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Trianon 100: Hungary and Slovakia on Verge of Finding Common Ground?

Hungary Today 2020.06.03.

A large-scale gathering took place in Slovakia at the Pozsony (Bratislava) Castle on June 2nd as Slovakia’s Prime Minister Igor Matovič, invited many Hungarian public figures in Slovakia on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Trianon.

The invitation refers to the gathering  as a friendly meeting with the motto: “We did not write the past, but the future is in our hands.”

A photo of the meeting’s official invitation was posted on social media on Saturday night by Péter Cseh, a Hungarian member of the OĽaNO parliamentary group.

Cseh said Prime Minister Igor Matovič invited 100 ethnic Hungarians from Slovakia to the event, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Trianon.

“Politicians, artists, teachers, scholars, church representatives, mayors, entrepreneurs, public figures, and members of the media will attend. In the modern history of Slovakia, never has a Slovakian Prime Minister recognized Trianon” – the Hungarian politician writes.

At the event, Prime Minister Igor Matovič said that he understands that Hungarians feel sadness and grief over the Treaty of Trianon – on the other hand, he said that a historical process with wrong decisions made by the Hungarian elites paved the way to it. He added that Hungarians must understand that while the decision meant loss and injustice for some, it meant chance and opportunity for others.

Trianon 2020: Investigating Magyarization and Liberal Nationalism

PM Matovič emphasized that Hungarians and Slovaks have a shared history — historic Hungary, the Slovakian kingdom was theirs as well as the Slovaks’, and the kings were their kings, too, and they fought together against their enemies. He also mentioned that the cities of today’s Slovakia received privileges from the Hungarian kings, freedom from the squires, and were able to develop within the framework of some kind of a local democracy.

Matovič then mentioned current problems in Slovakia, asking for help from the leaders of the Hungarian community. Among the issues he mentioned was that in (Hungarian) schools of historic Upper Hungary (in his wording: Southern Slovakia), children do not learn the state language well enough, which later forces them to leave the country. As he does not want Slovakia to lose its citizens, the PM thinks this needs to be solved. Matovič admitted that having a minority identity can be problematic in everyday life but he believes learning Slovakian is the solution.

He asked the Hungarian political leaders of Slovakia that after 100 years, to not look backwards but rather forwards.

Trianon: Instead of the principle on self-determination of nations, the victorious great powers re-drew borders according to their geopolitical interests – Interview with historian Balázs Ablonczy

The Party of the Hungarian Community (MKP) handed over a memorandum to the Prime Minister at the event regarding the most important issues that needed to be resolved.

This includes that the preamble of the Slovak constitution should recognize the Hungarian part of Slovakia as a state-building community; ensuring the free use of the national symbols of the Hungarian community, and making Hungarian an equal official language in Hungarian-populated regions of Slovakia. They also ask the government to ensure broad self-government for the Hungarian community, and allow Hungarians in Slovakia to acquire Hungarian citizenship — as an expression of belonging to the Hungarian nation — without losing their Slovakian citizenship.

According to news portal körkép.sk, Slovakia’s government conferred in advance with Hungary’s PM Viktor Orbán, Deputy PM Zsolt Semjén and FM Péter Szijjártó about the event.

This info seems to be backed by the words of Fidesz MP Zsolt Németh, the head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, who said the Slovakian government’s measures concerning Slovakia’s ethnic Hungarian communities are “promising” after having talks on Tuesday with Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Minister Ivan Korcok on issues around the upcoming centenary of the post-WWI Trianon Peace Treaty.

The Fidesz politician said that Hungary and Slovakia were “starting to handle sensitive historical issues with empathy.” Németh raised the possibility of setting up a joint committee of historians, and said that the goal was to prevent “issues around national minorities from generating tension in bilateral ties.”

Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó also recently praised the Slovakian government, highlighting that the cooperation between the countries “has never been this good.” He noted that the Hungarian government had the cause of ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia “at its heart” and welcomed that the Slovakian government had a similar approach.

Featured photo via pixabay.com