Hungary’s practice of promoting national minority rights is a “model for Europe”, House Speaker László Kövér told a conference held in Strasbourg under the auspices of the Council of Europe, on Tuesday.
Addressing the conference, held under CoE’s Hungarian presidency, Kövér noted that the Hungarian constitution recognised Hungary’s 13 ethnic minorities as constituents of the state, and said that indigenous minorities were entitled to form self-governments, while the Hungarian state was promoting those governments with increasing funds each year.
Concerning Hungarian communities outside the country, the Fidesz politician said “they have fought the most in Europe to achieve rights to their national identity”. They have maintained their national identity while “being loyal and hard-working citizens of the countries they live in”.
Kövér noted as an exemplary attitude that the Hungarian government had earmarked close to 1 percent of the central budget for supporting ethnic kin abroad.
In the spirit of European solidarity, Hungary granted safe haven to refugees from the war in former Yugoslavia, and provided medical treatment for injured Ukrainian soldiers and coronavirus patients from Romania, he said.
Hungary and ethnic Hungarian minorities, however, are not beneficiaries of similar solidarity, Kövér said. As an example, he said that “while Ukraine’s current government is intimidating and treating as hostages the 160,000 ethnic Hungarians living there, the Hungarian government recognises the Ukrainian minority as a constituent of the state.”
Kövér called national identity a basis of Europe’s diversity and an indispensable condition of the existence of nations.
“We, Hungarians and the overwhelming majority of other Europeans would like to live in a strong Europe based on cooperation of sovereign nations relying on their traditions and cultures, rather than in a post-Christian, post-national empire,” he said.
Kövér noted that the Forum of Hungarian Lawmakers from the Carpathian Basin (KMKF) representing millions of ethnic Hungarians had initiated in May 2020 the recognition of the right to national identity as a fundamental human right.
Featured photo illustration by Dávid Pólya-Pető/National Assembly’s Press Office