Friday, August 28, 2009


Last week, on August 20, the President of Hungary, Sólyom László was refused entry into Slovakia.
The president was going on a private visit to a town in southern Slovakia with a majority ethnic Hungarian population to unveil a statue of St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary.
The reason the Slovak government gave for refusing entry to the Hungarian president was the day he chose to come on. The Slovak government told Sólyom László that he could come on any other day, just not August 20th. When he came anyway, he was turned away at the bridge where he tried to cross into Slovakia.
This is the complication - because whereas for Hungarians August 20th is Saint Stephen's day - one of their most important holidays, when they remember the founding of the Hungarian kingdom, which used to include the territory of modern Slovakia and Transylvania - in Slovakia August 20th is the anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, in which the Hungarian army also invaded Czechoslovakia to shut down the "Prague Spring" - an attempt by Czechoslovakia to move away from communism and Soviet domination.
The problem is that Hungary and Slovakia are both EU members, and Slovakia's denial of entry to the Hungarian president is contrary to EU law which permits freedom of movement between countries.
This isn't even the first time this kind of thing has happened to Sólyom László. On March 15, he went to Romania, to celebrate Hungary's national day with Transylvanian Hungarians, and while his plane was in the air, he was refused landing permission, and ended up having to come into Transylvania by car. Pretty embarrassing for a president...
Both Romania and Slovakia are sensitive to Hungarian territorial claims to their land, and view moves like these by the president as challenging their territorial sovereignty.
I can personally understand why Slovakia and Romania are concerned about Hungarian claims to their land. I can also understand the Hungarians, who don't want to lose touch with fellow Hungarians who were separated from Hungary not by their own choice.

What do you think? Was Slovakia justified in doing this? Is the president of Hungary challenging the sovereignty of these nations by his visits there?


  1. Anonymous7:00 AM

    Of course he is! He should be here celebrating, not trying to get his name in the paper for doing something stupid.
    If the people in Slovakia want to celebrate, then they can cross the border in Hungary.

  2. Anonymous - thanks for your 2 cents!

  3. Anonymous7:22 PM

    Sarcasm? You asked for my two cents!

  4. I wasn't being sarcastic at all - I actually am glad you put in your two cents! I did ask for it, and I'm glad that someone gave their opinion.

    I personally am not sure what to think about the whole thing. I understand both sides, and why they are upset. I'm curious what other people think about it.
    Thanks again!

  5. i think we can't respect and accept each other, and i think -as a hungarian- we dont really do anything against this situation. we just care about the relationship with the hungarians who live there but not with slovakia. so they fed up with the behaviour that we handle the felvidék as the part of our country.
    i understand, but i still dont think that Sólyom László could fire up the whole hungarian minority there with his speech.
    i like slovakia and i love my country but i would live in it is kindda time to put our hope in God!

  6. Dani - Amen to that! Preach it!

  7. Anonymous3:14 AM

    hi, Iam slovak and I dont think it was good to deny him to enter, but I think he could have chosen another day to celebrate, especially given that no slovak politician was invited to the celebration (stephen was not only king of magyars, but of slovaks and other nationalities too). the main problem in the relation between magyars and slovaks is that 1.slovaks are affraid of secession movements (and thus, the assimilation of slovaks who live in mixed areas) and they vote nationalists in the election 2.magyars view slovaks as someones who stole their land and they think that medieval natio hungarica (the ruling class in hungary) was solely of magyar ethnicity. both assumptions are false, slavs were in the territory of today slovakia, N and W hungary already in 6th century and natio hungarica ccomposed of various ethnic groups, at that time there was no idea of modern ethnic nation or a nation state. it emerged only in the 17th century.
    good luck and god bless you

  8. Anonymous -
    Thank you for your insight! It is nice to get a Slovak perspective on these things. God bless you!

  9. Anonymous10:51 PM

    there is a good article about the slovak-magyar relations by magyar historian at:

    actually, whole site is about central europe and its pretty interesting