Friday

30th Jul 2021

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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

Opinion

Can Greece work with Biden to solve the West Balkans impasse?

Greece has always been Europe's outlier. It faces an implacably hostile neighbour in Turkey under its assertive authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Until Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, Greece had no European Union member state as a neighbour.

EU and UK frustrated at US travel ban extension

The US remains closed to tourists from the EU and the UK - a situation that has prompted frustration and urgent calls for the reopening of international travel to vaccinated individuals by industry and countries.

Polish judges rally behind EU court ruling

Thousands of Polish judges, prosecutors and lawyers have rallied to support the primacy of EU law, amid demands for Poland to suspend a politically-charged disciplinary chamber for judges.

Opinion

Why 'Fit for 55' isn't fit for purpose

In a worst-case scenario, the EU's climate policies would exclude developing nations from international trade, forcing them to trade with each other, forming economic and environmental 'ghettos' while the wealthy West enjoys the benefits of free trade and clean energy.

EU hits vaccination target, as Delta variant now dominates

The European Union has vaccinated 70 percent of its adult population with one shot. "The EU has kept its word and delivered," said EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen. However, only 57 percent of adult Europeans are fully-vaccinated.

News in Brief

  1. Officials worried at infection-surge on Greek holiday islands
  2. EU calls on online platforms to tackle vaccine hesitancy
  3. Russia accused of falling short on Sputnik V deliveries
  4. France: UK quarantine rules 'discriminatory'
  5. Italy's government reaches deal on judicial reform
  6. EU adopts guidelines to 'climate-proof' infrastructure projects
  7. US backs WHO plan for further Covid-origin investigation
  8. EU to buy 220,000 supplies of potential Covid treatment

Opinion

Brexit: what is the 'Lugano Convention' and does it matter?

After Brexit, the UK ceased to be a member of the Lugano Convention, an international treaty which governs cross-border civil and commercial legal disputes. In May, the European Commission published an opinion calling for the UK's re-application to be rejected.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Malta responsible for journalist's death, inquiry finds
  2. Can Greece work with Biden to solve the West Balkans impasse?
  3. EU and UK frustrated at US travel ban extension
  4. Polish judges rally behind EU court ruling
  5. Why 'Fit for 55' isn't fit for purpose
  6. EU hits vaccination target, as Delta variant now dominates
  7. European arms 'displaced over a million people', research finds
  8. Brexit: what is the 'Lugano Convention' and does it matter?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us