On the 27th of July 2018 Hungary’s Deputy Prime Minister, Semjén Zsolt declared in Băile Tuşnad that Hungary will not honor in any case Romania’s National Day on the 1st of December and requested untimely the “autonomy” for Hungarians in Transilvania calling on the Union Resolution from Alba Iulia: “I have just one request and nothing more. Please read, re-read the declaration from Alba Iulia”. We offer here the President of the Romanian Academy, Ioan Aurel Pop’s clarifying position about this issue. We would also like to announce that, with this article, LARICS opens a new thorough analysis on the Hungarian issue which has become a serious and unavoidable problem, given that we celebrate 100 Years since the Great Union. (LARICS)


Ioan Aurel Pop speaking in the Romania Academy Aula when LARICS was launched, on 26th of April 2017.

Ioan-Aurel Pop*

The decision to unite Transilvania with Romania, adopted on 1st of December 1918, includes nine points that revolve around the following idea:

  1. The National Assembly for all Romanians living in Transylvania, Banat and the Hungarian country” decrees the union of all Romanians and the territories where they live with Romania.
  2. All the territories mentioned above will receive temporary autonomy, until the meeting with the Constituent Assembly.
  • The fundamental principles for creating the new Romanian country is issued.
  1. A request to the Peace Congress to assure the justice and freedom to all big or small nations and to remove the war from international reports.
  2. A welcome is addressed to “the brothers in Bucovina”, who united three days earlier with Romania.
  3. All nations freed from the Austro-Hungarian control are welcomed.
  • All Romanians who sacrificied themselves for freedom and unity for the Romanian nation are honoured;
  • Alied Powers are thanked for saving the civilization from the “barbarian’s claws”.
  1. The decision to found the National Romanian Assembly, as a representative for the “Romanian Nation from Transylvania, Banat and the Hungarian Country”.

One article of the nine has subpoints (six to be more precisely) and that is the third one. These six subpoints strengthen the principal points that create a country: national freedom for “co-living peoples”; freedom of religion for all confessions in the country; universal vote, equal, direct and secret for both sexes, starting from the age 21; freedom of press, association, to move and of free thought; radical land reform; rights for the industrial workers equal with the ones from more advanced countries in the West.

The term autonomy is used twice in the aformentioned Resolution text. The first time it came up, was in the beginning of the paper, more specific in the second article: “All the territories mentioned above (Transylvania, Banat and the Hungarian Country[1]) will receive temporary autonomy, until the meeting with the Constituent Assembly, elected by universal vote.” As one can see, it is about issuing the autonomy for territories that were inhabited by a majority of Romanians, united with Romania (approximately 100 000 km2).

In the second place, even to these territories, the Assembly proposed temporary autonomy, until the meeting with the Constituent Assembly, elected by universal vote, for issuing a new Constitution for the Kingdom of Romania. All the provisions were broadly followed, so Transylvania with Banat and the Western parts untied with Romania, without any autonomy, only after a period of time. The first and most important decision taken by the National Assembly was not the temporary autonomy of the provinces, with “decree” that would unite them with Romania. The connection link in the document is the union with those mentioned Romanians and the territories with Romania. This union was “decreed” by the 1228 representatives, elected democratically and holders of official documents (“credentials”), the representatives for all Romanians. It is true that the policy makers, in their honor, were taking care of the national minorities and all religious belief in Transylvania and their future in the Kingdom of Romania, because Romanians did not want to transform from oppressed into oppressors. Between “the fundamental rights for the constituence of the Romanian country” unified, the Constituent Assembly decided that: “the full national freedom of all peoples living in cohabitation” and “the equal justice and full autonomous freedom for confessions for all religious beliefs across the country”. “The full national freedom” is explained clearly, without any little parallel interpretations and it means, that the authors’ Resolution, the right for “all peoples living in cohabitation” to “instruct, administer and judge in their own language”, to “be represented in the legistature [system]” in Romania, to be represented in the countries’ government. The term “autonomy” is here an adjective and refers to “all religious belief in the country” and not only minorities confessions.

What can be added in addition to this document, after some centuries passed since it was written?

  1. Nowhere in the document is there a reference to the autonomy for any of Transylvania’s region by ethnic criteria. In fact, “historic autonomies” in Transylvania including the “Szeklerland”, were abolished by the dualist Austro-Hungarian country (more precisely by the Parliament and Government from Budapest) in the second half of the XIXth
  2. The largest minority in Romania, the Hungarians (which represents over 6% of the countries’ population), can “learn” in their own language on the Romanian territory, starting from kindergarden to university – Bachelor’s degrees, M.A.s and Ph.Ds.
  3. The same Hungarian minority can “manage” in their own language everywhere it holds a majority and, thus, where the authorities, from town halls to the members in local, county councils etc. are in Hungarian. There is no mixed settlement in Romania where minorities are not represented by numerical vote count.
  4. The same Hungarian minority has “jurisdiction” in their own language where the conditions are met by law. Each member of the Hungarian minority can talk in front of Courts in their language and get, if needed, a translator.

The National Assemby Resolution does not “decree”, does not decide nothing more than one thing, which is fundamental, the union between Transylvania with Romania. Afterwards, it only makes proposals which the “new Romanian country” from which the above mentioned territories are a part of. The Romanian state, in the inner-war period and after, respected broadly in line with the political regimes the proposals for respecting minority rights.


Photo: The National Assembly Resolution in Alba Iulia on 18th November/1st December 1918

Otherwise, the Hungarian minority leaders’ legal rights in Romania to question the Romanian authories about the fully applying the union resolution from 1st December 1918 from Alba Iulia, remains arguable due to a simple reason. Hungarians, as a global community never openly recognized Transylvania’s union with Romania like the Transylvanian Saxons, Swabians, Ukrainians, Rroma etc.

What does this mean? It means rejecting the 1st December 1918 “decree” issued by the absolute majority of the population living in Transylvania in agreement with the international provisions entered into force and ratified by the Peace Conference in Paris in 1919-1920, reinforced at the Peace Conference in 1946-1947, recognized by other documents with international legal value dated before and after 1989. In this case, the leader of the Hungarian communities who chose and agreed with this position (not all Hungarians!) are not only outside the Romanian law, but also outside the international one and do not have the right to invoke a document which they do not even recognize in its essence. In other words, one cannot take out from the Assembly’s Resolution just what they please. Even if so, making a pro domo plea, Hungarian leaders are wrong: the statement in question, has legislative power only on the Union and does not provide anywhere any autonomy for ethnic minorities in Transylvania.


*Ioan-Aurel Pop historian, President of the Romanian Academy

[1] Refering to Partium or the “Hungarian part” (regions where Romanians live and are near Hungary), meaning Crișana, Sătmar, Maramureș, Solnoc, Ung, Bereg, Ugocea etc.