The foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned Romania’s ambassador after Romanian authorities made a move to suspend the operations of a Catholic secondary school in Targu Mures/Marosvásárhely.
State secretary Levente Magyar voiced the Hungarian government’s shock and told a press conference that the move was equal to “an attack against the Catholic Church, the Hungarian minority, children, families, and the restitution process in Romania“.
The Hungarian government has suspended its support for Romania’s aspirations to join various international organisations such as the OECD, the state secretary added. At the same time, he said Hungary continues to consider Romania a strategic partner and an important ally.
He called on Romania to resolve the issue of Hungarian education in Targu Mures/Marosvásárhely as soon as possible.
He said three schools have been offered to students in place of the Catholic secondary school but two of these are Romanian schools, which means students going there would not be able to continue their studies in their mother tongue.
Romania has repeatedly promised to resolve the problem but instead several hundred children and their parents have been misled, Magyar said. The Romanian side has rejected numerous proposals made by Hungarians and parents have been “intimidated”, he added.
Zsolt Németh, the head parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told a press conference held on the issue of the Catholic secondary school in Targu Mures that the ruling Fidesz party objects to “the Romanian authorities’ persecution of Christians”. Németh, of Fidesz, welcomed a demonstration held in Targu Mures and praised parents’ and students’ perseverance in protecting their basic rights. He also noted that the historic churches, interest representation bodies, political organisations and ethnic Hungarians in Romania have joined forces in their protest.
Németh said it is important that Romania should respect the right to church education, the restitution of church property and the freedom of religion.
A huge demonstration was held against school closure in Targu Mures/Marosvásárhely, where the greatest religious leaders stand up to the Hungarian school.
Romania’s foreign ministry
Romania’s foreign ministry responded saying that Romania does not violate the education rights of either Hungarian minorities or Catholics and dismissed the Hungarian government’s stance on the case of the Targu Mures secondary school as election campaign posturing.
The ministry said Romanian authorities “regret” that the case of the school “has become a topic of the Hungarian election campaign” and that children’s rights to quality education are “being sacrificed for political interests”.
The ministry added that authorities were in constant dialogue with the parties involved to find a lawful solution to the school’s situation, warning that all educational institutions in Romania have to comply with the country’s laws, regardless of religious affiliation or ethnic makeup.
The statement said Hungary’s decision to tie the issue of the Targu Mures school to matters such as its support for Romania’s aspirations to join international organisations like the OECD was a “wrong and unfriendly” one.
As we wrote last week, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó and his Romanian negotiating partner came to an agreement on the permanent opening of two temporary border crossing stations that are currently operating with limited opening hours, and on the opening of a Hungarian Cultural Institute in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca), in Bucharest on Wednesday.