What do Hungarians and Slovaks mean to each other? / Dossier

In both countries have extreme right-wing forces have been inciting hatred of national minorities. Political scientist Miroslav Kusý finds attacks on the Slovak side completely irrational and points out that for a thousand years Slovaks were part of Hungary: We share more history with the Hungarians than with any other country. (this article is also available in Hungarian here.)

What is homo intellectualis to do in this situation, asks Rudolf Chmel, Czechoslovakia’s last Ambassador to Hungary and Slovakia’’s Minister of Culture between 2002 and 2005. According to Rudolf Chmel, he should tell politicians what he thinks of them: I have long maintained that politicians have only ever harmed Slovak-Hungarian relations. This conviction is based on many years of experience working with politicians and being one of them myself. Having the courage to stand up to the views or convictions of the majority is clearly outside the politicians’’ comfort zone. In the best case scenario this ought to be within the comfort zone of real statesmen, if we could find people worthy of this name in Slovakia or Hungary today. And it ought to be the duty of intellectuals, if there are any around. It is a closed circle.

Hungarian philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás presents the problem in a European context: The existing confederations (USSR, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia) disintegrated, harsh discrimination was enforced against members (Russians, Serbians) of those once-dominant nations who were left outside their nation’’s borders in Croatia and the Baltic states (Serbs were simply hounded out of Krajina, Russians in Estonia lack even a modicum of rights as citizens), and then even what was left of Serbia was broken up (Montenegro and Kosovo have split off), and the one remaining multi-national structure (Bosnia under NATO and EU supervision) is close to breaking up. In Austrian Carinthia the provincial government of Jörg Haider is persecuting Slovenes, while Slovenia itself has ordered tens of thousands of its inhabitants – those former citizens of Yugoslavia without Slovenian passports – to leave.  In Macedonia, the Slav majority confronts an Albanian minority consisting of almost half the population and peace is maintained by US and other NATO forces. The EU structures supposed to be protecting minorities have proved to be helpless.

©  Salon, Perlentaucher