Dear Mr. President of the Szekler National Council, Izsák Balázs, Dear authorities of Szeklerland, Dear friends all.
First of all, I have to confess that I am delighted to be here in Marosvásárhely with you all today to celebrate together the Szekler´s Freedom Day. We are here in the land of your ancestors celebrating this day but also people with roots in Szeklerland, living overseas will be commemorating this special day.
5 years ago during a visit of the President Izsák Balász, Zsolt Arus and Dabis Attila to the Basque Country you had the opportunity to meet, among other authorities, the current President of the Basque Government, Iñigo Urkullu, at that time President of the Party. During your visit we were provided by you with specific information about the complex situation of your national community. At that moment it sprung in me the desire to come and visit Szeklerland. 5 years later I make my aspiration come true.
This year, 2016, you commemorate also the 140 anniversary of the abolishment of the autonomy rights you enjoyed during centuries, your self-government status that was replaced with the uniformed counties in the Hungarian Kingdom in 1876.
I am aware that being in Szeklerland I am in a special region at the heart of Europe that has been occupied and dominated by different people in the framework of diverse political structures during the last centuries. Borders have changed many times but, above all the most important fact is that Szeklerland is a territory where your ancestors have lived from time immemorial, trying to preserve an ancient culture and language as well as a specific way of life that you nowadays struggle to keep alive.
Your mission it is a democratic a peaceful battle for the survival of a national region in an area surrounded by the powerful and rich Romanian culture. In these circumstances of two ethnic communities trying to live peacefully together is essential to generate a climate of mutual trust and loyalty inside and outside your territory in order to promote the coexistence of the two cultural realities.
Permanent and sincere dialogue between communities and its authorities, accompanied by gestures and gradual actions, is of paramount importance to create this mutual trust, which constitutes a condition of problems solutions.
In my own State, in the past, prohibitions, arrests, persecutions, economic punishments, press manipulation, foment of ethnic confrontation did not contribute to create an atmosphere of necessary confidence for living together harmoniously.
The European Union comprises a democratic and pluralistic space, which is based on national identities, under the umbrella of a common project of freedom that should protect the most weakened cultures. It is clear that the variety of cultures and languages is enriching Europe. Thus minority rights are an essential part of the fundamental human rights in defence of human dignity against the abuse of the State. Therefore, most of the national minorities and regions require not only tolerance but also active instruments of autonomy for their survival.
In the EU, autonomy, decentralization, self-government, in most of the cases, has constituted a successful way to manage its own affairs and preserve their own culture.
Autonomy means proximity between institutions and citizens, more efficient administrative management, more effective control of the citizens over their authorities and definitively the quality of democracy and the welfare State services improved. Each country is different, but our experience confirms that autonomy is an adequate formula for the well-being of the people.
I am aware that your struggle for autonomy is a difficult task but we as other people in Europe support your objective. National Consciousness Perseverance, Dialogue, Mutual Trust, Negotiation, Law and Democracy are the instruments to achieve this goal. I hope that this Szekler´s Freedom Day will contribute to make a further step in this fair and reasonable aspiration of autonomy.
A harc az autonómiáért folytatódik.Éljen a székely összetartás!
Jose Mari Etxebarria