Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban on December 15 visited the western Romanian city of Timisoara to take part in events marking 30 years since the end of communist rule and the overthrow of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
Delivering the keynote speech at the event in front of a crowd that included ethnic Hungarians, Orban praised his country’s relationship with Romania.
"We [as Hungarians] believe that we can achieve a goal easier with our neighbors than by ourselves,” he said.
Orban said both countries could be at the forefront of “a new Central Europe,” a prosperous region that would "not be just a market for Western European economies but an area of great success and competitiveness.”
The diverse city is home to an ethnic Hungarian minority and was ground zero of the 1989 revolution, which ignited when Laszlo Tokes, an ethnic Hungarian pastor of a local church, was expelled for criticizing the Ceausescu dictatorship in his sermons.
Protests ensued against his expulsion and spread to other cities, including Bucharest, in a revolution that eventually brought down Europe’s last communist regime.
Two days after the first protests started, Ceausescu gave the order to fire on protesters, killing around 60 and wounding more than 2,000 in Timisoara on December 17, 1989.
“I couldn’t imagine that people would respond to my call…that they would come to my church to express their solidarity,” Tokes told AFP.
Ceausescu and his wife fled Bucharest a day after protesters reached the capital on December 21, 1989.
The couple was subsequently arrested, condemned, and summarily executed four days later.