Népszava Béla Markó: Gábor Bethlen on the main square

In mid-November, three weeks before the parliamentary elections, a statue of Gábor Bethlen was unveiled on the main square of Târgu Mureş.

In mid-November, three weeks before the parliamentary elections, a statue of Gábor Bethlen was unveiled on the main square of Târgu Mureş. Due to the epidemic, it was a narrow ceremony, but the new mayor, Zoltán Soós, who had been elected just a month and a half earlier, also gave a speech. Only a few politicians may have been present, and when the veil was removed from the entire figurative statue of the Transylvanian prince, the mask remained on them.
This is how we all live today. Just farther on the sidewalk gathered a small group, they were also in mask of course. Yet in virus-free times a crowd of thousands would have crowded around. Last, perhaps, the inauguration of the statue of George Bernády had similar political significance in the mid-1990s. It seems a strange association, but it is not, as the mayor of Târgu Mureş at the beginning of the twentieth century politicized the city as effectively as the prince, who once defended Transylvania’s independence in constant Turkish and Habsburg oppression and even enriched his country materially and spiritually. According to the truth, György Bernády and Gábor Bethlen, for example, could be claimed by the Romanians if we got to the point where the common Transylvanian identity was important in addition to each other’s own nationality. We are still far from that, it was not easy to erect this statue either.
Preparations have been going on for years, the current mayor was the brainchild four years ago, even then as a candidate for mayor anyway, but another four years had to pass before he could be elected by a large majority and the statue could stand. This, of course, also required a decision to be made two or three years ago: the costs would be borne entirely by the city council, and that the statue would be placed on the main square, where an Avram Iancu equestrian statue had been on one side and There was a statue of an unknown Romanian Soldier. Of course, according to the decision of the municipality, a little further away, in another square, there will also be a group of Romanian sculptures, which will capture the representatives of the nineteenth-century Transylvanian School. But this tying is ultimately acceptable if we are really serious about that particular Transylvanian identity. In addition to the masks, there was another beauty flaw in the inauguration of the sculpture of the past, as the Romanian government commissioner resigned at the last minute, citing the crisis situation. He probably considered that such an action would not help his party in an election campaign. Thus, only Hungarian politicians celebrated Gábor Bethlen, including the president of the DAHR and the state secretary of national politics from Hungary. So for now, it’s not worth getting very excited about, because mixing the pearl with the acorn even if something is just going to work out. We are a denial, even a political message is important to us when we talk about statues. It still happened that way, but at least we had not only political but also aesthetic debates about the statue of István Harmath. My colleagues called me to help at some point, convincing the rebels that it was not a sacrilege to portray the prince with an uncovered head. By the way, in 2003, when the Romanian-Hungarian relationship had just eased, Gábor Bethlen had an excellent statue erected in Oradea, the work of András Kós, albeit in a more secluded place. István Harmath apparently learned from his famous sculptural predecessor. But I admit, not long before the parliamentary elections, I was even wondering if this event was a sign of another turn, as we respect Gábor Bethlen, perhaps the greatest Transylvanian statesman, but to this day we are not capable of the policy of a smart and purposeful prince. to draw some lesson. After many years, with a short interruption, the DAHR had actually been in opposition for eight years – and in my opinion this should not necessarily have been the case ˗, now a few months before the election the leaders of the association have repeatedly stated that it is not just a parliamentary presence, but also governance. Of course with the right conditions. True, they also added that we are interested in a center-right government, although I think that as a Hungarian advocacy we can have a place in any government that offers progress in Romanian-Hungarian relations in addition to the general reform. The Hungarians we represent are diverse, even if we try to force a single ideology on them. But I readily admit, this time, according to preliminary polls, there would not have been a possibility for a different kind of coalition, and this was later confirmed by the election results. And then, in fact, right and left do not mean much in Romanian politics.

Inauguration of the full-length statue of the Transylvanian prince Gábor Bethlen in Târgu Mureş on November 15, 2020.
Photo: Kiss Gábor / MTI

Bottom line: the predictions have been confirmed. The DAHR co-governs with the National Liberal Party (PNL), which is also a member of the European People’s Party, and is still in the governing coalition of the Alliance for the Rescue of Romania (USR), which has been a parliamentary party for four years but remains obscure. what their program consists of in addition to the many populist slogans. They are the dark horse in this government, and if it depends on them, unfortunately, the impossibility of parliament in Romania and the implementation of all sorts of confusing, sometimes egalitarian, totalitarian ideas will continue. However, they have about fifteen percent in parliament, without them there would have been no government majority. On the other hand, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) received the most votes in vain, because in addition to thirty percent, six percent of the DAHR would not have been enough even if everyone had gained some weight from the redistribution. After all, the December elections brought a very bad surprise. Almost out of nowhere emerged an extremist party, the Alliance for Romanian Unity (AUR, i.e.: gold). One of the party’s co-presidents also played a leading role in last year’s anti-Hungarian riots in Úzvölgy, but in any case, several of them preached ideas reminiscent of the legionary movement between the two world wars. With this rhetoric and an extremely effective – suspiciously professional – Facebook campaign, they gained almost ten percent. No one wants to ally with them for the time being, so then the possibilities for forming a government have been greatly simplified, not to mention that the president definitely wanted to get the national liberals back in government, while they have been governing and running out thoroughly. I would say that the DAHR is currently in a good position in a bad coalition. The last time we had such a strong government involvement was ten years ago, even then there were three ministries (health, culture, environment) and a deputy prime minister in the Hungarian government, which now has a smaller number of members. This time, the Ministry of Development, Administration, Environment and Youth and Sports are headed by DAHR ministers, and the president of the association is one of the deputy prime ministers. Some of our important objectives, the further expansion of minority rights and the full application of existing education and language provisions have also been included in the government program voted by Parliament. Do not be surprised, in Romania it must also be stipulated that the laws will be applied. We’ll see if that happens, as the National Liberal Party has been badly governed so far, and the Alliance has campaigned for a number of populist promises to save Romania, some of which – not all – have been frozen in coalition talks, but who knows how long. The unprecedented low turnout shows that we also have traditional parties in crisis, and this is clearly conducive to all sorts of demagoguery. For the time being, I would like to believe that after a long time, the influence of the DAHR in Bucharest will increase again, and this may have a beneficial effect on the Romanian-Hungarian relations within the country and between the two countries. Of course, the fair consists of two, but it is definitely important that an agreement was reached in the coalition on the resurrection of the joint Romanian-Hungarian government meetings that stopped in 2008. The fact that there are again Hungarians in the government and in institutions subordinate to the government can have a great impact, especially on those living in the dispersal. I know not everyone likes what I say, but it was time to wait not only for support from Budapest, but also to put the Bucharest government on our side. After all, the tax paid by Hungarians in Romania also goes to the Romanian budget, and the government decisions in Bucharest affect us as much as anyone else in Romania. Today, anyway, there is no real debate about the need to govern when possible. I remember the biggest Hungarian-Hungarian conflicts in Transylvania in the 1990s. Incidentally, many rejected the intention of any agreement with the Romanian parties, and it also seemed almost kamikaze when we reached an agreement with the then opposition before the elections in 1996 to support their candidate for president and to govern together in return. It happened that way, it was a historical novelty that from 1996 the Hungarian representation in the Romanian government was there, we headed ministries, we learned how a country works and what public administration means. On the other hand, it took years for betrayal, compromise, and wandering among the livelihoods of the DAHR to cease. Much earlier, the public itself became convinced that governance was the most effective tool for strengthening decentralization and self-government. Then elsewhere, first in Slovakia and then in Vojvodina, Hungarian politicians followed suit. With some pathos – without which it is not possible to politicize in a minority – I also mentioned Gábor Bethlen sometimes when I tried to convince someone that there was no other way but dialogue and a compromise acceptable to both parties. But not everyone saw it that way. Sometime in the 2000s, when they were no longer in government and we were about to govern again, I ran into Brussels with the then chief foreign policy chief of Fidesz, who had long been the party’s cross-border totality fact, really knew Transylvania and could have helped us a lot. , but unfortunately, he judged mostly by his personal sympathies and dislikes. At that time, the relationship between us was tense, I vomited that with their support a Hungarian party was established and operates in Transylvania against the DAHR. He retorted by saying yes, “because you do not want autonomy, but to govern”. A lot of things don’t really fit into autonomy, like the centralized nation-state in any way, but dual citizenship isn’t very much, but I’ve been wondering since then what might have been in the minds of our distinguished “friend” when he said that. I think it’s something that anyone in power in Bucharest can’t want to weaken Bucharest against local communities. And that it is not possible to represent the Romanian government abroad, while whispering with this and that, I like to know, we need autonomy. These are pleasing arguments, they have been spread diligently, and I have heard from others later on, from party politicians, associate intellectuals, that we do not need autonomy because we want to govern. Although in my naivety – or, in these words, in my depravity – I imagined that when Washington or Brussels do not help in matters of autonomy, it can still be useful for government to work to strengthen local communities, so to speak, in terms of autonomy, institutional, cultural or territorial. both. Maybe we can amend the constitution and the laws to do that. After all, there may have been many things at the time: today the power of local governments is greater, their money more than twenty to twenty-five years ago. If you visit Târgu Mureş, be sure to see the statue of György Bernády in front of the Teleki House and the statue of Gábor Bethlen in Rózsák Square, ie in the main square. In the meantime, I look forward to someone talking about Hungary to my descendants of the DAHR, so that they do not want to govern, but to fight for autonomy. Or does it fit well together today?

Source: Népszava by nepszava.hu.

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