The Hungarian nation “belongs not only to the past but to the future, too”, President János Áder said in Parliament on Thursday, at a commemoration marking the centenary of the post-WW1 Trianon Peace Treaty.
“Many think that Hungary belongs to the past, but I would like to believe that it belongs to the future,” the president said, quoting 19th century Hungarian politician István Széchenyi.
After a hundred years, tormented by two world wars and Trianon, and by economic crises; with over 40 years of a communist detour and a failed revolution behind us … here we are, we are alive”
Hungary’s geographical borders were changed in 1920 but “nobody can deprive us of the right to maintain the nation’s spiritual boundaries”, Áder said.
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A hundred years ago, a humiliated Hungary was mourning the loss of two-thirds of its territory and the shrinking of its population from 18 million to 7.5 million, Áder said. Over 3 million Hungarians found themselves living beyond the new border, and “Romania itself gained a larger territory than Hungary was left with; a large part of our wheat fields, 90 percent of our forests, and two-thirds of our railway lines went over to neighbouring countries,” he said, adding that the treaty broke Hungary’s economic development.
It is now the fourth generation asking the questions whether the world war could have been avoided or why “the Trianon decision turned out to be so immeasurably unjust for Hungary”, Áder said.
Áder said that Germany, which was also among the war’s losers, only lost 13 percent of its territory and 4 percent of its population. The principle of national self-determination was “applied to the detriment of Hungary”. “Hungary’s fate was not decided in 1920 but much earlier, in the course of shady negotiations”.
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“The Trianon diktat was concocted by unprepared politicians, political adventurers, self-appointed prophets, paid agents, biased and partly corrupted experts and journalists infected with a hatred of Hungary,” the president said.
The treaty “failed to bring about peace; it did not contribute to the region’s development, nor did it help ease ethnic tension,” Áder said, adding that, at best, it had created “several countries with many ethnic minorities … sowing the seeds of further discord”.
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Áder noted that Hungary has been accused repeatedly of seeking to change its borders. Whenever there was an opportunity,” he said, “Hungary never made territorial claims”, however. He noted the fall of the Ceausescu regime, the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the splitting of Czechoslovakia and Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union as examples of times when Hungary might well have done so but did not.
We respect our neighbours and ask them to pay similar respect to us and Hungarians in their countries; we respect ethnic minorities in Hungary and we’d like them to turn to us with respect, too”
“Whatever the large powers broke, we must fix; if we do so, the curse of Trianon will be broken,” Áder said.
The president expressed Hungary’s readiness to “participate in honest talks, drawing on historic opportunities and strengthening ties between Hungarian communities and between Hungarians and other nations”.
He added: “We will not, however, be an accomplice in keeping facts quiet, falsifying history or rejecting ethnic Hungarians.”
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Áder also noted that the Hungarian parliament had declared June 4 the day of national cohesion, and said that the aim was to strengthen Hungarian-Hungarian ties.
“For ten years we have been working to provide benefits, scholarships, and support for Hungarian schools … where education and jobs are needed to help Hungarian youth prosper in their homelands,” Áder said.
Featured photo by Tibor Illyés/MTI