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Trianon day complaints

June 5th, 2012

Opinions diverge sharply on the post-First World War peace treaty and what it means for contemporary Hungary. A left-wing commentator believes the government side is exploiting the anniversary in its rivalry with the far right, while a pro-government commentator complains that the European Union does not stand up for the rights of the Hungarian minority in neighbouring countries. A moderate conservative historian suggests that Trianon should be considered for what it is – history.

Two years ago, Parliament declared the anniversary of the peace treaty which dismembered historic Hungary on June 4th 1920 the “day of national cohesion”, meaning that Hungarians on both sides of the country’s borders belong to the same entity.

In Népszava, editor in chief Péter Németh recalls that the resolution was passed with the combined votes of the governing alliance and far right Jobbik, and believes that its aim was to isolate the left wing. On the other hand, he suggests that Fidesz also brandishes Hungary’s old grievances in order to win over voters from the extreme right wing.

In a Magyar Nemzet editorial, György Pilhál says the injustice committed 92 years ago has still not been repaired and the victims, the ethnic Hungarians living in neighbouring countries are still often unfairly treated. “We thought that within the European Union such problems would be solved, but that has not happened,” Pilhál complains.

In a rare gesture, Heti Válasz re-publishes an article written by historian Balázs Ablonczy seven years ago, in which one of the best experts on the Trianon Peace Treaty argues that the left is mistaken in suspecting extremism behind any kind of complaint about the injustice of Trianon, while the right wing is also wrong to claim that anyone who does not feel the “pain of Trianon” cannot be a good Hungarian. Ablonczy believes Hungarians should admit the mistakes and faults of their predecessors, because otherwise they cannot understand why other ethnic groups wanted to secede from Hungary after World War I. He recalls the way the Hungarian scout master László Teleki admonished Hungarian boy scouts (Teleki would later commit suicide, as prime minister after Hungary decided to join Germany in the invasion of Yugoslavia). He told the Hungarian delegation leaving for an international boy scouts’ jamboree in Great Britain in 1929, to refrain from revisionist propaganda, lest “foreigners will soon get bored of your words.” Today, Ablonczy continues, rather than getting bored, “they would consider us a bunch of dangerous lunatics.”

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