Feature

Hungary: In search of a lost empire

In a provocative move, the Hungarian government announced that it would issue Hungarian passports to all ethnic Hungarians, no matter what country they live in, said Lubos Palata in Lidové Noviny.

Lubos Palata
Lidové Noviny (Czech Republic)

Hungary has never gotten over the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian empire, said Lubos Palata. When the borders of modern-day Hungary were drawn in the aftermath of World War I, large swaths of land populated by ethnic Hungarians were left out. Consequently, nearly all of Hungary’s neighboring countries have large Hungarian minorities, with the largest in Slovakia. Now that Hungary has a right-wing, nationalist government, it is trying to reclaim those lost Hungarians.

In a provocative move, the government announced this week that it would issue Hungarian passports to all ethnic Hungarians, no matter what country they live in. Presented with the opportunity for Hungarian citizenship, ethnic Hungarians in southern Slovakia “could agitate for secession,” and try to split off part of Slovakia to join Hungary. “This is not only a threat to Slovakia, but also a menace to the entire Carpathian Basin, and to the European Union,” because if Slovakia falls apart, Romania could be next—its province of Transylvania, after all, is mostly Hungarian. And Serbia could lose the heavily Hungarian province of Vojvodina. This attempt at re-establishing a Greater Hungary could easily “end in blood and tears.”

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