Right on Hungary Once Again | National Review

Right on Hungary Once Again | National Review


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends the opening session of parliament in Budapest, Hungary, September 20, 2021. (Bernadett Szabo/Reuters)

A very interesting statement came out of the Hungarian government this morning. Basically, it says that the nation of Hungary needs to be ready to welcome new territory from Romania, and possibly even Ukraine, that is populated with Hungarian speakers:

This all dates back to the Treaty of Trianon, the post WWI settlement that radically shrunk Hungary. While Hungary’s acceptance into NATO was premised on an end to its border disputes, the fact is that Hungarian speakers in Romania sometimes demand things that the Romanian government does not want to give them. And sometimes, Hungarian governments such as Orbán’s respond by extending political privileges (like the voting franchise) to Hungarians who live outside of Hungary’s territory.

Now, I highly doubt that Hungary is anywhere near a position to welcome major new territory into the state. This is talk occasioned by the uncertainty and chaos brought about through Russia’s mauling of Ukraine. Ukraine and Hungary share a border, but I still think it overwhelmingly probable that a Ukrainian state will control that Western border when this is over.

But, I want to point out that you’re well-served as NR readers. When the pandemic began two years ago, the experts in democracy and freedom over at The Atlantic told you that Hungary had become a dictatorship and that Orbán had dissolved Parliament forever. I told you that was crazy and that Hungary would surrender its emergency powers soon. They did so in 82 days. (I still have some beers to collect for having won those bets.) I also told you that these commentators were blind to the real, explosive issue underneath Hungarian politics, which was the legacy of Trianon meeting and the demographic implosion of the Hungarian people:

Illiberal democracy has mostly been a chimera. But the ongoing tit-for-tat between Hungary and Romania should trouble anyone who knows something about history in this region. The Hungarian government is increasingly engaging with the diaspora of Hungarian speakers in Romania. This is overwhelmingly popular in Hungary and addresses some of Orbán’s often-stated fears of demographic collapse. But it is a serious agitation to a neighbor. The Prime Minister of Romania has recently called attempts to guarantee more rights to the sizable Hungarian speaking minority in his country “treasonous.” Most of Hungary’s Western detractors hail from the school of thought born from the title (if not the text) of Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History. But there are rages, resentments, and humiliations lurking around the 1920 Treaty of Trianon that radically shrunk Hungary. And we should not believe that in a world of collapsing native populations, these border disputes can remain submerged.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.