Dual citizenship and Slovakia

The thorny problem of dual citizenship for Hungarians living in the neighboring countries has cropped up again although its emergence didn't come as a surprise. Ever since the failed referendum at the end of 2004 Fidesz has made it clear that this issue was an important one for them. Even before the elections, some time in November or December of 2009, Fidesz, then still in opposition, brought up the issue. But the government party wanted to have safeguards that the new citizens, perhaps as many as a million adults, would not be able to vote in Hungarian elections. The Fidesz parliamentary members who came up with the legislative proposal for dual citizenship, seeing that MSZP was not easily moved on the subject, dropped the idea. To tell the truth, I have no idea why they even proposed this legislation only a few months before the elections. They must have realized that Fidesz would do well in the coming elections and afterwards could do whatever it wanted to. At least as far as Hungarian internal politics are concerned. The reaction of the world and the neighbors is something else. But Fidesz often disregards such considerations. They want a strong Hungary that doesn't make what they consider unnecessary compromises. Not like the socialists who in their eyes wanted a small and weak country that would always have to give in. Well, we will see.

Before I tackle the topic of dual citizenship and Slovakia I would like to say a few words about the new-old foreign minister, János Martonyi. It is truly amazing how a man's reputation can be burnished in the course of eight years. Martonyi was not a good foreign minister. Or rather, we don't know what kind of foreign minister he would have been had he been allowed to conduct the country's foreign policy. But he was a puppet; it doesn't matter how military looking his moustache is. I think I mentioned earlier that for a long time I kept an HVG cover from those days. It depicted Martonyi in a tennis outfit, racket in hand, in front of a net. On the other side was Viktor Orbán in a soccer uniform with socks in the national colors kicking a soccer ball over the net for Martonyi to catch with his racket. Well, this was a very apt depiction of the situation. Unfortunately, Orbán has no talent for diplomacy. As a result Hungary's relations with her neighbors as well as with the United States, Europe, and Russia hit rock bottom between 1998 and 2002.

Analysts seem to have forgotten about Martonyi's ineffectual tenure as foreign minister, and we have been hearing nothing else for weeks but what a wonderful and experienced man Hungary will have as its foreign minister. I guess if you compare him with the rest of his colleagues perhaps he stands out, but that's not saying much.

The verbal confusion over the nature of this dual citizenship is staggering. Important Fidesz politicians say different things about eligibility, voting rights, and general rights and privileges. But that's not the path I'm going down right now. Instead I will look at the international complications which, I fear, will not be easy to overcome.

The Romanian government and media have been quiet on the subject but not so Slovakia. Therefore I wasn't terribly surprised to hear that Martonyi's first trip was to Bratislava, even before he officially became foreign minister. Therefore it was of course not an official visit. Just a working lunch that took place today. In advance of the trip one could hear all sorts of things in the media. According to the Hungarian news agency, MTI, the Slovak dailies were optimistic about the outcome of the visit. MTI mentioned the Slovak paper Pravda that considered the visit "an important gesture." Tomás Koziak, a political scientist, was also hopeful that as a result of the visit the tense relationship between the two countries would change for the better. I wasn't that optimistic.

An interesting side note is that Martonyi, once in Bratislava, also paid a visit to the headquarters of MKP (Magyar Koalició Pártja) that is close to Fidesz and a fierce opponent of the current Slovak government. However, he didn't visit the other, more moderate Hungarian party, Híd/Most. Pál Csáky, the chairman of MKP, said something to the effect that the legislative proposal concerning dual citizenship might change in light of the conversation between Martonyi and Miroslav Lajcák, the Slovak foreign minister, but "these changes will not be substantial." In brief, it really doesn't matter what Lajcák says to Martonyi, the Hungarian elephant will charge ahead.

The Slovak papers were not alone in being optimistic. Even Népszava, not exactly a friend of Fidesz, was hopeful that "Martonyi is ready to build good relations between the two countries." It seems that Népszava was in too much of a hurry. Martonyi arrived in Bratislava this morning and didn't exactly conquer. Today's Népszabadság brought the bad news: the talks didn't go very well. The title of the report from Bratislava carried the following title: "Martonyi didn't arrive in Bratislava with friendly gestures." The two men didn't see eye to eye on the two crucial questions: the Slovak language law and dual citizenship. The picture of the two foreign ministers accompanying the article tells a lot.Martonyi and Lajcak The Slovak foreign minister announced that Bratislava can't consider it a friendly move that Hungary wants to introduce dual citizenship without consulting the governments concerned. Moreover, from what he knows about its details, he has legal objections as well. If the Hungarian Parliament votes on this issue, Slovakia will turn to the Organization of European Security and Cooperation in addition to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

If I had to predict, I'm afraid that the Fidesz government will not be deterred. Martonyi will crumble before Viktor Orbán, Zsolt Semjén, and Zsolt Németh, the possible future undersecretary of foreign affairs, when it comes to the introduction of dual citizenship. Consequently, the relations between Hungary and Slovakia will worsen. And I suspect this is just the beginning. Perhaps I'm too pessimistic but past experiences lead me to believe that Orbán and his team haven't learned a thing about diplomacy in the last eight years. I wish I were wrong.

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Gellért
Guest

I don’t believe it can exist: citizenship without voting rights. Every Hungarian living abroad is entitled to vote through the systems of Hungarian embassies abroad. A Hungarian that aquires a Hungarian citizenship in the next years can simply claim the right to vote. Maybe he/she has to go all the way up, but in the end his/her claim will be justified by the European Court of Human Rights on the basis that Hungarian state is not allowed to discriminate between Hungarian citizens on the basis of how that citizenship was aquired.

kincs
Guest

Slovakia recalled its ambassador on Wednesday night over the dual citizenship plan.
The forint is suffering more than other East European currencies because of Fidesz words and actions, (http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-05-11/hungarian-forint-may-underperform-on-politics-4cast-says.html) and the next news director at MTV is a theology graduate who works for lancidrádió, the station that Tamás Fellegi sold a few days before he was named as a cabinet minister.
All this and Fidesz isn’t even in power yet. Get ready for four years (or twenty?) of boorishness.

Hank
Guest

If Mártonyi would have been e real diplomat, he and Fidesz would have waited with their dual citizenship initiatives till after June 12, the elections in Slovakia. Now it is hard to distinguish what are real objections and what are internal political manouvres.
The Romanians, of course, have a problem complaining as they are handing out dual citizenship en masse to Romanians in Moldova.

pat
Guest
Kincs, where do you get your foolish info about forint’s reason for suffering and why do you post a dead link? http://portfolio.hu/en/cikkek.tdp?k=3&i=20105 Forint is moving along with the rest of EU currencies but is more fragile for ONE obvious reason and that is the debts that communists left here. Eva Balogh loves to praise communists (hypocritically,from the comfort of her western residence just like the rest of “intelligentsia” never from cuba or n. korea ) and loves to hate orban that is given. As a Slovak citizen with Hungarian roots, I am 100% sure most Hungarians will embrace this idea (and old borders) as the future of Slovakia is doomed. Slovakia has NO unity (east vs. west / roma vs. slovaks / huns vs slovaks) and within 20 years the Roma majority (not employable, without basic skills to do anything, degenerated from incests) will take over and that would be the end of Slovakia. E. Balogh writes > it doesn’t matter how military looking his moustache is…. Well, obviously it does to her, if she is mentioning it. Did she experience some bad trauma with ‘staches before ??? Hank, i disagree, to bring it out now shows Hungarians in Slovakia… Read more »
Erik the Reader
Guest

What a double standard! Slovakia has already a citizenship law for those of slovak ethnicity born in foreign countries.
It’s Hungary’s right to do the same for the Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries or elsewhere.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Gellert””I don’t believe it can exist: citizenship without voting rights. Every Hungarian living abroad is entitled to vote through the systems of Hungarian embassies abroad.”
But only if they have a permanent address in Hungary.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Pat: “Eva Balogh loves to praise communists (hypocritically,from the comfort of her western residence just like the rest of “intelligentsia” never from cuba or n. korea”
Such stupidies raise my blood pressure. There are no communists in Hungary with the exception of a few people in the Workers’ Party and Moldova who doesn’t have the foggiest idea about individual freedom. All that talk about communist dictatorship is rubbish.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Erik the Reader: “What a double standard! Slovakia has already a citizenship law for those of slovak ethnicity born in foreign countries. It’s Hungary’s right to do the same for the Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries or elsewhere.”
How many Slovaks live in Hungary for example? Believe me that if half a million Slovaks lived in Hungary, Hungary would complain.

Erik the Reader
Guest

Giving Hungarian citizenship to the Hungarians of the Upper lands will not result any bad thing for Slovakia.
As for the half of million of Hungarians, Slovaks should have thinked wiser 90 years ago when they incorporated the Hungarian minority which is in majority in southern parts of Slovakia.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Erik the Reader: “Giving Hungarian citizenship to the Hungarians of the Upper lands will not result any bad thing for Slovakia. As for the half of million of Hungarians, Slovaks should have thinked wiser 90 years ago when they incorporated the Hungarian minority which is in majority in southern parts of Slovakia.”
(1) Are you surprised that the Slovaks are sensitive on this issue when you and many other people in Hungary call Slovakia “Felvidék” (Uplands)? I’m not.
(2) If I were you I wouldn’t want to conduct a historical discussion with me about what the Slovaks wanted and what they didn’t in 1918-19. My knowledge of the subject is so much greater than most people’s that you simply can’t win this one.
The Slovaks didn’t demand the current borders. The Czechs did who were actually in charge of Czechoslovak foreign policy in those days. Milan Hodza, a Slovak politician, in fact agreed with the Károlyi government on a demarcation line that was running pretty well along ethnic lines. Benes disavowed the agreement.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Pat: “but your ultimate agenda is stealing, corrupting, imprisoning and sucking the blood of hungary”
You are no longer welcome as a commentator on this blog. Personal attacks on anyone are not tolerated. This comment of yours is deleted and so will be all others with similar messages

pat
Guest

Eva:
If I were you I wouldn’t want to conduct a historical discussion with me about what the Slovaks wanted and what they didn’t in 1918-19. My knowledge of the subject is so much greater than most people’s that you simply can’t win this one.
The Slovaks didn’t demand the current borders. The Czechs did who were actually in charge of Czechoslovak foreign policy in those days. Milan Hodza, a Slovak politician, in fact agreed with the Károlyi government on a demarcation line that was running pretty well along ethnic lines. Benes disavowed the agreement.
YOUR KNOWLEDGE means nothing to the current conditions and the faith of nations. The history always was and always will be dictated by power, ethnic backgrounds and unity. Slovakia is a non-country that stands very divided, without own history, without aristocracy, just a bunch of peasants (with Fico on top) with Slovak in different accents. They will stand somewhat unified today but not “tomorrow” and ROMA demographics will destroy that unity in 15-20 years for sure.
Their piling debts, economy based on manufacturing that can be moved anywhere, young people leaving for west what does that translate to ???

Peter
Guest

Dear Eva I don’t understand you quite well. What did you expect after Fico not considering any of hungarian fears of language legalisation. Now Slovakia ar at rage, and want to turn to EBES, however they turned them down on their requests entirely before. You can’t expect Hungary always sullenly accepting Slovakian argues.
Hungarians call south Slovakia Felvidék, because it is the Hungarian name for that area. Taking that as an objection is as stupid as it would be to object calling Jerusalem Holy land.
I think hungarian nationilies should have the opportunity to get hungarian citizenship. No more, no less. They have been hungarian citizens, and their citizenship were taken away forcedly, which is by no means acceptable.

Peter
Guest

some more thing Eva.
How can the fact that there is a huge minority in Slovakia can be an argument against giving them citizenship?
And why do you force the view that dual citizenship causes conflict of loyalty, whereas in most well developed countries it does not, or they at least don’t show this symptom?
Why can’t you accept that giving back citizenship (and definitely not territorries) would cause acceptance and more loyalty, because of that gesture.
Why does Slovakia give dual citizenship whereas Fico can’t accept it when it is about Hungarians?
Why do you claim that you know more than any of us about Slovakia 18-19, when you don’t say anything. That is no argument to me. It’s a pose.

pat
Guest

Eva wrote :
Pat: “but your ultimate agenda is stealing, corrupting, imprisoning and sucking the blood of hungary”
You are no longer welcome as a commentator on this blog. Personal attacks on anyone are not tolerated. This comment of yours is deleted and so will be all others with similar messages
NICE !!!! deleting whole post and just showing a part where I wrote it to communists of Hungary WITHOUT being able to argument back and falsely considering it a “personal attack” (when its based on evidence) just shows me who I am dealing with here
CENSOR + DELETE and hates fact based critic of communism = a communist
thanks, i wanted to share my opinion but communism doesnt like free speech just “selected pro-red nice speech”
what an agenda and after USA gave you so much…..

kincs
Guest

Pat, I’m sorry the link didn’t work. Maybe this one will:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aaGndc3muPs8
It’s from a Bloomberg report. I don’t suppose it will penetrate the webs of myth and fantasy that keep objective reality at bay for you, but for those interested, here are the main points:
“May 11 (Bloomberg) — Hungary’s forint will probably underperform other emerging-European currencies because of a clash between the next government and the central bank and plans to widen the budget deficit, 4Cast Ltd. said.
“The incoming cabinet’s repeated calls for the central bank leadership to quit, for a wider budget deficit this year and for a plan to convert some foreign-currency mortgages to forint may all weaken the country’s currency, Gabor Ambrus, a Sofia-based 4Cast analyst, said in a note to clients.
“Markets have so far been overwhelmed by the external pressure back and forth, but should these abate and local factors carry market weight again, we expect the forint’s underperformance to be more pronounced,” Ambrus said.”

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Pat: “NICE !!!! deleting whole post and just showing a part where I wrote it to communists of Hungary WITHOUT being able to argument back and falsely considering it a “personal attack” (when its based on evidence)”
My first suggestion is that you work on your English. What you wrote was a personal attack against me as someone who is sucking the blood of Hungary.
If you continue discussion in this manner I will bar you forever contributing to this blog.

John T
Guest

So, at a time when Hungary is one of the basket cases of the EU and needs all the stability and friends it can get, Fidesz decides to embark on a policy that will wind up its neighbours and probably unleash forces that the politicans won’t be able to control. No matter how just the cause, the timing is abysmal. And I hate to say it to those who support this move – when the S*** hits the fan, nobody will be running to support Hungary because frankly, no country West of Sopron is remotely interested in the issue of the Hungarian minority. And unfortunately, that is a fact that people might want to stop and consider. But I doubt the key players will – Central Europe has experienced so much pain and suffering over the years, so they will only be continuing the trend.

Öcsi
Guest

@John
It’s easier to be a “victim” than an engaged citizen. Hungarians elevate their victim status to mythical heights. And they’re surprised that nobody gives a damn.

pat
Guest
Eva wrote: My first suggestion is that you work on your English. What you wrote was a personal attack against me as someone who is sucking the blood of Hungary. I NEVER suggested anything against you personally. The above comment was meant at the communists still rolling around and plundering Hungary. It’s a pity, that you deleted my post because it would show it. This has nothing to do with my English skills. Eva, maybe you should write an essay about what kind of Hungary do you wish for, so your readers can better understand what values do you stand for. But either way I get the idea. John T yes Hungary is in trouble financially thanks to the socialist policies and thanks to plundering by politicians and their friends but so is the whole EU and USA (almost every country with high deficit and huge debts and that is not fault of Hungary.) The way I see it, is that Slovakia has no future (see my reasoning in above posts), ethnic Hungarians always felt closer to Hungary than to Slovakia and its just an opportunity, a long dream and logical assessment of situation. Slovakia WILL fall apart in next… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Pat: “I NEVER suggested anything against you personally. The above comment was meant at the communists still rolling around and plundering Hungary. It’s a pity, that you deleted my post because it would show it.
Well, your note is deleted in Hungarian Spectrum but I am “lucky” enough to have it in the original. This is what you wrote:
“You can call yourself “progressive/socialist/left wing” but your ultimate agenda is stealing, corrupting, imprisoning and sucking the blood of hungary But then again you wouldnt call Obama a Marxist, a baby H. Chavez would you ?”
If that is not a personal attack I don’t know what it is.

John T
Guest

Pat – “yes Hungary is in trouble financially thanks to the socialist policies and thanks to plundering by politicians and their friends but so is the whole EU and USA (almost every country with high deficit and huge debts and that is not fault of Hungary.”
Yes indeed, Hungary any most other countries are in a mess. But is it time to stir up peoples anger still further. As I said, it will probably unleash forces that the politicans cannot control. If Slovakia does disintegrate, then surely it is easier for ethic Hungarians to bide their time and wait for the collapse.

andras
Guest

I believe that giving dual citizenship to hungarians living in Slovakia reprezents no threat to this country.I can’t understand why the slovak government is reacting with such an anger against this.Why don’t they give arguments regarding their position, all their are doing now is threatening that there will be this and that if Budapest adopts this law.

John T
Guest

Andras – I don’t see it as a threat either if the issue is viewed rationally (I have dual nationality myself). But the problem is, rational thought is usually in sort supply in the region and as a consequence, events more often than not spin out of control.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Pat’s comments from here on will be deleted.

pgyzs
Guest
Dear Eva, 1.Well, let’s not mix things up. I agree it was not wise to bring this issue forth before the Slovakian election, that is a fact. On the other hand, this Slovakian goverment gained much of its support by trying to wipe the floor with the Hungarians as many times as possible. I have no idea how can a country base its national identity against another one. There has to be a line. It is not Hungary, where a president of a goverment party can constantly make military threats and it is no excuse that his an alcoholic/mentally ill, etc… 2. On the issue: – Fico did not even wait to see the particular content of the bill, he does not even know what the hell he is defending against. (Well, in fact he knows, seeming weak in the nationalist public perception) – Slovakia has no problem of dual citizenship with any other country. Just type “Dual citizenship, Slovakia” to Google and you’ll see. Slovakia offers citizenship to anyone with Slovak ancestors, and yes there is a major Slovakian minority in Moravia (perhaps not as big as Hun’s in SK, but it is the principle that counts). This points… Read more »
pgyzs
Guest

P.S.
“As a result Hungary’s relations with her neighbors as well as with the United States, Europe, and Russia hit rock bottom between 1998 and 2002.”
That is just not entirely true, at least not with Slovakia. Slovak-Hungarian relations have never been as smooth as in the Dzurinda-Orban era and yes, I remember the racket on the status bill and still. Perhaps this was not for Orbán but because Dzurinda was much much more intelligent and “european” than Fico. On the other hand I firmly believe that achieving peace by surrendering is just the peace of the cemetery. Sometimes you have to draw a line and make a stand. Dual citizenship is this line.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

pgyzs: “Perhaps you do not value these motives high, but if you were in the Felvidék (Yes, in Hungarian language, this is the name of the region, like Leipzig is Lipcse, Paris is Párizs and USA is Egyesült Államok and I could cite many examples from other language dependent geographical names) or in Transylvania you might have a hint what I’m talking about.”
Oh, I know what you’re taking about. Except your examples have nothing to do with Felvidék versus Slovakia. Uplands is only uplands if it is part of Hungary. Not exactly the same as Leipzig and Lipcse, or Wien-Vienna-Bécs.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

pgyzs: “On the other hand I firmly believe that achieving peace by surrendering is just the peace of the cemetery. Sometimes you have to draw a line”
Just draw the line and you will see the result. It won’t be pretty.

pgyzs
Guest

Life is not always pretty. But even in personal life if you constantly let other people walk over you in the name of avoiding conflicts, you’ll soon become invisible and loose both others respect and your self-esteem.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate debating, and I hate what is going on and I emphasize again that we agree on the diplomatic skills of Orbán (so far), but at least this act symbolises that we are still here.