Russia, Hungary, and the Hungarian minority in Ukraine

A few days ago an article appeared in Foreign Affairs with the somewhat sensational title “The Hungarian Putin? Viktor Orban and the Kremlin’s Playbook,” written by Mitchell A. Orenstein, Péter Krekó, and Attila Juhász. Orenstein is a professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston and an associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. Krekó and Juhász are associates of the Hungarian think tank Political Capital. The question the article poses is whether Hungary entertains any irredentist plans as far as her neighbors are concerned, similar to the way in which Russia behaved earlier in Abkhazia and now in Ukraine. After all, the Russian attacks on those territories were preceded by a grant of Russian citizenship to Ukrainians and Abkhazians. To this question the answer is negative. Viktor Orbán may sound bellicose at times, but he is interested in the Hungarians living in the neighboring countries only as a source of extra votes and perhaps a reservoir of immigrants to a country with dismal demographic figures.

The authors claim, however, that there is “a delicate balance [which] could easily topple.” What created this delicate balance? Although “Hungary’s radical right-wing, fascist, and irredentist party, Jobbik, has virtually no support among Hungarians abroad,” it is still possible that “aggressive separatist political movements, especially those with external political support, could … act as though they have a majority beyond them, as in eastern Ukraine.”  I must say that the exact meaning of this claim is unclear to me, but the authors’ argument is that the “nationalist political use of Hungarians abroad in Hungary could set the stage for such extremism and instability in neighboring countries.” In Ukraine such a danger is real “where Orban has taken advantage of political chaos to press Hungarian minority issues … in the sub-Carpathian region of western Ukraine, adjacent to Hungary.” There are far too many “ifs” here, but it is true that Orbán did announce his claim to autonomy for the Hungarian minority at the most inappropriate moment, during the first Russian attacks on eastern Ukraine.

It is unlikely that Hungary could convince Ukraine’s western friends to force Kiev to grant autonomy to the Hungarians of Sub-Carpathian Ukraine (Zakarpattia Oblast) who constitute 12.1% of the total population of the province. In 2001 they numbered 151,500, but since then it is possible that many of them either left for Hungary or with the help of a Hungarian passport migrated farther west. On the other hand, one occasionally hears Russian voices outlining ambitious plans for Ukraine and its minorities. For example, in March 2014 Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the nationalist Liberal Democratic party that backs Vladimir Putin, suggested that Poland, Hungary, and Romania might wish to take back regions which were their territories in the past. Romania might want Chrnivtsi; Hungary, the Zaparpattia region; and Poland, the Volyn, Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Rovensky regions. Thus Ukraine would be free of “unnecesssary tensions” and “bring prosperity and tranquility to the Ukrainian native land.”

Or, there is the Russian nationalist ideologue, Aleksandr Dugin, the promoter of a Russian-led “Eurasian Empire” that would incorporate Austria as well as Hungary, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia. Although Dugin’s specific recommendations were first reported on a far-right Hungarian site called, the news spread rapidly beyond the borders of Hungary. Dugin is an enemy of nation states and would like to see the return of empires. “If, let’s say, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, or perhaps even Volhynia and Austria would unite, all Hungarians would be within one country. Everything would return to the state that existed before Trianon.” Of course, Dugin’s argument is specious. Surely, a United Europe offers exactly the same advantages to the Hungarian minorities that Dugin recommends, but without the overlordship of Putin’s Russia.

One could discount these suggestions as fantasies, but something is in the air in Russia. The country’s foreign minister considers the fate of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine to be of such importance that at the Munich Security Conference a couple of days ago he spent a considerable amount of time on the minority’s grievances.

Mind you, Sergei Lavrov’s speech was met with derision by those present. As the reporter of Bloomberg described the scene, the “crowd laughed at and booed him.” Apparently, during his 45-minute speech he “rewrote the history of the Cold War, accused the West of fomenting a coup in Ukraine, and declared himself to be a champion of the United Nations Charter.” From our point of view, the most interesting part of the speech was the time he spent on the Hungarian minority in the Zakarpattia Oblast.

I think it is worth quoting Lavrov’s answer to a question that addresses this issue:

[The Ukrainians] are probably embarrassed to say it here, but now Ukraine is undergoing mobilization, which is running into serious difficulties. Representatives of the Hungarian, Romanian minorities feel “positive” discrimination, because they are called up in much larger proportions than ethnic Ukrainians. Why not talk about it? Or that in Ukraine reside not only Ukrainians and Russians, but there are other nationalities which by fate ended up in this country and want to live in it. Why not provide them with equal rights and take into account their interests? During the elections to the Verkhovnaya Rada the Hungarian minority asked to organize constituencies in such a way that at least one ethnic Hungarian would make it to the Rada. The constituencies were “sliced” so that none of the Hungarians made it. All this suggests that there is something to discuss.

Perhaps the most “amusing” part of the paragraph Lavrov devoted to the Hungarian and Romanian minorities in Ukraine is his claim that fate was responsible for these ethnic groups’ incorporation into the Soviet Union. I remember otherwise. The Soviet government kept the old Trianon borders without any adjustments based on ethnic considerations. The ethnic map of Zakarpattia Oblast shows that such an adjustment shouldn’t have been too difficult a task.

Ethnic map of Zakarpattia Obast  / Source:

Ethnic map of Zakarpattia Obast / Source:

The small Hungarian minority is obviously being used by the Russians to further their own claims, which in turn might encourage Viktor Orbán to pursue his quest for autonomous status for the largely Hungarian-inhabited regions of the oblast. The Orbán government supports autonomy for the Szeklers of central Transylvania despite the Romanian-Hungarian basic treaty of September 1996 that set aside the issue of territorial autonomy, to which Romania strenuously objected. The treaty had to be signed because NATO and EU membership depended on it. The Ukrainian situation is different because Ukraine is not part of the EU. Whether Orbán will accept the tacit or even open assistance of Russia for the sake of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine remains to be seen. In any case, to everybody’s surprise Viktor Orbán will pay a visit to Kiev where he will meet with President Petro Poroshenko.


  1. “Meanwhile, Hungary’s radical, right-wing, fascist, and irredentist party, Jobbik, has virtually no support among Hungarians abroad, despite its attempts to build up networks in the Hungarian communities and fuel secessionist movements.”…. I think this quote from the Foreign Affairs piece underestimates Jobbik’s support abroad, Jobbik’s idea to redraw borders and attach Kárpátalja to Hungary is unrealistic but very popular among ethnic Hungarians abroad

  2. Even just the talk and the “Fight for Freedom” what the viktor claims, he is doing for Hungarians and the Nation of Hungary (Everything is National now, from the tobacco shops to the public toilettes) is for the votes of the die hard chauvinistic Fidesz fans. There may not be adjustments to the borders, but the viktor can say, he tried!
    Hungarians were fed completely false stories about Trianon for 100 years, they have no clue, how the borders were established and even if you put the actual facts in front of their eyes, they deny of seeing them. The self pity and imagined or exaggerated injustice is what 90% of the Hungarians claim about Trianon, not one of them even considers the fact, that it was the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, which started WWI and lost it, which had its borders changed and NOT HUNGARY!!!!

  3. @gybognarjr: your comment about Hungarians often being generally resentful of Trianon without knowing or understanding all the facts interested me. As a foreigner I have long been exasperated at the Hungarian obsession about the Treaty, but my knowledge of the details is too basic to permit a more nuanced understanding of it, but rather founded on a principal of ‘accepting things you cannot change’. Moreover, I too often find there is sometimes a tendency to self-pity among Hungarians, which is a state of mind that I find pointless, counter-productive and, frankly, a bit ridiculous. Would you like to explain this point in more detail for the benefit of those of us with less understanding of Trianon?

  4. @gybognarjr
    February 11, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    Brief and to the point, you hit the nail on the head with your comment. But then much of Hungarian history, particularly of the last 200 years, as it is understood on the Hungarian street and taught in Hungarian schools, is a farrago of self-serving myths, half-truths and downright untruths. This then molds the Hungarian sense of identity, which is a sense of identity based in falsehoods, and the consequent culture of whining (panaszkultúra) so prevalent among Hungarians. Pathetic, really.

  5. Political Capital conducts no polling of its own. In some cases, they outsource polls to another institute, or they count the number of “likes” on a political party’s Facebook page and call it “research.”

    Their claim that Jobbik has little support among the hatarontuliak might be based on the fact that Fidesz mopped up 95% of votes in neighboring countries in the 2014 election. Knowledgable people have pointed to possible fraud in the hatarontuli vote count. Also, a large number of these people did not bother to vote. Finally, having spent time in Vojvodina and Transylvania, I can offer copious anecdotal evidence that Jobbik indeed does have some pretty passionate supporters in these regions.

  6. @Live long and prosper
    February 11, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Peace. And long life. 😊

    Here is my two cents worth on Trianon.

    The story goes back to the first half of the 19th century, when the Kingdom of Hungary was a multi-ethnic internal province of the likewise multi-ethnic rest of the Habsburg Empire.

    Within the Kingdom of Hungary actual Hungarian speakers were a relatively small minority concentrated in the Easter parts, with another minority, particularly among aristocrats and the lesser nobility, considering themselves also Hungarians, though without much knowledge of the Hungarian language. Most of the population were in fact Slovak, Romanian, Serbian, Croatian, German and others by language, loyalty and ethnicity.

    Ethnic Hungarians first woke up to their precarious demographic and geo-strategic position in the country during the Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence of 1848/49, when the majority non-Hungarian ethnic groups decisively sided with Austria and the Russian intervention, thereby guaranteeing ultimate victory for the Habsburgs.

    During the two decades following this, Austria became dramatically weaker as a military and economic power due to the rise of the German Empire. Consequently, the Hungarians were able to reach a historic Compromise with the Habsburgs, whereby they would share power with them within the framework of a Dual Monarchy. As the 19th century was gradually drawing to a close, Hungarians in fact became the senior partners in this arrangements, Hungary underwent rapid economic development largely due to Jewish enterprise, and internal to the Kingdom of Hungary unremitting pressure was applied to the majority non-Hungarian (by then) nationalities to Hungarianize in language, loyalty, education, political orientation, even to the point of changing their family name to something Hungarian. But what famously succeeded in France, failed in Hungary for obvious reasons, was deeply resented by the majority non-Hungarian nationalities and understandably never forgotten or forgiven by them.

    As a province of the Habsburg Empire, the Kingdom of Hungary went into the First World War with those considering themselves Hungarian largely occupying the central one-third of the country, but constituting only relatively small minorities among the majority non-Hungarian nationalities in the rest of the country, the only exception being significant Hungarian majorities in the some of the larger country towns on the periphery of the by then solidly Hungarian core areas of the country.

    Upon loosing the First World War, the Habsburg Empire was broken up by the victorious Entente Powers by demand of the Czech and Slovak (Czechslovak), Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian (Yugoslav), and Romanian nationalities, who all wanted to go either their independent way, or to join neighboring countries peopled by their fellow ethnics.

    As a consequence, Hungary got broken up and lost its Slovakian, Romanian and Serbian majority areas and the minority of Hungarians living in those areas become a “minority in their own country” from one day to the next, instead of being the overlords that they had been until then.

    In essence, Trianon meant historic Hungary loosing to neighbouring countries two thirds of its territory and one third of the population that considered itself Hungarian.

    The situation was exacerbated by the fact that due to the unthinking greediness of the Czechoslovak and Romanian victors, Hungary was also dispossessed of significant, quite homogeneously Hungarian-populated areas along its Northern and Eastern periphery.

    That then became a constant irredentist irritant in the interwar years, the main driver of the unremitting antisemitism of those years, the main reason for Hungary joining Hitler’s war (Hitler permitted return of some, though not all of the lost territories), and ultimately the main pretext for engineering the Hungarian Holocaust.

    After all, according to the overwhelming majority of pathetic, brainwashed Hungarians, it was all the fault of the Jews.

    Of course, what else!

  7. Fidesz’s “Szazadveg” just came out with a much better number for Fidesz than the independent pollster Ipsos yesterday, while the numbers for the other parties are the same.

    Szazadveg ; Ipsos; 2014-04-06 election result (party list votes) in the total adult population.

    Fidesz: 30%; 21%; 26.62%
    Jobbik: 16%; 16%; 12.64%

    MSzP+DK+Egyutt+PM: 17%; 17%; 16.02%
    LMP: 3%; 3%; 3.34%

    I think it is obvious that Szazadveg came out with a ridiculous number, which claims greater popular support for Fidesz than it had during the election last April. 🙂 🙂

  8. So if we accept the estimates by Ipsos, the net changes in party support inside the total adult population, February 2015 – April 2014:

    Fidesz: -6% (loss of 1/4 of its supporters)
    Jobbik: +3%
    MSzP+DK+Egyutt+PM: +1%

  9. @Live long and prosper
    February 11, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    And by the way, Hungarians blaming Trianon on “the Jews” is like someone having a fight with his wife, then kicking his dog to make himself feel better.

    After all, the latter follows logically from the former, doesn’t it? 😊

  10. @Live long and prosper
    February 11, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    And there is something else you need to know in connection to the viciously antisemitic aftermath of Trianon.

    There was a short lived, bloody Communist dictatorship in Hungary in 1919, which was led by maybe less than a hundred young Jewish hotheads, idealists and straight-out criminals.

    Less than a hundred. Yet, after the smashing of that Communist dictatorship within four months by the Entente, Hungarians firmly decided upon accusing the entire then almost one million strong Hungarian Jewish population of being collectively guilty of the depredations of those few.

    The clergy and Hungarian Christian intellectuals were at the forefront of violently inciting public opinion.

    Pogroms followed.

    And into that inflamed situation then lobbed Trianon, like lightning out of a clear sky.

    Yeah….., once upon a time, in a country called Hungary……..


  11. Dear Éva

    Would it be possible to incorporate an editing function in the blog to help eliminate typos and to add or delete from one’s entries?

    Best regards

  12. I think in Hungary we entered the Russian-style media world in earnest.

    Yesterday Fidesz denied that the money forger fidesznik youth leader was a member of Fidesz when in fact the guy was attending numerous political functions as a Fidesz youth leader and there are countless pictures and videos. In other words, Fidesz clearly and verifiably lies, but it just doesn’t care, it doesn’t even have to care.

    Szazdveg started to clearly cook its poll numbers, it doesn’t even care about any consistency, but who cares.

    The bigger the confusion the better.

    Since Fidesz has an almost lock on the minds of the rural voters, and the state media is just getting started, it will continue to be successful in spreading total lies.

  13. @Mike Balint re ethnic composition of Hungary. You should brush up on the demographic and historical details of Hungarian history. Your version bears little resemblance to the facts.

  14. Eva’s current essay has to be situated within the context of the current cease fire agreement that Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, and Petro Poroshenko announced just a few hours ago. The Ukrainians had little choice but to agree because their army is being beaten in every fight with Russian Spetsnaz and so called separatist forces. This rout has been downplayed by both the western and Russian media, and the reports go on and on about civilian causalities without any real discussion of the demolition of the Ukrianian military which also has completely inept leadership.

    What was apparently agreed to just a few hours ago is already to some degree in dispute with the Ukrainians spinning it one way and the Russian RT news service another. The ceasefire deal provides for withdrawal of all “foreign troops, heavy weapons and mercenaries” from Ukraine under an OSCE monitoring. “Illegal armed groups” would be disarmed, but local authorities in the future would be allowed to have legal militia units. But it needs to be understood that all of the Crimea occupied by Russia is no longer part of the Ukraine as it relates to this deal and the Russians are free to have as many tanks, Spetsnaz, tactical fighters, attack helicopters, artillery, and naval forces as they chose only minutes away from the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions.

    Putin will arrive in Budapest like a victor, all be it not riding a white horse. European fear of nuclear war and reliving the horror of the world wars is driving what can only be called appeasement of Putin’s and Aleksandr Dugin’s vision of a Eurasian Empire or economic block based on quasi-fascist corporate states. Hopefully, President Obama will still be forced by Congress to accept providing lethal aid to what is left of Ukraine and the IMF can economically stabilize that government to some degree before Putin orders his next assault on Kiev in order to return the whole of the Ukraine to Russian dependency. OV will gravitate even more rapidly to Putin now that he has achieved yet another tactical victory over the west.

  15. @Eva S. Balogh
    February 12, 2015 at 6:11 am

    Dear Éva

    I am always ready, willing and indeed happy to change my position in light of additional facts.

    I don’t mean to burden you with additional work, but I would really appreciate some pointers as to what respects is my understanding wrong as to the demographic and historical details of Hungarian history.

    Much thanks in anticipation.


  16. @Istvan:
    I still hope you’re wrong in your assessment of Putin’s “victory” – the economy will tell and I believe it’s not on Russia’s side and the same goes for Orbán. Without support from the EU Hungary would be a third world country and people probably will realise that if this support gets reduced (or disappears totally if Orbán really leaves the EU …)

    PS and totally OT:
    I had to chuckle at your “all be it not riding a white horse” – was that the spell correction that transformed the “albeit”? Haven’t read that often lately …

  17. Orban will continue to gravitate towards Putin (although Orban is already inside Putin’s rectum, he can hardly get any closer to Putin), this was never in doubt. He is on Putin’s payroll we all know that and he firmly believes in Dugin’s theories.

    Putin will also continue to act aggressively, but perhaps not immediately. He takes his time wait until Ukraine goes bankrupt, will continue his Special War against Ukraine and the West and when the time is right he will reassert himself with his army. Only the naïve Western governments can think that Putin now fully stopped. Far from it.

  18. Perhaps, all has to be viewed in the light of “Dezinformatsia” misinformation in English.

    Iran, Russia, Turkey, and the killer Islamic terrorists want to defeat the Enlightened West.

    Their propaganda finds lots of sympathizers among Americans.

    Many American websites and pacifica radio are repeating the “Dezinformatsia” material here in America.

    We have got our homebred kuruc media, and the Democratic leadership is playing a page from Chamberlaine’s playbook.

    In Hungary, many trolls serve the Orban-Putin line.

    Lately, I am suspecting that Heisler made a statement in their service. What else can be the explanation?

  19. @Gianni

    “He is on Putin’s payroll..”

    Precisely. But the question is: since when?

    And also: not only Victor but who else? Or why have Hungarian governments allowed
    the sale/buy-back (twice!) of Malev by Russians in order to siphon off government moneys?

    I still remember Kalman Olga asking the CEO of Malev, in its last year of operation, how well
    the company was doing. “Good” was the reply, “And we should be looking for a buyer now.”
    It would be interesting to know why they didn’t try the same trick a third time; but I suppose
    that ripping off several hundred thousand ticket holders was just too good to pass up…

    Hajra Magyarok!!

    Are we still Proud…?

  20. @Mike Balint re history. Considering that Hungarian history between 1918-1922 is the period I know best, I will be glad to talk about demographics before and after Trianon and about the red and white terror. Just give me a little time because right now the Hungarian scene is far too turbulent to leave it behind to talk about history.

  21. @Eva S. Balogh
    February 12, 2015 at 8:46 am

    I shall really appreciate that, whenever convenient for yourself. But as I am only an occasional visitor on this blog, I would be grateful if you could alert me with a quick email when you are ready to talk about this topic.

    much thanks

  22. “There was a short lived, bloody Communist dictatorship in Hungary in 1919, which was led by maybe less than a hundred young Jewish hotheads, idealists and straight-out criminals. Less than a hundred.”

    The history is quite a bit more complicated. Formulas of this type simply repeat the blood libel of the Hungarian anti-Semites re 1919.

  23. All four leaders, after more than 16 hours of talks, have agreed a new ceasefire starting on February 15.
    I just cannot wait for Orban to chime in calling it his achievement.

  24. re: ceasefire

    And Mr. Diplomat, Victor’s uncle Putin, single-handedly declared that it begins on Sunday.
    Some agreement!

    Of course, Victor and Vladimir will be patting each other on the back in the hot tub on how
    they cowed the West again! In the meantime, their currencies, and their economies, are
    going into the toilet…but who cares, when you’re 5 foot 6 inches and registering all these
    victories over those BIG ones?

  25. LIVE LONG AND PROSPER: I think Éva is far more qualified to explain the historical background of the Trianon Treaty, but I will make an attempt.

    Hungarians, as many other nationalities are proud of their heritage and just as many other people tend to exaggerate the good and diminish the bad. There are times, when the Government asks loyal “historians” to falsify their history greatly, as they are doing it again in the last five years.

    In the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy the Hungarians did not contribute much culturally until the late 1700s, because a large portion of the nobility, the feudal landowners, barons, etc were multi-cultural, they spoke German, French, Latin, etc., but not the peasants language, Hungarian. Hence in 1948 in the years when revolutions spread through out Europe, Hungary revolted against the Austrians, to fight for independence both politically and culturally. They lost the revolution, which could have been predicted with 100% certainty, since the Russian Tsar with a huge army near the border of Hungary assured the Austrian Emperor to help him to maintain his power. After the 1949 capitulation, Hungary went through 18 years of severe reprisals by the Austrians.

    The Hungarian speaking population spread out fairly well in the Karpatian Basin and beyond, by the 16th Century and mixed with neighboring nationalities, some places in fairly high percentages, or as a majority.

    From 1867 the Austrian-Hungarian Compromise to WWI Hungary could finally get out from under the tight control of the Austrian Emperor and Hungarian language and culture developed very rapidly, as well as the citizenry and a small middle class. Nationalism was very strong, most Hungarians already developed a sense of false superiority over their neighbors in the previous centuries. It was voiced by their politicians far more then the people themselves.

    Contrary to Hungarian’s prevalent, strong belief, the Allies did not harbor only hatred agains Hungary and did not purposely wanted to commit injustice, the politicians of the recipient countries were of a different matter.

    The allies however overlooked an important factor. They established the borders, so the different nationalities have their self governance and self-rule and it was based on the 1910 Census of the Monarchy. The Census took into consideration, the prevalent language the population used in any region, but not the nationality of the inhabitants. This created and imbalance in many areas, where the Hungarian nationalities were near 50% of the population, yet the area was given to a neighboring and or a newly created country (such as Czechoslovakia)

    The neighboring countries representatives argued aggressively for large areas and won, the Hungarian representatives were not even invited, until the Treaty had to be signed unconditionally. There was no goodwill toward Hungary and there were reasons. After the loss of the war, the Hungarian Government committed crude and serious mistakes. The army was dissolved and the country slipped into anarchy. Soon after a communist revolution and a short lived communist government came into power and Hungarians were killing each other, committing atrocities and the country suffered greatly in the reign of the ”Red Terror”. The main targets were the privileged class and the big land owners. Obviously, this was intolerable to the West and the Allies. The Allies ordered the Romanian Army to attack the communist regime and try to restore some normalcy, however Hungarians and Romanians are historically great enemies, so this created even more animocities.

    In 1919 Admiral Horthy Miklós appeared, returning from the dismantled Austro-Hungarian Navy, with a small army and organized the fight against the communists. He was backed by the Allies and most of the people, so he became the Regent of Hungary.

    In the course of the fight and the following reprisals, his soldiers killed the communist sympathizers and committed many atrocities, too horrible to describe. (Such as the killing in the Forest of Orgovany) This was the “White Terror”.

    The situation in Hungary could not have been worse for getting favorable consideration from the Allies, so the redrawing of the map could not be contested and Hungary lost approx. 3.3 million people to neighboring countries, where they were treated badly for a long time. (as winners often treat the losers after a war)

    Hungarians today embellish the memory of Horthy, deny his wrongdoings, falsify the history and blame everything on the Allies and the politicians of the surrounding countries, who got the land and people from the parceled off Austro-Hungarian Empire – AND NOT FROM HUNGARY, which was NOT AN INDEPENDENT COUNTRY.

    They want to refer to the Old Hungarian Kingdom and the largest borders they ever had for a short time in history, to be the true Hungary, BUT IT DID NOT EXIST FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS BY THE TIME OF THE TRIANON TREATY. It is a gross exaggeration, the Kingdom of Hungary ceased to exist in 1526, when the Turks conquered Hungary and the King died, fleeing the battle.

    Lots of Hungarians are convincing the population for many decades of this false history, taking no responsibility for the course they choose, so it became the prevailing belief system among the population. It is as if Italians would claim that they lost their territories they had during the Roman Empire, or Mexico claiming Texas, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and California, which they lost in the long ago wars.

    And as you may surmise, the USA similarly will not give back the colonies to Great Britain or the Louisiana Purchase to France and not even Puerto Rico and Guam to Spain. I am sure native historians and the people feel differently also about these wars and the results than we Americans. (After all we gave back the Panama Canal, and the Philippines and Cuba became independently ran by dictators and governments who allied themselves with other World Powers.)

    Hungarians also claim that Transylvania was and should be Hungary. That is not true either, but similarly, it is not true, that it was or should be Romania. There were and are many Hungarians in Transylvania, who, unlike the large number of Germans, who were smarter and left Romania. True, Germany paid for them and repatriated those people, Hungary diid not. The Romanians treated Hungarians very cruelly for decades, after the Treaty of Trianon gave it to them.

    Transylvania has its own history, it is multi-ethnic, it was at times independent, or under Turkish rule, or under Hungarian rule, but it was never an integral part of Hungary or Romania. Romanians also made a somewhat fictitious and inventive history for themselves, instead of telling the population the truth.

    As we know, Czechoslovakia does not exist any more, most of the Hungarian speaking people are in Slovakia and they are very glad now, they would NOT want to be in Orbanistan at all.

    I am sorry, I could not be any shorter, I hope I did not bore any reader.

  26. OT:

    Hungarian-owned grocery chain CBA pays its employees the worst in Hungary: an average 134,000 Ft per month GROSS, which is really not enough for anyone to live on. (CBA’s products are also among the most expensive, which makes this even more scandalous.)

    German-owned Aldi and Lidl pay their employees the best, an average of 299,000 and 244,000 Ft. per month respectively.

    Basically Germans treat Hungarians far better financially than Hungarians treat themselves. And yet these foreign grocery chains are being chased out of the country.


  27. Some1, Petofi, and others this cease fire agreement is profoundly disturbing, because like the first Minsk accords this one again saves thousands of poorly led Ukrainian soldiers from annihilation by Russian forces. About 12,000 Ukrainian soldiers were encircled the first time this happened back in September, this time in Debaltseve, a rail hub on the border of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that once had 25,000 people living in it most of whom were Russian speakers, about 6,500 Ukrainian soldiers are yet again surrounded and cut off.

    No doubt some of these soldiers are the same ones trapped and cut off back in September. The Ukrainian military denies it is surrounded, accusing rebels of simply trying to strengthen their position on the ground. But most Ukrainian sources agree they are totally surrounded (see “Nobody will retreat,” said Col. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Information Center in a report in today’s Washington Post.

    This is the second time the Russians have been able to envelop a major part of the Ukrainian army in one year, it’s truly tragic. Col Lysenko’s idiotic mentality of trying to hold every piece of ground has no basis in military science, it based on mindless nationalism. Petro Poroshenko may know about Chocolate and Foreign Affairs, but he doesn’t know how to pick a high command for his army and that is for damn sure. Putin’s forces have simply destroyed the Ukrainian military which needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. By most standards, the Ukrainian armed forces remain in a pitiful state.

    There is significant evidence of large-scale corruption among generals and lower-ranking officers, particularly in Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense. It has undermined the war effort and lowered the morale of the rank-and-file. Many soldiers have come to the conclusion that it would be better to change the military leadership before dealing with the separatists in the Donbas. I have read reports complaining that Ukrainian generals were ignorant of what is taking place on the war zone. That they prefer to sit in hotels well away from the battlefront, eating lobster and cavorting with prostitutes.

    Parents of soldiers from Uzhhorod region complain of corrupt and irresponsible military commanders to newspapers. For example there was a story about 280 soldiers were picked up at Luhansk airport and informed that their destination would be the Moscow-Luhansk highway, a virtual death sentence, since the road is the only remaining link between eastern Ukraine and Russia; and controlled by separatists. The troops abandoned their mission; only 25 paratroopers from Zhytomyr were willing to take it on and suffered heavily.

    Even former Ukrainian Minister of Defence (July 3 to October 14, 2014), Valerii Heletei, acknowledged the depths of the problems of the high command, noting that the Ukrainian army has 20-30 generals who are quite adept at preparing battle plans on tablets and on paper, but they have no idea what is happening at the Front. In order to understand the situation, he commented, “one should at least go there.” President Petro Poroshenko forced Heletei to resign for his comments about the incompetence of the Ukrainian high command.

  28. There’s another reason why be usually buy at the Aldi/Lidl – not just because of better quality and better prices – the salespeople there are really friendly.
    The difference in wages might be a partial explanation for this.
    And this statement comes from my Hungarian wife!

  29. “And as you may surmise, the USA similarly will not give back the colonies to Great Britain or the Louisiana Purchase to France and not even Puerto Rico and Guam to Spain. I am sure native historians and the people feel differently also about these wars and the results than we Americans. (After all we gave back the Panama Canal, and the Philippines and Cuba became independently ran by dictators and governments who allied themselves with other World Powers.)”

    And yet the US actively (and very generously) supports the Israeli ‘reclaiming’ of the West Bank. A territory they last held over 2,000 years ago.

    If that isn’t irony in the Hungarian context, I don’t know what is.

    There are no rules for these situations, it is simply down to who happens to have the power at the time and what they care to do with it.

    Orbán’s use of the nationalistic passion relating to the ‘lost territories’ for his own political ends is obviously dangerous madness. But to dismiss the general Hungarian feeling that they were treated badly at Trianon because ‘what’s done is done’ and two wrongs DO make a right, is equally dangerous.

    And they only lost their territories a mere 100 years ago…

  30. Wolfi – “all be it” may not be correct according to the official sources, but most native (UK) English speakers wouldn’t know it was ‘wrong’ – and many would be puzzled at ‘albeit’.

    Language evolves mostly on the basis of majority usage, whether it’s wrong or right, or even if it doesn’t makes sense (e.g. ‘bored of’ is rapidly becoming accepted). So, I’m afraid ‘all be it’ will eventually replace ‘albeit’.

  31. Balogh Eva a mi baratunk, aki naponta ir Mo rol jobban ismeri a helyzetet mint aki otthon el A Library of Congress jegyzi udv Juli


    Ma voltam ott Nalatok, betetema hirdeteseket

  32. @gybognarjr: thank you for taking the time and making a summary, much appreciated. And will help be to be more aware (even if I remain silent – it’s not exactly a simple story) during discussions of this emotive subject.
    Generally, I don’t recall reading so many interesting comments on a wide range of topics on Eva’s excellent blog before. Thank you one and all for making this such a worth while place to read and comment.

  33. @Paul:
    Re albeit – I was so proud that I recognised what Istvan meant …

    Re Trianon:
    We Germans also had our trauma at Versailles – but no one mentions this or thinks about it even, except a few Neo-Nazis maybe. And I don’t even know the name of the castle where the Austrians had to sign – because nobody writes about it either.
    So what’s so special about Trianon/Hungary?
    My wife also starts laughing when Trianon is mentioned in the news …
    Though now this rarely happens because she watches news that she selects on her new smartphone – not on M1 aka North Korean State TV!

  34. @Eva-regarding WordPress upgradig and such: what about if we have a possibility to contribute, in order to provide means to keep ourplayground here to our liking?
    A Paypal link would do fine to thepurpose. And please, step over modesty for a little adequate pragmatism, will you?
    Thank you in advance!

  35. buddy: CBA is a franchise. The individual shops (typical Hungarian entrepreneurs) pay “in the pocket” of the employee in cash and all employees are registered with the minimum wage. It’s absolutely true that CBA is a bunch of crooks providing bad service. Somehow Hungarians could not learn grocery retail even in 25 years.

  36. Orban will never diversify. He literally wants to bind Hungary to Russia. Orban has been doing everything he possibly can to prevent diversifying away from Russian energy or even just to decrease reliance. I personally don’t think the Russians have a better, more committed agent anywhere in Europe than Orban. I’m getting to think that even the Belarussian Lukashenka is more independent minded than Orban is.

    MET AG (Orban’s personal money siphon) is using by decree the capacity of the Austrian gas pipeline, the actual operation of the Slovak pipeline has been delayed on purpose by Orban and is overseen by the Ministry of Interior of all possible entities (needless to say Sandor Pinter head of the Hungarian siloviks is best friends with Sandor Csanyi who is heavily interested in MET, oh, an interesting tidbit is that the two saw the Academy Award winning German movie “The Lives of others” about Stasi agents together, wonder what they thought), solar power panels are taxed to discourage their use, wind power generation was effectively made impossible legally and the list goes on.

    It’s insane, but it seems the Russians are better, they can control Orban and Hungary infinitely better than with all the billions the EU possibly can. The Russians are committed and thus they prevail.

  37. About energy and such.

    Exactly 22 years ago I paid a “fortune” – well, a price of a modest real state anyway – for a computer workstation optimised for graphic and video manipulation.
    Today the very telephone I’m writing my comment has much more computing power than we thought will be possible. Not to mention that the cellular phones of te time still needed a ‘base’ then, closely resembled a smaller suitcase..
    My point is – well, supposed to be – that how likely Orbán’s guessing of the technology of twenty years from now will be valid at any measures?
    His energy politics seem obsolate even by contemporary standards, and the developmet accelerating exponentially.

    Anybody over there reading something else than “Viktor’s best aforisms” at all?

  38. Eva, I am a mind reader 🙂
    You do not ‘asking’ of ciurse, you only providing the possibility to us to appreciate the possibility by our contribution!
    It was my idea anyway, you can be so kind and help with the means – what’s wrong with this setup?
    After all, you are the one doing the work, we lnly along for the ride!

  39. Thank you so much for your very helpful summary of a complex historical matter. I still find the irridentist aspirations of VO in particular (and of many Hungarians, including in my own family) absurd, but now with more conviction.

  40. My above comment was written and intended as a reply to Mike Balint. Before writing I clicked ‘reply’, and therefore didn’t address it to MB, but now it seems to have been posted as a normal comment. Another vote for the possibility to edit out comments! And I also would be happy to contribute to your blog, Eva.

  41. Eva: If contributions, donations needed, please indicate and set up an account, so we can use credit cards or Paypal. Bartus Laci did that, when the American Népszava was an interactive and primary blog of his.

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