Borderless Nation

BUDAPEST/BERLIN | | ungarn

BUDAPEST/BERLIN (own report) - In the midst of hefty protests, the Hungarian government is preparing to pass a new constitution oriented on German ethnicist policy. The document conjures up the "notion of the unified Hungarian nation," beyond the borders of the Hungarian Republic, to include Hungarian-speaking minorities of the neighboring countries. It bases itself on the mythical "Holy Hungarian Crown," "which embodies the constitutional national continuity of Hungary", while removing republic from the official name of the nation, as the designation of the form of state. Critics accuse the ruling Fidesz Party, of using its two-thirds parliamentary majority to constitutionally impose permanent ethnic conservative standards upon all of Hungary. This does not impede Berlin from continuing its close cooperation with Budapest. Just last week, the German Foreign Minister praised his Hungarian counterpart, for Budapest's very successful fulfillment of its functions chair of the European Council. Intensive cooperation is also planned within the framework of the so-called Danube Strategy, which is to be adopted during the Hungarian incumbency as chair of the EU Council. From Berlin's standpoint, which is itself following an ethnic based foreign policy, Budapest's ethnic escapades are no obstacles.

Ethnic Chauvinist Constitution

In various aspects, the draft of Hungary's new constitution, to be adopted by the Hungarian parliament April 18, carries the flair of the spirit of the German model. On the one hand, the material part of the text is oriented on the German Basic Law. One can recognize that German and Hungarian constitutional jurists had cooperated closely over an extended period. For example the former Hungarian president László Sólyom, a prominent constitutional jurist, had worked extensively together with Georg Brunner, professor of law in Cologne.[1] On the other hand, the preamble, the part of the draft constitution that is most sharply criticized, is oriented on an ethnic chauvinist concept shared by both Hungary and Germany. Budapest is free to develop these concepts in an EU under German hegemony. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[2]) The ruling Fidesz Party has a 2/3 parliamentary majority and, therefore, can adopt the constitution independently of all other parties' votes. The opposition parties, the Socialist MSZP and the Greens LMP have, with hefty protests, walked out of the preparatory committee, working on the draft constitution, because the Fidesz Party is using its parliamentary majority to give a constitutional rank to unprecedented, clearly ethnic chauvinist structures.[3]

Resurrection Festival

The ethnic concept of the Hungarian nation plays a central role in the future constitution. Hungarian, according to this concept, is whoever has Hungarian ancestors, which is valid also for the Hungarian-speaking minorities of neighboring countries. The new right of citizenship - corresponding to the German citizenship law - stipulating that they can apply for Hungarian citizenship is already bearing fruit. (The law took effect Jan. 1, 2011.) Budapest has already registered about 43,000 applications. Thousands more have been given to Hungarian consulates. The government is predicting that, by the end of this year, there will be about 200,000 new citizens among the "Hungarians Abroad." The new constitution stipulates that "guided by the idea of the united Hungarian nation - Hungary bears responsibility for the fates of the Hungarians living beyond its territorial boundaries, promoting the maintenance and development of their communities, supporting their ambitions in the conservation of Hungariandom and inter-community cooperation and cooperation with Hungary." Alongside the announcement of intentions to intervene in the domestic affairs of neighboring nations, the preamble - in characteristic ethnic style - declares, "one is proud that a thousand years ago, our King Stephan, the Saint, placed the Hungarian state on a solid foundation." It even promises, "to maintain the spiritual and emotional unity of our nation, which, has been dismembered during the storms of the past centuries."[4] The constitution strongly stresses, if nothing else, the conservative values of Christianity, and family. Hungary's president will sign the document into law on the symbolic date of April 25. April 25, 2011 is Easter Monday.

Made Good Progress

The ethnic oriented new constitution is the second internationally controversial measure taken by the Orbán government. At the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, the new Hungarian media law received wide attention throughout Europe. It imposed broad restrictions on the media's freedom of expression and, even after international protests forced a few light modifications; Hungarian critics still consider it very repressive. A board of the media, whose leading members are appointed by the government, has wide-ranging possibilities to intervene. Since protests have subsided, Berlin has again begun to praise Budapest for its loyal cooperation. "Europe" has "made quite a bit of progress, in key areas, under the first Hungarian council chair", declared German Foreign Minister, Westerwelle, last week, after his Hungarian counterpart, János Martonyi, visited Berlin. It is "remarkable", he said, "how successful the Hungarian government has mastered this chairmanship."[5] Nothing was said about the Hungarian repression against the country's media, despite the continuing protests in Budapest.

Neglected Potentials

Instead, Berlin plans to expand cooperation - also within the framework of the EU's Danube Strategy, announced by Brussels at the end of 2010. The strategy serves further German economic development along the banks of the Danube through southeastern Europe. German authorities have systematically prepared this and it complies with the German enterprises' plans of expansion. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6]) One is "confronted with various sorts of challenges", along the Danube, according to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Ulm, which was primarily responsible for the formulation of the EU's Danube Strategy. In Southeastern Europe, there is a "neglected shipping potential, insufficient highway and railway networks", and "uncoordinated planning in the general and professional education, research, and innovation sectors". By 2020, freight shipping on the Danube is to be increased by 20 percent. The installation of faster internet networks throughout the entire region is also planned.[7] Above all the southern German regions Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavaria are working closely together on the project with Austria and Hungary. Even though the European Council's planned January adoption of the Danube Strategy has been postponed, it will be adopted in June 2011 - still under Hungary's European Council chairmanship.

Whips and Axes

Inside the country cooperating so closely, with the Federal Republic of Germany, the ethnic chauvinist component is not only growing in official government policies. For several weeks, the extreme right has again been intensifying its aggressions against the Roma community. The extreme right's parliamentary arm - the Jobbik Party - polled about one-sixth of the votes in the last elections. At the beginning of March, a Jobbik procession against "Gypsy Crime" through the northern Hungarian village of Gyongyospata made the headlines. In the meantime, vigilantes are patrolling Gyongyospata, with official toleration of their activities.[8] Observers point out that the justice system does apply the special "racism paragraph" of the law, in cases of violence - against the Roma. For example, recently several Roma were convicted to very long prison terms because they beat a "Magyar".[9] Human rights organizations have begun to protest the fact that the Hungarian authorities are not confronting the extreme right with anything resembling this severity and are allowing the vigilantes to patrol Gyongyospata. According to Amnesty International, for example, activists of the vigilantes stand outside of Roma homes at night "screaming death threats and threatening with weapons and dogs". Sometimes they were "armed with whips and axes".[10] Berlin is not known to have protested its friends' - the Hungarian authorities' - inactivity toward their violence-prone extreme right.

[1] see also Verdienstorden and Die zweite Welle
[2] see also Pillars of the Future, Tragsäulen der Zukunft (II), Pillars of the Future (III) and Tragsäulen der Zukunft (IV)
[3] Das erste Wort sei: Gott; www.pesterlloyd.net 16.03.2011
[4] Die Verfassung Ungarns. Entwurf, Budapest 08.03.2011
[5] Ungarischer Außenminister besucht Berlin; www.auswaertiges-amt.de 04.04.2011
[6] see also Die Donaustrategie, Mama Duna and Unter deutscher Führung
[7] Die EU-Donaustrategie; www.ulm.ihk24.de
[8] Neonazis übernehmen Polizeigewalt in Ungarn; www.pesterlloyd.net 17.03.2011
[9] Rechtsextremer Aufmarsch in Ungarn; www.pesterlloyd.net 08.03.2011
[10] Urgent Action: Roma schikaniert; www.amnesty.de 18.03.2011