Gabor Vona: Europe kept silent - Interview

Jobbik President Gabor Vona was interviewed by Austrian weekly Zur Zeit about Trianon.

Mr. Vona, 90 years ago the Trianon Treaty was signed. What are the consequences for today’s Hungary?

Firstly, let me clarify the terminology used in this sensitive matter. In my interpretation a treaty is always the result of negotiations. What happened in the Trianon Palace in Versaille after the First World War was a dictate, whereby the enemies of Hungary decided the fate of our country on the basis of lies, manipulated figures and false reports. Central Europe – and within it most tragically the Hungarian Kingdom – was carved up by a coalition of short-sighted superpowers and a group of greedy, calculating and frustrated nations, known as the Small Antant States. For Hungarians Trianon is the synonym for an attempt of liquidating the Hungarian nation. The loss of strategically, culturally and economically important territories and its peoples results in a demographic, cultural and economic loss that our country feels even today. Not to mention the psychological-spiritual damage that Trianon has inflicted on our “collective unconscious”. Trianon, however, was not only a Hungarian tragedy but a tragedy of Europe as a whole. Trianon and the other peace dictates destabilized Central and Eastern Europe and were the source of a series of still unsettled conflicts in the region. The violent break-up of Yugoslavia and the peaceful disintegration of Czechoslovakia both point at the absurdity of Trianon.

Hungary has lost more than two thirds of its territory and more than three million Hungarians came under the rule of neighbour-states. How has this national tragedy changed the mentality of the Hungarians?

Right after the tragedy of Trianon, under the Christian-Conservative era of Admiral Miklós Horthy, Hungary managed to achieve an extremely rapid consolidation. The Horthy-era released the positive energies of the nation: in a very short time Hungary managed to rebuild its infrastructure, industry, army and police force, it established a thriving economy with one of the most stable currencies of Europe, it had a strong and competitive education system, with flourishing cultural life. Under Horthy Hungary had a strong and impressive national elite that aimed at the revision of the unjust Trianon peace dictate and was ready to defend ethnic Hungarians across its borders by strong diplomatic or even military means if necessary. The will to reunite the nation was declared and partially achieved. Since then we don’t have a national elite. Under five decades of communism we had an internationalist, now we have a globalist elite. Neither was fit and willing to represent national interests. This elite has had the worst impact on the mentality of the Hungarian nation.

The act of double-citizenship that recently passed the parliament caused tensions with Slovakia. Do you understand the Slovakian criticism?

No, I don’t. But I don’t think it is the lack of understanding that is the problem in this particular case. Slovakia is acting like a frustrated teenager running up to its twentieth birthday, suffering from minority complexes and over-reacting a law that is completely in compliance with international law, human rights conventions, and the principles laid down by the European Council. Last weekend there were elections in Slovakia, and as you know, anti-Hungarian rhetoric is still the greatest vote-winner in a Slovakian campaign. No wonder that not a single Slovakian party could afford to stay out of the anti-Hungarian choir...

More than a half million ethnic Hungarians live in Slovakia. Last year the so called act for protection of the Slovakian language was decided. How does this act discriminate the Hungarians and can you tell us something about the situation of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia?

The Slovakian language act basically declares that its citizens are only allowed to use the Slovak language in any type of official interaction. Breaking the law results in heavy fines levied by the state. As the Hungarian is the only significant minority in Slovakia, it is quite clear that the introduction of the law is aimed at ethnic Hungarians. This law is fully in line with the serial anti-Hungarian rhetoric and legislative practice of the Slovak government. In order to understand the absurdity of this law, one has to know that the majority of ethnic Hungarians – amounting to approximately 10 per cent of the population – live in South-Slovakia, in a well-defined area. In this area it is quite frequent to come across purely Hungarian villages or towns where everybody, even the officers of the town hall, the post office or the police speak Hungarian. Under the law, an ethnic Hungarian is forced to speak Slovak with another ethnic Hungarian, who works at the post office of a village, where all customers of the day are likely to be Hungarian. All this in the twenty-first century, in the EU, with the silent-tacit approval of the EU...

The European Union keeps silent regarding the treatment of Hungarians in Slovakia. Is the behaviour of the European Union objective?

In Hungary one of the main arguments for entering the EU was that it would not tolerate discrimination and hostility against ethnic Hungarians. And also that the EU would facilitate the disappearance of state borders, whereby the reunification of the nation will be possible. We heard a lot about the “shared common values” of Europe, which clearly rejected double standards, discrimination on racial or ethnic grounds. We now hear very little about such binding principles. Europe kept silent when ethnic Hungarians were beaten for speaking their mother tongue, when Slovak police brutally attacked the Hungarian fans of the Dunaszerdahely football club, or when the discriminatory language act was ratified by the Slovak parliament.

And how is the situation of the Hungarian minorities in Romania, Serbia and the Ukraine?

Every country is a different story with different background and history. However, one thing is common in all of these countries: the will of the national governments to forcefully assimilate Hungarian ethnic minorities living there. It is just the means and the intensity that varies.

Austria’s federal state Burgenland (Felsőőrvidék, Őrvidék) was until 1921 part of Hungary. What is the explanation why the relations between Hungary and Austria are free of tensions? Is it maybe something like a “common destiny” of the losers of the First World War?

Losers? With respect to Burgenland, Austria was a winner as it gained territory from Hungary. From a Hungarian perspective it is rather odd that we lose territory to Austria after a war fought in alliance. I think the reason why Burgenland is not a source of tension between the two states is that Austria does not look upon the Hungarian minorities as a threat against the integrity of the nation and the state. Unfortunately, this hostility is all very common in Slovakia, Romania, Serbia or the Ukraine.

It is said that in the European Union national borders would become more and more marginal. Can the European Union reduce the consequences of the Trianon Peace Dictate?

No. The rhetoric of the EU and its fans sounds very similar to the internationalist creed of the communists. Socialism – although with a slightly different utopistic logic – was also trying to wipe out the nation state. If the EU would be the solution, the relations between Hungary and its EU-member neighbours should have improved. But our experiences are just the contrary.

Do you think a revision of the Trianon Peace Dictate and a re-unification of the territories in neighbour-states that are populated by Hungarians with Hungary is possible?

For this to occur, Hungary would first need a national elite that serves the interests of the nation. This is an inevitable prerequisite for the mental and spiritual resurrection of our country.