Category Archives: Hungary

Hungary | “The Solution Must Hurt Capital”: an Interview with Tamás Krausz

Eastern Europe’s left is in a lamentable condition, according to Hungarian historian Tamás Krausz; however, critical thinking isn’t.

Q: In an interview with nd in autumn 1997, you gave a critical analysis of the situation of the left in Hungary and Eastern Europe. How do you perceive the situation today, more than 25 years after the political changes in Eastern Europe.

Hungary | UN review of Hungary shows country ‘treats human rights as a public enemy’

By Jean-Paul Marthoz

On May 9, a stern review of Hungary’s conduct in human rights issues and press freedom was released at the United Nations Human Rights Council. The report, drafted by the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, listed concerns from U.N. member states about the controversial policies of Viktor Orbán’s government on asylum seekers and hate speech, as well as the poor state of press freedom.

USA | Not “Moskals” this time — the Nazists are threatening Hungarians with the knives

A few days ago in Transcarpathian Uzhgorod they held a “march of glory,” a torchlight parade of Ukrainian nationalists. The excited crowd marched through the streets under the banner of the Pravy Sektor Azov battalion and the “Carpathian Whip,” shouting offensive imprecations against the Hungarians. The culmination was the slogan “Magyars – to the knives! To the knives! To the knives!”
Nazists from C14 – the combat wing of the Svoboda party – took part in the march. The organizers of this event dedicated to the 77th anniversary of the “Carpathian Ukraine” proclaimed aloud their readiness to go against Hungarian figures. The majority of the participants in the anti-Hungarian march were not residents of Transcarpathia – they had been brought to the “march of glory” from other regions of Ukraine.
The sole purpose of the demonstration of hatred for Hungarians was to intimidate the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia. This community has rejected rabid Ukrainian nationalism and has evinced the desire to somehow distinguish itself from the Ukraine.  At least to achieve “separate area” status, if not full autonomy.
In today’s Ukraine, the Hungarian minority does not feel secure.  Hungarians have been forced to take part in the war in the Donbass, and on their land there are constant skirmishes with militants from the nationalist battalions that have long been harassing on the Ukrainian-Hungarian section of the border.
Already in the summer of 2015, Pravy Sektor was a participant in the conflict** of local elites in Mukachevo, hoping to get their share of the spoils after the redistribution of the smuggling market. The militants of the illegal armed group, which is not subject to any state structure of Ukraine, opened fire, killing one person, and fought with police, using smoke bombs. Then the fight with police continued on the highway. “Right sector” opened fire with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and automatics. Three police cars were destroyed, six policemen and three civilians were injured.
The terrorists surviving this fight hid in the woods, and two of them later showed up in Mukachevo. In the attempt to detain them, they took a child hostage and made their getaway.
“He grabbed me and pulled out a hand grenade,” said the boy, who had been the human shield for the terrorists.  And then he yelled to the police that they had gone a hundred meters off. First tying the child’s legs, they dragged him into the forest, where they eventually released him. “I started crying because my chest hurt,” – said the little hostage.
At the same time, “Right sector” tried to declare a general mobilization of their supporters. They even set up checkpoints on the outskirts of Kiev and on the roads leading to the Carpathians, in order to prevent the regional authorities from eliminating the terrorists who had taken refuge in the forests.
In fact, in the summer of 2015 Transcarpathia teetered on the brink of an antiterrorist operation. The US Ambassador to Ukraine Jeffrey Payette had to intervene and tone down the flames of conflict. All management of the Transcarpathian region was dismissed, but the Pravy Sektor came out unscathed.
It was then that Transcarpathian Hungarians realized that the state of Ukraine does not guarantee them any protection against armed men in camouflage uniforms, who can easily kill, injure, take hostage any person. Even a child.
After the events in Mukachevo, Hungary strengthened the guard at the Ukrainian border. Rumors spread that in the case of aggravation of the conflict the Hungarian side would defend their compatriots and fellow citizens.
According to various sources, more than 100,000 inhabitants of Transcarpathia hold Hungarian passports. Officially, according to the 2001 census, Hungarians in Transcarpathia numbered 151.5 thousand, or 12 percent of the total population. Despite the fact that the capital of Transcarpathia – Uzhgorod (Ungvar) is only 6.9 percent Hungarian, the city’s history is inextricably linked with the thousand-year history of the Hungarian people. Five of the 13 districts of Transcarpathia are ~one-third Hungarian; in another, fully half, and in the Beregov district – more than three quarters.
The events of 2015 in Mukachevo drew a sharp statement from Janos Lazar, Prime Minister of Hungary: “If they are going to injure the Hungarians in the Carpathian region and they are forced to flee, we all help them all and we will take them all.” Plainly, these words are well remembered in Ukraine: “We will take them all.”
The torchlight procession of nationalists in March 2016 and the calls for chopping up Magyars sufficed to instill fear in the Transcarpathian Hungarians, fear which will now stay with them.  And taking root with the fear, a concomitant desire to escape to Hungary.
It is no coincidence that the march in Uzhgorod was timed on the eve of the Day of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-1849 (or, in current political language, “the Hungarian Spring”), which is annually celebrated on March 15th. No coincidence, either as to the site of the anti-Hungarian slogans: it was the square named after Sándor Petőfi, one of the leaders of the revolution, and the national poet of Hungary.
In this holy place for each Hungarian “Magyars to the knives” was not just an insult, but another desecration of a national symbol of Hungary. Similarly, more than once or twice Ukrainian nationalists have attacked the “Hungarian Victory” monument on Veretsky pass. And after the 2014 coup in Ukraine the monument was doused with petrol bombs and set on fire. And they disfigured the stones of the monument with: “Death to the Magyars!”
This is one of the traditions of Ukrainian radical nationalism: the land will either be Ukrainian or desert.*** So it was with the Crimea, when they shouted: “Crimea — Ukraine, or desert!” So it was with the Donbas. Now the same thing is happening with Transcarpathia, but instead of “Moskals to the knives!” the Nazis are shouting “Magyars to the knives!” in hope of driving them out. Then the Hungarian houses, gardens, vineyards, their land – all this will go into the hands of “Ukrainian patriots.”
There is no other meaning to the “march of glory”. They tied it to the 77th anniversary of the “Carpathian Ukraine” – that pseudo-state, which existed whether one day, or four, and a reminder that it requested the recognition of Adolf Hitler.
The spur to the intimidation of the Hungarian population is clear enough: toward the end of 2015, 114 settlements of Transcarpathia declared their desire to create a separate district with its center in Beregovo in the jurisdiction of the Transcarpathian oblast of Ukraine. “The situation in areas densely populated by Hungarians, after the recent elections, gives every reason for the formation of such an administrative unit,” said Laszlo Brenzovich, representative of the Transcarpathian Hungarians in the Ukrainian parliament.
But for Kiev, any hint of autonomy is separatism. Although de facto autonomy exists: Transcarpathian Hungarians
  1. receive education in their native language,
  2. do not want to learn Ukrainian,
  3. have a representative in the European Parliament on the list of the Hungarian party Fidesz, and
  4. vote in national elections in Hungary.
Any “decentralization” proclaimed by Kiev absolutely does not suit the Hungarians, since it does not guarantee them any security, nor the ability to manage their territory; furthermore the rampant Galician-style Ukrainization directly threatens the development of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia.
Ukraine, having lost the Crimea and made war on the Donbas because of denying the rights of its peoples on language, culture, and self-determination, finds it much easier to arrange a demonstration to instill terror than to think about the preservation of the state in a political form that is suitable not only for Kiev and Lviv, but also for Transcarpathia, Odessa, Kharkov, Donbass. Then they wouldn’t have to scream in each region: “So-and-so to the Knives! To the knives! To the knives! “
But — so far — the Transcarpathian Hungarians were lucky that they are not the residents of Odessa.
The Odessans they simply burned.

**For a full report on the Pravy Sektor fight at Mukachevo, click this link.
***”Ukraine, or desert:” the word I rendered “desert” is “people-less,” utterly depopulated.

Schengen: more fences and more checks mean increasing strain

Schengen system of open borders is under strain as EU members reintroduce controls at their frontiers.
Austria says it plans to build a 3.7 kilometre fence along its border with Slovenia to control migrant flow.
It is the first time a barrier will have been erected between two members of the EU’s passport-free Schengen Zone.
Officials say the barrier is legal, as it is only temporary and aimed at channeling the flow of migrants.
Announcing the measures for the Spielfeld crossing in conjunction with Slovenia, Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said a 25 kilometre stretch of fence could be up within 48 hours, if necessary.
Austria’s decision is the latest in a series of tough measures by member states which critics say contradict the EU principle of free movement of people.
The chief of staff of the Hungarian Prime Minister’s office, Janos Lazar, told reporters a fence can be set-up on the border with Romania in a short period of time. “We will only do it in the worst-case scenario and not because we want to, but because we have to to defend our country,” he said.
The European Commission has formally authorised the temporary re-imposition of border controls in Germany and Sweden.
Germany re-established border checks on September the 13th and has since extended them for six months.
Sweden re-instigated border checks to check the flow of migrants coming through Denmark.
The EU decision is similar to others granted to Austria, Hungary and Slovenia when they brought in temporary controls in recent weeks.
EU leaders held an extraordinary summit in Malta on Thursday to discuss the refugee crisis and stronger coordination with Turkey, the main transit country for people heading to Europe.
Turkey, with a key strategic position, is also to be invited to a Brussels summit to enlist its help.
The UK, meanwhile, has committed nearly 400 million euros towards a planned EU fund designed to help Turkey accommodate the two-million plus refugees sheltering on its territory.

Hungary | Hungarian progressive organizations demand adequate policies for the refugees

The crisis in Western Asia and North Africa keeps deepening. Neither the North American and European key actors in the one and a half decade-long armed conflict, nor their regional allies are willing to abandon the politics of brutal interventions, even if these are indefensible according to international law. The aim of maintaining political violence is clear: gaining control over the arms market, trade routes and sources of raw materials and most importantly oil.
The NATO and the great powers are responsible not only for aggravating the crisis, but for the civilian casualties of the armed conflicts and the millions of forcefully displaced people as well. Despite this, not only do they show very little willingness to stop the dangerous processes started by the crisis, but they deliberately try to get rid of its negative consequences on Europe – following a several centuries-old tradition of colonialism.
Massive crowds of people have been displaced by the crisis and the interventions, and some of them have been trying to make it to the European Union and apply for refugee status. What they receive in an increasing number of EU member states and Southeast European countries is persecution and humiliation. From Calais to Röszke, several brutal incidents have been committed by the authorities. The European right-wing and extreme right-wing parties and the public made hysterical through orchestrated scapegoating by the political elite and media applaud as razor blade fences are being built in Bulgaria, Hungary and the English Channel area, among others. Specific legal provisions have been introduced violating national laws, international human and refugee rights in several countries, including Hungary. Government-friendly media often depicts refugees in a humiliating and dehumanizing way; xenophobic billboards appear on the streets and xenophobic polls are being sent out to people. There are even some extremists who propose physical harm to refugees. Meanwhile, the affected states are unable to act in a common and coordinated way, they wish to grant refugee status for only a small fraction of all refugees, and they consider the ”distribution” of tens of thousands of human beings based on arbitrary quotas as a possible and viable solution. As Aimé Césaire already put it in 1950 with an immortal expression: ”Europe is morally, spiritually indefensible”.
Seeing these processes, in the name of the Hungarian progressive organizations we demand that:
The Western and European military powers, as well as their regional allies immediately end any military and political interventions, which do not serve the purpose of reducing the armed conflict and building peace and stability in the war-torn states of the area. Intervening states should create an international fund for reconstruction, the size of which is to be defined as a function of the scale of destruction. If this does not happen, demonstrations and protests should be organized.
The United States, the European Union and other intervening states should immediately transfer significant financial help to all countries providing shelter for the vast majority of refugees including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan in order to provide decent accommodation and care for the more than five million displaced people currently living in these countries.
The countries of North America, the European Union and South Eastern Europe should offer, besides the other forms of refugee protection, the possibility to gain collective, automatic and temporary protection for all refugees fleeing from areas constantly ravaged by war, so that both the host countries and the refugees can have time to reflect on the possible long-term solutions for the situation. In the present chaos it is impossible to take responsible decisions. The standards of services should be brought to a common level, no permanent differences between host countries should exist In the long run.
We demand that in host countries the national authorities accomplish fully their duties regarding social attendance and provisions. These countries should provide funds available for non-governmental aid organizations. These fiscal burdens should be carried by capital owners from their own incomes as they are the greatest beneficiaries of the current geopolitical skirmish. They should do so in order to avoid that social service systems in host societies suffering damages and a pitched battle which might begin among several vulnerable social groups. According to our view, it is a real danger that right-wing and extreme right-wing forces will turn local populations against refugees through the tactics of nationalist psychosis and, consequently, detract attention from the existing social and class conflicts.
Vulnerable migrant groups should be provided with jobs in productive and service organizations operating on a social basis and providing satisfactory working conditions. This way it might be avoided that Western companies contract newcomers and defenceless migrants in a way that would further worsen the already precarious working conditions of the transnational migrant working class.
In our endaevour to achieve these goals, we expect the support of Hungarian, North American and European trade unions and other progressive civic groups. The signatories invite civic groups, trade unions and other progressive organizations to join our declaration ( )and the list will be published on the website of Eszmélet, a Hungarian critical journal (