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22nd Weekly Media Review For Hungarian Communities Abroad
Weekly Media Reviewof HungarianCommunities Abroad22/2011
Homepage for dispersed Hungarians Hungary A newly launched homepage called ”Szorvany.hu” is designed to present Hungarian communities living dispersed or in diasporas. The page has an overt goal to arouse interest in discovering Hungarian communities living all over the world. Visitors may download statistics, contacts of Hungarian diaspora institutions and permanently updated academic literature pertaining to scattered Hungarians. Maps and planned trips make the website more interactive and valuable.Debate over the third partyIs there a need for a third Hungarian party of Transylvania? Would this political diversity Transylvania - Erdélydivide or strengthen the Hungarian community? Should the parties continue to co-operate,is the way of co-operation evident? These and other questions constituted the core of adebate held on a Hungarian public television channel, Duna TV. The tripartite discussionserved as a good occasion to know more about the power perceptions of therepresentatives. General secretary of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania(RMDSZ) Péter Kovács believes that it is bad that three parties contest for the votes ofHungarians. Aspirants of the RMDSZ would try themselves in direct and secret pre-elections. Those who had beaten a retreat in that kind of contest are now thinking about anew party – referred Kovács to his partners at the debate and added that he did notbelieve in that solution.Head of the Hungarian Civic Party (MPP) Jenő Szász joined by stating that indemocratizing the Transylvanian Hungarian society there is still a lot to do in comparisonwith the home-state. MPP leader argued that “ we are lagging behind by twenty-two yearsin comparison to Hungarian society and at least by twenty-one years in correlation withthe Romanian one.” According to his opinion, a bipolar political system should prevail,where RMDSZ is on the one end, while the co-operation of the MPP, the Szekler NationalCouncil and the National Council of Hungarians in Transylvania is on the other end of thescale-pan as a national alternative. Kovács responded that although RMDSZ did not shoutautonomy every day, it was still the most committed Hungarian organization in Romaniain national terms. Vice-president of the National Council of Hungarians in Transylvania(EMNT), Előd Papp, deems the forming of the Hungarian People’s Party in Transylvaniacrucial. The failure of the minority act or the Szekler memorandum prompted thefoundation of the new party. Papp said that the National Council must not rely on strictlyon words any more. “We have already said at the beginning that a pre-election should beheld in order to have a Hungarian cadastre that was in fact sworn upon by the then RMDSZleader Béla Markó in 2003. We are now ready for it“ – said Papp. Kovács noted that acooperation agreement failed between the RMDSZ and the EMNT in 2007 as a result ofSzász’s obstruction. However, it was successful two years later; it is important now to laydown the conditions of working together – added the RMDSZ member. 2
Szeklerland in BrusselsOn 31 May, three MEPs will host a reception in the European Parliament (EP) in Brusselsto celebrate the opening of the Szeklerland’s representation bureau that will have its officein the House of Hungarian Regions. The initiative coming from three Transylvanian MEPsCsaba Sógor and Gyula Winkler (Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romanian) and the Transylvania - Erdélyvice-president of the EP László Tőkés is meant to gather, process and transmit informationabout EU policies and institutional problems and to inform local governments aboutdecisions made by the EP, European Commission, the Committee of Regions and other EUbodies. It further aims to strengthen representation of the three Szekler counties’ interestsregarding European projects by establishing contacts with European institutions andpartnerships with other EU regions, but also by networking and lobbying. However, amounting criticism takes place in Romania and the EU as well. Members of the rulingDemocrat Liberal Party and of the opposition vehemently criticized the three HungarianMEPs’ plan to open a diplomatic representation of the Szekler Land. The vice president ofthe European People’s Party group in the European Parliament, the democrat-liberalMarian Jean Marinescu said the plan is a “useless provocation,” as no European institutionwill “discuss anything with a representation that doesn’t represent anything officially.”Marinescu added that the three counties that would be represented by the Szekler Landoffice – Kovászna/Covasna, Hargita/Harghita and Maros/Mures – were alreadyrepresented by the Committee of Regions in Brussels. “In my opinion, it’s a provocationand I don’t know what they wanted to prove or to gain, except for giving birth toanimosities and discussions” – said the politician. Social-Democrats and Liberals as wellslammed the initiative as “worrisome, unacceptable and provocative.” Liberal MEP NoricaNicolai said her party’s European lawmakers will discuss the matter in the Liberal-Democratic group this afternoon. The Romanian foreign ministry also announced lastweek that it took steps to clarify the situation and voiced regret for any action toinaugurate a “representation” for a “so-called administrative-territorial unit” that did notactually exist and had no legal or constitutional grounds. The minister also underlined thataccording to EU practices, any recognized territorial-administrative unit within memberstates is entitled to open representation offices in Brussels. On the other hand, RMDSZleader Hunor Kelemen refuted the criticism, saying that the Romanian society would havegot so enraged if regions such as Tara Motilor or Bucovina would have made a similarmove. Kelemen told that the opening of a Szekler Land representation in Brussels is not anunconstitutional or immoral gesture. He explained that the project began with an initiativeof Hargita and Kovászna county council leaders two-three years ago, aimed at finding anoffice to connect with Brussels institutions in order to attract more funds to the twocounties. The project was then joined by Maros county. 3
“Final” Act on Use of Minority Languages Slovakia - FelvidékLast Wednesday. the Slovak coalition managed to pass the amendment to the Act on Use ofMinority Languages drafted by vice-prime minister Rudolf Chmel (Most-Híd). 78 out of 79coalition MPs voted in favour of the proposal that is slightly more than the half of themandates in the national assembly. The final version of the adopted law is rather differentthan the original proposal submitted by Béla Bugárs Most-Híd party, due to a number ofobjections raised by the independent MP and leader of the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS)faction Igor Matovič. The current twenty-percent threshold for the official use of minoritylanguages in ethnically mixed towns and villages will be reduced to 15 percent. The twistof the act is that new municipalities will be put in the 15 percent threshold list if the twoconsecutive censuses asserts the needed number of the minority, so the implementation ofthe law is pushed out to 2021. Matovič also pushed the concession through that theconsent of the local councillor body will not be enough in order to have town councildeliberations in minority languages, the consent of the mayor is also compulsory.Furthermore, members of minority communities will not be able to use their languageeverywhere in Slovakia as the original proposal stipulated, and healthcare as well as socialfacilities will not be required to hire translators for minority languages. Most-Hídchairman Béla Bugár declared that "It is a sensible compromise. We wanted a lot more,our colleagues wanted a lot less, but this is a step forward". Bugár added that this was agreat accomplishment on the part of the Slovak government. However, Most-Híd expectspresident Ivan Gašparovič to return the law back to the House". The Hungarian CoalitionParty (MKP) is unhappy about the amendment to the Act on the Use of MinorityLanguages. The piece of legislation fails to consider recommendations made by the Councilof Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the VeniceCommission and other international organisations.Slovakia builds on friendly co-operationLast Friday, the Slovak parliament passed a resolution quashing any extra-territorialeffects of the new Hungarian Constitution. "Parliament assures all citizens of Slovakia thatit is exclusively the Slovak Constitution, Slovakias laws and international commitmentsthat are in effect on Slovakias territory," reads the resolution, which gained support of allcoalition MPs present at the vote. The opposition was against, doing so in protest of havingtheir resolution proposal rejected from even being debated in the house. The passeddocument declares interest in maintaining good neighbourly relations with Hungary - inthe spirit of modern Europeanness and of values that the European Union is built upon, aswell as in line with the Agreement on Good Neighbourhood and Friendly Cooperationbetween Slovakia and Hungary. The parliament also confirms in the resolution Slovakiasundertaking concerning applying the individual (and not collective) rights principle, isdoing so as a sovereign state exercising its own jurisdiction. 4
The logic of assimilationAccording to sociologist Zsuzsanna Lampl, many conceive assimilation as a process thatfirst or last has to be logically completed. The strengthening dominance of the Slovaklanguage proves as a prime cause of assimilation. However, not only Slovaks speak theirown language, but also Hungarians in a growing number. Lampl states that Hungariansuse Slovak in conversations not only with Slovak people. Based on research of the ForumMinority Research Institute in Somorja, the last ten years show an adverse tendency. In allfields of public communication, the number of people speaking Hungarian is diminishing.Figures underpin the statement: with 15 percent less people use Hungarian in shops (from45% to 30%); official communication in Hungarian which fell short of 20 percent, nowstands at 14 percent. It was also estimated that only 56 percent of Hungarians speakHungarian with their neighbours. This ratio was 64 percent. Every fifth Hungarian Transcarpathia Vojvodina - Vajdaságrespondent used Slovak when speaking with his/her Hungarian partner. Using Hungarianwithin the family depicts a negative trend as well. Hungarian Hope Movement to run independently in elections Head of the Hungarian Hope Movement Bálint László announced that his party will contest the next election independently. László said the Movement that is the youngest party in Vajdaság/Vojvodina will not run a joint list with Serbian parties. “Our purpose is to have our own representatives in local governments where we have local organizations and to have at least one representative at state level” – stated the president whose party overtly supports the nationalist Jobbik party of Hungary. Education matters The Hungarian educational institutions called upon the Ukrainian education minister Dmitro Tabacsnik for examining the problems encountered when dealing with the education of Transcarpathian Hungarians. Problems arise from the fact that students applying for the Hungarian language and literature course are not allowed to take an entrance exam in the chosen language, since these subjects are not listed as public educational subjects in which advanced final exams may be taken. On the contrary, Russian is eligible as of this school year. Seemingly, it is easy to say that the current power has just given lip service to national minorities in its promises prior to the 2010 president-election. 5
Proposed Act on Ethnic Groups Austria The new draft legislation is done on ethnic groups of Austria. The new constitutional law lists 164 townships in Carinthia where bilingual place name boards are compulsory. The regulation of official language use applies to Hungarian, Croatian and Slovenian as well, where the population is bilingual.Gold Merit Cross to Pasza CroatiaOn 20 May, the Hungarian ambassador of Croatia Gábor Iván presented the honorarypresident of the Democratic Community of Hungarians in Croatia Árpád Pasza with theGold Merit Cross of the Hungarian Republic in recognition of his several decade longardent educational and public work as contributing to maintaining the Hungarian minorityof Croatia. Prekmurje - Muravidék House Speaker in Slovenia House Speaker László Kövér had an official two-day visit to Slovenia. Kövér met the Hungarian MP László Göncz, the president of the Prekmurje National Community of Hungarian Local Governments Ferenc Horváth and the mayor of Lendva/Lendava Anton Balazek. The House Speaker emphasized that strategic partnerships ties the two states. The Slovenian and the Hungarian national communities would conclude a agreement about how to assert their rights and interest in the governments. According to Kövér, there is a high interest in Slovenia about how Hungary will realize the parliamentary representation of national minorities in the frame of the electoral act reform. Sándor Pákh dead at 104 On 23 May, near his home in New York valiant Sándor Pákh died at age 104. He left his birthplace Munkács in 1977 and emigrated to the USA to join his son, who is an art collector and the owner of the greatest Munkácsy-collection. The older Pákh was honoured several times in Hungary for his selfless contribution to the Hungarian nation. It was his merit that the Turul-bird – a symbol of the conquering Hungarians – gained its worthy place in the Transcarpathian Munkács. His last wish was to acquire Hungarian USA citizenship due to the simplified naturalization. This wish fulfilled on 13 April at his home. 6