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Consternation over EU Court ruling in Hungary vs Slovakia

October 1st, 2012

A right-wing commentator finds it strange that while the European Court rejected Hungary’s complaint against the Slovak refusal three years ago to let President László Sólyom attend a ceremony on Slovak territory, the European Commission and Parliament do not feel competent in the case of the post war Beneš decrees, which declared Hungarians collectively guilty.

Hungary sued Slovakia at the Court of the European Union after the Slovak government prevented László Sólyom from entering Slovakia in August 2009, when he planned to unveil a statue of Saint Stephen (the founder of the Hungarian state) in the town of Komárno, which has a large ethnic Hungarian community. The Slovak authorities alleged that Sólyom had not announced his visit in advance through the usual diplomatic channels. The Luxembourg court ruled that Sólyom was not a private citizen but the President of Hungary at the time, therefore his free movement could be restricted, within the constraints of international law.  The 1945 decrees issued by Edvard Beneš, President of Czechoslovakia after the Second World War, declared ethnic Hungarians and Germans collective collaborators with the occupying Nazi forces. The decrees were followed by the mass deportation of Germans from the Sudetenland and a forced population exchange between Czechoslovakia and Hungary. The decrees have never been withdrawn, although that the principle of collective guilt is now regarded as inadmissible by the international community.

In a bitter Magyar Nemzet commentary, István Lovas compares the judgement of the Luxembourg Court with the painful question of the Beneš decrees. The columnist, who is the daily’s permanent Brussels correspondent, remarks that the Luxembourg Court followed a recommendation by the European Commission which stood on the side of Slovakia. The legal staff of the same Commission, Lovas continues, earlier submitted a motion to the Petition Committee of the European Parliament, not to put the question of the Beneš decrees on the agenda, on the grounds that they originated from before the foundation of the European Union and “belong therefore to history.”

Lovas believes the European Commission is biased against Hungary. He recall that in the autumn of 2008, Brussels forecast a 1.7 per cent growth in Hungary for 2009 while in reality GDP declined by 6.8 per cent. He is convinced that now, when Hungary is not ruled by a left-wing government, the Commission will underestimate Hungary’s growth potential for next year. This shows –Lovas concludes – “how much affection those Nobel Prize winners have for Hungary”.

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