, and what was the evolution of these rights?

Of course, the first right they won was that of being represented among local authorities – but this wasn’t a right that was one exclusively by the Hungarians, it was much more of a consequence of the inevitable changes democracy brought about. This right came somewhat naturally after the spreading of democratization and organizing free local elections. The situation of education in Hungarian language has improved – despite the fact that there were such schools even in the communist period, their number was drastically reduced. As years were going by, the number of spots available for students who wanted to study in Hungarian was perpetually getting reduced, so that not all Hungarian ethnics could study in their mother tongue. It wasn’t my case because my parents decided that I should study in Romanian.

We won the right to use the Hungarian language in local public administration both in speech and in writing, but it happened really late, in 2001. So there are some very fundamental rights that have been won. Of course, there isn’t the same tense atmosphere that we had 25 years ago. I believe that today the events that took place Târgu Mureș 25 years ago would be quasi-impossible to be repeated, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for it because well-planned manipulation can do miracles. These situations aren’t really unavoidable. And Romania, subsequently, has signed the framework convention regarding the protection of the national minorities, and has ratified it too. There aren’t many people who know about it, especially journalists. But it is what it is and there isn’t much you can do about it. Of course, these documents appeared after 1990 and I don’t think a communist country would have even considered ratifying them. The Romanian states assumes the protection of the Hungarian language as a minority and regional language, also through some international documents that were signed – though their application is not systematic. We still have a lot of sentences which are at least bizarre from certain points of view, which are clearly against the Romanian Constitution. We still have situations in which the repression organisms, if I may call them so, take action on ethnic considerations.

Do you believe that the changes from Romania in regards to the Hungarian minority gaining rights are connected to the transition to democracy, or are they connected to Romania’s attempt to become a part of international organizations? I mean, have the rights come as a Romanian will and initiative, or were they imposed as EU integration requirements?

I believe a large part of the changes were brought by external pressure. Romania has had very big problems in terms of international reputation since the events of March 1990 (the Târgu Mureș riots), and also after June 1990 [the first elections after the fall of communism]. Let’s not forget that the first attempt to join the Council of Europe has been rejected, in a time when Hungary was already a member. There have been lots of international pressures, and then came the moment when joining NATO was required, and in order to become a member of the organization, you need treaties of good neighborhood with all the bordering states. That’s how the treaty between Romania and Hungary was signed, even though the negotiations for that same treaty had failed in 1996. So the Văcăroiu government has failed in signing that treaty and it seems that the failure was due to the Romanian part. After the power has shifted in 1996 and UDMR [The Democratic Union of Hungarians from Romania Party] has become one of the governing parties, the negotiations have resumed and that truly was a moment of relief in terms of Romanian-Hungarian relations, as that was the turning point when Romania started to considerably improve its policies and we haven’t returned to the situation of the mid-1990s. No way, we are much, much better than we were then. So signing the treaty with Hungary has included, among others, a commitment by Romania to give rights to the Hungarian ethnic minority, and that’s where it all began. The public local administration law has been ratified also as a result of the treaty signed between Romania and Hungary. After this, of course, there have been the pressures and negotiations with the European Union – but at the moment when they started, Romania had already taken important steps in terms of reconciliation. There are still a lot of problems to fix, but for now the chances for ethnic conflicts are considerably lower, and not just thanks to the Romanian side.

What do you think about the fact that, in spite of a continuous mending of relations with the Hungarian minority, Romania doesn’t make similar progresses with other ethnic minorities – and I’m specifically referring to the Roma minority?

Yes, the way I understand the relations between the two minorities, I can sadly say that if there is a common element that Romanians and Hungarians would unite for, then it’s the hatred against the Roma. And the story isn’t singular, I remember attending a conference where I’ve listened to a Roma ethnic from Kosovo who said that he was being oppressed by a coalition of the Albanian minority and the Serbians. The Hungarian minority is much stronger than the Roma minority from a political point of view, and this is primarily an economic consequence, but also a matter of integration. A medic won’t refuse to treat a patient of Hungarian origins, unless there is a special case in which the patient can’t speak Romanian and communication cannot be made. Discrimination in the Hungarian case isn’t clearly systemic. In the case of the Hungarian minority, the problems are rather political, so all the problems regard the different mode in which the country is politically organized, or matters about identity expression, national day, and so on.

The Roma community, which according to unofficial statistics is much more numerous than the Hungarian minority, has more social problems and discrimination. So it becomes obvious that the Roma’s problems are bigger. The reasons are simple: the lack of education and the lack of political cohesion in organizations. And the Roma population is a lot poorer, less educated, it has lower chances of becoming integrated from an economic point of view, it has a higher degree of school drop-outs, and therefore there is much more isolation from a geographic point of view. The Roma communities are often subject to segregation. These are the differences that that’s why we should think of a better political homogenization of the minority’s interests: the Roma only have one deputy in the Romanian Parliament and he isn’t even voted by his ethnics, but gets the spot on the basis of the principle of representation of ethnic minorities. The fact that a political party of the Roma people doesn’t succeed to draw votes like UDMR (The Democratic Union of Hungarians from Romania) does is a problem: the party of Hungarian ethnics has never had problems entering the Parliament after every scrutiny. But in regards to the Roma, even though they are considered to be more numerous, they can’t organize themselves properly. Of course, this is also a problem of personal identity, as a lot of Roma people don’t openly declare their ethnic origins. There are many reasons for this phenomenon, but first of all we have to remember that stigmatization leaves scars. It’s not something to be joyful about, but it’s the current reality. There is no pride in being a Roma ethnic, but there seems to be a pride of being a Hungarian. Of course, you have no reason to be proud about something that you cannot control, but in regards to the Roma, they really need a little nationalism of their own. Something has to happen among their communities in order to mobilize them towards affirming their own ethnic identity. But, of course, we should keep in mind the Maslow pyramid: until you get to that point, there are still a lot of problems to be solved.

For your personally, when has the transition ended, if you consider that it has?

I don’t know, if I look at the upcoming elections (Parliamentary elections, December 11th 2016), then it seems to me that the transition hasn’t ended. I can’t even say that there have been two distinct moments. Indeed, if I am to speak about the transition towards a consolidated democracy… well, that’s a continuous process anyway. But if we talk about the moment when I could really say for the first time that Romania was a democracy, then that’s the year 1996. Clearly, that was the key moment when the primary objective is a peaceful alternation to power, through free elections. 1996 was clearly that key moment. There have been some other weird moments too: the mineriad of 1999, for example, was something that caused a lot of fear and made me feel that the process is not irreversible at all, and a comeback of the former political establishment is possible. Then there was the moment in 2000 when Corneliu Vadim Tudor [outspoken xenophobe, anti-Semite and radical nationalist] has made it into the second electoral scrutiny for president [against the former neo-communist president Ion Iliescu]. And indeed, that was the moment when I voted for the first time, so I forcefully had to vote for the more moderate Iliescu. It was fear that made me go to vote. In terms of ending the transition, I don’t think that it ended yet.

What would the end of transition mean? How should Romania look like in order for this transition to be completed?

Romania should be a consolidated member of the European Union that solves, primarily, the problem of corruption. Sadly though, the European Union is getting increasingly weaker at this moment. I could have said that the changes are irreversible right now, but during the last 2-3 years I’ve began to ask myself if the European Union will still exist, if it will be able to face the challenges. In other words, I can’t see a democratic Romania with a completed transition outside the European Union, but for this thing to happen, we need a stronger European Union. From my point of view, the year 2007 has been extremely important due to Romania’s adherence to the European Union, and the idea that the organization might cease to exist is something that really worries me right now.

Do you think that the socialist or communist past… the political regime we had before 1989, is still following us in any way?

Of course it’s following us, and it’s a statement that is valid for every state in the region. I don’t know what will happen on Sunday [Parliamentary elections were about to take place at the time of the interview], but these elections are very important for the future government. Right now, Romania is the most stable and democratic country in the region. Hungary, Poland, The Czech Republic, Slovakia… all these countries are facing some severe issues in terms of rule of law, and the European Union appears to be unable to act when confronted with these problems. Somebody said a long time ago that Hungary no longer fulfills the EU adherence criteria that were established in Copenhagen – the ones about democracy and rule of law. It probably has a functioning market economy, but it appears that, sadly, the European Union didn’t mark the end of history. And a model state such as Hungary has managed to drift from democracy to… something that isn’t totalitarianism yet, but certainly a kind of authoritarianism that Viktor Orban publically acclaims. Where was it? It was in Romania that he gave the speech regarding the illiberal democracy. It happened in Tușnad, at the Hungarian summer school, an event that is very important for the Romanian Hungarian community. Obviously, you can’t ignore him and you can’t ignore the fact that 95% of the Romanian Hungarians with double citizenship have voted for FIDES. This says a lot about the political complaints of the Hungarian community and sadly, these news are not joyful.

Interview taken in December 2016 by Irina Ilisei

Translation: Vlad Costea