Hungary Table of Contents
In the 1980s, Hungary has attempted to carve out a semiindependent role for itself within the Soviet alliance system in Eastern Europe. The origins of the Hungarian position lay in the regime's efforts to promote economic reform, which required Western involvement and support. The regime also sought to create popular support for itself by providing an abundance of consumer goods supplied by the West. For reasons of history and tradition, Hungary cultivated ties with Austria and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). In the mid- and late 1980s, Hungary also attempted to further relations with Britain and the United States. In addition, as further evidence of its initiative in foreign policy, Hungary developed relations with Israel, China, and the Republic of Korea (South Korea), which had previously been considered "pariah" states by most East European states.
Hungary's most important ally was the Soviet Union, with which it has enjoyed particularly good relations since 1986, when Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev initiated his reform programs. In the late 1980s, Hungary strongly supported Soviet foreign policy positions. In return, Hungary received Soviet support for its efforts at domestic reform. Hungary also accepted integration into the alliance system through the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon--see Glossary) and the Warsaw Pact (see Glossary).
Relations with its other communist neighbors played a crucial role in Hungarian foreign policy. The state of relations between Hungary and Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia generally depended on how these countries treated their Hungarian minorities. Because Yugoslavia treated its Hungarian minority well, relations between the two countries were excellent. In Czechoslovakia, the relation between Slovaks and ethnic Hungarians were not smooth. Through bilateral contacts, Hungary sought to encourage the Czechoslovak government to improve its treatment of Czechoslovakia's Hungarian minority. However, Romania's treatment of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania received worldwide condemnation. Hungary sought, through a variety of bilateral and multilateral efforts, to encourage more equitable treatment of Hungarians in Romania.
Data as of September 1989