That's how the new Hungarian government, still not in office, is behaving. It is throwing its weight around at home and abroad. Parliament met three days this week and each day passed important pieces of legislation without serious debate or even enough time for the members to think the proposals through. But why slow the revolutionary engine down? Reflection or debate would have been useless. In the final analysis the numerous legislative proposals submitted by Fidesz parliamentary members would have been accepted without the slightest change. Pardon me, I have to correct myself: the two-thirds majority accepted two changes. Both were simple grammatical corrections because these bills were thrown together in such a hurry that there were sentences that made not the slightest sense.
Just as the governing party is pushing through legislation without the slightest regard for the opposition, it is behaving the same way in foreign affairs. Viktor Orbán and his foreign minister, János Martonyi, are acting like masters of the universe. In diplomacy it is not customary to send the kind of message to the prime minister of another country that Viktor Orbán sent to Robert Fico. The incoming Hungarian prime minister turned down Fico's suggestion for the establishment of a Slovak-Hungarian joint committee to discuss dual citizenship for Hungarians living in Slovakia, the immediate introduction of which is contemplated by Budapest. But how did he turn it down? Not exactly in the language of diplomacy. Orbán's message included such sentences as "we will not be playmates in an election campaign of a foreign country." He added that "we don't respond to any provocative statements coming from Robert Fico."
In Orbán's view Hungary is the victim of Slovak provocation. Not unnaturally Robert Fico sees it differently. After all, it was the Hungarian side that brought up the issue of dual citizenship and not Slovakia. According to Slovak commentators Hungary's announcement of the unilateral introduction of dual citizenship most likely will have an impact on the forthcoming Slovak elections to be held on June 12. A few weeks ago I read that Fico's party, Smer, was still leading but the other parties were closing the gap. Ján Slota's chauvinistic right-wing (and fiercely anti-Hungarian) party, according the latest polls, was standing at around 6%. Orbán, by pushing through in a great hurry the bill on dual citizenship, seems to be playing into the hands of Fico and Slota. There are two Hungarian parties in Slovakia of about equal strength, HID and MKP. The latter is the favorite of Fidesz. I guess HID headed by Béla Bugár is too liberal for Viktor Orbán. Thus, when János Martonyi visited Bratislava and had his ill-fated meeting with Mirosláv Lajcák, he also visited the headquarters of MKP and talked to Pál Csáky, the chairman of the party. Csáky, by the way, was one of the invited guests at the opening of the Hungarian Parliament.
It seems that even Csáky thought that any legislative steps concerning dual citizenship should be postponed until after the Slovak elections. Csáky apparently had a talk with Orbán on the question, but János Lázár made it clear Monday morning on Ma Reggel, MTV's political show, that although naturally Viktor Orbán would listen to Pál Csáky, "the legislative work cannot wait." So, basically, it really doesn't matter what the Hungarians of Slovakia want, the bull in the china closet charges ahead. After all, in the middle of a huge European financial crisis, dual citizenship is of prime importance in a country that is barely out of hot water economically. Neither the Hungarians of the neighboring countries nor the inhabitants of Hungary proper can live another moment without increasing the number of Hungarian citizens, even if it allegedly has only "symbolic significance." As far as the new Hungarian government is concerned the decision is theirs and theirs alone; bilateral talks are out of the question.
Alas, the Hungarians who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of this dual citizenship live in foreign countries and therefore are at the mercy of their own government's policies. And Fico is making threatening noises about introducing a constitutional amendment that would forbid Slovak citizens from holding a dual citizenship. Or, to be more precise, by choosing Hungarian citizenship they would lose their Slovak citizenship. According to Béla Bugár, whom I heard in an interview yesterday, Fico will most likely have a large enough majority in parliament to pass such a constitutional change. In Bugár's opinion, the result of all this will be the growth of Slovak nationalism and an increase in fears of reprisals against Hungarians in Slovakia. All in all, it is a singularly bad idea.
Some people don't understand why Fico is so paranoid. Most likely dual citizenship wouldn't threaten Slovakia's national security as Fico claims. However, given the Hungarian hyperbole with which the whole issue has been introduced, their fears might not be without foundation. It seems that June 4th, the day the Treaty of Trianon was signed in 1920, will be declared a day of remembrance. Speeches on such occasions are always inflammatory. And the legislation governing dual citizenship would be made official on August 20, the Day of St. Stephen. Orbán and his fellow politicians talk about "unification of the nation across borders" that might sound sweet to Hungarian ears, but it has a very bad ring in the successor states. Jobbik openly talks about border revisions. Hungarian nationalism inside of Hungary has been growing fairly steadily and with the change of government that nationalism will be magnified. I'm afraid Orbán & Co. are bad news for the European Union, for regional cooperation, and for the best interests of Hungary itself.