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Can Polish-Hungarian friendship be non-divisive?

March 26th, 2012

Looking back at the controversial March 15 celebrations in Budapest, a conservative Polish commentator finds it sad that there are no more non-political national holidays, at least not in Hungary. And the contagion has reached Poland as well.

On the anniversary of the 1848 Hungarian revolution, thousands of right-wing Poles joined an impressively large pro-government crowd to listen to an emotional speech by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. (See Budapost, March 17.) They marched to the Parliament building  in Budapest with the participants of the second “peace march” protesting against Western pressure on Hungary under the slogan “We won’t be a colony.” That slogan was picked up by the Prime Minister himself in his speech.

Jaroslaw Gizinski, the foreign editor of the Polish edition of Newsweek Magazine, who has a regular shared column in Heti Válasz, says he was moved by the sight of Polish flags on the streets of Budapest, but adds that those demonstrators represented less than 20 per cent of the Polish population, as followers of a Eurosceptic movement. Gizinski himself is critical “of certain decisions taken by the Hungarian government,” but rejects widespread allegations of a dictatorship-in-the-making in Hungary, and disapproves of the sanctions imposed by the European Union.  He also believes however that “demonstrators and speakers alike,” were guilty of exaggeration with their use of words like “colonisation” and “occupation.” “Most Poles don’t share those views,” he contends.

The Polish observer was also shocked by the few French left-wing demonstrators who joined the rival, anti-government rally on the same day in Budapest, with the conviction that they were trying to halt the building of a fascist dictatorship.

Gizinski hopes the day will come when Hungarian-Polish friendship and the two countries’ national holidays will be celebrated “without political adjectives.”

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