(Kathimerini, 29 August, 2001)
Could the Kosovo and Tetovo problems really migrate to the other end of the Balkans? This metaphorical question strongly concerns all those who know of the existence of another, highly dangerous minority timebomb on the northern borders of the Balkans. We now all note the dramatically high price being paid by Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) for their non-timely solution of their respective Albanian minority problems. So to what extent can the 80-year old problem of the Hungarian minorities remain unsolved indefinitely, without the threat of similar developments at some future time?
Ten million Hungarians live in Hungary and about three million in its neighbouring countries 1,600,000 in Romania, 600,000 in Slovakia, 350,000 in Serbia, 200,000 in the Ukraine, etc. It is blatantly obvious that a Hungarian problem exists, a result of the 1920 Trianon Treaty which removed from Hungary two-thirds of the territory it held within the framework of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
The wound is progressively festering and, in this current era of increased nationalism, tensions escalate rapidly and unexpectedly. On the one hand, there is the maltreatment of these Hungarian minorities by the governments of the corresponding countries. On the other, there is the aggressive, chauvinist policy on the issue by certain governments in Budapest. «I am the prime minister of the 15 million Hungarians», conservative prime minister Josef Adal had gone as far as saying a decade ago, provoking an uproar throughout Europe. The present Hungarian government hardly differs in mentality. It upset the neighbouring countries and the European Commission two months ago when it voted through a law which supplies Hungarian passports and cedes special privileges to Hungarian-origin citizens of foreign countries.
In this way we are living the reunification of the Hungarian nation, rejoiced the Foreign Minister of Hungary, at the same time that the outraged prime ministers of Romania and Slovakia declared that they would forbid the application of this law for their Hungarian-origin citizens and accused Budapest of poisoning the relations between ethnic groups and between states.
Self-restraint is necessary. Hungarys membership of NATO and the prospect of its entry to the EU should not lead Budapest to arrogant decisions, capable of igniting new minority disputes. No Kosovos any more!