Protecting Minorities in the Former Yugoslavia: Kosovo and Vojvodina
3/1/2008 - Zoltan Bagdy writes in support of national self-determination in reaction to February 19 Anne Applebaum article:
After Kosovo, the Basques?
"Does Anne Applebaum have an evil twin-sister, who is allowed to write a column or two every few months or so? Apparently so, judging by the February 19 article in the Post, titled “The Consequences of Kosovo.” In the article, Applebaum talks about the law of unintended consequences and warns that “…others in Europe –and possibly elsewhere—attempt to use the Kosovo example as a precedent. After all, if the Albanians can be independent from Serbia…..the Basques and Catalonians don’t see why they shouldn’t be independent from Spain, and who knows what could happen in Cyprus.”
I’ve been reading Applebaum for quite some time. Her focus on such themes as democracy, self-determination, liberty, the political process, and transparency in Russia and in East-Central Europe resonates with me. Her expertise in this field provides clarity and insight for her analysis. In addition, she brings a personal touch to her writing, having lived in the region.
For this reason, it is doubly puzzling why she now seems to be ringing the alarm-bell about other ethnic groups seeking their own self-determination. Why not the Basques? Her list doesn’t even mention the Kurds, so I will add it myself: Why not the Kurds? Don’t they deserve self-determination? There are 2 million ethnic Hungarians living outside of Hungary, they are not allowed to use their native language, their cultural and educational opportunities are constrained. Aren’t they entitled to their freedom? And as to using the recent past as a guide, Slovenians became independent, Slovaks and Czechs said good-by to each other, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians gained self-determination, Montenegro is independent. Europe survived this “breakup,” only the map-makers had to work overtime. Incidentally, some of those small countries are doing quite well economically – Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia. And, speaking of small countries, Finland, with a population of three million, is doing quite well, thank you. Applebaum may have been reading a bit too much of Kissinger or the 19th century realpolitik writers. Is there a slight whiff of old-fashioned imperialism emanating from her column?
I think Applebaum’s warnings are unwarranted and unnecessary. Instead of opposing it, we all should encourage self-determination."
Zoltan Bagdy is AHF Co-President and Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee
Why so many Hungarians across the border?
Vojvodina was part of Hungary since 896 AD and was awarded to the newly formed Yugoslavia by the French in the "Treaty" of Trianon in 1920 when Hungary lost 2/3 of her territory and 1/3 of her Hungarian population. Large scale evictions, fear of self-reporting, and other Serb progroms, have left only about 300-350,000 ethnic Hungarians in the province. Some, however, estimate this number to be double that since many fear self-reporting as Hungarian exposes them to risk
The American-Hungarian community is increasingly concerned by the recent outbreak of violence in Vojvodina.
"Ethnic Cleansing" in action
How did this region become part of Yugoslavia? Read "The Conflict in the Former Yugoslavia and Autonomous Region of Vojvodina, and the Need for a More Coherent U.S. Foreign Policy" on The Hungary Page and refer to the following demographic maps comparing Vojvodina in 1910 and 1991. Note the decline seen here in Hungarian population does NOT take into consideration the Balkan conflicts and the significant escalation of atrocities against Hungarians over the last decade:
Click images for larger version
AHF Related Links
Seles (pronounced sell-esh and spelled Szeles Monika) won the European junior championship at the age of ten. Born to a Hungarian family in the former Hungarian province of Vojvodina, she moved to the United States in 1986, and in 1989 turned professional. In 1990 she won her first French Open, and in each of the following two years she won the Australian, United States, and French opens. Seles won the Australian Open in early 1993, but later that year, while resting between sets during a tournament in Hamburg, Germany, she was stabbed by a spectator. The incident caused Seles to withdraw from competition in 1993 and 1994. Seles returned to competition in 1995 and won the initial tournament of her comeback, the Canadian Open. In 1996 she again won the Australian Open.
Monica is a fierce competitor and is still going strong into the new millennium including winning the Bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics!