Transylvania: Where Nationalism Is Still Alive...Or Possibly Undead
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Back in 1922 Europe was struggling back to its feet after the catastrophe of World War One. The British government had put the issue of Irish independence on hold for the duration of the war and a settlement had been reached; but now in Northern Ireland here was the old sectarian conflict come back again. Winston Churchill expressed the mood very eloquently in the House of Commons,

As the deluge subsides and the waters fall short we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again. The integrity of their quarrel is one of the few institutions that has been unaltered in the cataclysm which has swept the world [Speech on the Ireland Situation, February 16, 1922].

A lot of international quarrels are like that. They just never seem to go away. Here's another one: Transylvania.

For that small subset of readers who do not commit to memory everything I write, let me say that I spent a few days in Transylvania during my youth and was deeply imprinted with the strangeness and—yes!—diversity of the place.

If you look in your atlas, Transylvania is the northwestern quadrant of the modern nation of Romania. It was granted to Romania by the Treaty of Trianon, also after World War One. Before that it had for the longest time been part of the Kingdom of Hungary. Hungarian patriots are still mad as hell about having lost Transylvania a hundred years ago this coming June 4th.

The population nowadays is mostly Romanian but with a big Hungarian minority, seasoned with Serbs, Ruthenians, Croats, Szeklers, Gypsies, Jews, Bosnians, Greeks, and Armenians. Also some German-speaking Saxons who moved there in the Middle Ages. The current President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, is a Transylvanian Saxon.

President Iohannis has been stirring up trouble, accusing the Hungarian minority in Transylvania of plotting with Hungary's Viktor Orbán to give the region back to Hungary.

I have no idea whether they have been, and don't much care. I'm just enjoying an odd quiet satisfaction from the fact that, in a world of flux, where "change and decay in all around I see," some things are eternal, forever un-changing.

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