Hungary should return 503 cultural artifacts that were taken from Slovakia between 1867 and the Second World War, Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) MP František Mikloško said on August 29.
He was speaking at a news conference alongside three other KDH MPs - Vladimír Palko, Pavol Minárik, and former KDH chairman Ján Čarnogurský.
"They were taken in several waves. The obligation to return them was laid out in the Treaty of Trianon following the First World War and in the Treaty of Paris following the Second," Palko said, adding that a mixed Slovak-Hungarian Commission set up to deal with the matter in the 1960s failed to produce any results.
Palko said the return of the artifacts would help improve Slovak-Hungarian relations, which, in his opinion, have been strained by the recent formation of the Hungarian Guard Association (MGE), a radical paramilitary group tasked with protecting Hungary’s borders.
As another example of radicalisation, Palko pointed to the efforts of Slovakia's ethnic-Hungarian SMK party to re-open the issue of compensation for the victims of the Beneš Decrees, which expelled ethnic Germans and Hungarians from the former Czechoslovakia for allegedly collaborating with the Nazis.
Palko thinks the two countries could express joint regret at the harm Slovaks suffered as a result of the Vienna Award of 1938, which awarded parts of southern Slovakia to Hungary, and the harm caused to Hungarians by the Beneš Decrees. At the same time, Palko, Mikloško, Minárik and Čarnogurský stressed that they don't support the abolition of the Beneš Decrees.
The group also criticised Slovak opposition parties (including their own KDH) for failing to adequately react to SMK chairman Pál Csáky’s alleged efforts to use the Hungarian media to push for a parliamentary initiative in Hungary aimed at securing compensation for the victims of the Beneš Decrees.
When asked whether the group had consulted KDH chairman Pavol Hrušovský about their statements, Čarnogurský replied their had been no need. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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30. Aug 2007 at 7:00