Country Listing

Hungary Table of Contents



Since the formation in Slovakia (Czechoslovakia's eastern republic) of a dissident organization for the defense of the rights of Hungarians in 1979 and after frequent arrests of the Hungarian activist Miklos Duray, discrimination against the approximately 600,000 ethnic Hungarians in Czechoslovakia became a problem in the relations between the two communist neighbors. As of 1986, about 100 Hungarian activists had been arrested and imprisoned by Czechoslovak authorities. Other problems included the lack of Hungarian-language books and newspapers in Slovakia, discouragement of Hungarian-language training, and vandalism of Hungarian monuments and cultural offices.

In the late 1980s, as a result of pressure from Hungary, the Czechoslovaks attempted to redress some of the Hungarian minority's complaints. In 1986 the two countries concluded an agreement that called for Hungarian construction of a Hungarian cultural center in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. In 1987 the Cultural Association of Hungarian Workers in Czechoslovakia was allowed to rejoin the Czechoslovak National Front, from which it had been expelled in 1972. Yet Czechoslovakia attempted to downplay the minority problem. In the communique issued following the meeting between Grosz and Czechoslovak prime minister Lubomir Strougal in August 1987, Strougal mentioned the minority issue only in passing. By contrast, Grosz noted the role of minorities as a bridge between Hungary and Czechoslovakia and called for greater cultural contacts between the two countries.

Another outstanding issue between Hungary and Czechoslovakia concerned the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Dam project. In 1977 the two countries agreed to build this hydroelectric power and navigation system on the Danube River between Bratislava and Budapest. Hungarian public opinion strongly protested the project. Environmental activists in Hungary claimed that the project would severely damage the potable water supply, agriculture, and forests of both countries. Czechoslovakia has pressured the Hungarian government to proceed more quickly with the project.

Data as of September 1989