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Neighbours react to Orbán’s “Greater Hungary” controversy

Budapest, Hungary – Last week, Hungary’s Prime minister Viktor Orban generated yet another controversy by posting a historical map of ‘Greater Hungary’ on Facebook, as he wished Hungarian secondary school students good luck in taking their history exams.

This historical territory included large parts of present-day Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Slovakia, which were all lost after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian state and the signing of the Treaty of Trianon in 1920.

“Greater Hungary” controversy irritates neighbours

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic responded tactfully by giving his own advice to his country’s students on Facebook: ““In our closets and archives there are numerous historical maps and maps that show our homeland much bigger than it is today. Don’t share them and put them on your profiles”.

“They are not contemporary or achievable today, and, more importantly, they keep irritating our neighbours”, he added.

Meanwhile, Slovenian President Borut Pahor told local news portal 24ur.com: “It is understandable and right that the recurring postings of maps which could be understood as an expression of territorial claims are met with rejection and concern by the democratic public and politics, including me as the president of the republic.”

Romania’s Prime Minister and Viktor Orbán’s namesake Ludovic Orban reacted sarcastically to the provocation by quoting a Romanian proverb: “The sparrow dreams of the dough”.

trianon-treaty
The Treaty of Trianon is still an emotive issue in Hungary.

An emotive issue

The new controversy comes only a week after a bill debated in the Romanian Parliament on the Szeklerland’s autonomy sparked a row between Bucharest and Budapest, with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis accusing the majority of trying to “give Transylvania to Hungarians”.

While Viktor Orbán had reacted at the time saying that he didn’t know if it was an accident, a provocation or some move of a new Romanian national strategy, his latest stunt could well be understood as a reaction to it.

Last month, Romanian and Hungarian Foreign Ministries had already gone head to head over this issue.

Along with Transylvania, Szeklerland became a part of Romania in 1920, in accordance with the Treaty of Trianon, which remains an emotive issue in Hungary.

Nearly a hundred years after it was signed, the 1920 Trianon Peace Treaty remains one of the most traumatic events in Hungary’s collective memory and is a recurring issue in current politics.

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