A Fidesz MP’s encounter with the Treaty of Trianon and revisionism

A couple of days ago there was an interview with Gáspár Miklós Tamás, known as TGM in Hungary, who until 1978 lived in Romania. Hence he knows a great deal more about that country than the average Joe in Hungary.

TGM complained about the general ignorance in Hungary of the enormous political crisis that is brewing in Romania and added that out of solidarity Hungarian politicians shouldn’t threaten Romania with all sorts of ridiculous territorial demands.

What was he talking about? He was alluding to an incident caused by a more ignorant than average Fidesz member of parliament who indicated at a right-wing Hungarian youth camp held in Transylvania that if Hungary becomes economically and “in some other ways” stronger under the guidance of Fidesz it might be possible to bring up the issue of revision in international forums. Perhaps as soon as in eight years time. Why exactly eight years, I don’t know. Perhaps because the Treaty of Trianon was signed in 1920.

What happened exactly? First on the Internet a video appeared in which Hungarian-speaking youngsters were engaged in shooting exercises. Initial rumor had it that these exercises took place at a festival, studded with Hungarian nationalist speeches, held by an organization called Transylvanian Hungarian Youth (Erdélyi Magyar Ifjak or EMI). That turned out to be a hoax. Mircea Dusa, Romanian minister of interior, denied the existence of such a shooting range but expressed his dissatisfaction at  “Hungarian politicians coming here to talk about autonomy and the Land of the Szeklers.” As is known, Romania resists any Hungarian attempt to grant autonomy to the Szeklers living in the middle of Transylvania.

The video depicting the Hungarian sharpshooters was shown on Romanian television and the news was widely reported in the Romanian press. In Hungary not a word of the news that had Romanians riled up appeared. But then came a detailed description of the speeches at the festival by Zoltán Balczó (Jobbik’s deputy chairman and deputy speaker of the house), Gábor Vona (Jobbik’s chairman), and Zoltán Kőszegi (Fidesz). Please note that there are more and more joint appearances of Fidesz and Jobbik politicians, a rather frightening development. Especially when Gábor Vona in his speech emphasized his willingness to cooperate with Fidesz in order “to get rid of MSZP for good from Hungarian politics not because it is a leftist party but because it is ‘anti-nation.'”

According to Krónika someone from the audience inquired about the possibility of border revision. The Jobbik Balczó turned out to be more moderate than his Fidesz colleague, Zoltán Kőszegi. Balczó rightly pointed out that under the present circumstances there is no possibility whatsoever of any border change. Kőszegi thought otherwise.

Zoltán Kőszegi at the Forum of Hungarian MPs in the Carpathian Basin, MTI Photo Imre Földi

Who is this Kőszegi? Few people in journalist circles had ever heard the name. It is not surprising. He is a new illustrious addition to the Fidesz robots sitting in the Hungarian parliament. Until 2010 he was the mayor of Dabas, which has a population of 16,000. Although Dabas might be small, it has “Europe’s longest Main Street,” or at least this is what the good people of Dabas claim.

Kőszegi finished high school in the Pesti Barnabás Élelmiszeripari Szakközépiskola in Budapest, which seems to specialize in cooking, baking, and catering with a rather meager academic curriculum. For example, only two hours of history a week, which might explain Kőszegi’s scant knowledge of Hungary’s past. After high school he went to the Testnevelési Egyetem (University of Physical Education) and focused on coaching weight-lifters. I hope all the regular readers of Hungarian Spectrum will recall that Pál Schmitt received his “doctorate”  from the same university. Moreover, since then there was another outrage at the same institution. The dean granted a diploma to the son of a Fidesz politician who didn’t have the necessary number of credits to graduate.

Kőszegi capped his education with a diploma in something called “igazgatásszervezés” at the Államigazgatási Főiskola (College of State Administration). I had some difficulty finding out much about this mysterious degree in organization, but according to a list where students exchange thoughts on majors it is a low-level law school. In the original: “Szerintem ez a szak nem más, mint lebutított jog.”

If some of you thought that Gábor Borcsa-Turner’s prose left something to be desired, you should definitely take a look at Kőszegi’s autobiography that he submitted to the webmaster of the Hungarian parliament. It begins: 1964-wasn’t born in Dabas. And it goes downhill from there. Kőszegi can start a sentence in the third person singular and end it in the first person singular.

With this background Kőszegi was placed on several committees, including the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Education, Science and Research. Both perfect fits. But he is also active in the Committee on National Affinity, a new committee set up to deal with the unification of the nation over borders, a topic most likely closer to his heart.

Once Népszabadság and several other papers reported on Kőszegi’s “unfortunate”  statement Gabriella Selmeczi, spokeswoman for Fidesz, immediately announced that “Zoltán Kőszegi only voiced a presumably ill-considered private opinion” on the subject of revision. A few hours later the Foreign Ministry also issued a statement which made it clear that Kőszegi’s statement does not reflect the opinion of the Hungarian government. The statement emphasized that the Hungarian government strictly adheres to all the country’s international obligations and treaties signed with foreign powers. The statement did include, however, the Hungarian government’s insistence on the Szeklers receiving territorial autonomy in Romania.

Kőszegi certainly didn’t misspeak because he elaborated on his ideas to Indexa popular Internet paper. He told the reporter that revision was unavoidable but he has “his private theories about the solution. It would be best if Transylvania became a separate country.” This is not exactly an original idea. It was bandied about on and off between the two world wars, and if it was not a viable proposition then, today it has even less of a chance of ever materializing. The Hungarians were in the minority in Transylvania already in 1920, and since then the Romanian majority has become even larger.

But let’s not be terribly surprised about all this ignorance. Forty-four percent of the adult population more or less knows the size of the territorial losses; in the younger generation only fourteen percent can even approximate the proper figures. More than half of the people in their twenties are convinced that the lost territories were overwhelmingly populated by Hungarians. A couple of days ago a young man phoned György Bolgár on this topic. Obviously the idea of peaceful revision appealed to him. But when Bolgár began telling him the facts and figures there was stunned silence on the other end. It was obvious that this young man had no idea that there were only about 150,000 Hungarians on the other side of the Ukrainian-Hungarian border. Maybe Hungarian school teachers should spend a little time on this very important subject in order to set these youngsters straight. And perhaps then we wouldn’t have so many ill-informed people, including Zoltán Kőszegi, Fidesz MP.

36 comments

  1. Louis Kovach :
    Dr Balogh: “Maybe Hungarian school teachers should spend a little time on this very important subject in order to set these youngsters straight. And perhaps then we wouldn’t have so many ill-informed people”
    Who will teach slow Rumaniazation of Transylvania?

    I believe the census shows that aside from a few pockets (cities?), Transylvania was mostly Romanian. But then, who teaches that?

  2. Bowen :

    Louis Kovach :
    Bowen: “But it all sounds incredibly perverse to me.”
    Would you say the same thing for “Next year in Jerusalem” also??? There it was thousand of years ago not hundreds.

    I’m really no fan of organised religions – a cursory glance at history suggest they probably do more harm than good. But it’s interesting that you imply this Trianon nostalgia is on a par with some kind of religious faith.

    @ Bowen,

    You understood my previous post whereas poor Louis…well that nationalistic nonsense does fog the mind.

    However, I’m not sure I agree about the organized religion part. I mean, where would we be without
    Bach, Handel and all those beautiful churches? And,
    would there have been a Renaissance without the
    monateries? I think not.

    What’s more, the human population would probably be at 10 billion by now without all that humanizing murder.

  3. LwiiH :

    Louis Kovach :
    Dr Balogh: “Maybe Hungarian school teachers should spend a little time on this very important subject in order to set these youngsters straight. And perhaps then we wouldn’t have so many ill-informed people”
    Who will teach slow Rumaniazation of Transylvania?

    I believe the census shows that aside from a few pockets (cities?), Transylvania was mostly Romanian. But then, who teaches that?

    Here is what I found in the 1992 census about ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania.

    933,000 lived in towns
    482,000 lived in villages, where they formed the majority (on the average, those 158 villages were 81.4% Hungarian, and the average village size was 4,000)
    224,000 lived in villages where they were in minority

  4. Here is my last piece about Transylvania

    ethnic Romanians
    in 1910: 60.1% Greek Orthodox, 39.4% Greek Catholic, 0.3% Roman Catholic;
    in 1992: 89.9% Greek Orthodox, 3.1% Greek Catholic, 1.4% Roman Catholic;
    [Greek Catholic collapse among Romanians]

    ethnic Germans
    in 1910: 53.0% Roman Catholic, 37.5% Lutheran, 8.7% Jewish;
    in 1992: 60.1% Roman Catholic, 26.5% Lutheran, 5.4% Greek Orthodox;
    [more emigration among Saxons than among Schwabians in the Communist era]

    ethnic Hungarians
    in 1910: 41.2% Calvinist, 38.0% Roman Catholic, 7.9% Jewish, 4.9% Greek Catholic, 4.1% Unitarian, 2.1% Lutheran, 1.5% Greek Orthodox;
    [Calvinist+Roman Catholic+Unitarian make up 83.3% of Hungarians in 1910]

    in 1992: 47.4% Calvinist, 41.0% Roman Catholic, 4.6% Unitarian,1.6% Greek Orthodox, 1.4% Greek Catholic, 1.2% Lutheran
    [Calvinist+Roman Catholic+Unitarian make up 93.0% of Hungarians in 1992]

  5. I am re-posting this because it was delayed by a wait for moderation and because it relates to the above comment too.

    gdfxx :

    Eva S. Balogh :

    tappanch :
    In Romania, the town Oradea [Nagyvárad], very close to the Hungarian border, is only 1/4 Hungarian by now. (24.5% according to the 2011 census, see http://www.bihor.insse.ro/phpfiles/Comunicat%20-%20DATE%20PROVIZORII%20RPL%202011.pdf).

    In my much treasured 1910 census the following figures can be found: Nagyvárad’s population was 64,169. There were 58,421 Hungarians, 1,416 Germans, 279 Slovaks, 3,604 Romanians, 25 Ruthenians, 33 Serbs, 59 others (that usually means Gypsies). There were 20,000 Catholics and Calvinists each and almost as many Jews (izraelita in the census): 17,307. The Hungarian assisted Holocaust managed to wipe out at least a third of the Hungarian speaking population.

    And a large part of the little that was left after the holocaust refused to speak Hungarian anymore. It is not hard to understand, why they did it.

  6. Bowen :

    tappanch :
    That makes 100% of the taxpayers were forced to pay for the religious ceremony of 17-18% of the population.

    Well, you know that the August 20 celebrations were magically renamed ‘Együtt az Ország!’ after May 2010.

    There’s an enormous advertising hording just round the corner to us, facing drivers on the 4 road as they leave the city A few days before the 20th this was taken over by a huge banner declaring August 20th as “Együtt az Ország!”. Fidesz-Jobbik are obviously so confident that the general population will follow their lead that they don’t need to spend a small fortune advertising it…

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