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Press release – This week we have once again witnessed a phenomenon that is, unfortunately, all too familiar for the Hungarian community of Szeklerland and of Sfântu Gheorghe/Sepsiszentgyörgy in particular, namely that the general wellbeing and development of the local community is not among the main concerns of the Romanian government’s representative.

Sebastian CUCU, the Covasna County prefect, has recently blocked a number of local council resolutions, which were meant to support the local football and basketball teams, both of which are playing in the first division.

The prefect has refused to sign off on a draft government resolution that would allow for the Sfântu Gheorghe/Sepsiszentgyörgy sport centre, or at least the football stadium, to enter into the property of the municipality, thus allowing for the local administration to allocate funds to renovate it and make it suitable to host first league matches. Sebastian CUCU justified his decision by saying that “there were not enough arguments” to support this initiative, adding that he was still waiting for an official answer from the Ministry of Sports. However, why the prefect would feel that he has to get official approval from the government is not clear, since the sport minister recently declared that they would welcome the local administrations taking over sport bases and funding them. It is especially important and urgent for the stadium of the local football team, Sepsi OSK, to be renovated, as the team is starting next season in the first league, and is forced, under current circumstances, to play on a stadium in Brașov/Brassó.

Árpád ANTAL, the mayor of Sfântu Gheorghe/Sepsiszentgyörgy, has called the prefect’s attitude “hostile”, adding that he is perplexed as to why the government’s representative wants to hinder local efforts. “Football and basketball, as well as the funding provided for these by our local administration is clearly a thorn in the eyes of the prefect. Concerning football he does everything in his power to prevent the city from taking over the stadium in Sfântu Gheorghe/Sepsiszentgyörgy from the Ministry. […] In the case of basketball, he attacked two local council resolutions, one from 2015 and one from 2016, respectively, in which the city allocated money to the basketball team.”

What we are witnessing in Sfântu Gheorghe/Sepsiszentgyörgy is an absurd, but sadly not an uncommon or an isolated situation. While in other parts of the country prefects merely play the role of ”guardians of the law”, in the Szekler counties they generally position themselves against the local administrations and their efforts to further the development of the region. Under the cloak of “legality” and in the name of following “established legal procedures”, prefects in Covasna, Harghita and Mureș counties are crippling the work of local administrations. In a country that has repeatedly enforced its commitment to regionalisation and decentralisation, the role of the prefects seems increasingly senseless and counterproductive, especially in areas that are in the competence of the local councils and have to do with local interests. Why one should support local sport teams is self-evident, not a matter of debate, and the benefits of doing so certainly require no further arguments, even if the Covasna County prefect would suggest otherwise.


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