If today’s European politicians and decision-makers knew more about Hungarian history, they would be more cautious and prudent when talking about Hungarians, said István Pásztor, president of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians, in Brussels earlier this month. If we compare Hungarians to the European nations to the west of us, we can walk a bit prouder, we have plenty to be proud of, he added.
Commemorating the 170th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence of 1848-1849, an event organized by the Hungarian delegation of the European People’s Party Group and the Hungarian Wave Public and Cultural Society, the Vojvodina leader said that “March 15 ended neither with Şiria (Világos), nor with Arad,” referring to symbolic places of the Habsburg’s violent retaliation against Hungarians.
It was written in the history books one hundred and seventy years ago that Hungary is the home of parliamentary democracy, said Pásztor, adding that “[i]t would be impossible to tell all this to those, who, as European decision-makers or experts, observe the decisions of Hungarians with blank amazement. However, this is not our responsibility. It would be our responsibility, if we concealed what we represent, what we are. As we did not do so in 1848-49, we do not do so today.”
Hungarians will not change their mind, he said, but with a “certain sadness” they realize that in Europe the idea of understanding the other side, as well as the concept of paying attention to the voters and meeting certain basic standards, has become worn out and abandoned.
The ethnic Hungarian community in Vojvodina expected the national government in 2010 to “wash away the shame of the denial of brotherhood that occurred in 2004 [when a popular referendum on dual citizenship failed to pass],” said Pásztor. “We’ve got more and better in the last eight years than we’ve been asking for. Thus, we will do everything we can so that no one can take this feeling – the feeling of national cohesion – from us.”
Freedom must be fought for by every generation, added MEP Andor Deli. This is the message of the heroes of 1848. Hungarians also knew this in 1956, when they rebelled against the Soviet communist terror, as well as in 1989 when against a socialist dictatorship they stood up for a democratic, European future, Deli said.
He recalled that in the way the national unity of 1848 gave freedom and self-esteem back to Hungarians, the Hungarian nation, together, holding on to each other, has achieved many things in the past couple of years. The progress made was seriously jeopardized in 2015, but with the physical and legal border fence, illegal immigration was successfully stopped.
“Although the situation seems to be stable, we, Hungarians have already been taught by destiny and history, that freedom is quite a volatile phenomenon, which is also very hard to achieve,” said MEP Deli.
“One should know how to acquire freedom, but also how to preserve it,” he added. “The stake is enormous and everyone is needed to enable Hungary and the nation – faithfully to the legacy of 1848 – to continue to walk on its own path.”