12 Dec 2003
Lesen Sie hier den
von Andi Gross.
Lesen Sie hier die
Debatte zum Autonomie-Bericht
International conference in Budapest
The gain of minorities
The Transylvanian Hungarian National Council will be established on 13 December. It was exactly a year ago that the Voivodina Hungarians, first in the Carpathian Basin, created their own organisation of similar nature. The Hungarian communities living in the neighbouring countries are striving to do the most possible for obtaining and constructing the necessary self-government necessary for their survival and prosperity.
To persuade the majority with scientific arguments serves also the interests of the majority. The first sentence of the presentation, given by Mr Szilveszter Vizi, opening the two-day conference held on 5-6 December at the Hotel Gellért in Budapest, is by all means true in the field of science. The Chairman of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences is convinced that the expansion of minority rights and the promotion of the cultural life of minorities offers majority nations a "present". In the first half of the conference, famed legal experts were talking about the rights of minorities and international law. Mr Géza Hercegh, jurist of the International Court in The Hague emphasised that minority rights are not individual rights as they can only be exercised in community.
According to former foreign minister János Matonyi, this century will certainly see an expansion of minority rights. The statement of the Venice Commission is of paramount significance in this context, because it goes beyond the traditional notion of the nationstate. It recognises positive discrimination, "justified discrimination" as Mr Martonyi put it, and declares that kin-states have the right to support individuals resident in other countries. During its integrational development, the European Union could even exceed its territorial-regional structure and recognise also communities. For about a hundred million Europeans live in minority communities, as it was mentioned several times during the conference.
Mr Andreas Oplatka, journalist of Neue Zürcher Zeitung, emphasised that the Hungarian minorities have been fighting for their rights without violence, and Hungarian parties beyond the borders have always participated in democratic governments, not in non-democratic ones, though. There is still a smal degree of understanding in Western Europe concerning the minority issues of central Europe, as interests and practical experiences rarely exist. He called attention to the fact that the sentiment noticed in the Hungarian public whereby "Europe owes us in resolving the minority issue" is leading nowhere. What might be a successful strategy is to link up the interests of minorities with those of EU countries. The mayor of the Transylvanian town of Székelyudvarhely (Rom. Odorheiu Secuiesc) enumerated practical results. It is in this town of Székelyföld (Szeklerland) where roots of holding ground are the strongest. The population is increasing, unemployment is lower than the Romanian average, 10 thousand youngsters study in Hungarian. Mr Jenö Szász also mentioned that the Hungarians in Romania wnat neither more, nor less than the autonomies already established in Europe. These existing autonomies were touched upon on the second day of the conference. The Western European guests arrived with detailed accounts. MEP Joan Vallvé i Ribera introduced Catalonia, Mr Christoph Pan spoke about the self-government of South Tyrol, whereas Ms Elisabeth Naucklér, Head of the Local Administration, held a presentation on the Swedish-populated Finnish Aland Islands. Mr Leonhard Neycken spoke about the situation of the Germans in Belgium, whereas Mr Scott Green held a lecture on the British experiences.
It was the presentation of Mr Andreas Gross, author of the autonomy report introduced to the Council of Europe last summer on the future of community autonomy, which was awaited most by the audience. For Mr Andreas Gross came to the conclusion during his work that, in defence of the territorial integrity of states, autonomies could means the solution in crisis areas. The rights of self-government granted to minorities mean a good tool for the integration of modern and diverse societies. The presentation of Mr László Józsa, chairman of the Voivodina Hungarian National Council established a year ago, came next, followed by those of Mr George Schöpflin and Mr László Tökés. The Calvinist bishop criticised the leaders of RMDSZ (Rom. UDMR), because although they had sworn to creating internal self-determination, but in fact do nothing to realise the autonomy. Mr Tökés warned: in the draft law on national security, it is stipulated that autonomy presents a danger to the national security and stability of Romania.
In the closing speech delivered by Mr Viktor Orbán, the former prime minister accounted for the merits and the faults of the Hungarian law regulating the self-government of minorities living in Hungary, adopted exactly ten years ago. Beyond this, Hungary is also interested in resolving the minority issues of the neighbouring countries. This goes to the minorities of the former Yugoslav area, as well as to the Hungarian communities living in the neighbouring countries. According to Mr Orbán, the Status Law and double citizenship are important, but these will not solve everything by definiton. These are assistances coming from the outside, whereas what is also needed is the internal building of Hungarian communities, the creation of the autonomy. This is the only way to stop exmigration, the shrinking of Hungarian communities beyond the borders.