Minority rights start with respect to territorial integrity says Jobbik deputy

  • Petr Boháček
  • 6.4.2018 11:34

The second part of our interview with Jobbik's deputy Márton Gyöngyösi dedicated to minority rights as well as Hungary's role in the world.

Protection of Hungarian minorities abroad is a big part of Jobbik’s foreign policy. This concerns Slovakia, Romanian, Ukraine or Serbia. Is that an obstacle in developing ties with these countries, especially in regard to Ukraine-Hungary tensions?
It concerns the entire region that has been in the past centuries carved up by superpowers similar to Africa, disregarding ethnic or linguistic groups. Poland was shifted to the left and right, Hungary lost three-quarters of its territory, new countries were created like Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia. Some people argue that it has some legitimacy, some people think it is a thing of past. Transylvania in Romania, Bulgaria lost territory. It is something which is very deeply rooted in history and present in every country. Lithuanian-Polish relations, Serb-Croatians, Czech-German relations, it is everywhere. We thought for a long time about what can bring back peace and stability to the region. And we all lose together. Because the outside great powers, Russia, France, US, UK or Germany, use the ethnic division and border lines in the divide-and-rule policy. We all look at each other suspiciously while these big geopolitical games going over our head.

Is the global picture also a part of the controversial Ukrainian educational law? That is an issue pushed by Ukraine itself?
No, it is an issue pushed by Ukrainian stupidity. I think the Ukrainians are now obsessed with Russia and are in a process of building a nation and a state. I can see they are obsessed with the big Russian minority in the country and they are bringing laws they think are only harming the Russians. The educational and language law is targeted at them, but Ukraine is a multi-ethnic country – Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian and all of these ethnicities are hurting. Ukraine’s only luck is that all of these ethnicities are too small. The Hungarian minority is too small in Zakarpattia 150,000 to organise something themselves as the Russian’s can do it. They are also lucky because of the Polish would rather suffer under the Ukrainian law than to stand on the side of Russia.

Some countries were incorporated into the European Union having Benes Decrees.


Is it that big of a problem that it should hamper Ukrainian pro-Western direction and integration?
Absolutely. If you have these laws, you don’t stand a chance. I mean who knows. Some countries were incorporated into the European Union having Benes Decrees. Or Romania has some very strange laws. The only solution can be seen in the West where are some good examples – South Tyrol, Catalonia, Wales, Scotland. There are many more – Swedish minority in Finland. There are many examples how ethnicities can be integrated.

The key is autonomy. The key to autonomy is that it is a balance. It takes a developed an intelligence developed state and an intelligence developed minority living in that nation-states to come to a compromise. The compromise is, I am an ethnicity that lives in a homogenously in the territory of that state, I respect, and I declare I respect the territorial integrity of that nation-state I live in. Full stop. Then comes the nation-state that says, I recognise that in my territory, there is a linguistic minority and since it respects the territorial integrity of the nation-state, I grant them all the rights they require, cultural territorial etc. Look ad South Tyrol or Catalonia. I really regret that there are some irresponsible politicians in Catalonia that promote the idea of separatism. Catalonia can not stand on its own, there is not a chance. It is the best example of an autonomy – it has its language, police, schools, state symbols. You cannot grant more to a minority than what Madrid has given to Catalonia. Same with Scotland, they have their own parliament, own taxing, own schools and everything. I think that there is a fine balance. There always will be people that say they want independence and so on.


You cannot have politicians saying Transylvania is a part of Hungary. No, it is not, it is a part of Romania.

Autonomy is the best solution for minorities. That is what we are talking about in regard to Zakarpattia in Ukraine, to Transylvania in Romania, Vojvodina in Serbia or southern parts in Slovakia. There you have Hungarians living in a territory where they form a majority, it is not a diaspora. They should have autonomy. The best solution is by declaring territorial integrity, you cannot have politicians saying Transylvania is a part of Hungary. No, it is not, it is a part of Romania, but we will only declare if you the rights of minorities are respected. Then Romanians can say, look, we have given all the autonomy to Hungarians living in our country, what else do you want? All of the sudden, all the nationalistic rhetoric would disappear in those countries. Budapest and Bucharest could say, what are all this nationalistic rhetoric? We granted all the rights to minorities. This is the solution to Nagorno-Karabakh, to Cyprus and all other frozen conflicts and it is compatible with international law.

What is Jobbik’s position on Kosovo?
The independence of Kosovo was a disaster. Kosovo, as I see it and we are not best friends of Serbia for historical reasons, it is a historical pearl of Serbia. A Serb is as emotional about Kosovo as Hungarian about Transylvania. The situation on the Balkans is all too complex. During the Ottoman rule ethnicities and religions were all mixed up and I don’t know if it can ever be disentangled. The creation of new states after the breakup of Yugoslavia was geopolitically motivated and did not contribute to the stability of the region. This also applies to Kosovo, which was carved out from Serbia.

Hungary can play a very positive role in establishing an interreligious dialogue between countries.

What should be the role of Hungary in the world?
Every country is unique. Our uniqueness comes from the fact that we lie on the border of civilisations. We are on the periphery of the Western civilisation and neighbouring the Eastern civilisation. We are a strange nation in Europe which is not culturally not tied to any of the families, Not Latin, Germanic or Slavic. We are neither of them. We are very proud for having arrived in Europe from the Eastern steeps. We have a cultural attachment to the East and that is why we have given the world some of the greatest orientalists. Our view on Islam and Turkic or Eastern nations is different from other Western countries. When a Hungarian arrives in Kazakhstan, they get a warm welcome. They perceive us as brothers. This is the same for all the nations in central Asia. Hungary is a country that for 1000 years has been a dominant player in the Central and Eastern European zone and we have contributed a lot to Europe to call ourselves European. There is no doubt we are a part of the European civilisation. But at the time of increasing global tensions and religions, a country that is somewhere in between has the responsibility and duty to smooth out some of this tensions. We should be able to do that. I would love to see Hungary to take on this role.

We have a very positive outlook on Islam civilisation.

You have the hype about Islam and political Islam – Hungary can play a very positive role in establishing an interreligious and international dialogue between countries. We are a Christian country. But I think we have a very positive outlook on Islam civilisation and the Islam world. And if Hungarians come there, we are seen as someone, who can intermediate.

And Kazakhstan is doing a lot of that. It works between Russia, China and Turkey. Nazarbayev’s administration is doing a lot of intercultural work. It is remarkable. They are positioning themselves between the three big regional players. They have good relations with both of them and it is a place for the Russia-Turkey dialogue. In the recent tensions, Kazakhstan was the one that came to intermediate. They are a big player. I think we should do something similar.


The first part of the interview is available here.

About author: Petr Boháček


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