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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

EU, Borders, "Revision"

A member of the Hungarian Parliament, representing the ruling party (I will withhold the name, for reasons of taste), speaking at a meeting in Romania, has recently pondered about the possibility of a revision of the border between Hungary and Romania. In other words, he revived, again, a by now over 90-year-old territorial demand on part of the Hungarian state against Romania. This of course is bound to upset the Romanian state--after all, it's the principle of sovereignty that is being toyed with here. On this level, this is just a really, really boring, hyper-conservative nostalgia trip. At the expense of Hungary's neighbors. Cheap and stupid politics.

Meanwhile, there is this thing called the European Union. Both Romania and Hungary are members of it, for better or worse. The border between Hungary and Romania is becoming increasingly irrelevant, and with Romania's (and, btw, also Bulgaria's) imminent entry into the Schengen system, the whole thing will be pretty much completely meaningless. (To get a sense of what's going on on the ground: Since the introduction of visa-free access to the west European parts of the EU for Romanian citizens, the real problem for the Hungarian labor market is not the massive influx of informal labor from Romania, but the opposite, its disappearance. Romanian citizens, who had been a fixture in seasonal agriculture as well as the construction industry until about 5-10 years ago, have more or less moved to richer EU-member states.) Be that as it may, the border is all open, especially for Magyar-speaking citizens of Romania.

All this border revision talk is basically a red herring.

So, OK. I think I get it: the guy is a provocateur, he thrives in stirring irrational sentiment. Just ignore him.

What I don't get is why he does not get ridiculed out of politics.

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cover page of the book

cover page of the book
image used for the cover design by Anannya Dasgupta