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Remembering the 1920 Trianon Peace Treaty

June 1st, 2020

A few days before the centenary of the signing of the Trianon Peace Treaty, pundits across the political spectrum ponder how Hungary should relate to the territorial and demographic loss it suffered a hundred years ago.

In Magyar Nemzet, Miklós Szánthó, head of the Center for Fundamental Rights, a pro-government think tank claims that the Trianon Peace Treaty was not only a highly unjust tool at the service of the Western powers pursuing their own geopolitical interests, but also a punitive measure that was intended to eradicate Hungary. Szánthó recalls that the annexation of territory resulted in such a tremendous social and economic shock that in the interwar period even Communists supported a territorial revision. Hungary and Hungarians have nonetheless survived not only the dismemberment of their country, but also successive foreign occupations, Szánthó adds. He also praises the government’s efforts to reunite the country and integrate transborder Hungarians with the bulk of the nation.

In Magyar Demokrata, Mátyás Gondi, another analyst from the Center for Fundamental Rights writes that the Trianon Peace Treaty inflicted on Hungary a cultural shock by depriving it of two-thirds of its former territory and nearly half its population, including three million ethnic Hungarians. Nevertheless, the Hungarian language and culture have not disappeared in the past one hundred years, Gondi continues, underlining that Hungarian transborder minorities have also retained their mother tongue rather than assimilating into the Romanian, Slovak, Ukrainian or Serbian speaking majorities. The pro-government analyst calls on Hungarians to preserve their national culture, and keep alive the memory of the 1920 tragedy among the younger generations too, ‘until history turns again’.

Népszava’s Judit Kósa welcomes Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony’s decision to commemorate the Trianon Peace Treaty by halting public transportation for a minute on Thurday and asking the inhabitants of the capital to stop for a silent minute to remember the 1920 treaty. The left-wing commentator thinks that the decision will pre-empt the usual accusation from the political Right that left-wing politicians are ‘cosmopolitan traitors’ who fail dismally to respect the memory of the Trianon Peace Treaty.

In Magyar Narancs, László Haskó lambasts Mayor Karácsony’s decision to commemorate the Trianon Peace Treaty. The liberal pundit interprets the commemoration as a concession to nationalism. Haskó suspects that Karácsony’s left-wing and liberal base is unlikely to appreciate this. He goes on to recommend that left-wing liberals should advocate a borderless Europe rather than nurturing the memory of Greater Hungary and flirting with illiberal revisionist ideas that were the main reasons for Hungary’s involvement in World War Two. Therefore, Budapest should mark the anniversary of the Trianon Peace Treaty by displaying EU flags, Haskó concludes.

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