József Kiss: The situation of the Hungarian national minority in Czechoslovakia within the framework OF CZECHOSLOVAKIAN RELATIONS (1948-1960)

Minority policy of Czechoslovakia in the 1950s. Central party policy and Slovakia, its effects on dealing with the issue of Hungarians in Czechoslovakia. Signing of the Czechoslovak-Hungarian agreement. Governmental resolution of Czechoslovakia (in 1952) on the use of mother language in official communication. Changes in solving the minority issue at the beginning of the 1960s

In the 50s the policy toward the Hungarian national minority in Czechoslovakia was predominantly influenced by Prague centralism that was even multiplied by the asymmetrically arranged state power. The Slovak authorities became subordinate to Czech authorities in Prague and to the state authorities in such a way that it practically meant only little autonomy. The principles of the national minority policy, but often the enforcement orders were formulated in the power centres of Prague.

Consequently, towards the Hungarian nationality communities a certain interrelation, but a different approach was present. Therefore, from the side of Prague – also from international point of view – sometimes rigorous and sometimes gallant behaviour was shown. Although, there were situations when willingness and tolerance was shown that can be explained with the empathy formed in the conditions of Slovak-Hungarian co-existence.

Concluding the agreement on cultural co-operation after the signing of the Czechoslovak-Hungarian (amicable) agreement in April 1949 was postponed to November 1951, because the Czechoslovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not want to involve the principle on joint support of national minorities. At the same time in the summer of 1952 the governmental resolution that set the limits of using mother language in official communication originated from central authorities. Although, it was not followed in Slovakia. Although before the beginning of the Hungarian revolution and after its defeat the Slovak party urged the direct co-operation with the Hungarian central communistic party authorities. Developing cross-border relations was to be also part of it. This intention should have meant a convenient development for the Hungarian communities in Slovakia. The initiation failed because of Prague’s intervention.

For politics of Hungarian national minority those manoeuvre opportunities that arose from the disagreement between the central Czechoslovak and Slovak authorities, and/or office-holders were limited to a minimum. These opportunities were broadened only in the sixties, when Antonfn Novotny, chairman of the Czechoslovak Communist Party got into a very sharp contradiction with the Slovak leaders.