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100 year old Hungarian woman stripped of Slovak citizenship

December 6th, 2011

A curse on you, Slovak politicians!” – thunders radical columnist Zsolt Bayer in Magyar Hírlap, after an elderly Hungarian woman lost her Slovak citizenship, as a consequence of being granted citizenship by Hungary.

In one of the first laws passed under the new centre right-wing government in the early summer of 2010, the Hungarian Parliament ruled that descendants of Hungarian citizens would be granted citizenship at their own request, regardless of their country of residence. Neighbouring countries with substantial numbers of ethnic Hungarians raised no objections, with the sole exception of Slovakia. The previous Slovak government, headed by Smer party leader Robert Fico passed a law whereby to request citizenship of another country would be considered as an intention to forfeit their Slovak citizenship. The act of disguising one’s newly acquired foreign citizenship is punishable by a Euro 5000 fine. The centre-right government coalition sworn in last year promised to abolish the law, but it has failed to do so, and was toppled in a no-confidence vote over the European Union rescue package for Greece.  New elections have been set for March next year and Mr Fico is the likely winner. Meanwhile, Mrs Aladár Tamás, born in 1912, was granted Hungarian citizenship and informed the authorities, in order to avoid a fine. She has now been officially notified that she has lost her Slovak citizenship.

In Magyar Hírlap, Bayer describes Mrs. Tamás’s life as a continuous journey: she was born in Hungary, then lived in Czechoslovakia, then in Hungary again, then once more in Czechoslovakia, and finally in Slovakia. But through all that time she didn’t move an inch: she kept on living in Rimavska Sobota (Rimaszombat in Hungarian). She was a Hungarian citizen, then a Czechoslovak one, then a Hungarian citizen again, then a Czechoslovak one once more, and finally she became a Slovak citizen, all without any active request by her. The only one she has ever actually asked for was Hungarian citizenship, but this request resulted in immediate legal retribution. Bayer, one of Hungary’s most outspoken right-wing journalists, condemns the whole Slovak political élite for what has happened. He believes they are all afraid of a frail, 100 year-old woman. So he curses the lot of them.

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