|Stephen Borsody: The Hungarians: A Divided Nation|
"Revisionism" and "Fascist Propaganda"*
(*The texts of the amendment and argument are quoted from Foreign Relations of the United States, 1946 (Washington, D.C., 1969) 4:727.)
After World War I, the principal aim of Hungary's foreign policy under the Horthy regime was the revision of the Treaty of Trianon. After World War II, on the demand of Czechoslovakia,
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the Treaty of Paris banned "revisionism," equating it with "fascist propaganda."
The Czechoslovak amendment, added to Article 4 of the Peace Treaty, and the Czechoslovak argument supporting this amendment, reads as follows:
Hungary also binds herself to dissolve all organizations existing on her territory whose aim is to disseminate revisionism openly or secretly, and to prohibit in future the existence and activity of such organizations as aim at spreading revisionism or exciting a hostile attitude to Czechoslovakia among Hungarians.
Czechoslovakia also considers it necessary to forbid not only hostile propaganda by Hungary but every other activity tending to threaten the security of other states. It is equally essential to prohibit not only fascist propaganda but also its correlative "revisionism," which would continue to be aimed against and to threaten Czechoslovakia.
"Bridge Role" and "Socialist Solution"
Under the Kadar regime Hungary's policy vis-a-vis her neighbors with Hungarian populations has emphasized "bridge role" and "socialist solution." These twin principles were spelled out most memorably in the course of an interview Kadar gave to Harry Schleicher of the Frankfurter Rundschau in 1977 on the eve of his official visit to Bonn. The interview was published in the June 30, 1977, issue of the West-German paper, as well as in the July 3, 1977, issue of the Hungarian Communist party paper Nepszabadsag in Budapest. The English translation that follows is based on the Hungarian version.
Schleicher: In the course of their history, the Hungarian people have lost the possibility of national integration in a unitary state. One consequence of this is the existence of Hungarian minorities in all
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neighboring states. Do you think that people may simply lose their right to a national state? Will the Hungarian people resign themselves to this state of affairs? What is the situation of Hungarian minorities? What can Hungary do to improve their situation?
Kadar: It is an accident of history-not only in Europe but in many other parts of the world too-that minority groups are living beyond the frontiers of their nation-state. This gives rise to problems everywhere. These problems require the close attention of the countries concerned and bestow great responsibility on their governments.
In the twentieth century one cannot solve minority problems by the methods of the nineteenth century. The only possible way ahead in Europe is by increasing cooperation between peoples. Only socialism will be capable of finally solving the nationality question by ensuring unfettered development of the society as a whole-including the national minorities.
In Europe today, we can only reach a solution to the problems of nationalities and of minorities by making use of the lessons of history, not by harping on a "glorious past." The ruling classes of the past, by their policies of chauvinism, hatred toward minorities, and revanchism caused untold damage to the Hungarian nation, almost imperilling its existence.
Our government follows a radically different line. Our efforts are directed at attaining our people's aims-national in content, but in the framework of socialism. Of course, we want to ensure that our own [ethnic] minorities [in Hungary] can enjoy equal opportunities to flourish. It is our desire that national minorities-in Hungary as well as in the neighboring countries--should create a bridge between countries and peoples.
It is well known that large numbers of Hungarians live not only in our neighboring countries but in other European countries too-indeed, all over the world. It is the official policy of the Hungarian People's Republic to take it for granted that Hungarian minorities should fully integrate themselves in the life of their states. At the same time, we also take it for granted that they should be free to express their love and attachment to the mother country, the ancestral homeland-always within the limits of loyalty and permissibility. This is the purpose of countless agreements with many other states in order to facilitate travel and cultural contacts and to foster common folk traditions.
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The signatories of the Helsinki Final Act were unanimously agreed on the inviolability of present-day frontiers. This alone can ensure peace and security in the world. In the course of this historic conference we too have expressed our conviction that this principle is the common interest of the thirty-five participants, being a pledge for peaceful coexistence.
Hungary at the Madrid Conference
The Madrid follow-up conference, reviewing adherence to the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act, dragged on for almost three years (1980-83). Paragraph 11 of its Concluding Document reaffirmed the rights of national minorities. The Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter Varkonyi, addressing the closing session on September 8, 1983, praised the achievements of the conference consonant with the peace policy of the Soviet bloc but kept silent about Paragraph 11 (below). Nor did the Hungarian delegation take public notice during the conference of the memoranda submitted on behalf of the Hungarian minorities in Romania and Czechoslovakia (for the text of some of these memoranda, see the annexes in Chapters 7 and 8, above).
11. [The Participating States] stress also the importance of constant progress in ensuring the respect for and actual enjoyment of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities as well as protecting their legitimate interests as provided for in the [Helsinki] Final Act.
Voice of the Hungarian Democratic Opposition
Several groups of the illegal Hungarian democratic opposition issued a joint statement in Budapest on March 12, 1984. They expressed their solidarity with a Polish-Czechoslovak joint declaration
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of KOR [Committee in Defense of Labor in Poland], Solidarity, and Charter 77, dated February 12, 1984, demanding release of political prisoners and democratization of the countries of Eastern Europe, as well as the right of these countries to independence and freedom. In addition to joining these demands of other East European nations in the Soviet orbit of power, the Hungarian democratic opposition's statement called attention to "what is the most burning concern of all Hungarians: the suppression of the rights of national minorities in Eastern Europe." Their statement on this particular issue reads as follows:
Our Czechoslovak friends certainly know of the discriminations inflicted in their own country upon the oppressed Hungarian minority. What is happening to the Transylvanian Hungarians is also common knowledge. We not only demand an end to these discriminations, but we support the right of the Hungarian minorities to cultural autonomy. We subscribe to their right and ability to administer their specific affairs under their own future institutions, which are to be democratically established. We appeal to all East European believers in justice and fairness to stand up against nationalism, against the instruments of forcible assimilation through policies in the field of education, population settlement, and regional economic development. Only by eliminating these practices can the friendship between our peoples become truly sincere. This friendship is our desire, no less than the long-awaited freedom of our countries and peace without humiliation.
The Hungarian democratic opposition also issued an appeal to the European Cultural Forum (one of the so-called Helsinki follow-up conferences) meeting in Budapest in the fall of 1985. Covering a broad range of subjects related to both cultural and political freedoms in Communist Hungary, the appeal called attention to the plight of the Hungarian minorities. It suggested that, if all other means of help to the Hungarians in the neighboring countries would fail, the Hungarian government should seek redress of the Hungarian grievances by "turning to international forums."
For the full text of the Hungarian statement, see Irodalmi Ujsag 35/2 (1984).
For the full text of the appeal, see Irodalmi Ujsag 37:1 (1986).
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Dated 15 October 1985, the appeal was signed by the following representatives of the democratic opposition: Peter Bokros, Gabor Demszky, Zoltan Endreffy, Gyorgy Gado, Bela Gondos, Miklos Haraszti, Andras Kardos, Janos Kenedi, Janos Kis, Gyorgy Konrad, Gyorgy Krasso, Tamas Molnar, Andras Nagy, Jeno Nagy, Tibor Pakh, Gyorgy Petri, Sandor Radnoti, Laszlo Rajk, Ottilia Solt, Pal Szalai, Miklos Gaspar Tamas, Mihaly Vajda.
"Nationality Democracy" vs. "Majority Nationalism"
A New Course?
Hungary's Communist Party regime is beginning to acknowledge publicly the existence of the Hungarian minority problem. In addition to domestic publicity, the problem occasionally is given international publicity as well. For instance, the official English language periodical, The New Hungarian Quarterly, has recently dealt, gingerly though quite openly, with the problem of Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries.
Matyas Szuros, the Party's Central Committee secretary in charge of foreign relations, discussed "the role played by national minorities in detente." He called for recognizing "the dual loyalty of national minorities to do good in the interests of better understanding among the nations." He was critical of "curtailment of the collective political and cultural rights of national minorities" and of "any limitation of direct communication with the mother country."1
In the same issue of The New Hungarian Quarterly, Rudolf Joo, a research fellow at the recently established Institute for Hungarian Studies, published a comprehensive outline on "national minority policies." The following excerpts cover some of the principal ideas of his article.2
The state should not only recognize the fact of ethnic variety, it should also establish the most favourable conditions for the survival and development of minorities. This includes such collective rights as an educational system in the native tongue, a bilingual or multi-lingual public administration, the establishment of government institutions
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dealing with the nationality problem and the establishment of autonomous regions.
The socialist construction of government that developed from the second half of the forties in Central and South-Eastern Europe produced numerous original, and indeed pioneering, institutions of equality of nationalities, which differed in extent and form from country to country, occasionally even from nationality to nationality. . . . However, that era was one in which the process of establishing the general institutions of nationality democracy coincided with a growing domination of the anti-democratic exercise of power. . . . It is not surprising, therefore, that in the political situation that had developed, some of the measures directed at ethnic equality remained on the statutes, being simply unredeemed promises and never the social reality.
The current changes in science and technology, such as the electronic revolution now taking place (including the spread of computers, video programmes, cable television, and satellite broadcast) establish theoretical opportunities for group survival and community organization in addition to chances of the complete assimilation of minorities and thus their concomitant disintegration. . . . Predictably, . . . a uniform general condition to all, will continue to democratically provide modern means for developing these minorities' national identity. Similarly, the type of political structure that is permeated by majority nationalism is likely to continue to reduce those possibilities.
In a similar vein, the problem of national minorities has been brought up by Hungary's delegate at the third Helsinki review conference which began its deliberations in Vienna in November 1986. Without naming any one of the neighboring countries, Laszlo Demus, a high-ranking official of the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, expressed Hungary's concern for "the fate of Hungarians living beyond our boundaries." He condemned "any form of nationalism," but in particular "one of its worst forms: forcible assimilation."
Meanwhile, the head of the Hungarian delegation, Ambassador Andre Erdos, announced that Hungary is joining two proposals initiated by Yugoslavia and Canada, respectively, advocating more effective protection of the rights of national minorities. It is worth mentioning that Hungary was the only Soviet-bloc country to cosponsor such a proposal, endorsed by the United States.
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In March 1987, Matyas Szuros, emerging as the principal Hungarian governmental spokesman for national minority rights, spoke of Hungary's deep interest in international minority protection at a meeting in New York of the Institute for East-West Security Studies. Hungary, he said, regards safeguarding of "unhampered contacts" between national minorities and their mother country as a "fundamental human right."
Departing from the practice of dealing with the delicate minority issues in general terms, a formal Hungarian Government statement, April 2, 1987, accused President Ceauseacu's Romanian Government of actions that "caused disturbance in the cooperation between the two neighboring Socialist countries and damaged the fundamental interests of both the Hunganan and Romanian peoples." The unusual public altercation on a government level between the two countries was provoked by Romanian condemnation of a 3-volume scholarly work on the history of Transylvania published by the Hungarians.
1. Matyas Szuros, "Hungary and Detente in Europe," The New Hungarian Quarterly, vol. 27, no. 103 (1986): 13-14.
2. Rudolf Joo, "Approaches to National Minority Policy," ibid., 40-46 passim. For a full text of the Hungarian official interventions at the Helsinki follow-up conference at Vienna in behalf of the national minorities, see The New Hungarian Quarterly, no. 106 (1987),125-30.
|Stephen Borsody: The Hungarians: A Divided Nation|