Saturday

20th Jan 2018

Ethnic Hungarians in Romania keen to get Hungarian passport

  • Two ethnic Hungarian women in traditional attire passing by policemen in the Romanian town of Odorheiul Secuiesc (Photo: Silviu Ciobanu)

Romania's 1.5 million-strong Hungarian minority has embraced the chance to receive Hungarian citizenship. The proposal, set to cover ethnic Hungarians living in neighbouring countries, was announced by the new centre-right government in Budapest. Their idea, which is now a draft law, could include voting rights and other benefits.

"This is an extremely important element", said Attila Lászlo, ethnic Hungarian and deputy mayor of the Romanian city Cluj. "[Governing party] Fidesz wants national minorities in Hungary to be represented in the Hungarian parliament, so it makes sense to also have representatives of the Hungarians living outside the country's borders," he explained.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

If the draft law is adopted, it would mean that the two main parties of Romanian Hungarians will be able to send candidates to the next parliamentary elections in Hungary. This would increase the influence of Hungarians living in Romania on policy making in Budapest.

Hungary's neighbours have received the proposal of dual citizenship with suspicion, however.

In Slovakia, the government of prime minister Robert Fico reacted vehemently to Budapest's announcement, threatening to strip Slovak nationality from any ethnic Hungarian who takes up the offer. Romania's response has been more cautious. So far, it has abstained from an official position.

The Hungarian draft nationality law has many implications, says Octavian Sergentu, a Cluj-based political analyst. "Aside from the consolidation of the ethnic identity of the Transylvanian Hungarians, this law will lead to the creation of a powerful Transylvanian lobby inside Hungary," the analyst said.

The draft law would certainly raise the presence of Romania's ethnic Hungarians in Hungarian politics. Over 85 percent of them would claim dual citizenship once the law is passed in Budapest, according to a recent poll by the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania.

Beyond political circles, pragmatic expectations prevail. Sándor Demeter, an ethnic Hungarian student at Cluj University, said he will apply for Hungarian citizenship as soon as the draft law is passed. "Hungarians can obtain a US visa much faster than Romanians," he explained. "In this crisis, I can't see any future for me in Cluj. I would rather drop my studies, get a visa and go to work in the United States," Mr Demeter stated.

For István Kiss, who runs a small business in the Transylvanian district Mures, Hungarian citizenship is important for one's image abroad. "In Austria, for instance, if you say you come from Romania, people look down on you. If you are Hungarian, things change and the Austrians become friendlier," said the businessman.

Young people hope Hungarian citizenship will give them access to research grants and study opportunities. Their parents, many of whom worked in both Romania and Hungary, see the citizenship offer as a chance to improve their retirement prospects.

"I think it would simplify things for me if I could transfer my pension to Hungary," said Ildiko Nagy, a hospital nurse in Budapest, who comes from Oradea in Transylvania.

"In Hungary, housing is cheaper, and so is food, while people are much more relaxed, less stressed. I've been working in Budapest since 1993 and I am entitled to some social benefits. I only hope that my pension in Hungary will be higher than the one I would get in Romania," Ms Nagy explained.

This article, reporting the views of ethnic Hungarians living in Romania and written prior to the law being adopted, contains mistaken perceptions about the exact content of the new legislation. Please see follow-up article

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap