1999 / 4月
Dr. Alfonz Lengyel, USA
The tragedy of the Balkans can be traced back to Trianon, where from the fragments of Hungary, the successor states of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and greater Romania were created. These artificial formations forced Albanian Muslims to live with Serbs and compelled Czechs to live with Slovaks. It takes time for historic events to reveal their consequences.
The new borders were not drawn on the basis of plebiscites. By ignoring the ethnographic borders, the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian empire, population 48 million, resulted in16 million people becoming ethnic minorities. These minorities were not emigrants who voluntarily left their old country, but people who never moved from their hometowns, yet became foreigners because the borders were redrawn around them.
President Wilson asked for a Danubian Confederation to replace the monarchy and wanted to draw the internal borders within it, on the basis of self-determination through plebiscites, but his views were disregarded. On March 31, 1919, he called the proposed dismemberment of Hungary absurd, but was overruled by the French. As a result, the United States Congress refused to approve the Treaty of Trianon, but the treaty was implemented anyway.
In any society, the test of civilization is respect for minority rights. The successor states which were created attempted to solve their minority problems through denationalization, ethnic cleansing, deportations, expulsions, transfers, dispersions and many other forms of uprooting. Hungarians had to choose between their nationality and their property. Because of intimidation and coercion, 350,000 Hungarians decided to leave all their possessions behind and flee to Hungary.
After 1956, when the heroic children of Budapest mortally wounded Communism, the rulers of the successor states used the uprising as a pretext to speed up the forced assimilation of their Hungarian minorities and things got even worse for Europe's largest minority. It was after the Hungarian revolution, when the remaining autonomous Hungarian regions of Transylvania in Romania and Vojvodina in Yugoslavia had been abolished. Today, in those artificially created countries the over 3 million Hungarians have no autonomy at all, although it has been guaranteed by the Great Powers in 1920, again in 1945, and once more by the European Parliament in 1993, in Article 11 of Decision 1201.
Problems do not solve themselves accidentally. Those who want a better future must first have a plan, a concept of that future. For the stability and prosperity of Central Europe, that plan should start with autonomy for all the minorities of the region and could eventually aim for a large and therefore stable voluntary federation.
It would be fitting if on the 80th anniversary of the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and after the resulting terrible suffering of three generations of some 20 million innocent people of ethnic minorities, we would start the process of rebuilding. It would be even more fitting if in this process of rebuilding, we would not be creating hostile and unviable mini-states, but would aim at a stable and powerful Federation of Central Europe.