Romania accused of discriminating against Hungarian festival

AP News
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Posted: Dec 06, 2016 6:49 AM

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The Romanian culture ministry has discriminated against Hungarians in the country by failing to win international recognition for a religious festival, an ethnic Hungarian politician said Tuesday.

Csilla Hegedus, deputy head of the Union of Democratic Hungarians in Romania, said 100 Hungarian experts had worked six years to secure UNESCO protection for a Catholic pilgrimage in northwest Romania where most of Romania's 1.4 million Hungarians live.

Hegedus claimed a Romanian culture ministry official failed to provide UNESCO with documentation it requested about the festival. The ministry declined to immediately comment.

The annual pilgrimage at Sumuleu Ciuc to celebrate Pentecost attracts more than 100,000 Catholics every year. Some even walk to the festival from outside Romania to what is the largest Catholic festival of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe.

Tensions have been rising between the two countries. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told Hungarian diplomats not to attend Romania's national day celebration, saying Hungarians had "nothing to celebrate."

Some ethnic Hungarians feel they have lost influence in Romania in the past two years, the last time an ethnic Hungarian politician held a ministerial post.

In her statement, Hegedus urged Hungarians to vote in Romania's Dec. 11 parliamentary election. She is among those politicians running for a seat.

Transylvania became part of Romania in 1918. Before that it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.