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GUEST COLUMN

Slovakia has a "Magyar" problem

I decided to write about "Our Magyar problem" because we have one, and it must be solved for our own sake, as well that of the Magyars. The reader should know that the term 'Magyars' refers to the people of Magyar rather than Hungarian nationality. As everyone in Central Europe knows, Hungary was once a multi-ethnic kingdom in which Magyars comprised only 35 to 40 percent of all inhabitants - they were surrounded by Croats, Romanians, Slovaks, Germans, even Poles, Ruthenians, Greeks, Armenians and later on, Gypsies.
The original Magyar tribes came from Asia on horseback and invaded the peaceful, culturally more developed people of the Carpathian flatlands. After taking many towns and villages in Austria and Germany, they were finally defeated on the Lech river. The Magyar tribes had no culture at all in the European sense of the word. They were Asiatic nomads, and their language and customs were, accordingly, primitive.


The next day, 15,000 people came to Námestie SNP to protest with the opposition their view that the current regime is amputating democracy and human rights. "Slovakia is again ruled by the same people we protested aeight years ago," Ján Čarnogurský, Christian Democratic leader, addressed the crowd.

I decided to write about "Our Magyar problem" because we have one, and it must be solved for our own sake, as well that of the Magyars. The reader should know that the term 'Magyars' refers to the people of Magyar rather than Hungarian nationality. As everyone in Central Europe knows, Hungary was once a multi-ethnic kingdom in which Magyars comprised only 35 to 40 percent of all inhabitants - they were surrounded by Croats, Romanians, Slovaks, Germans, even Poles, Ruthenians, Greeks, Armenians and later on, Gypsies.

Guest Column

The original Magyar tribes came from Asia on horseback and invaded the peaceful, culturally more developed people of the Carpathian flatlands. After taking many towns and villages in Austria and Germany, they were finally defeated on the Lech river. The Magyar tribes had no culture at all in the European sense of the word. They were Asiatic nomads, and their language and customs were, accordingly, primitive.

They then proceeded to conquer the territory of the Great Slovak Empire. The old Magyars were forced to adopt many Slovak words connected with agriculture, handicrafts, artisan trades, the building industry etc. Thus, the 'conquest' of Slovak territory was a sort of Pyrrhic victory (not without costs) for the Magyars, as 40 percent of all Magyar words today have been shown to have Slovak roots.

After stabilizing their Hungarian kingdom, the Magyars began to Magyarize all other nations in their state, including Slovaks, Germans, Croats, Serbs, Ruthenians etc. Otto von Habsburg wrote in "Magyar Nemzet" that "half of the Budapest telephone book contains Slovak or other non-Magyar names". His Excellency Otto von Habsburg, notably, was never a great friend of the Slovaks.

During this time the Magyar elites developed an extraordinary ability to absorb foreign cultural, technical, ideological and military knowledge, and what they managed to cobble together from these diverse influences to this day underlies questions of power, policy, and statehood in magyar society. The Magyars showed they were able to adapt to some foreign ideologies and techniques, but only superficially; often, the essence of a concept escaped them.

As a result of its imperfect union with surrounding nations, magyar culture retained an internal belief in its isolation, the sense of being "us against the world" which is so characteristic of magyar literature and culture. This feeling also informs the aggressive nationalism of Magyars, and their power complex. Dreams of a Greater Hungary are still alive today, not only in some isolated parts of magyar society. The claims of politicians like István Csurka (on the extreme right in Hungary), or József Torgyán, or the claims of MOS and Egyutélés-Spolužitie for territorial autonomy in Slovakia, spring from this troubled magyar mentality, which has never felt compensated for the loss of the Hungarian kingdom. Anyone who does not support Greater Hungary, magyar polititians say, is an enemy of all magyars and deprives us our culture.

If greater Hungary or autonomy are demanded by magyar culture, then I myself would be the first to deprive the magyars of these things. Because although Slovakia and the Slovaks never said that magyars should not have their own state, country and language, we insist on the same rights for ourselves - our own Slovak state and language - like many other nations in the world.

Recent events prove that the average Magyar in Slovakia does not care too much for Slovaks. Slovaks from south Slovakia often suffer, not at the hands of Magyars they meet "in the street", but from magyar polititians, sitting in town and village administrations.

The polititians of magyar parties in Slovakia are the "bad boys" in slovak-magyar relations. One magyar party, the MKDH (Magyar Christian Democratic Movement), has, admittedly, given up its demand for territorial autonomy. But other magyar parliamentary deputies have shown very clearly where they stand - when the HZDS,SNS and ZRS wanted to include magyar deputies on parliamentary committees for controlling the SIS and military intelligence, they refused to accept, because it would have meant that Slovakia had fulfilled one of the conditions for admission to the EU. They showed their "loyality" to the Slovak Republic in the same colors that Slovaks recognize from the past.

And this, too, is part of our magyar problem.

Fridrich Hláva is a consular representative for the Slovak government.

The views expressed in the coulumn are the author's.

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