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Assessment for Hungarians in Yugoslavia

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 31 December 2003
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Assessment for Hungarians in Yugoslavia, 31 December 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f3ae8c.html [accessed 25 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Yugoslavia Facts
Area:    88,361 sq. km.
Capital:    Belgrade
Total Population:    10,526,000 (source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1998, est.)

Risk Assessment | Analytic Summary | References

Risk Assessment

Since the ouster of Milosevic in 2000 the state of Serbia and Montenegro has gone through a drastic overhaul. With this change came the granting of autonomy status to Vojvodina, home of the majority of ethnic Hungarians. Along with these changes came the restoration of purely Hungarian language schools and the restoration of Hungarian language programs in other schools throughout Vojvodina. In addition, an ethnic Hungarian, Jozsef Kasza became the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister. Ethnic Hungarian police chiefs are now present in 8 districts throughout Vojvodina, and ethnic Hungarians are represented in the national government in a proportion to their population. With all of these changes, the only matter that seems important to all or most of the ethnic Hungarians is citizenship. Hungary has passed a bill extending Hungarian citizenship to ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina, but the Serbian government refuses to allow this. This matter has become more of a problem since Hungary has joined the EU, for now all ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina need visas to enter into Hungary. Since most ethnic Hungarians went to Hungary for their goods and their work, this has caused a major problem. This problem will only become greater if economic differentials become apparent between ethnic Hungarians in Hungary and ethnic Hungarians in Serbia and Montenegro.

Analytic Summary

The vast majority of Hungarians in Yugoslavia are concentrated in the Vojvodina region (GROUPCON = 3), which was a part of Hungary until 1920 (TRADITN = 1). During the Tito years Vojvodina enjoyed relative autonomy, and Hungarian language and civil rights were recognized. This all changed when Milosevic came to power. In 1988 he forced the government of Vojvodina to resign and was able to exert significant influence over the reconstituted Vojvodina authorities. He also instituted a policy that has been called by some "ethnic cleansing." This policy used intimidation and discrimination to drive non-Serbs out of the region and a policy of relocating ethnic Serbs into the region. As a result, by 1991, less than 30% of the population in Vojvodina was Hungarian. Many Hungarians have decided that they could have a better life outside of Yugoslavia and have emigrated to Hungary (MIGRANT = 3).

The Hungarians, while similar in appearance to the majority Serbs (RACE = 0) are Catholic as opposed to Orthodox (BELIEF = 3), and speak a different language (LANG = 1). Due to the policies of the Yugoslav government during the late 1980s and 1990s the Hungarian community has become very cohesive (COHESX9 = 5), and they, along with the Croatian community of Vojvodina, have continually lobbied the government for greater autonomy for the region (SEPX = 3).

Since 2001, vast changes have taken place inside Serbia and Montenegro. The previous restrictions on the ethnic Hungarians rights in judicial proceedings (POLIC303 = 0), restrictions on access to civil service (POLIC703 = 0), restrictions on recruitment to police and military (POLIC603 = 0), and restrictions on the attainment of high office (POLIC803 = 0) have all been removed with the down fall of Milosevic and the rise of a new ethnically mixed government. Ethnic Hungarians are represented in governments across Vojvodina in a percentage equal to if not greater then their population percentage. Along with the establishment of a new national government and the restoration of autonomy to the region of Vojvodina came a rise in the promotion of the ethnic Hungarian culture. Strictly Hungarian language schools can now exist, and schools across Vojvodina are teaching the Hungarian language.

Both cultural organizations and political parties represent the Hungarians in Vojvodina. The main organization is the Democratic Community of Hungarians in Vojvodina (DCHV). Other groups include the Hungarians for the Fatherland, The Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians, the political party the Democratic Alliance for Reform of Vojvodina, a new collaboration between ethnic Hungarians and Croatians known simply as the Vojvodina Movement, Hungarian Democratic Party of Vojvodina, and the Democratic Community of Vojvodina Hungarians. Since 2001 the majority of the complaints and the main purpose of the political parties are to solve citizenship problems between Hungary and Serbia and Montenegro. The Hungarian government has voted for dual-citizenship for ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina., but the Serbian government has refused to allow this. This debate has intensified since Serbian citizens are no longer allowed to enter into Hungary without visas due to Hungary becoming apart of the European Union.

The only signs of civic arrest came when the ethnic Hungarians of Vojvodina protested and rallied for the restoration of autonomy status to Vojvodina in 2001 (PROT01 = 2, PROT02-03 = 1). Since then there has been no sign of any public discontent in a sizable matter. The 2003 election produced a surge in radical right wing victories. This caused Jozsef Kasza to offer his resignation. There have been signs of ethnic hatred against ethnic Hungarians, but nothing to the scale of what it has been. Occasionally anti-Hungarian graffiti appears and individual acts of violence occur, but nothing to suggest an organized opposition.

References

Markotich, Stan "Vojvodina: A Political Powder Keg" RFE/Rl Research Report, 2 (46), November 19 1993, pp. 13-18.

Oltay, Edith "Hungarians Under Political Pressure in Vojvodina" RFE/RL Research Report. 2 (48), December 3, 1993, pp. 43-48.

Lexis/Nexis: All News Files 1990 to 2003

US State Department Country Reports 2001-2003

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