MINORITIES RESEARCH

Pál Péter Tóth

Contributions to the Forming of Hungarian Political Strategy Concerning the Emigrants
Hungarians Emigrants in the World and Ethnic Hungarians in the Neighbouring Countries

In the current Hungarian practice, the decisions in connection with international migration are reached on the basis of the intentions and capacity of the executive apparatus in reference to an assumed yet never proven social expectation and an actually existing migratory pressure, rather than being derived from a well-planned, long-term strategy of migration politics based on current legislation. Bearing in mind the historical preliminaries, and also in view of the admission of Hungary and the neighbouring countries to the European Union and of the rapid decrease and ageing of the country's population, the question therefore arises as to what political strategy of immigration politics would be needed to ensure that the composition according to gender, schooling and occupation of the people living here and of those who would move here in the future, serve best the interests of both the country and the Hungarian nation, rather than creating further tension.

The current public administration practice, which has influence over neither emigration nor immigration, made one thing clear: from the viewpoint of Hungarian society's present and future development, it is crucially important what processes the arriving population reinforce, weaken, or neutralise in relation to the country's demographic and sociological characteristics; the definition of the tasks associated with emigration and immigration is not up to the police, even though the police plays a crucial part in the execution.

All these together make it self-evident that migration politics or a strategy associated with migration politics, which is independent of party politics and of the four-year election cycle, should be worked out, discussed and approved.

What do we have to take into account in forming the Hungarian strategy of migration politics?

Being continuously present, spontaneous social phenomena, emigration and immigration can no longer be ignored, and we can only hope that never again will come a period in our history, when free migration would be stopped by administrative methods.

In addition to the laws laid down in international agreements, Hungary's future strategy of migration politics should above else take into account the facts that ensue from our historical situation: the borders of the Hungarian nation do not coincide with Hungary's borders; as a result of the unfortunate events in Hungary's modern history, hundreds of thousands of Hungarian citizens were forced to leave the country, primarily on political motivation.

In consequence of the above historical reasons, it should be acknowledged and made clear that all persons speaking Hungarian and considering themselves to be Hungarian are members of the Hungarian nation and the Hungarian cultural community, no matter where they live. This acknowledgement, however, implies the obligation whereby Hungary should, in her economic capacity, act as a mother nation, contributing actively to the establishment and operation of the Hungarian community's institutions.

Similarly to other countries of the world, Hungary cannot be indifferent to the composition of the migrant population; i.e. who are those citizens who leave the country, as part of the international migration movement, temporarily or for good, and who are those who come here with the intention to live or to settle down in Hungary for various lengths of time. From the viewpoint of forming Hungary's migration policies, it is important to know which countries the persons who decide to stay here for over the period of one year come from, or those who decide to replace their former citizenship with Hungarian. We must be aware, therefore, of the demographic and sociological characteristics these immigrants have, along with the Hungarian demographic tendencies that they reinforce or weaken.

Beginning with 1990, the sweeping political changes brought to the fore new processes in the area of international migration after an isolation of four decades. This began in late 1988 and in 1989, when first ten thousand, and later twenty thousands Romanian citizens, who were mostly ethnic Hungarians, stayed in the country. The changes surprised the authorities, above else the police apparatus responsible for the control of aliens in Hungary.

Naturally, the population had difficulties in adjusting to the new situation, and they still have. It was not explained by the attitude of the representatives of the Bolshevik-type power, who after 1947 pretended that the Hungarian emigrants had never left the country, and that citizens of other countries never came to settle in Hungary. In keeping up appearances the authorities were not bothered by the fact that the everyday experience was completely different, and that everybody in the country had some relatives or friends living abroad. After 1953 nearly 400,000 Hungarian citizens left the country, and during roughly the same period 286,000 persons came to live here. In the name of proletarian internationalism, the Pharisaist attitude before 1990 officially also ignored the fact that, as a result of the great powers' decisions, millions of ethnic Hungarians lived the lives of minorities in the surrounding "friendly" countries.

After the early 1990s entirely new conditions emerged in international migration in connection with the political changes. To mention just one important component of this process, we would like to call attention to those new laws, which regulated the travel of Hungarian citizens abroad, and the travel of foreign citizens to Hungary and their immigration to Hungary. We must not forget about the establishment of a new institutional framework, which tried to meet the requirements of the new demands. Regardless of all these, neither in the area of legislation nor in the establishment and operation of the institutional background could the apparatus dealing with the alien population in Hungary remain unaffected by the negative experiences of the past decades.

On top of the points mentioned above, we would like to call attention to a few more interconnections regarding the period following 1990: essential changes took place in the political attitude towards Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries; the earlier, official reservations regarding people of Hungarian origin living in more than 50 countries all over the world have become meaningless; as a result of the country's geographical location, the unsolved nationality problems in the Danube Basin, and the war that broke out between the countries of former Yugoslavia, Hungary became both a target and a transit country for international migration.

In connection with the emerging strategy of migration politics, we must not forget the point that, similarly to the case of the period following 1988, the overall majority of Hungary's immigrant population would continue to come from the neighbouring countries, of whom a large percentage would probably be of Hungarian ethnicity. This is clearly connected to the fact that the combination of the threat of war and the hardships of minority existence would in all probability lead the ethnic Hungarians to seek protection in the mother country. And if so, Hungary has no alternative but to provide shelter for them for the duration of the danger.

The emerging situation is, of course, much more complex than the above sketch could explain. To emphasise this, we would like to point out that there are major differences in the aims of the political parties coming to power after the elections in every four years, regardless of the fact that the overall majority of the immigrants remain to be of Hungarian origin. But it is not only in connection with the Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries that some kind of a long-term concept independent of the outcome of the actual parliamentary elections is sadly lacking; the same applies to the people who left the country at various times. Not to mention the lack of relevant information regarding the international migration of Hungarian citizens after the introduction of free travel.

We should also take into account in shaping the strategy of migrational politics the changes and interconnection, which result in the composition of Hungarian minorities from their migration to Hungary are not known, along with their relations with the majority nations and the preservation of their national identity. We still do not know the consequences of this migration from the viewpoint of the present and the future of the Hungarian population in the various countries.

With basic research not being available, we cannot answer the questions regarding the migration of the ethnic Hungarians living in rump Yugoslavia as a result of the civil war there. Nor do we know how much longer the Hungarians of Felvidék (Southern Slovakia) remain interested in staying there; in other words, how long they will be prepared to endure their circumstances, and when they will pull up stakes and leave their homeland either temporarily or for good. Similarly, we do not know those fine adjustments that the ethnic Hungarians formerly living in the neighbouring countries before moving to Hungary have introduced in the fabric of Hungarian society.

Finally, we cannot bypass the question whether Hungary needs these immigrants at all, and whether she should admit such a large number of new citizens. But how could we neglect the natural desire of those ethnic Hungarians, who want to spend the rest of their lives in the mother land? We must not forget one thing: these people, or their parents, were Hungarian citizens of the Kingdom of Hungary right until the end of World War One.

Hungary's Field of Attraction

Generally speaking, it is difficult to find correlation between refugees, immigrants and those who apply for naturalisation in a given country and at the end of the process receive citizenship. However, due to historical reasons, in Hungary's case there is a close correlation between those arriving in one way or another and those who actually apply for citizenship. Hungary's present migrational field of attraction had basically been created by the peace treaties concluding the First and the Second World Wars, in that the territories taken away from Hungary were irrevocably annexed to Czechoslovakia, the former Yugoslavia, Romania and the former Soviet Union, all in the spirit of revenge. The confinement of the Hungarian population between new state borders was accompanied by the anti-Hungarian policies of these new or enlarged states, as well as by the elimination of the Hungarian minorities and their national identity.

As a result, hundreds of thousands were forced to flee. After the Trianon and the Paris peace treaties more than three millions ethnic Hungarians were forced to make the choice between their homeland and their Hungarian citizenship. Those who were offered a choice and opted for Hungarian citizenship had to leave their native land. Those who decided to stay on became Czechoslovakian, Romania, Serbian (Yugoslav) or Austrian citizens. We do not know the precise number of the people relocated in, or fled to, Hungary, or emigrated to other countries after 1919. The volume of the enforced migration, however, can be well demonstrated by the fact that between 1919 and 1923 approximately 200,000 people came back to Hungary from the territory annexed to Romania. With the recent increase in the number of Hungary's neighbours (Ukraine, Croatia, Slovenia) this circle further expanded.

The various border changes beginning with 1938 altered the citizenship of five million people without their leaving their homes. The division of Felvidék and Transylvania and the return of Délvidék to Hungary naturally brought with them the return of people who had earlier fled to Hungary from there, as well as the migration of the various minorities of the divided territories according to nationality. In Transylvania's case, for example, this type of migration affected 200,000 people on each side.

The peace treaty concluding World War Two once again ignored the ethnic principle, and not only restored the earlier situation but annexed further Hungarian territory to Czechoslovakia. That was also when Kárpátalja was transferred from Czechoslovakia to the Soviet Union. The restoration of the Trianon borders reinforced the demand whereby some of the ethnic Hungarians forced to live in the surrounding countries wished to be Hungarian subjects.

The end of World War Two, or rather the turn of 1944 and 1945, presented a peculiar decision to Hungarian citizens, as a result of which they began to flee to the West in such large numbers that had been unthinkable before. In Hungary's case an additional problem was caused by the fact that in reaction to the return of territories to Hungary during the war ethnic Hungarians living once again in neighbouring countries were regarded as enemies, and were subjected to terrible revenge in the forms of physical destruction, outlawing, deportation to work camps, and banishment from their homes. For lack of statistical information, it would be now almost impossible to determine their precise number. However, the figures published so far can fairly well demonstrate the size of the emigrant population. This enforced "migration movement" began with the mass deportation of the Jewry, which was followed by the eviction of the large percentage of the German population after 1945, as well as by the population exchange between Czechoslovakia and Hungary. At that time about 90,000 ethnic Slovaks left the country. Parallel with the above process, Hungarians were coming to Hungary in large numbers. Approximately 130,000 arrived from Romania, and 115,00 and 120,000 came from Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia respectively. The number of Hungarians arriving from the Soviet Union also exceeded 70,000.

By 1948 in Hungary, just as in all the other countries of the Danubian Basin, a Bolshevik-type regime took over the power. As a result of which Hungary essentially lost its natural migratory "field of attraction", which otherwise most counties exert on their own citizens, and which influence and in many respects determine both emigration and the return of émigrés. One of the consequences of the Bolshevik-type take-over was that the normal or natural form of international migration was blocked. Following the wave of emigration in 1947/49, which obviously came nowhere near to the one in 1945, the borders were sealed off. The next turning point is connected to the fall of the revolution in 1956, when nearly 200,000 people fled the country. In the next period an annual eight to ten thousand people moved abroad either legally or illegally.

By the early 1990s the countries formed anew after the First World War, as well as those that received former Hungarian territories, disintegrated for good; regardless of this, the status of territories populated by ethnic Hungarians was left unchanged. Their number is, according to the official statistics of the neighbouring countries, 2,750,000. Most of them live in Romania, the Slovak Republic and Yugoslavia.

Unless the present social and economic conditions in the neighbouring countries, and the authorities representing the majority nation there, change, the enforced and spontaneous emigration of ethnic Hungarians living in the successor states, their return to Hungary, will continue. This means that Hungary's "power of attraction" will essentially be created and maintained by an outside force, rather than by Hungary's economic vigour. This implies that in the area of immigration, instead of Hungary's actual needs, the determining factor will be partly the general condition and tolerance of ethnic Hungarians in the surrounding countries, and partly the decision of those Hungarian emigrants who, after perhaps several decades of absence, wish to return to Hungary. It is therefore the internal stability of the neighbouring countries, their economic situation and politics towards the minorities, that will determine the extent of migratory pressure Hungary would have to anticipate in the future.

How Should We Shape the Mother Country's Relations with the Emigrant Hungarians in the World and with the Ethnic Hungarians in the Surrounding Countries?

Regardless of the fact that the Hungarians living outside Hungary's borders are all members of both the Hungarian nation and the Hungarian cultural community, our emerging political strategy of migration should differentiate between the emigrant Hungarians living all over the world and the ethnic Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries.

In complete agreement with the Hungarian organisations set up all over the world, it must be made unequivocally clear that the return of Hungarian citizens living in any country around the world is desirable from the viewpoint of our country's future, provided this is in line with their own wishes and intentions. They should know that the country needs the know-how, experience and knowledge they have gained in emigration in the interest of the reorganisation of the nation's economic life; they should also be encouraged to invest their funds, in part or in whole, in Hungary. This is not motivated by the thought that they should bring home their wealth accumulated in the West; here the main point is that the circumstances that had made them leave the country have changed, and without their active support Hungary, as they would like to see her, would be built up much slower.

Naturally, we do not mean to say that the Hungarian state should guarantee the provision of services to émigrés returning to Hungary, or that this is just a method to get hold of their assets acquired abroad. The simple truth is that by this the Hungarian state would like to make a conciliatory gesture to the people who left the country for various reasons. As part of this concept, we should take stock of the areas of economic, cultural and scientific life, where there would be an outstandingly great need for the return of Hungarian émigrés. On the basis of the Italian example we should also survey the institutional framework of the country to identify the areas where the conditions are given for the employment of people especially successful in their own fields.

There seems to be a consensus in the question of encouraging the home-coming of Hungarian citizens living in the West. We do not know of any intent that would deny their right to resettle in Hungary. The problems and the certain disagreement exist only in the area of the specific rights that émigrés returning temporarily should be entitled to. At the level of party politics, this problem boils down to the question of whether the émigrés should be entitled to participate in the parliamentary election every four years. We are of the opinion that the most acceptable option here would be to disqualify only those who stayed absent from the country for ten years uninterrupted.

The migratory politics devised for Hungarian citizens living in the West cannot automatically be applied to ethnic Hungarians living in the surrounding countries, since in their case it was not they who left the country but the country left them. In devising the strategy for migratory politics we must interpret the phenomenon of ethnic Hungarians resettling in Hungary, both in the context of foreign politics and domestic politics, in subordination to national interests. In Romania's case, for example, this is above else connected to the general economic and political situation, the Romanian attitude towards minorities, the majority's culture which is markedly different from the Hungarian culture, traditions and habits, as well as with the large population of Romanian citizens who have been living in Hungary for years. (Similar interconnections can be found in the case of ethnic Hungarians living in Kárpátalja and Délvidék.)

Two diametrically opposed views have been put forward in connection with the Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries. These views have advocates both within the country and without. They can be briefly summed up as follows:

Those ethnic Hungarians who decide to leave their native land and move to another country, Hungary or anywhere else, betray the nation.

The Hungarian community living in the neighbouring countries can be rescued for the Hungarian nation only if their relocation in Hungary is promoted, even with the use of governmental funds. In this way the Hungarians living in minority can be saved from assimilation and the rapid decrease of the population in Hungary can be stopped.

Therefore, the question arises in connection with the Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries whether we should encourage the immigration of ethnic Hungarians of Czech, Croatian, Romanian, Serbian, Slovakian and Ukrainian citizenship, or on the contrary: we should hinder it.

In our opinion, under the current circumstances the most acceptable view is that we should neither prevent nor encourage the international migration of ethnic Hungarian in the surrounding countries, their relocation in Hungary. Therefore, the proper policy would be to contribute to the economic prosperity of the Hungarian communities, and the reinforcement of their national identity by promoting multilateral economic and cultural relations. This is not in contradiction with the view that all those ethnic Hungarians who decide that they want to live in Hungary should be positively discriminated in evaluating their application. Instead of the argument that to stay Hungarian in Hungary is still better than to assimilate in another country, this is essentially based on the consideration that we, who were lucky to live inside the Trianon borders, have no moral right to turn down the request of Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries, since it was merely by a historical chance that we are not Ukrainian, Serbian or Slovakian citizens. And in connection with this we must not forget that one cannot answer a moral question on geopolitical grounds, since in this case both the applicant and the person who judges the application are Hungarians. Having said that, Hungary's future migratory strategy should make every effort to avoid reinforcing the migratory pressure in any form, as that in all instances would weaken the existing positions of the ethnic Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries.

A serious dilemma, both within the country and without, is how to find a way of ensuring the active participation of ethnic Hungarians in the task of determining the future of the nation. Finding a legal remedy for the injustice that the great powers have caused to the Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries by abolishing their Hungarian citizenship could form one important element in this. It can be assumed that if they had the right to vote in the most important questions regarding the Hungarian nation's fate, in other words if they were given back their Hungarian citizenship while retaining the existing one, than this would, on the one hand, weaken their migratory urge and, on the other hand, help restoring their human dignity.

The problem is how to guarantee Hungarian citizenship to ethnic Hungarians in the surrounding countries without exposing them to even harsher discrimination. At the moment realistically there is no chance of collectively reinstating their Hungarian citizenship, as the question of the neighbouring countries' parliaments turning to the Hungarian state with this request is quite outside the realm of possibilities.

A separate problem is the question of Hungarian citizens emigrating from Hungary. At the moment we have information concerning only a small number of people who relinquish their Hungarian citizenship in accordance with the host country's request. Naturally, the circle of people staying permanently abroad either working there or studying as university students, on scholarship or with their relative living abroad, is much broader. Almost nothing is known about this population, even though Hungary's future political strategy of migration should apply to them the same way that it applies to those who choose to live, either temporarily or permanently, in our country.

The Tolerance of the Hungarian Public

In order to make Hungary's future migration politics an effective force in the service of national interests, it is first of all necessary that we feel at home in our own country, that our security be guaranteed, and that no one can offend us in our human dignity and national pride without punishment. For all this it is also necessary to create a civil society and an attitude in which solidarity with others is manifested in a natural form. This also means that the emerging Hungarian political strategy of migration should focus on values; in other words it should encourage the arrival of those immigrants who can exert a positive influence, on both short term and long term, on the formation of Hungary's new economic conditions and on the country's smooth European integration. Naturally, the question remains as to what it is that we regard as values in the above context. The literature on the subject of migration names the following categories as values: the migrant's level of education and expertise; those skills that help him or her integrate in the Hungarian society without major difficulties; financial security necessary for the migrant to support a family; a basic command of the Hungarian language.

Regardless of all that has been said above, Hungary's future political strategy regarding migration can ignore neither the Hungarian public's absorptive capacity, its limits of tolerance (be the emigrants ethnic Hungarians or not), nor the decreasing trend in Hungary's population which began in 1980. To define precisely where the borderline between the still acceptable number of immigrants and the percentage that is no longer tolerable would be an impossible task. In Hungary's case this figure was a mere 0.01 per cent in 1980. By the mid-1990s the same figure had gone up to somewhere between 0.06 and 0.2 per cent. Although this still does not reach the lowest figure in Europe, that of Finland with its 0.5 per cent in 1990, there has been a definite increase recently in this regard.

We must accept that no political concept about migration should be voted into law, which does not have the support of the majority of the population (and not of the representatives of the parliamentary parties), even if that does not agree with what has been said here.

The Tasks

We should take a second look at the institutional framework of international migration; in other words, we should win the interest and support of those communities where the newcomers find a new home. Due to the rapid changes, the laws regulating these areas are no longer adequate, and would have to be renewed in subordination to the approved political strategy of migration.

Similarly, the institutes processing the applications of refugees, permanent residents, immigrants and would-be citizens should be organised into a uniform body. It must be decided which part of the process should be handled by the police, and which should be handed over to the public administration units, employment offices and various civil organisations, etc.

To develop a political concept of migration, to translate it into practice, to monitor the changes in the composition of the migrant population's nationality, occupation, schooling, and in their geographical distribution, we need objective, accurate and up-to-date information. In order to have that, we should re-examine the currently used questionnaires with the involvement of sociologists and demographers specialising in migration; the development of a computerised database program can no longer be put off, which, in addition to meeting the needs of the alien control departments, would enable researchers to monitor the socio-demographical characteristics of the migrant population.

Parallel with the development of the concept, we should produce surveys in connection with the Hungarian population's attitudes towards migration and aliens, as well as about the extent of their willingness to allocate funds to the cause of Hungarian-Hungarian relations, both in the narrower and the broader sense, using institutes and companies owned, partly or wholly, by either the state or the local governments, and also involving the foundations receiving budgetary support; it would also be important to poll the public about the efficiency of these investments.

In order to formulate Hungary's political strategy of migration, and in the interest of keeping the subject on the agenda, the Hungarian Immigration and Emigration Council, a body independent of the political parties' actual interests, should be established.

Epilogue

In defining the strategic tasks we cannot ignore the country's peculiar geopolitical situation, which implies that at any moment refugee groups of various sizes might arrive in the country.

In the case of visitors staying here for a prolonged period (more than one year) and of immigrants, we have to assume that, without staying here long, they would come from a large number of countries. (Between 1988 and 1997 those who stayed here for more than a year had come from nearly 120 countries.)

The changes in the composition of immigrants, according to a breakdown by year and country, are fundamentally determined by the arrivals from Romania. In the first seven years the largest number of immigrants came from Romania (67.3 per cent), while 9.4 per cent arrived from former Yugoslavia, 8 per cent from the former Soviet Union, 1.1 per cent from former Czechoslovakia, with the remaining 14.2 per cent coming from the rest of the world.

In connection with the composition of immigrants, we must pay attention to a particular phenomenon, namely the moderate albeit continuous supply of immigrants from countries associated primarily with the Arabic culture, or the Muslim religion: Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Turkey, etc. During the past seven years their number has nearly reached two thousand. Naturally, this fact alone has no significance, but if we assume that the trend continues in the forthcoming years at the same rate, Hungary might, and should, anticipate the presence of another ethnic minority.

If we look at a statistical breakdown according to age, it will immediately become apparent that the percentage of under-14s (6.7 per cent) and over-50s (11 per cent) is remarkably low among immigrants of Hungarian ethnicity. By contrast, the age group between 15 and 49 makes up 82.3 per cent of the immigrants of Hungarian origin. Even if we admit that this age group includes a part of the younger generation, these figures will lead us to conclude that the overwhelming majority of aliens of Hungarian ethnicity are either single people or families with only one or two children. From the viewpoint of Hungary's future demography, both short-term and long-term, this phenomenon could only have a negative influence, provided this trends continues.

If we were to compare the age distribution of the immigrants of Hungarian ethnicity with the total population of immigrants arrived in the same period, then we will see that the difference in the case of the over-50s does not exceed 3 per cent, while in the case of the age groups of 0-14 and 14-49 the difference is quite striking. This probably derives from the fact that, exploiting the possibility of free travel, the younger generation of ethnic Hungarian in the surrounding countries turn their back on minority life more readily. If this tendency continues in the forthcoming years, then the demographic forecast for ethnic Hungarians in the surrounding countries should not only anticipate a decline for the said population, but also a decrease in new births. Also evident from the figures is the tendency that year after year the number of Hungarian emigrants over the age of fifty who decide to return from the United States, Australia and Canada, as well as from Germany and Sweden, and to resettle here shows a slow but continuous increase. Presumably they are members of the generation that left Hungary for various reasons and, with the political climate now greatly changed, they decide to stay in Hungary for prolonged periods.

Between 1958 and 1997 over eighty thousand people from more than a hundred countries received Hungarian citizenship, 88.7 per cent of whom had earlier been citizens of the surrounding countries. Since between 1967 and 1988 the number people who were naturalised were not separated from that of people re-naturalised (save for one year, 1972), it is impossible to say how many of them received Hungarian citizenship between 1958 and 1994 through naturalisation as opposed to re-naturalisation. It can be assumed, quite naturally, that most of them were naturalised.

The annual figures of new citizens, as well as their relative proportion, clearly indicates that after 1990 essential changes took place in this area. If we take the number of people who were granted Hungarian citizenship between 1958 and 1994 to be 100, then 1990 was the first year when four or five times more people received Hungarian citizenship then in any one of the previous 32 years. While between 1958 and 1990 the annual figure for new Hungarian citizens was 0,52 (2 per cent), the same figure for the period after 1990 changed to 4,312 (4 per cent). The artificial moderation practised formerly in this area, along with the increasing demand for Hungarian citizenship, was reflected primarily in the data for the year 1992, when nearly 30 per cent of the population gaining citizenship in the previous 37 years were granted Hungarian citizenship.

In the past 32 years (similarly to the last five years), of all the applicants it was the citizens of the surrounding countries, most notably the former Romanian citizens, who received Hungarian citizenship in the largest number. We see a characteristic distribution, when we compare the number and percentage of new Hungarian citizens arriving from the neighbouring countries between 1958 and 1988 and in the period after 1988.

At the top of the list of immigrants for the past 32 years are the Romanian citizens, followed by citizens of the former Soviet Union, former Czechoslovakia, former Yugoslavia and finally Austria. If we compare the data from the years before the change of political system with the information from the period after it, we find significant differences in the figures. Of the total number of people successfully applying for Hungarian citizenship from the neighbouring countries, 74.7 per cent received it after 1988.

Another interesting point is that while 85.7 per cent of the Romanian applicants received Hungarian citizenship in the past five years, the same figure with regard to the former Soviet Union was 46.5 per cent; in former Yugoslavia's case this figure was 65 per cent, and in Austria's case 24.7 per cent; this is in sharp contrast with the corresponding figure for applicants from the former Czechoslovakia, a mere 8.9 per cent. This also means that while 8,495 people applied successfully for Hungarian citizenship from other states, nearly one hundred countries altogether, there have been a total of 66,008 successful applicants from the neighbouring five countries during the past thirty two years, of whom 52,541 have been former Romanian citizens.

Of the total number of naturalised and re-naturalised Hungarian citizens, 53,662 people, or 72.1 per cent, received Hungarian citizenship between 1988 and 1994, with the rest being admitted in the previous thirty years. In this regard it is worth making comparisons between those countries, which lead the list in terms of successful applicants for the past seven years, with those, whose citizens stand the best chance of having their applications judged favourably.

Since the overall majority of the applicants from the neighbouring countries are of Hungarian ethnicity, we must note those differences that allow to make inferences with regard to the general condition and degree of satisfaction of the applicants from a given country; in other words, to get an estimate of the retaining power that the country exerts on the applicants, mostly on ethnic Hungarians. The available information reveals that while in Czechoslovakia's case the number of successful applicants for Hungarian citizenship exceeded one hundred between 1958 and 1969, afterwards this figure went down to fifty, with the exception of one year, and it stayed there even after 1990. As to the citizens of former Yugoslavia, the demand for Hungarian citizenship only became strong after 1991; between 1958 and 1969 the number of Yugoslav citizens who received Hungarian citizenship annually was around fifty, and then it remained below ten right until 1990. Up till now the urge to gain Hungarian citizenship has been the strongest among the ethnic Hungarians of Romania, and this tendency is not likely to change in the future.

Vissza