Unofficial translation from Hungarian
Position statement issued by the Forum of Hungarian Representatives of the Carpathian Basin (KMKF) plenary session
(Budapest, 31 March – 1 April 2016)
– The Forum of Hungarian Representatives of the Carpathian Basin (Kárpát-medencei Magyar Képviselők Fóruma – KMKF) believes that, in close cooperation with all parts of the nation, Hungarians can face contemporary challenges, and preserve the common Hungarian identity that gives all Hungarian communities and individuals the strength to keep and further develop our values.
– The KMKF believes that stopping the population decline and reversing emigration is only possible if younger generations perceive it viable to stay and succeed in their native land as Hungarians. To achieve that, quality education in Hungarian and, later, job opportunities should be provided. The KMKF welcomes that the Government of Hungary seeks a solution in combining education and economic development, and that this approach provides a foundation for government action, a new stage of which is launching the year of young Hungarian entrepreneurs.
– The KMKF welcomes plans and measures allowing for broader and more effective cooperation between Hungarian economic agents in Hungary and abroad. We would like to highlight the Hungarian Government’s HUF 50 million program in Vojvodina, which aims to support the implementation of the territorial and economic development strategy of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (Vajdasági Magyar Szövetség), and which is expected to stop the trend of Vojvodina youth seeking success abroad. Recognizing that the economy has significant power for keeping the nation together, the KMKF recommends launching similar programs for other parts of the nation – depending on Hungary’s economic capacities.
– The KMKF welcomes the intention of the Government of Hungary to achieve national reunification through ensuring smooth crossing of the state borders, the significant augmentation of the number of border crossing points and the expansion of existing ones.
– The KMKF considers the empowerment of Hungarian youth in the Carpathian Basin a priority, thus it recommends strengthening the role of the Hungarian Youth Conference, and advocates the further development and implementation of government programs that facilitate the success of youth in their native land. 2
– Negative demographic trends and the migration of young people are issues both for Hungarians and for other European nations, and threats to Europe’s future can only be averted if we stand together. The common historical past and a thousand years of co-existence obliges Central-European peoples sharing a common culture to perceive the preservation of their identities not as something weakening and destructive, but as something mutually reinforcing.
– The KMKF urges the region’s countries to further strengthen the developing cooperation mainly on an economic basis, while seeking opportunities to support Hungarian-Hungarian business (business created together by Hungarians in Hungary and abroad), as well as leaning on the common elements of our cultural heritage, particularly the determinant value of linguistic and cultural diversity and attachment to the motherland.
– With respect to the EU’s 2020 energy strategy, the KMKF recommends that Hungarian self-governments and young entrepreneurs in the Carpathian Basin take advantage of already existing, positive experiences and market renewable sources of energy through a common exchange program.
– The KMKF draws Hungarian and international public opinion’s attention to the fact that mass immigration or settlement affects the existence and identity of autochthonous national minorities to a greater extent than that of the autochthonous majority groups. The majority and minority groups have a shared interest in this matter, which could be the basis of cooperation. However, a shift in the interests, caused by our common European issues, will result in the further neglect of the traditional national communities’ issues in the highest European institutions. The KMKF declares that, in order to preserve the traditional characteristics of Europe, and in particular for the survival of minority communities, it is essential to promote the case of autochthonous national minorities and its increased presence in the activities of the highest European institutions.
– The KMKF emphasises that international obligations to protect nationalities may not be ignored in the decision-making process on migration issues currently on the EU agenda. International legal instruments, such as the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, prohibit changing the ethnic proportions of regions inhabited by national minorities. The KMKF promotes the democratic decisions of self-governments in the affected regions and municipalities with regard to migration and aimed at the protection of their own special regional identity. The KMKF further expresses solidarity with the self-governments disproportionately burdened with mass migration.
– Based on the fact that the Council of Europe is the principal site for the development of the international minority-protection system, the KMKF highlights the importance of the orderly and regular performance of the minority-protection review procedures by the Council of Europe in the region’s countries. These monitoring procedures give impetus to States Parties’ efforts, and may result in the favourable evolution of minority-protection standards. The KMKF believes it is unacceptable and against minority-protection expectations that certain governments submit reports on minority rights with two years delay, which contain misstatements, thus endangering the review of compliance with the obligations undertaken in minority-protection agreements. 3
– The KMKF proposes organisations among the Hungarian national communities in the Carpathian Basin to submit shadow reports, which correct the inaccurate or false statements of government reports made on the implementation of minority protection agreements, thus contributing to the adoption of progressive country-specific recommendations.
– The KMKF firmly believes that guaranteeing the rights – including different forms of autonomy – of traditional national minorities in full (as set out by Resolution 1334 (2003) of the Council of Europe) is the best solution for ensuring peace, stability and prosperity for the whole of society, as well as for strengthening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the given states. The KMKF expects the institutions of the European Union to consider this fundamental correlation, stated in the recommendations of the Council of Europe, a point of reference, and calls on all state and political actors in Central and Eastern Europe to recognise this correlation, as this is the only basis on which the situation of these communities can be improved in accordance with European good practices and expectations.
– The KMKF welcomes the recent increased participation of the major Hungarian organizations in parliamentary and municipal elections of the countries in the Carpathian Basin, and winning the majority support of Hungarian voters everywhere. This is essential, as only Hungarian organisations are able to advocate the interests of Hungarian communities in a credible and effective manner.
– It is an especially valuable, although in itself not satisfactory, result that in several districts in South-Slovakia, the increasing involvement of younger generations (which should be further strengthened) allowed the Party of the Hungarian Community (MKP) to become the principal political power, while the mixed party targeting Hungarian voters as well, lost in popularity among Hungarians.
– The KMKF evaluates the performance of Hungarians of Subcarpathia in the Ukrainian municipal elections to be successful, and believes that the cooperation between the Hungarian organisations in these territories should serve as an example for all Hungarian national communities. This success proves that through unity, strong representation can be achieved even under unfavourable circumstances. It is of particular importance that the Hungarian candidates achieved good results even in those Subcarpathian municipalities where the Hungarian communities form a minority.
– The KMKF welcomes the continuing success of the naturalisation and re-naturalisation process, and the enlargement of the Hungarian nation with hundreds of thousands of Hungarian citizens.
– The KMKF welcomes that the National Assembly officialised the Day of the Hungarian Diaspora (the anniversary of the birth and death of prince Gábor Bethlen, 15th November), thus lifting the originally Transylvanian initiative promoted by the KMKF since 2014 to a Carpathian level.
– As the power of the mother tongue in keeping the nation together rarely applies in the minority communities and diaspora most endangered in terms of language, the KMKF considers such an approach necessary in the motherland, which encourages the use of the Hungarian language while strengthening local language values. The KMKF promotes developing and implementing specific programs that inspire the 4
cooperation of different minority communities, whether they live in municipalities populated mostly by Hungarians or not. This is aimed at strengthening Hungarian language use and identity.
– The KMKF deems the support of the Hungarian language education institution of the Csangos in Moldavia useful, and further advocates cooperation between RMPSZ (Association of Hungarian Teachers in Romania), the Association of Csango-Hungarians in Moldavia and institutions in Hungary.
– We expect the Hungarian Government to protect the existing rights of Hungarian minorities by all means, in particular the right to language use. In the event of the more and more frequent, specific violations, the Government – besides moral support – should provide direct and indirect support to those affected.
– We agree that we must take responsibility for sustainability in the Carpathian Basin, and to this end take specific steps to combat threats endangering the whole region, such as technologies involving the use of cyanide. Sustainability, however, does not only mean preserving the natural assets in the Carpathian Basin, but also caring about the values we must protect and nourish in order to preserve and strengthen our identity.
– With regard to the Márton Áron Memorial Year, the KMKF pays homage to the religious, human and political life work of the holy bishop of Transylvania, who advocated peace, justice, our European moral values and backed endangered national and religious communities.
– The KMKF welcomes that the Hungarian religious structures in the Carpathian Basin serve the survival of the nation through fulfilling their own special missions and continuing their basic activities: they strengthen the mental health of the communities through pastoral care and maintain the frameworks of community life. The KMKF especially values that, in the diaspora on the language border, it is often the church, being the last Hungarian institution, that fulfils the role of the border stronghold through taking over all community functions. The KMKF urges the development and implementation of projects that would strengthen Hungarian religious structures, including infrastructure in the diaspora.
– The KMKF supports the case of the restitution of church real property, which should also be a focus of international church fora from a human rights perspective.
– The KMKF supports the efforts of the Hungarian communities in Romania to freely use their national and community symbols and mother tongue, and at the same time protests the restrictive and intimidating measures by the Romanian authorities, including the grave fines for the use of the Székely (Szekler) or Hungarian flags, as well as the massive and unlawful punishments imposed after the Day of Székely Freedom. It further urges closing the case of those wrongfully disgraced as soon as possible, and reinstating officials.
– The KMKF protests the re-nationalisation of church and community real property restituted as a result of legally binding judgements. Furthermore, it promotes the restitution of confiscated church and community property. 5
– The KMKF welcomes the demand of the Hungarian community and the political forces in the Székely Land for territorial autonomy for Székely Land. It supports the autonomy initiatives of the Hungarian communities in Transylvania, and urges a constructive debate of the statutes of autonomy in order to achieve broad political consensus.
– The KMKF expresses its concerns that, under the pretext of the European terrorist threat, anti-Hungarian comments have manifested in the media and from certain officials.
– The KMKF hopes that, following the 2016 Romanian elections, the capacity of Hungarians in Transylvania to promote their interests will remain significant, both on the local and national levels.
– The KMKF hopes that the Party of the Hungarian Community (MKP) can continue on the same path it embarked a few months ago; that it can stabilize and strengthen its position through the cooperation of the Hungarian community in Slovakia and at the same, through leaning on the younger generations, gain parliamentary representation in the next national parliamentary elections.
– The KMKF welcomes that the Via Nova Youth Group and the group of Young Independents, as well as the civil society, especially the Csemadok were successfully involved in the campaign, and that their candidates on the MKP list had remarkable success. These results show that it is fruitful to create and strengthen the possibility of younger generations for engagement.
– The KMKF expresses disappointment that the Slovakian legislation has still not modified the criticised sections of the Citizenship Law in a manner which terminates the administrative restriction on national communities living in Slovakia, and thus prevents them from fully embracing their identity. The KMKF also raises concerns that the modification of the relevant legislation does not meet the expectations of national communities living in Slovakia. We look forward to the new government of Slovakia modifying the relevant legislation in accordance with the expectations of the national communities in the country.
– The KMKF expects that the parliament in Bratislava accepts the modification of the public education act essential for saving the Hungarian-language primary schools.
– The previous Slovakian governments completely ignored the infrastructural and economic development of the southern regions of the country. The KMKF is concerned that the South Slovakian region, mostly populated by Hungarians, is in a severe economic situation, which enhances migration and assimilation, thus accelerating the decline in the number of Hungarians. The KMKF urges the Government of Hungary to use the room for manoeuvre provided by the closer Hungarian-Slovakian cooperation in the field of infrastructure and economy – in coordination with the MKP – in order to draw the attention of its Slovakian partner to the need for the development of the South-Slovakian region. The KMKF draws the Hungarian Government’s attention to the infrastructural and economic development of the region in a similar manner to that of the Subcarpathian region. The plans for 6
the development are included in the economic program of the MKP, the basis of which is the plan named after Gábor Baross.
– The KMKF welcomes the first negotiation chapter opened between Serbia and the European Union on 15 December 2015. The KMKF assures Serbia’s EU-integration intentions of its strongest support, and urges the opening of negotiation chapters 23 and 24, which are of key importance. At the same time, it is pleased to see that the Minority Action Plan related to the 23rd negotiation chapter, prepared by working groups involving the representatives of the Government of Vojvodina and of the national councils, and accepted by the Government of Serbia, meets the expectations of the Hungarian community in Vojvodina.
– The KMKF considers the legislative results achieved by the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (VMSZ) a precedent, which aims at the implementation of the principle of proportional employment. As a result of accepting the VMSZ’s proposal for amendment, Serbia must register the nationality of civil servants, as well as the language of their education with regard to the whole of the public sector, which is a prerequisite of proportional employment. The KMKF considers it a significant progress that, for the first time, legislation stipulates in Serbia, in the case of local or provincial civil servants, that if two candidates with the same qualifications apply for the same position, the one from a national minority must be employed.
– The KMKF considers it an important outcome that in the joint effort of the Government of Hungary, the Government of Vojvodina and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Subotica, the Europe Dormitory was opened last autumn, which serves as a home to young Vojvodina Hungarians studying at the University of Novi Sad and to a few young people of Serbian nationality living in Hungary. Given the housing and study conditions provided by the Europe Dormitory, studying and living in the native land is a realistic alternative, and following the completion of their studies, these young people can become renowned experts and active members of their community.
– The KMKF notes with satisfaction that three Hungarian parties cooperated prior to the 24 April 2016 Serbian elections: the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians, the Democratic Party of Vojvodina Hungarians and the Party of Hungarian Unity. The KMKF hopes that the capacity of the VMSZ will remain significant in protecting minority rights in the Serbian political scene after the elections.
– The KMKF expresses concerns about the protracted Ukrainian crisis, and it supports a negotiated settlement and abiding by the agreements, as opposed to violence.
– The KMKF is convinced that Subcarpathia and the Hungarians in Subcarpathia have an important role in the process of Ukraine’s European integration and in transforming the country into a stable democratic state, where the rights of the national minorities are guaranteed and applied in accordance with the European norms. The solidarity of Hungary and of the Hungarian national communities even with the non-Hungarian population of Subcarpathia has earned recognition for Hungarians everywhere. 7
– The KMKF condemns Ukrainian extreme nationalistic manifestations aimed at inciting hostilities between nationalities and at intimidating the minority population.
– At the same time, the KMKF welcomes that learning Hungarian is more and more popular among young people of non-Hungarian origin studying in Ukrainian-language schools. The KMKF urges the Government of Hungary to continue supporting the learning of Hungarian and spreading Hungarian culture in this group of people sympathising with Hungarians.
– The KMKF is committed to supporting the effort of Subcarpathian Hungarians to ensure the right to self-determination of the Hungarian community through administrative reform, and to create a district with a centre in Berehove, which integrates Hungarians living in a coherent area under the same administrative unit.
– The KMKF declares that it continues to support reinstating the constituency with Hungarian majority, the development of an administrative unit of Hungarian majority, and the creation of an independent Hungarian school district in Subcarpathia.
– The KMKF is satisfied that the new Croatian government, which provides the national communities with substantial financial support in an appropriate manner, wishes to re-establish the traditionally good Croatian-Hungarian relationship, which deteriorated during the previous term.
– The KMKF further urges the passing of a general nationality programme law, which fosters the survival and the promotion of Hungarians’ interests in the Prekmurje region, helps the stable operation of their institutions, and incorporating the practical implementation of bilingualism guaranteed in the Constitution of Slovenia into a more effective framework. It also underlines the importance of and advocates the economic efforts essential for Prekmurje, which consider ensuring that youth stays in the native land a priority, and which are based on help from the Hungarian and Slovenian governments.
Budapest, 1 April 2016