07 June 2019 at 21:08
A group of Romanian nationalists broke into a World War One-era Hungarian military cemetery, pushing past police and praying ethnic Hungarians in a bid to lay wreaths at illegally erected monuments for Romanian war servicemen.
Some 1,000 ethnic Hungarians formed a human chain to prevent the Romanian crowd from entering the Uz-valley graveyard, established by Austrians and Hungarians in 1971.
The graveyard is situated in Transylvania, which used to be part of Austria-Hungary before becoming part of Romania after World War I. The region remains home to ethnic Hungarians, who are the biggest ethnic minority in the country.
Attila Korodi, a Romanian MP of Hungarian origin, was at the scene and told Euronews’ Budapest bureau there should “not be any commemoration” until disputes have been sorted with regards to who from the Romanian side is buried in the cemetery.
“Setting up the orthodox crosses are illegal; this was declared by several Romanian authorities, » he said. « The human chain on Thursday was to enforce this and not let anyone (misuse) arbitrarily the situation. »
Korodi said that it was a very controversial situation, that is used for provocation by some extremist groups and Romanian nationalist politicians.
« Romanian people arrived equipped with Romanian flags, mainly radical football ultras. They were spitting, throwing stones, fighting with the police. And they broke the gate after getting into the cemetery by the back door”, he added.
According to the Romanian Memories of Heroes Office, there are 149 Romanian soldiers buried in the Uz-valley cemetery and 749 Hungarian soldiers. Most were buried immediately after World War I, with the Romanian graves buried after World War II.
The incident has heightened diplomatic tension between Hungary and Romania.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szíjjártó called his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Meleșcanu, asking him again to stem any provocations and resolve the issue peacefully.
The cemetery commemorates fallen soldiers and was relatively untouched until the council of Dormanfalva, a small town of 8,600 inhabitants, erected concrete-made crosses and a memorial to Romanian war heroes.
The cemetery belongs to the small Transylvanian village of Csíkszentmárton/Sanmartin Ciuc, with a small population of 1,200, in Hargita/Harghita County. The cemetery is at the borders of Harghita and Bákó (Bacău) counties.