Kövér in Cluj: Hungary sets the record straight

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By Modeste Schwartz.

Hungary/Romania – Viktor Orbán’s annual speech in Tusnádfürdő, now widely followed and eagerly anticipated, even by members of the international press, generally contains political professions of faith and strategic road-maps which extend far beyond Magyar-Romanian relations, or those of Hungary with its extra-territorial minority living on Romanian soil – they touch upon the future of Hungary as a whole, and often also that of the region, ever since the region has begun attempting to gain institutional identity, notably through the Visegrád Group, whose political engine is Orbán’s strong personality.

After a (too) rapid reading, one could interpret along the same lines the speech given last Monday by László Kövér (President of the Hungarian Parliament and a historical pillar of FIDESZ) at the opening ceremony of a series of Hungarian cultural events in Cluj-Napoca (Kolozsvár, in Hungarian), the historical capital of Transylvania: based only on a quick review of the themes addressed, one would be falsely tempted to see only a sort of seismic aftershock of the very important speech delivered ten days earlier by Orbán at Tusnádfürdő, on this same Transylvanian land, and before a public seemingly consisting of this very same Hungarian national minority of Romania.

Appearances are deceptive. In Tusnádfürdő, located in the heart of the Szekler Land (an ethnic enclave where Hungarian-speakers are very much the majority, although it is located in the middle of Romania), Orbán was de facto speaking on Hungarian soil, before a public which included many leaders of his own FIDESZ party on a Transylvanian tour. Kövér, on the other hand, spoke in Cluj, where Hungarians are in a minority (15% according to official statistics – a little more in reality, particularly during the academic year, because of the temporary presence of many Szekler students in this university town). And if we read it carefully, we realize that Kövér’s speech was addressed primarily to the local Hungarian minority as a minority and to the Romanian majority that surrounds it.

Here is a significant passage:

“We Hungarians wish all our neighbours the same as ourselves: a sovereign nation-state, strong, capable of international collaboration, built not on the idea of national exclusiveness, but on respect for the dignity of its citizens irrespective of the ethnic group to which they belong; guaranteeing its identity, not only to the majority ethnic group living on its territory, but also to the national communities living there in a situation of demographic minority; capable of granting to all its indigenous communities the proper conditions for remaining in the country and prospering, against so-called global, external interests.”

Faced with a Hungarian minority in Transylvania politically loyal to FIDESZ in great majority by historical realism/opportunism, but whose urban elites seem mentally stuck in a globalist liberalism of the 1990s, Kövér sets the record straight, and now openly counteracts 27 years of hard work by the Soros-based civil society, strongly represented in Cluj, to convince the aforementioned minority that its minority status inevitably makes it hostage to the “Open Society” project – that is, that a society without collective identities, without roots and axiological hierarchies, the wet dream of MM. Soros, Attali, Habermas & Cie, would be the only one capable of guaranteeing the survival of this minority in the face of “Romanian obscurantism” (a local replica of “Russian barbarism”).

It was high time. Contemptuously disregarding the cultural conservatism of their rural hinterland, the Transylvanian (almost all liberal) Hungarian intellectuals have, at the present time, pushed the deleterious logic of the cult of minorities into its final consequences without retreating from any absurdity. On the occasion of the recent organization – by forceps delivery – of the very first Gay Pride Parade in Cluj, on local Hungarian-language forums there were numerous comments which stated without apparent humorous intent that it was the duty of all Hungarian (as a “minority”) to support the LGBT community. An appeal to reason written in Hungarian and signed by the author of these lines, seeking – without any homophobia – to re-establish the necessary distinction between statistical/structural (e.g. sexual) minorities and historical/territorial minorities (e.g. ethnic or religious), sent to the Főtér site – which nevertheless receives subsidies from the Hungarian government – was refused outright. Despised and ignored in Hungary for their decades of complicity with the pre-2010 neo-liberal and antipatriotic governments, the liberal rhetoricians in Budapest had even begun to build “castles in Transylvania”, describing in bucolic editorials the “Transylvanian exile of the Hungarians of European sensibility”, fleeing from “Orbanist totalitarianism”. In reality, it was just a bunch of Erasmus students (who have meanwhile returned to Hungary: could it be they have reconciled themselves with “totalitarianism”?), and a few loud-mouthed city-breaks to Bucharest by the sometimes socialist, sometimes liberal philosopher G.M. Tamás – one might consider, in view of his advanced age, that he has had the merit of acclimating in Central Europe to the Western fashion of devoting one’s senior years to tourism.

Kövér’s speech was also addressed to the Romanians, and here again it was potentially salutary. Indeed, if, on the Hungarian-speaking side of things, deep Transylvania largely disregards the liberal-globalist agitation of Transylvanian-urban news-sites such as Transindex, preferring to follow the Hungarian media (especially those close to FIDESZ), this agitation, duly relayed by its objective allies of chauvinist Romanian nationalism (dominated by a Magyarophobic and Russophobic propaganda cleverly fed by a segment of the secret services, and certain Atlanticist networks which I described in detail in another editorial), had wound up convincing scores of Romanian patriots – despite their open admiration of V. Orbán – that, at least on Romanian territory, the Hungarians were to be considered as perpetual stooges of the globalist agenda, engaged in a vengeful plot to dissolve the Romanian nation-state.

In wishing all of Hungary’s neighbours – thus implicitly also the Romanians – a strong state, Kövér very probably expresses a sincere wish of FIDESZ, who knows that in Bucharest he needs a patriotic and voluntarist counterpart, sitting like him on a solid Democratic majority, because countless precedents in diplomatic history show that this is exactly the profile of the ideal negotiating partner – situated in its own camp above all suspicion of treachery – in order to improve relations between Hungarians and Romanians, in particular by securing for the Szekler Land a status of autonomy (which, in spite of the statements of many Romanian publicists enjoying the affection of Berlin and Brussels, does not threaten Romanian sovereignty), by relaunching the process of regional integration now blocked by the refusal of Westerners to admit Romania (and thus also its port of Constanţa, on the Black Sea – a potential competitor to Dutch ports …) into the Schengen area – in short, to say it in the words of the great Hungarian poet Attila József (whose father was Romanian): “to put order in our common affairs”.

Will the Romanians get Kövér’s message? Will they finally understand that, caught between the interests and appetites of Westerners, Turks and Russians, they absolutely need the Hungarian alliance (and, a fortiori, the V4) to escape their de facto colonial status? As for the Hungarian minority, will it finally be able to resist the temptation to allow itself to be transformed into a Trojan horse of globalism in Romania and to renounce the posture of civilization-lecturing so dear to the liberal Hungarian intellectuals of Cluj? The future will tell. Meanwhile, we can only welcome the extremely constructive role that FIDESZ is now playing on the inter-ethnic chessboard of the Eastern Carpathians.