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The right to one’s national identity must be acknowledged as a universal human right, Parliamentary Speaker László Kövér said on Thursday, arguing that “this cause serves the future of the Hungarian nation, neighbouring nations, and Europe at the same time”.

Kövér addressed a commemoration marking the centenary of the Trianon Peace Treaty in Parliament, saying that Hungary “has had 100 difficult years” but must focus on “the future ahead, which we ourselves can shape”.

Addressing a debate of a draft declaration on the protection of national identity submitted by the ruling parties, the speaker said the “tragedy” of the Trianon Treaty still impacted Hungarians today “and may also become a reoccurring future”.

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Hungarians living beyond the border are engaged “in a bitter struggle to survive, preserve their mother tongue, culture, to feel at home in their place of birth .” Kövér said.

The future can only be safe for Hungarians “if every generation engraves it in their heart and mind that they can only keep what they can protect”, the Fidesz politician said.

The past cannot be changed, Kövér said, adding, at the same time, that its consequences could, “provided that we can learn from the past”.

One lesson to be learned from Hungary’s past, he said, was that the threats to the existence of the Hungarian nation had not subsided. He said another lesson was that there could always be a “large price to pay if we don’t pay attention to what’s going on in the world around us”. The third lesson, he said, was that countries could not make it far on the international stage without allies.

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“In Trianon, the Hungarian state was sentenced to unviability, the Hungarian nation to separation and Hungary to political isolation,” the speaker said.

“But a century of hard work has made the Hungarian state viable and the ability of the nation’s cohesion to transcend borders has proven to be stronger than the forces that had intended to eliminate it.”

The nations living together in the Carpathian Basin and central and eastern Europe “will either laugh or cry together”, Kövér said. “They’ll either be winners together or they will all be losers.”

We, Hungarians, who lost the 20th century don’t want to lose the 21st, but we don’t want our neighbours to lose it, either”

The declaration aims to find allies in neighbouring countries as well as throughout the rest of Europe, the speaker said, adding that ethnic Hungarians’ struggle for self-identity was a European issue.

Kövér said all European nations would have to fight for their national identities in future, the same way that Hungarians beyond the border have been fighting for it for the past century. Europe cannot exercise its strategic sovereignty through the means of political and economic self-determination or military defence alone, he said, arguing that in order to have the ability to defend itself, Europe also needed an identity.

“But such a fundamental component cannot exist if Europe neglects the system of norms stemming from the Christian faith and national cultures that have stood for hundreds of years,” the speaker argued.

Kövér expressed the Hungarian state’s “deepest gratitude and highest praise” to the ethnic Hungarian communities whose territories were ceded to neighbouring countries under the Trianon Treaty, for their loyalty to the nation and their homeland and also for “having become loyal and valuable citizens” of the countries they now live in.

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According to the declaration, the right to a national identity grants everyone the right to inherit and pass on their mother tongue, culture and the familiarity of their homeland, Kövér said. It also states that the right to a national identity is a vital means for protecting human dignity and a resource for strengthening peace, security and stability, he added.

The declaration calls on the parliaments and governments of Hungary’s neighbouring countries, European Union institutions and the United Nations to declare the right to one’s national identity a universal human right.

“Gaining strength from the ability to survive even if torn apart and building on all the efforts of previous generations, we must make the next century a Hungarian success story,” Kövér said.

Featured photo by Zoltán Máthé/MTI