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Half a million transborder citizens

December 7th, 2013

A right-wing commentator records his satisfaction that by offering easy citizenship to transborder ethnic Hungarians, Hungary has recompensed them for the offence they suffered nine years ago with the failure of the referendum on “dual citizenship”.

On December 5th, the ninth anniversary of that referendum, Franciscan monk Csaba Böjte who hosts hundreds of abandoned children in his orphanage in Transylvania was the five hundred thousandth transborder Hungarian to take the citizenship oath. The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and by House Speaker László Kövér. In 2004, the majority of those who took part in the referendum approved the idea of offering practically automatic citizenship to ethnic Hungarians living abroad, but the referendum was invalidated by the low turnout. While left-wing and liberal parties did not support the initiative at the time, currently only Ferenc Gyurcsány’s Democratic Coalition opposes – if not “dual citizenship”, then at least the voting rights of transborder Hungarians. Parliament enacted a new law authorizing “easy access” to Hungarian citizenship for those whose ancestors used to be Hungarian citizens as its first act after the 2010 elections.  

It is good to see what enormous changes the World is capable of within a mere nine years,” Csaba Lukács exclaims in his Magyar Nemzet editorial.  He quotes his own article published in the same daily after the 2004 referendum, when he wrote that “there have been less than two million ‘yes’ answers to the question whether the sky is blue and whether Hungarians are Hungarians”. He quotes a poem written by Csaba Böjte’s father over sixty years ago about better times that will come someday, which cost the author four years in jail in Communist Romania, to show how much Hungarian citizenship means to Transylvanian Hungarians. “Those who think of it merely in terms of potential voters or possible budget expenses will never understand what this gesture uniting all Hungarians actually means,” Lukács writes. Finally he quotes a sentence from Böjte’s acceptance speech: “inclusion is always a source of life”.