Budapest (MTI) – Hungary has a duty to help advance the lives of Hungarians living beyond the borders and to make sure that those who want to remain Hungarian in their homeland can do so, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén told public Kossuth Radio in an interview aired on Sunday.
Semjén said this is the first time since the signing of the WWI Trianon peace treaty — under which two-thirds of Hungary’s territory was ceded to neighbouring countries — that any ethnic Hungarian living beyond the borders who wants to be a full-fledged Hungarian can become a Hungarian citizen and thereby an EU one.
He vowed that there would be one million new Hungarian citizens by the end of the current government term. Ninety percent of the new citizens will be granted Hungarian citizenship through the fast-tracked naturalisation process, he said.
The Hungarian government has never spent as much money on helping Hungarians abroad preserve their cultural and linguistic identity as it does now, Semjén said.
Semjén said 50 billion forints (EUR 161.1m) had been ploughed into support for Hungarian communities in Vojvodina alone. Communities in western Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region, Slovenia and Croatia have also received such support in the form of non-refundable grants and preferential credit, he added.
Asked about an education bill in Ukraine which Hungarian organisations based in Transcarpathia say violates ethnic Hungarians’ fundamental right to be taught in their native language, Semjén said Ukraine was “doing atrocious things” in several areas, including education. He said Hungary would take the necessary “precautionary measures” in response to those steps. Semjén said a portion of Transcarpathia’s welfare system is now being financed by the Hungarian government, noting that Transcarpathian doctors who speak to their clients in Hungarian or teachers who teach in Hungarian get additional funding.
As regards the state of the Hungarian community in Slovakia, the deputy prime minister said Slovak Hungarians were divided, adding that the best the Hungarian government could do there was support the local Party of the Hungarian Community (MKP) and ensure that local Hungarians also get the support needed to preserve their identity, regardless of political affiliation. Semjen added that political and economic ties between Hungary and Slovakia as part of the Visegrad Four alliance were “soaring”.
Concerning Transylvania, he said it was Hungary’s national interest that the ethnic Hungarian RMDSZ was represented in the Romanian parliament. He described the party’s performance in Romania’s recent parliamentary election in which together with the ethnic Hungarian MPP it garnered over 6 percent of the votes as “very strong”.
Semjén stressed that he considers the fight against corruption important, adding, however, that it was “absurd” that ethnic Hungarian leaders were being accused of corruption “on an obviously contrived basis”. He said the Hungarian government would take firm action against attacks on local Hungarian leaders and church-run schools designed to “intimidate” them.
On the subject of Hungarian diaspora communities, Semjén said Hungarians living in the west were highly successful, which he said gave them opportunities to play important roles in advancing ties between Hungary and the country they live in.