Fico and Gyurcsány in Komarno

At last. After months and months of strained relations between Slovakia and Hungary the two prime ministers agreed to meet. The original plan was to begin the negotiations in the Slovak Komarno (on the left bank of the Danube) on Saturday, then stroll over the Elizabeth Bridge to the Hungarian Komárom. However, this morning the news came that plans had changed. Robert Fico obviously doesn't want to set foot on Hungarian soil. Not too promising a beginning.

A little digression if I may. Ten percent of Slovakia's population is Hungarian speaking. They reside mostly in the southern parts of the country and are especially numerous north of the Danube River. In 1918-1919 this area was inhabited solely by Hungarians and although since then a lot of Slovaks have moved into the area, Komarno (with a population of about 40,000) still has a Hungarian majority. Lately with the help of Hungarian money they even established a Hungarian university in the town. Komárom on the Hungarian side is considerably smaller, with a population of about 20,000. The left bank settlement was always more important than the smaller town on the right bank and it became especially so when the Turks occupied the territories south of the Danube but never managed to conquer today's Komarno. In the late nineteenth century at last a bridge was built and today's Komárom on the Hungarian side was united with the old medieval town on on the left bank today called Komarno.

But let's get back to Slovak-Hungarian relations. In the last two years (since the advent of the current Slovak government) relations between the two countries have been particularly tense. The English-language Slovak weekly, Spectator, wrote on July 3, 2006: "Smer party invites opposition HZDS and SNS to form government as 'worst-case scenario' comes to fruition." Fico's party, Smer, is allegedly a left-wing, socialist party while HZDS and SNS are far-right and nationalistic parties that were responsible for Slovakia's very bad reputation in Europe prior to 1998. As Spectator said in 2006, Vladimir Meciár of HZDS and Ján Slota of SNS could again hurt Slovakia's image abroad. But Fico needed the help of these two parties to form a government. In fact, the three party-coalition has a solid majority in the Slovak parliament (85 of a total of 150 seats). Initially Fico encountered problems in Europe after forming a coalition with two parties of the far right. His party's membership in the Socialist International was temporarily suspended. But he weathered the initial sanction from the outside world and became very popular at home. First, he inherited a vibrant economy. The government between 1998 and 2006, a conservative Christian Democratic coalition led by Mikuláš Dzurinda, introduced rather heavy handed but effective reforms and managed to attract large foreign investors (especially from the auto industry). As a result Slovakia has seen spectacular economic growth over the past few years, and the citizens are proud that Slovakia will be the second former socialist country to introduce the euro–as of January 1, 2009. (The first was Slovenia.) In addition, the government's nationalistic policies add to its popularity.

What can the meeting between Fico and Gyurcsány achieve? As far as I can see, nothing. Gyurcsány will go to Komarno and will outline the Hungarian position. To wit, the Hungarian government and all the parties condemn the recent actions of the Hungarian extreme right. They are against Hungarian nationalism, they are against extremists entering Slovakia in Nazi uniforms. They are also against these little Nazis marching up and down in Hungary, but what can the Hungarian government do? Their case is pending in the Hungarian courts. The courts are independent and for one reason or another they don't want to move. The government cannot ban the uniforms and the insignia because the same courts declared them different enough from the emblems of Ferenc Szálasi's Arrowcross Party. The Hungarian government is helpless. On the other hand, Ján Slota's party is part of Fico's coalition and Slota's anti-Hungarian outbursts are unacceptable. The Hungarian government hoped that Fico would condemn Slota's unacceptable behavior but he didn't. Gyurcsány will most likely mention the police attack on the Hungarians at the soccer game in Dunajská Streda (Dunaszerdahely) and remind Fico that the Hungarian government is still waiting for the promised proof that the police action against the Hungarian fans was justified.

Fico will respond that the Hungarians still view Slovakia as their own. Surely, the Hungarians must understand that the Hungarians of Slovakia refuse even to learn Slovak well. Slovak public opinion is aroused by Hungarian provocations like the remembrance of the First Vienna Award of 1938 that mutilated Slovakia with the help of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. And yes, Ján Slota says some outrageous things, but after all he is not a member of Fico's government. And the discussion will end here.

Some people wonder whether there will be a joint communiqué issued after the meeting. I'll be most surprised if there is.

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Ricsi
Guest

Nazi’s, Nazi’s uniforms ??? I do not see swastika’s or iron crosses or Szalasi symbolism only real Hungarian patriots–but of course our communist liberal loving writers could never admit that could they ? hence the pathetic smears–the gulag at Recske closed a long time ago,Éva,sorry to disappoint you, though of course under an “anti-terror” act you would be happy to open a new gulag,just like Bush.
You socialist are so obvious it is pathetic.

Camille
Guest

communist liberal loving…socialist?? I guess i’m not patriotic enough to understand.

kincs
Guest

Ricsi: “I do not see swastika’s or iron crosses or Szalasi symbolism only real Hungarian patriots.”
There is none so blind as one who will not see. A uniform doesn’t have to have a swastika to be a Nazi outfit.

Odin's lost eye
Guest

Mr kincs I agree with you. The thing which worries me is the ‘bag of bones’ in the uniform not the uniform its self. Worst part of it is that the ‘bag of bones’ has the skull on top of it. Somewhere in that skull and that might be the odd brain cell or two. It is what it is going on in those brain cells that really worry me. Somebody once described them as being Neanderthal. I will not use that expression as I have too much respect for the Neanderthals of this world. The bag of bones in the uniform to my mind is simply a creature who is hell bent on destruction and causing pain to others.

isti
Guest

I would echo Ricsi’s sentiments. Really. Overall your quasi-lefty message is soooo tiresome. Eva and ole: never let facts get in the way of the story you want to tell… the extreme right is everywhere. Blame Orban for everything. Gawd. Open your eyes.
Indeed there are some intolerant people around – they belong to the left too. Take a look around. Have a spine. Allow for friendly patriotism.

Peter
Guest

Generally I can agree with the author, just one affair is not clear for me: “Robert Fico obviously doesn’t want to set foot on Hungarian soil.” In today´s newspaper we can read, that Mr. Gyurcsány asked Mr. Fico to have meeting only in Slovak part of Komarno, obviously he is afraid of Nazi-demonstration of Jobbik, Magyar garda, 64 districts (or what is the name in hungarian) in Hungary. They will not dare to pass to Slovakia, so it will be for him better. However, I can´t understand why hungarian government didn´t ban them. We had one such stupid nacionalist organisation (called Slovenska pospolitost) and we banned it, but in Hungary are at least 4 such organisations (jobbik, 64 districts, Magyar Garda and that guys who were arrested in south Slovakia with their uniforms. But nobody does anything against them. Anyway, according to international law, it is the act of declaration war, if some half-militaric organisation passes the borders of another country… But I am afraid there is better even for hungarian government to talk about our relationship “problems” because of current bad economical situation in Hungary…
Peter, Slovakia

neny
Guest

fico want just apsolute feud ,and its all,just like boris tadic here in serbia.
i must tell you something,i was so stupid before,i thinked that eu solves problems.i was mistake ,and now i have no hope.
when i hear that boris tadic is proeuropean its make me sick.
he is proeuropean just like fico,and even worst.
the only pearls in “new europe” are hungary,slovenia,czech,everythinh else is shit.
i hope that hungarians would stay smart,and not go on the lowest level of slovakia,and even serbia-which is a kingdom of corruption,clerofascism,and apsolutism.
i will repeat don’t be stupid and destry beauty of human rights which you have.you have to be thank to gyurcsany,who is so mature.gabor demszky….here in serbia we don’t have such pearls,slovakia don’t have too.
so don’t go to provocations of unmature nations like are slovaks and serbs!

Peter
Guest
Dear Eva, thanks for your comment. I know that Mr. Gyurcsány didn´t want to have troubles with demonstrations, but they will appear again and again, so maybe the best solution is to do something against them. But if the courts decided to don´t ban them, then is it very strange for me and I don´t understand it. Maybe there could be some discussion about Magyar Garda or “National Guard” group, but about the movement of 64 districts, Jobbik and the authors of “kuruc.info” should be any discussion, they are pure fasists… If there are even courts not against them, then is it difficult to do anything, I agree… Below is the part of peace treaty from Paris 1947: Treaty of Peace with Hungary (Paris, 10 February 1947) PART II POLITICAL CLAUSES SECTION I Article 4 Hungary, which in accordance with the Armistice Agreement has taken measures for dissolving all organisations of a Fascist type on Hungarian territory, whether political, military or para-military, as well as other organisations conducting propaganda, including revisionist propaganda, hostile to the United Nations, shall not permit in future the existence and activities of organisations of that nature which have as their aim denial to the people… Read more »
Öcsi
Guest

“Some people wonder whether there will be a joint communiqué issued after the meeting. I’ll be most surprised if there is.”
They issues a joint statement.
http://english.mti.hu/default.asp?menu=1&theme=2&cat=25&newsid=257192

Odin's lost eye
Guest
Professor you say in your piece *** “Ignorance of the law is not uncommon the judges.” ***. What an indictment of the Hungarian judiciary. One of the things about judges in other countries is that they must be ‘learned’ that is they must know the law of both statute and precedent. If the judges ignorant of the law then a good advocate would run rings around them to the detriment of justice. There is a very interesting point made in one of your earlier pieces entitled “Fico and Gyurcsány in Komarno” by a gentleman called Peter. His first remark is to the effect that *** “according to international law, it is the act of war, if some half-military organisation passes the borders of another country” ***. I’m afraid I have corrected the spelling of one word and change the phrasing slightly. This means that if the ’Magyar Garda’ or any one of the other crazy these turns up either in uniform or carrying their uniforms with them in any other country then that is an act of war. If the government of Slovakia would complain to NATO perhaps German and Belgian soldiers could be asked to help see them off… Read more »
Op
Guest

Well, there is an easy solution to all this. All countries that signed peace treaties in the past 100 years can come together, and say :
“Oops, sorry, Hungarians, we made a booboo, none of our representatives knew much about history or geography or anything, so these treaties are truly embarrassing, we’ll just write new ones. Here’s a trillion bucks for your trouble, and please accept our apologies and of course the new, more realistic borders. All Hungarians and the territory they live on will be part of Hungary as it should be.”
See how easy it is to fix old mistakes?

Op
Guest

“I hope you’re joking.”
Why? Once we introduce the foreign concept of “fair” into politics, anything can happen. Hungary was dragged into the insane bloodbath of WWI, and came out as the only real loser. Do you think it makes any sense? Germany started WWII, and they were the baddies, still they managed to get rid of the Berlin Wall. Who benefits from this artificially created borders, ignoring ethnic lines? I don’t want an inch of Slovakia except for the parts where Hungarians are the majority. Let them keep the rest, even if they don’t really deserve it. I don’t want the thousand year old original Hungary, but at least an adjustment to correct mistakes. Is that wrong?
If Hungary had a sizeable ethnic minority, and they would occupy one or two counties I would not object to giving them autonomy, if they wanted to secede, they have my support. Why hang onto them if they feel better outside?

Adrian
Guest

Op,
“If Hungary had a sizeable ethnic minority, and they would occupy one or two counties I would not object to giving them autonomy, if they wanted to secede, they have my support.”
With the increase in segregation in the countryside of NE Hungary between gypsy villages and ‘Hungarian’ villages. I wonder if this might come about – as segregation between Albanian ad Serb did in Kosovo. Would you support an automonous Roma-orszag? Maybe they could unite with Slovak Villages north of border.

Op
Guest

“Would you support an automonous Roma-orszag?”
I would definitely support it, but it’s unlikely to happen.
How would they survive on their own?

Adrian
Guest

Op,
“How would they survive on their own?”
Same way as the Kosovars, Nato security and EU administration.
But is it worth a war? I can’t imagine many Hungarians would agree with you.

Op
Guest

I mean how would they survive in an all-gypsy country? Who’s going to make money, produce food and necessary goods without the host country?
And I believe most Hungarians would support a separate state for Gypsies. Ask around.

Adrian
Guest

Op,
“And I believe most Hungarians would support a separate state for Gypsies”
Agreed, but on Hungarian territory? Isreal, a separate state for Jews, has hardly been peacefully accepted by the Arabs.