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SHOULD ETHNIC HUNGARIANS RECEIVE AUTONOMY?

No, they already have equal rights

The calm July waters on the Slovak political sea were disturbed recently after a report from a conference in Budapest entitled "Hungary and Hungarians Living Abroad" declared that "the basic prerequisite for the preservation of the identity of Hungarians living outside Hungary...is the institution of autonomy." The notion of autonomy in southern Slovakia has also been advocated at several public meetings organized by Hungarian political parties in Slovakia. The word autonomy is of Greek origin and has two meanings according to my dictionary of foreign words: self-government within a greater whole and sovereign independence.


"Autonomy is rejected by thousands of "normal" Hungarians in the region.... They also reject the constant trouble that is stirred up between people of the two nationalities."

Zdenka Anettová




The calm July waters on the Slovak political sea were disturbed recently after a report from a conference in Budapest entitled "Hungary and Hungarians Living Abroad" declared that "the basic prerequisite for the preservation of the identity of Hungarians living outside Hungary...is the institution of autonomy." The notion of autonomy in southern Slovakia has also been advocated at several public meetings organized by Hungarian political parties in Slovakia.

The word autonomy is of Greek origin and has two meanings according to my dictionary of foreign words: self-government within a greater whole and sovereign independence.

What kind of autonomy are the political representatives of Slovakia's Hungarians after? XXXEducational autonomy? Our system of schools with Hungarian as the language of instruction has few parallels. From nursery to primary and onward to all kinds of secondary schools, pupils receive all their lessons in Hungarian, and learn Slovak as a foreign language.

Some teachers are trained in Hungarian at Nitra's teacher-training college, and the Ministry of Education has a special department to administer schools of ethnic minorities. The quantity and distribution of Hungarian-language schools is far more favorable than that of Slovak-language schools in southern Slovakia. Educational autonomy was achieved a long time ago.

Cultural autonomy? Hungarian folk and ethnic culture are allowed unrestricted development. The state budget finances two professional theater companies, and Hungarian-language newspapers, magazines and books are all available on Slovak soil. Cultural events for the Hungarian minority are organized by Csemadok, a cultural association whose employees are paid by the state. In most towns and villages of southern Slovakia, Roman Catholic and Reform church services are held in Hungarian. So we can conclude that the minority has cultural autonomy too.

In other spheres of life - health, social services, business, economics and so on - all citizens have equal rights, regardless of their ethnic origin. That leaves only one form of autonomy - territorial self-rule. Autonomy for the region of southern Slovakia, inhabited by half a million Hungarians, but also by a million Slovaks. Autonomy for a region that would very quickly join the Hungarian mother state.

The creation of Greater Hungary is the dream of ethnic Hungarian politicians, and unimaginable for millions of Slovak citizens. Autonomy is also rejected by thousands of "normal" Hungarians in the region, with whom I have lived since childhood. They also reject the constant trouble that is stirred up between people of the two nationalities.

The representatives of Hungarian political parties in Slovakia should come to terms with the fact that visions of a Greater Hungary are not only against the interests of Slovakia's citizens, but also contradict international organizations, since no international legal document acknowledges the collective rights of minorities.

The Basic Treaty between Slovakia and Hungary on good neighborly relations and friendly cooperation is based in principle on the concept of individual rights for people belonging to ethnic minorities. And these rights are respected in Slovakia to standards far beyond the norm.

Zdenka Anettová of Matica Slovenská Bratislava is the organization's former director in Komárno.

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