The system for the promotion of Hungarian communities beyond the borders is fully in place, and every one of its elements is functional, Zsolt Semjén stated. The Deputy Prime Minister responsible for nation policy also reported that there are now 950 thousand new Hungarian citizens thanks to simplified naturalisation.

Mr Semjén pointed out at his annual hearing before the National Unity Committee of Parliament: when a new programme is introduced on the basis of standard criteria, it takes place in a carefully considered manner. However, if there is no strong economic growth, the availability of financial grants is questionable, he said, and highlighted the predictable and conscious economic support provided for Hungarians beyond the borders.

DownloadPhoto: Noémi Bruzák/MTI

The funding provided for Hungarians beyond the borders amounted to HUF 9 billion in 2009. This sum increased to HUF 89 billion last year, the Deputy Prime Minister laid down, indicating: they are providing unprecedented financial support for economic players beyond the borders. The programme started with Vojvodina, it was then extended to Transcarpathia, and it is now being extended to the entire Carpathian Basin. In addition to non-repayable grants, they also help developments beyond the borders with preferential loans, and this in turn boosts the expansion of the Hungarian economy.

He further said that they prioritised the funding of institutions of national significance, over ad hoc, individual proposals. Educational grants are once again in excess of HUF 22 thousand per eligible child, and there are now institutional relations with the Hungarian State, he indicated. He remarked: it is difficult to verify the state of neediness, and this is something that Hungarians beyond the borders themselves find difficult to solve.

He made specific mention of the subsidisation of education which covers the entire training spectrum. The Government has set aside HUF 17 billion for the development of kindergartens, and the goal is to reinforce the Hungarian kindergarten system as much as possible. Experiences show, Mr Semjén pointed out, that if a Hungarian child first enters the educational system in kindergarten, they are more likely to remain within the Hungarian educational system.

DownloadPhoto: Noémi Bruzák/MTI

The Deputy Prime Minister described the thematic years as extremely successful, and then also spoke about the Kőrösi Csoma Sándor and Petőfi Sándor Programmes. These are the most successful innovations, he said in evaluation. He highlighted: scholarship holders perform a mission which nothing else can substitute for. The number of participants involved in each programme increased by 15. He indicated: a standard demographic programme is being prepared, and Hungarians beyond the borders will be involved in every possible initiative. The first step is the maternity grant which will equally apply to Hungarian citizens beyond the borders.

Mr Semjén further reported that 835 thousand persons have taken their citizenship oaths so far, eligibility for citizenship has been established in the case of 115 thousand persons, and 30 thousand applications have been refused, primarily on account of the lack of Hungarian language skills. He confirmed that there will be one million new citizens by the end of the Government’s term. In the context of autonomy, he laid down repeatedly: whatever other nations are entitled to in the EU we are also entitled to. He remarked: wherever autonomy has been achieved, the successor states, too, have benefited. He highlighted: in Serbia cultural autonomy is effectively in the state of realisation.

He mentioned the promotion of Hungarian parties beyond the borders as a separate pillar. The enforcement of the interests of the given Hungarian nation parts fundamentally depends on how strong the Hungarian community in question is in a political sense, Mr Semjén said, who stood up for Hungarian-Hungarian unity. In Transylvania, the cooperation of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) and the Hungarian Civic Party (MPP) has brought about a turnaround, and has also led to quantifiable results. In Slovakia, the Party of the Hungarian Coalition is the partner of the Hungarian State. If they are able to come to an agreement with Híd, they should do so, but this is their political responsibility, he pointed out. He remarked: cooperation was also successful in Transcarpathia. This is needed very much indeed as the Hungarians living in Transcarpathia are going through hard times.

DownloadPhoto: Noémi Bruzák/MTI

Minister of State Árpád János Potápi added: the Hungarian population in the Carpathian Basin is around 12 to 13 million, and there are some 2.5 million Hungarians living in scattered communities. It is therefore necessary to continuously lay due emphasis on our scattered communities policy which the Hungarian Government did after the change of paradigm in Hungary’s nation policy after 2010.

Attila Szabolcs raised the problem in the context of the EU that the new border controls regime affects those living by the borders “harshly”. Mr Semjén, who believes that the solution may lie in disregarding the measure as the Croatians do, described this phenomenon as an absurdity of the EU. He indicated: Interior Minister Sándor Pintér “has taken some feisty measures in the matter”.

István Szávay welcomed the changes made to the programme “Without Borders!” and the increase in grants provided for communities beyond the borders. At the same time, he drew attention to the fact that there are a great many overlaps in the system, and in several cases, grants may be requested both from the Bethlen Gábor Fund and the ministries for the same purposes. He was keen to find out whether there is scope for subsequent screening in the case of citizenship, and raised the question of whether the politicians of the successor states who do not have warm feelings towards Hungarians will not use the regulations concerning the CEU for the purposes of their own political agenda.

DownloadPhoto: Noémi Bruzák/MTI

According to Mr Semjén, there is no analogy between the operation of either the Sapientia University or the Ferenc Rákóczi II College and the CEU. Former Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s statement about a similar law is not aimed against Hungarian institutions, but indicates that their lives, too, have been made harder by the “Soros institutions”. The BGA (Bethlen Gábor Fund) contracts and grants are in the public domain, may be viewed by anyone, and there are no plans to classify them, he indicated. Regarding claims that the grants are overly scattered, he said that a considerable percentage of the available funds is with the State Secretariat for Nation Policy and BGA, and while there are some overlaps, they would like to inspire the ministries to pursue an active nation policy.

László L. Simon raised the idea of the establishment of a Trianon Museum with regard to the upcoming anniversary. Mr Semjén was of the opinion that this idea can be supported.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)