Hungary: Nostalgic Budapest angers neighbours

29 May 2012 – Presseurop Népszabadság, Evenimentul zilei
Népszabadság, 29 May 2012

“The troubled past”, headlines Népszabadság, which devotes its front page to the various responses in Europe to Viktor Orbán’s nationalist government’s nostalgia for Admiral Miklós Horthy’s fascist regime (1920-1944). Recently, the magazine Magyar Narancs reported on the revival of the Horthy personality cult: all across the country, statues and plaques commemorating the dictator have been inaugurated with the blessing of local authorities linked to Orbán’s ruling party Fidesz and the right-wing press.

The latest episode in the dispute over the past concerns Romania, which is home to an substantial ethnic Hungarian community, and the clash between Budapest and Bucharest over the burial of the ashes of a controversial poet of Hungarian origin József Nyirő (1889-1953). Transported back from their resting place in Spain, the poet’s ashes were supposed to buried in his native village of Odorheiul Secuiesc in Transylvania (Romania), but have been held up in Budapest, following the Romanian authorities’ refusal to allow them enter its territory. In its report on a controversy — dubbed an “ash hunt” by Romanian daily Evenimentul ZileiNépszabadság remarks that “certain politicians in Budapest have heaped praise on an anti-Semitic figure linked to the extreme right” — an initiative that is not welcome in Romania which in 2002 introduced a law banning commemorations and ceremonies with fascist or anti-Semitic associations.

Népszabadság further points out that relations between Budapest and Moscow have also been put under strain, and cites the Russian ambassador to Hungary —

… who indicated that Moscow refuses to accept the Hungarian government’s recent rewriting of the history of the Second World War. According to the ambassador, revisionist Hungarian historians have sought to echo Horthy propaganda and have overlooked the atrocities committed by the Hungarian army during the occupation of the Soviet Union.