Monday

18th Mar 2019

Orban upsets neighbours by call for Hungarian minority self-rule

  • Orban's words earned a rebuke in Warsaw (Photo: kormany.hu)

Hungary’s ambassador to Ukraine was summoned by the foreign ministry in Kiev on Tuesday (May 13) to explain what Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban meant when he spoke of a special status for Hungarian minorities in the region.

Orban, who was re-elected for a second term in April, said in his inauguration speech that ethnic Hungarians who live in neighbouring countries in the Carpathian Basin are entitled to special rights.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Highlighting the fate of some 200,000 Hungarians in Ukraine, he noted that they must be granted dual citizenship, full minority rights, and the right to self-administration.

"This is our clear expectation from the new Ukraine,” Orban said.

He added that the "Hungarian issue has been unresolved since the Second World War” and that “the Hungarian issue is a European issue”.

Large Hungarian communities live in Romania, Slovakia, Serbia and Ukraine after a peace treaty in 1920 sliced off large chunks of formerly Hungarian territory.

For his part, Orban’s foreign minister, Janos Martonyi, was already forced to jutsify his PM’s statements in the margins of a meeting with his EU colleagues in Brussels on Monday.

Croatian daily Jutarnji List had earlier slammed Orban's comments as being similar to Russian President Vladimir Putin's line on protecting ethnic Russians outside Russia.

But Martonyi said Orban's statements did not add anything new to a policy which has been pursued by consecutive Hungarian governments over the past 25 years.

"We firmly reject any misinterpretation, be it made in good or bad faith," he said on the Jutarnji List analogy.

Orban's statements also appeared to unnerve Warsaw, which Orban visited right after his re-election to demonstrate the two countries’ strong ties.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Tuesday called the Hungarian leader’s statements “unfortunate and disturbing”.

“We need to be careful, that in no way, whether intentional or not, it should sound as backing the actions of Pro-Russia separatists” Tusk was quoted as saying by Warsaw Voice Online.

The Polish PM added that he will raise the issue during the Globsec security summit in Bratislava on Thursday (15 May), where Orban is also a guest.

Meanwhile, Martonyi reiterated in Bratislava that Hungary is not demanding the ethnic Hungarian minority in western Ukraine be given territorial autonomy.

Hungarian diplomats, for their part, point out that Orban did not use the word "autonomy" in his speech when speaking about Ukraine.

Hungary's Orban wins another term, Jobbik support jumps

Hungary's centre-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban was handed another four years in government after national elections on Sunday, early results show, while the far-right Jobbik scooped a fifth of the votes.

Jobbik MEP accused of working for Russia

Hungary’s Prosecutor’s Office has requested the European Parliament to waiver the immunity of far-right Hungarian MEP Bela Kovacs amid allegations he is working for Russia.

Hungarian PM breaks ranks on Juncker

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said he will not support Jean-Claude Juncker's bid to become president of the European Commission even if the European People's Party wins the European elections.

Name row on new EU sanctions exposes deeper rift

EU officials have voiced scepticism on proposed new human rights sanctions, amid a "nasty" debate to what extent Russia ought to be named and shamed in the title of the new measures.

News in Brief

  1. Third Brexit vote this week only if DUP will support it
  2. Germany's two largest banks confirm merger talks
  3. Serbian pro-democracy protests reach 15th week
  4. 'Yellow Vest' riots leave Paris shops vandalised
  5. European woman older when having first baby
  6. Majority of Germans want Merkel to stay on
  7. Asylum applications in the EU down to 580,800 in 2018
  8. Children's climate school strikes turn global on Friday

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  3. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  6. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  11. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  12. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us