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in Central Europe

Governmental infringements against
Hungarian minorities
in Romania, Slovakia, Serbia and Ukraine

Printed in 2016

Before the 10th century, a series of mass human
migration took place in Europe. The Carpathian
Basin in Central Europe was conquered by Hungarians in 896 and ruled by the Kingdom of Hungary up to the mid 1500's. Subsequent foreign
occupancy caused severe loss of population, especially in the southern and eastern periphery,
which was later compensated by large waves of
immigration from the neighboring territories.
Following Hungary’s defeat in WW1 and the
subsequent disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Hungary lost two-thirds of
her territory, and 31% of Hungarians (3.1 million
people) were left outside the country.

Hungarians (marked by red) outside of Hungary,
in the Carpathian Basin

Promises given with respect to minority rights
during peace treaties were never respected.
The Peace of Paris in 1948 disregarded again
the ethnic backgrounds and restored the postWW1 borders. Hungarian minorities are not
considered as an intercultural bridge, but rather as an enemy which has to be eliminated. A
series of severe harassments and discrimination led to a dramatic decrease in the ethnic
Hungarian population.

animals than in the area of traditional national
A series of rights, which have been assured
- thanks to their decisive actions - to other
traditional national minorities in Europe, has
never been granted to Hungarians in Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania or Serbia. The Council
of Europe just phrases a series of “recommendations”, which are not binding, while the European Union does not pay attention to the
problem, which further encourages an offensive attitude. However a series of good practices
are known, which could serve as procedures to
be followed.

A reassuring solution could be if minority rights
were fully granted including cultural and territorial autonomy. However the European Union
pays much more attention and drafted more
binding laws in favor of the rights of domestic

Best practices in Europe
Swedes in Finland (~200.000) • Swedish language is official and in use in the entirety of Finland. The full spectrum of education, including
Swedish-language state universities is granted.
The Aland Islands with a majority of Swedish
population enjoy extensive territorial autonomy.

scriptions are bilingual, public bodies and most
companies provide services in Welsh. In about
one third of all schools Welsh is the language
of education. Successful efforts are made to
spread the language in higher education.
Catalans in Spain (~6.000.000) • Catalonia has
its own government with broad autonomy, and
Catalan is the mainly used official language in
Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.

Welsh in Great Britain (~600.000) • Welsh is an
official language within autonomous Wales: in3

Austrians in South Tyrol (~300.000) • This region is granted a high level of self-government
such as a wide range of exclusive legislative
and executive powers. German and Italian are
both official languages, and Austria has the status of protective power. Some forms of higher
education in German is granted in South Tyrol,
and, furthermore, upon a bilateral agreement,
also in Austria.

tion in Albanian language is provided on all levels, including university levels. Albanian-speaking regions in the west of the country have
community autonomy.
Gagauz in the Republic of Moldova (~150.000) •
Gagauzia is a "national-territorial autonomous
unit" with three official languages: Romanian, Gagauz, and Russian. Access to education,
along with a state-financed university in Gagauzian language, are also granted.

Albanians in Macedonia (~500.000) • Albanian
language is co-official with Macedonian. Educa-

The situation of Hungarian minorities
The Hungarian community is the most significant national minority group in Romania, and
one of the largest traditional national minorities in Europe. Counting more than 1.25 million,
they represent 6.5% of the population of Romania. The number and percentage of Hungarians
is continuously dropping (in 1977, they counted
1.8 million, representing 8% of the population).
During the Communist regime (1948-1989), ethnic relations in a series of Transylvanian cities
with Hungarian majority were changed because Romanians were settled in those cities.

Ethnic map of Transylvania.
Hungarians are marked by red.

A region with an overwhelming ethnic Hungarian
majority, an area of 12.000 km2 and a population
of 800.000 is Szeklerland, but compact areas
with a significant amount of Hungarian population are present in several parts of northern
and western Transylvania as well.

in the Romanian Government rather served a
window dressing purpose than granting minority rights. The Romanian government sustains
a “Department for Inter-ethnic Relations”, an
institution of Potemkin character, in order to
make the false impression that they are ready
to support traditional national minorities.

The Romanian authorities intend to assimilate
the local Hungarian population. This attitude
was present during the entire period following WW1, including the interwar period and
the Communist era, and has not changed during the period after the fall of the Communist
regime. The Romanian constitution sets forth
that Romanian is a unitary and indivisible National State. The participation of Hungarians

Hungarian language is not official. Language
usage in public administration and bilingual
inscriptions are deficient even in the regions
with a Hungarian majority or a substantial Hungarian population. Fundamental rights and
civil liberties are openly infringed in the case
of leaders and NGO-s standing up for minority
rights, while the usage of regional and minority symbols are banned. Economic discrimina4

tion against the Szeklerland is obvious, and, as
a consequence, it became one of the poorest
regions in the country. Hungarian leaders are
under-represented in state institutions and in
the police as well.

This is best illustrated by the case related to the
Székely Mikó College in 2012. After the property
was lawfully returned to the Reformed Church, a
Romanian court made a decision about its re-nationalization, while it also imposed a prison sentence on two members of the Restitution Committee.

Hungarian pupils face discrimination starting from
early school years. Romanian language is taught in
an inefficient way (as a mother tongue, not as a foreign language), and history books are full with anti-Hungarian sentiments. Hungarians are severely
under-represented in higher education (according
to the official statistics, only 4.5% of the students
in higher education are Hungarian). There is no
state-financed Hungarian university, and in the
mixed institutions the language rights of the academic communities are severely abused. In order
to improve the situation, Hungary is maintaining a
private university in Transylvania.

Under the cover of fight against corruption,
obviously innocent Hungarian leaders are harassed, especially those who are standing up for
minority rights or implementing restitution. A
striking case is the restitution of the Catholic
High-School from Târgu Mureș/Marosvásár­
hely, restituted to the Roman Catholic Church
in 2004. Subsequent legal processes were lost
by the ultra-nationalist Romanian mayor, and
the restitution verdict was confirmed by the
Romanian High Court. However in 2016, proceedings were brought against the director
of the school and the scholar inspector of the
county, and the latter was even arrested.

Despite the fact that Romania joined a series
of international agreements on the protection
of national minorities, such as the Framework
Convention for the Protection of National Minority Rights, these have never been implemented. Moreover, Romania breaks its own laws. If
the Hungarian community demands by law
that they be put in practice, endless legal procedures follow in order to preserve the illegal
situation and the violation of language rights.

• Braking the Law on Education • Article no.135
of the Romanian Law on Education no. 1/2011
guarantees the right of national minorities to
establish their own departments at explicitely
listed multilinguistic universities, this has never been allowed at the Medical and Pharmacy
University of Târgu-Mureș/Marosvásárhely, listed by the law. Moreover, the government led
by Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu was overthrown
in 2012 by extreme nationalsits while trying to

As a positive practice, we can list the relatively
developed school network, and the fact that
every traditional national minority in Romania
has the right to send a representative to the
Romanian Parliament. There is no law that forbids dual citizenship (note that the country also
grants Romanian citizenship for Romanians living abroad).

Most striking abuses
• Restitution of nationalized property • The
Communist regime disregarded the right to private ownership, and the restitution process is
still uncompleted. Since the Hungarian Historical
Churches are amongst those who suffered the
largest losses during the nationalization process,
the matter obviously has an ethnic dimension.

The Medical and Pharmacy University in Târgu
Mureș / Marosvásárhely. Not only the name
shield is exclusively Romanian.

implement the law. As such, a Romanian prime
minister could be forced to resign because he
tried to urge a university rector to follow the law.

sentatives fine and sue those who do not obey.
They argue falsely that according to Law 75/1994
on the usage of the national flag of Romania it is
prohibited to hoister any other flag than the one
of the state or the European Union.

• Inappropriate teaching of Romanian language • Despite the fact that even the National
Board Against Discrimination called for teaching Romanian language to Hungarian pupils as
a foreign language, this is not implemented in
the V-XII classes (in which pupils are aged 10-18).
Hungarian children are taught Romanian as if it
was their mother tongue, so they do not learn
the type of Romanian vocabulary that would
enable them to learn proper everyday Romanian. Therefore, their chances of getting into
Romanian universities and finding good jobs is
seriously jeopardizad.

Note that in the city of Câmpia Turzii/Aranyosgyéres, the city flag is mounted on a large number of pylons, while nobody is bothered by this
• Neglecting the use of minority languages •
According to the Romanian Law of 215/2001 on
public administration, in administrative-territorial units where the percentage of a minority
group is above 20%, their language should be
used in relation with public authorities. However, out of the 323 municipalities where the
percentage of Hungarians is above the 20%
threshold, only 36.5% of the letters requesting
public information in Hungarian language were
responded to, and 3.4% of the mayor’s offices
local council decisions were uploaded on their
respective webpages in both Romanian and

• Punishing the use of minority languages •
Several examples are known when Hungarian,
English and German-speaking persons addressing the Police were abused by police officers,
who consider it an offense if somebody does
not speak Romanian. A Dutch citizen was even
handcuffed during such an event.
• Hunt against national symbols • The Romanian state authorities pursue a witch-hunt against
the hoisters of the Szekler (Szeklers are a group
of Hungarians living in the eastern part of Transylvania) flag forcing mayor’s offices, county
councils and private persons to remove such
flags from their buildings, and authority repre-

“Hungarian” site of the official homepage
of the city of Oradea / Nagyvárad, with 23%
of Hungarian population. The header of the
Hungarian site is posted in Romanian, while
the content is a bizarre and unedited mixture in
Romanian and Hungarian.
Officials of the Hungarian minority and the USA
ambassador in Romania with the Szekler flag.
This picture triggered hysteric reactions from the
Romanian diplomacy.

• Missing multilingual signs • According to the
Romanian law (215/2001, Article 76) in territorial units where the percentage of a national minority group is, according to the 1992 census,

is at least 20%, the name of the settlement and
the local institutions has to be displayed also in
the language of that minority group.

sylvania - refused to place Hungarian name
plates. In 2013, a civil organization sued the city,
demanding to put up multilingual city name
plates. During the trial, the mayor's office tried
to contradict to this with absurd arguments.
They declared that “if rights are offered to a
national minority group, they will turn against
the state, so no language rights should be given to such groups”.

Sign warning about the risks of high speed
mounted next to the border of Odorheiu Secuiesc
/ Székelyudvarhely / Odorhellen. Although the
city has a Hungarian population of 95%, the text
on the yellow plate is exclusively in Romanian.
However, name plates of the local branches of
the National Police (they report to the Ministry
of Internal Affairs) are exclusively in Romanian in
the entire country.

Unknown person placed Hungarian and German
name shields below the Romanian one. These
were immediately removed by the Police.
The Babeș-Bolyai University in the same city,
formed by forcibly merging the Hungarian
Bolyai University into a larger Romanian institution, declared itself as “multicultural”. This
statement is an important element in Romanian

Police shield in the village of Săvădisla/
Tordaszentlászló, with majoritary Hungarian
population. The placement of bilingial signs was
forced by suingthe Police. However, couple of
days after the trial, the Hungarian words have
been gloved.
Moreover, all inscriptions warning on danger,
and most other other road signs are displayed
only in Romanian.
The Mayor's office of Cluj/Kolozsvár/Klausenburg, with a Hungarian community of 50,000
- the second largest among the cities in Tran-

Official propaganda about the nonexistent
multilingual signs at the Babeș-Bolyai University.

propaganda. However Babeș-Bolyai University
does not even tolerate Hungarian and German
signs on its walls: when such signs were placed
by an assistant professor, they were torn down
and trampled on by the security employees of
the university, and the professor was fired.
• Singing national anthems prohibited? • The
prefect of Covasna County, Marius Popica has
astonished the members of the Hungarian
community from Sfântu Gheorghe/Sepsiszent­
györgy with an intensified series of attacks
against Hungarian inscriptions and Szekler symbols. In 2014, the prefect targeted the Hungarian
anthem as well by imposing a fine of EUR 1,200
on the organizers of a commemorative meeting,
which was an unprecedented act in the European Union. However he did not have the courage
to punish a scientist from Switzerland who recited the German, British, French and Russian national anthems in front of Popica's office. Hungarian politicians voiced their concerns that the
prefect's latest attacks against the community's
culture and symbols would only further radicalize the community's members. Subsequently
the punishment was withdrawn.

Day of Szekler Freedom

ed to ban or hinder Hungarian demonstrations,
like the “Day of the Szekler Freedom”. In 2016,
the authorities started to impose fines on participants amounting to EUR 13,700 in 50 cases
for participating in an undeclared, unregistered
or prohibited public meeting, and EUR 2,200 in
more than 40 cases for making excessive noise.
Many of the fined individuals were not even
present in the city on the days of the demonstrations mentioned above.


• Outlawry punishments against minority
leaders • In the last few years the Romanian
public authorities have continuously attempt-

Transcarpathia, formerly known as Northwest
Hungary, changed hands several times during
the 20th century. After WW1 it was attached to
Czechoslovakia, while following WW2 it was
annexed by the Soviet Union. In 1944 collective
guiltiness for Hungarians and Germans was officially declared, which served as the ideological
base for the deportation of almost thirty thousand men aged 18-50. Only a fraction of them
were able to return. Since 1991, Transcarpathia
has been the westernmost region of Ukraine.
During a referendum organized in 1991, 78%
of the Transcarpathian population voted for
a “special status” for the region including elements of economic and cultural autonomy, but
this will has never been adopted.

In 1941, 230,000 persons living in this region declared Hungarian to be their mother tongue.
According to the official census in 2001 the
number of Hungarians was about 150,000

Recitation of various national anthems in front
of the Prefect’s Office in Sfântu Gheorghe /

Attempts are made to exclude the Hungarian
community from political decision-making.
Hungarian students face discrimination starting
from early school years. Ukrainian language is
taught in an inefficient way (as a mother tongue,
not as a foreign language), and history books
are full of anti-Hungarian sentiments and there
is a severe lack of Hungarian textbooks.
Due to severe discriminatory measures, Hungarians are under-represented in higher education:
although they represent 12% of the population in
Transcarpathia, only 4% of the students from this
region are Hungarian. In order to overcome this
situation, the Hungarian state sustains the Ferenc Rákóczi II. Transcarpathian Hungarian College in Beregovo/Beregszász. Besides this institution, the Uzhgorod National University offers
higher education in Hungarian at the Faculty of
Humanities and Natural Sciences. There is no
state-financed Hungarian university in Ukraine.

Hungarians in Transcarpathia
people, representing 12% of the population in
Transcarphathia. The Hungarian community in
Transcarpathia is mostly concentrated in the
lowlands along the Hungarian border, where
they form a majority.
In Ukraine, the legal status of the minorities are
defined by the Constitution of Ukraine (1996),
Ukraine’s Declaration of Nationality Rights
(1991), the Law of Ukraine about National Minorities (1992), The Law of Ukraine about Principles of the state language policy (2012), the
Law of Ukraine On Education (1991), as well as
a great number of lower-order decrees. However Ukraine cannot be considered as being a
state with the rule of law: some of these laws
are contradictory, or are simply ignored.

Although Article 6 of The Law of Ukraine about
National Minorities guarantees the use and
learning in their native languages in state educational establishments for ethnic minority
groups, at present a law is being drafted, which
would further restrict the education in minority
languages. This would just “offer the possibility”
to teach some subjects in Hungarian, while a series of subjects should be taught in Ukrainian.
Moreover, minority language education could be
organized only in regions where a minority represents a substantial amount of the population.

The Law of Ukraine about Principles of the
state language policy (2012) does not set forth
any mandatory measures on the official status
of minority languages: according to Article 7 of
this law, they might be official regional languages if they are spoken by more than 10% of the
population. Therefore, its implementation solely depends on the grace of the local authorities.
As a consequence, the Hungarian language
might not have an official status even in settlements with a large Hungarian population, and
its use in public administration is also very restricted. Bilingual inscriptions are deficient in
the regions with a Hungarian majority as well.

Ukrainian laws do not grant the rights to national minorities to parliamentary representation. Moreover, the electoral districts are often
re-shaped according to momentary needs of
corrupted politicians, and in such circumstances districts with Hungarian majority groups are
neglected. It is tragi-comical that the Ukrainian
Constitution (Article 4) recognizes only single
citizenship, but most of the representatives in
the Ukrainian Parliament have dual citizenship.
Despite this fact, people possessing Hungarian
passports are often harassed.


As a good practice we mention that the bilingual municipality name plates mounted by
the Hungarian Cultural Association of Trancarpathia and other organizations have not been
removed by the authorities. There is a growing
interest from the part of Ukrainian, Rusyn, and
Russian-speaking people in Transcarpathia to
learn the Hungarian language.

• Hindering language rights • The Law of
Ukraine about Principles of the state language
policy passed in 2012 offers the possibility for
settlements with a minority population exceeding 10%, to declare their language as an
official one. However several cases are know
when, despite the intention of the Hungarian
community, this attempt fails. A striking example for this is that of the village of Chop/Csap,
with a Hungarian population of 39%, where the
initiative was abolished after a series of hate
speeches by Ukranian representatives. Even
the enactment of this law does not guarantee
real bilingual status.

Most striking abuses
•Entrance examinations for higher education•
Although Art. 7 of the Law on Education, as
well as Article 20 on the Law of Ukraine about
Principles of the state language policy guarantees the right to national minorities to study
in their mother tongue, the Ukrainian Ministry
of Education introduced, in 2008, an obligatory
test of Ukrainian language for those, who intend
to get admission into a university in Ukraine.
This test, having the clear aim to discriminate
national minorities, demands mother-tongue
level knowledge of the Ukrainian language
for all faculties (even for natural sciences). Although according to the 2012 language law it
should be possible for minority pupils to perform the exam in their mother tongue instead
of in Ukrainian language, this law has simply
never been implemented for those belonging
to the Hungarian minority. For this reason, a
large number of students prefer to educate
themselves in Hungary, and they leave Transcarpathia.

• Desecration of Hungarian monuments•
Monuments, which are of national interest for
Hungarians, like the Monument of the Hungarian Conquest at Verecke pass, or the statue of
the Hungarian poet Petőfi in Uzhgorod/Ungvár
is often desecrated by Ukrainian nationalists.

• Attempts are made to exclude the Hungarian
community from political decision-making •
According to Article III./18/2/3. on the Parliamentary Elections Act, the territories populated predominantly by ethnic minorities should
belong to a single constituency while forming
electoral districts. However shortly before
the parliamentary elections in 2014, the Central Election Commission decided to tailor the
districts by ignoring this law. Hungarians have
a single representative in the Ukrainian Parliament, delegated, upon a political deal, by a
Ukrainian party.

The Monument of the Hungarian Conquest after
its vandalization in 2014
•Missing Hungarian inscriptions • The Law of
Ukraine on Principles of the state language policy Art 11/6 declares the possibility of mounting
signs in minority languages if more than 10% of
the population belongs to a certain minority.
In spite of this, no Hungarian inscriptions are
present on Police offices and railway stations.
Hungarian inscriptions on multilingual signs are
often vandalized.


•Harassment due to dual citizenship• Several Hungarians were selectively harassed after
taking up Hungarian citizenship, although dual
citizenship is quite common in Ukraine, even
among politicians. The most striking case was
that of László Lengyel, head of the Education
Board of the county of Beregovo/Beregszász,
who was fired in May 2016 after a Ukrainian official noticed his Hungarian passport.

Hungarian sign vandalized in the village of


Moreover, during the European Football Cup
in 2012, a series of bilingual (Ukrainian-Hungarian) signs and municipality name plates were
changed to Ukrainian- phonetical English ones,
even in regions with a substantial Hungarian

The Hungarian community living in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina (northwestern part
of Serbia) counts, based on the extrapolation
form the 2011 census, about 210.000 persons, representing 12% of the population in the province.
They form a majority group in the middle-northern part of Vojvodina. In 1948, the percentage of
Hungarians was about 26%, while they counted
428,000 persons, so the decrease was about 50%.

Ukrainian-English municipality name shield
of Beregovo/Beregszász, mostly populated by

Hungarians (marked by yellow) in Vojvodina
(north-western province of Serbia)
Vojvodina, the former Southern Hungary, was
attached to Yugoslavia after WW1. During
WW2, for three years it was part of Hungary
again. At the end of WW2, about 40,000 people of Hungarian and German nationality were
killed by the partisans, who re-conquered
Vojvodina. After the breakup of the country in
the 1990’s, it became a part of Serbia-Montenegro, and after the independence of Serbia

Rather English than Hungarian as the second
language: a river name plate in the Chop/Csap
region with a large Hungarian population

Most striking abuses

(2006) remained part of the country, but its autonomy is rather formal.

• Altering ethnic proportions • During the
wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo there were
massive resettlements to Vojvodina. The Serbian government moved Serbian refugees, who
fled war zones, among others, to municipalities where the majority of the population were
Hungarians. This is contrary to the Framework
Convention of protection of National Minorities (art 16). Recently, people originating from
Kosovo are often settled to municipalities with
Hungarian majority.

The rights of national minorities are granted by
the Constitution of Serbia (2006), the Law on
Protection Rights of National Minorities, adopted in 2002, and the Law on National Minority
Councils (2009). However there is a discrepancy
between the theoretically declared rights, and
those, which are implemented in practice. The
national minority councils only have powers of
initiation, proposals, monitoring and advisory
powers. This means that the constitution guarantees only limited cultural autonomy for the
national minorities. Even more, in 2014, the Serbian Constitutional Court (decision 576) decreased
the authorities of the National Minority Councils.

• Re-shaping administrative districts • In 1992
the Hungarian majority district (okrug) (Subotica/Szabadka) was dismantled. Municipalities of
Ada/Ada, Senta/Zenta and Kanjiza/Magyarkanizsa, formerly belonging to this region, were
attached to the Kikinda district with Serbian
majority. Presently no district with Hungarian
majority exists in Vojvodina.

The attitude of the Serbian government against
minorities is hostile. Attempts to change ethnic
relationships by settling foreigners in the regions
with Hungarian majority, still continues. The
proportional employment of Hungarians in the
public sector is not carried out. Administrative
districts comprising of the regions with a Hungarian majority have been tailored in such a way that
Hungarians were pushed Hungarians to minority
status. Although in 2011 a Law on Rehabilitation
was adopted, and is supposed to conduct the restitution of property to those, who were unjustly
deprived of property after the WW2, the Serbian
Prosecutors’ Office and the Restitution Agency
make every effort to slow down the process.

• Rehabilitation and restitution hindered •
Prosecutors hinder the implementation of
favorable decisions by (often repeatedly) appeals. The Restitution Agency made almost no
progress in 2014-2016, in most cases even trials
were not set out.
• Justice issues • During legal procedures, in
several cases Hungarians are more severely
punished than the sentences usually imposed
for similar crimes committed by Serbs. An example is known as the “case in Temerin”.

The University of Novi Sad/Újvidék has a Hungarian faculty to train teachers for the lower section of primary schools, and there is a
Technical College with Hungarian education in
Subotica/Szabadka. There is no state-financed
Hungarian university in Serbia, and Hungarian
students are severely under-represented in
higher education: in Vojvodina they represent
only 6.6% of the students. A series of problems
are present in public education as well.

• Hungarian entrance exam denied • The
Faculty of Law at the University of Novi Sad/
Újvidék is the only one (out of 14) not allowing
students to take their entrance exam in Hungarian. This Faculty committed an infringement since they are bound by a governmental
decision (6-2/2015) to do that. The Union of
Hunga­rian Students in Vojvodina filed a lawsuit
against the Faculty in December 2015.

Serbian language and the Cyrillic script are officially in use in all the 45 municipalities, while
the Hungarian language is officially used in 31
municipalities in Vojvodina.

• Language usage hindered • The right of use
of the Hungarian language is often not carried
out in practice. In municipalities with minoritary

Hungarian population, multilingual scripts and
documentation are often not implemented.

al hostile against the Hungarian minority. Minority languages are not official. The use of the
Hungarian language in administration is occasional and restricted, even in the regions with
a Hungarian majority. Inscriptions in minority
languages are usually missing, since there is no
binding law requiring them. The State Language
Law of Slovakia severely hinders the use of minority languages and punishes any “infraction”,
often leading to absurd situations. As a reprisal
against the decision of the Hungarian government to grant citizenship for Hungarians living
abroad, Slovakia decided to withdraw Slovakian citizenship from those acquiring a foreign
one: this is even in conflict with the Slovak Constitution, which sets forth that no one can be
deprived of it. Therefore, Hungarians in Slovakia have to keep in secret their second citizenship.

• Problems with Hungarian textbooks • The
state has been unable to solve the problem of
schoolbook publishing in Hungarian for years. A
series of Hungarian textbooks are missing. Moreover, the content of history books depicts Hungarian people as a guilty and inferior population.

The Hungarian minority in Slovakia is the largest one in the country, comprising 458,000 persons and representing 8.5% of the population.
They form the majority of the population in
the southern part of present-day Slovakia. The
most significant region populated by Hungarians is the Danube Lowland (Žitný ostrov, Csallokoz), with a territory of 3000 km2 and a population of about 210,000, out of which more than
75% are Hungarians.

Hungarian students face discrimination starting
from early school years. The Slovak language is
taught in an inefficient way (as a mother tongue,
not as a foreign language), and history books
are full of anti-Hungarian sentiments.
As a positive practice we can just mention that
a state-financed Hungarian university exists in
the city of Komarno/Komárom.

Hungarians in the territory of the present-day
Slovakia in 1910 and 1991

Most striking abuses

The number of Hungarians living within the territory of present-day Slovakia has dramatically decreased, both in absolute and in relative terms.
Before WW1 they counted more than 880,000,
almost double of the present-day population.
This was mostly the consequence of the Beneš
decrees, which, in 1945, imposed, collective guilt
on the Hungarian and German minority, and that
of the subsequent and disproportionate population exchange between Slovakia and Hungary.
Assimilation efforts orchestrated by the Czechoslovakian, and later (after the disintegration of
Czechoslovakia) by the Slovak government also
confined national minorities.

• The Beneš Decrees: collective guilt confirmed in the European Union • Some of the
shameful decrees, imposing collective guilt,
are still valid, although not operative: by the
Law 1487/2007 the Slovak Parliament reinforced their validity. Despite the fact that they
have not been applied since 1948, the property
confiscated by these decrees has never been
restituted. Karel Schwarzenberg, candidate for
the Presidency of the Czech Republic declared
that “What we committed in 1945 would today
be considered a grave violation of human rights
and the Czechoslovak government, along with
president Beneš, would have found themselves
in The Hague”. Slovakia seems to be one of the
very few civilized countries in the world where
collective guilt is declared by the state.

A series of basic minority rights are still missing, and the governmental attitude is in gener13

• The lack of multilingual signs • According
to the Slovak Act on the Use of National Minority Languages, multilingual municipality name
plates have to be displayed if more than 20% of
the population belongs to a certain minority.
This provision is often simply ignored. Local authorities are not allowed to display road signs:
this is the privilege of the National Road Administration. Multilingual signs displayed by civilians are in most cases removed by the police.
Activists of the Bilingual Southern Slovakia
Movement install, at a railway station, a
Hungarian-language sign next to the Slovak one.
The Hungarian sign was immediately removed.
dual citizenship, although this practice is in conflict with the Slovak Constitution itself. A recent
and gross incident was the one concerning
Mrs. Ilonka Tamás, a well-known 99-year-old
teacher. Mrs. Tamás was born in the Kingdom
of Hungary. After WW1 she became a citizen of
Czechoslovakia and, after the disintegration of
the country, that of Slovakia. After accepting
Hungarian citizenship in 2011, her Slovak one
has been annulated. She died in 2016 at the age
of 104 during the lawsuit to reinstate her Slovak citizenship.
• Absurd punishments based on the State Language Act • The State Language Act allows
persons and bodies to be fined if they use a minority language instead of the Slovak language
in certain circumstances. In 2010, a Hungarian
TV station from Komárno/Komárom, a town
mostly populated by Hungarians, was punished
because they did not translate into Slovak a
clip advertising a Hungarian newspaper. In the
same year, a TV station from Sturovo/Párkány,
another town with Hungarian majority, was
punished for advertisements in Hungarian, and
was imposed 2 sentences for speaking in Hungarian in a report about a local traffic accident.
In 2010, the regional “My Nitra” newspaper was
punished for a Hungarian advertisement of a
company from Hungary. The Hungarian youth
camp Gombaszek/Gombaszög is currently under investigation because the organizers did
not translate their name into Slovak on their

Hungarian name plate of the village of Pered,
same in Slovak being installed by civilians. Later
the sign was photographed by a Policemen as
“corpus delicti”, and subsequently removed.
The Act on the Use of National Minority Languages permits, but does not oblige the National Railway Company to display multilingual
signs on railway stations. Since the company
literally sabotages this issue by continually refusing to display bilingual signs, young activists
from the Bilingual Southern Slovakia Movement installed a number of railway signs. These
were also immediately removed by the police.
• Dual citizenship deprivation • Slovakia strips
citizenship of those who assert their right to

A3 sized poster. In 2014, the municipality of
Komárno/Komárom was threatened with a fine
of 33,190 EUR if they did not remove the Hungarian-English translations from the local Slovak-only touristic signs, which were displayed
by local associations with the municipality’s
help. The municipality removed the signs.

dence of injuries was not enough to convince
the authorities about the fact. After 10 years
of various legal quibbles the case is still not
closed. Furthermore, she was turned from a
plaintiff’s position to that of a defendant, because the authorities said that she was lying
in court. Even more, in 2013, the prosecutors intended to send her into asylum. The process is
still pending, and in the meantime Hedvig Mali-

• Economic discrimination • Hungarians are
under-represented in the management of
state-owned companies, firms and institutions.
The state policy of financial supports and the
standard of the public road infrastructure lags
behind the country average in the southern regions inhabited by Hungarians.
• Deprived language rights in administration •
According to the Act on the Use of National
Minority Languages, there is no obligation for
public administration bodies a citizen communicates with to use Hungarian. The citizen’s
“right” is therefore an empty one: the state
body has a “right” not to communicate in Hungarian. Essentially, the “right” to use a minority
language simply means that in some instances
the use of the language is not prohibited.

Hedvig MALINA was severely injured
during the attack.
na and her family moved to Hungary.

Until 1 June 2016 the Hungarian minority was
entitled to submit documents in their native
language in court proceedings, which would be
translated by the court. According to the new
Code of Civil Procedure, these documents have
to be translated at the expense of the party
submitting them. The act does not contain the
right to use the native language in civil procedures, only to persons who do not understand
Slovak. There are no provisions about using
the minority language during the processes for
persons, who otherwise understand Slovak,
which is the case of the vast majority of Hungarians in Slovakia.

• Territorial sub-division • In 1996 Slovakia was
divided into eight regions with seventy-nine
districts. The regions were formed around the
largest cities. The regions comprising the Žitný ostrov/Csallóköz, with a Hungarian majority,
were divided into 3 separate regions. Although
Hungarians constituted more than 10% of the
population at the time, there are no regions
with a Hungarian majority, and from the 79 districts only 2 have Hungarian majority. The election system and the election districts of the
regions were designed in a way to make sure
that Hungarians would never win a majority of
seats in any regional assembly, or the position
of Head of the region. The current division also
significantly hinders the implementation of
language rights since all seats in regional governments are located in municipalities where
there is no substantial presence of Hungarians.

• The case of Hedvig MALINA • In 2006, Hedvig Malina, a student at that time, was attacked
and batteredt by unknown perpetrator(s) because she was speaking in Hungarian during
a phone call in the street. She immediately
turned to the police and to doctors. The evi-