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Human Rights and International Law

Human rights and foreign policy in Central Europe: Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland
Gábor Kardos
from Human Rights and Comparative Foreign Policy: Foundations of Peace, David P. Forsythe, ed.
United Nations University


I. Historical introduction

Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic share the cultural identity of Central Europe, which is intertwined with Habsburg rule and thus affected by Vienna. "Budapest, Prague and Cracow were not just suburbs of Vienna," but rather part of a cultural network strongly connected with that imperial city. 1 Political traditions are also common. In 1331 the kings of the three countries (Hungary, Poland, and Bohemia) met in Visegrád (Hungary) to facilitate their economic ties. Bohemia, Slovakia, and Croatia, all parts of Hungary at one time, were under the same rule for 473 years. Hungary and Poland were unified for 172 years, and Poland and Bohemia were officially joined for 183 years. 2 In 1991, the leaders of Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia met in Visegrád and renewed their trilateral cooperation, including in the field of foreign policy, aiming at full membership in Western international institutions. All three states felt the need to give attention to human rights through their foreign policies, in part to meet the expections of their Western colleagues. But all three countries also contained some cultural aspects generating domestic pressures in favour of human rights — at least at home if not abroad. This chapter addresses the place of human rights in Hungarian foreign policy, with comparative attention to the Czech Republic and Poland.

As far as traditions affecting human rights are concerned, Central Europe always had some elements of social autonomy. In addition, Western versions of Christianity were preserved, as were some separation of powers and a measure of constitutionality. But the role of the state was stronger and the economy was weaker there than in the West. 3 The geopolitical identity of these countries "was and is based on a fundamental duality, on the hope of being accepted into the West and on the fear of being dominated by the East." 4 Beside this fundamental duality there was a general understanding of the geopolitical situation: nothing good can be expected from the strongest powers in the neighbourhood. This feeling, however, was never great enough to unite Central Europe, especially not between the two world wars, in the shadow of the Third Reich and the Soviet Union, mainly because in the twentieth century the fulfilment of national aspirations was essentially at the expense of others in the region.

A metaphor frequently used to describe the geopolitical position of especially Hungary, but also of the other two states, is the "ferry-state." Culturally and politically Hungary was attracted to the West, but the strong currents of power relations pushed the country to the East. It found its path to the West twice, once after the withdrawal of the Turks in the seventeenth century, and again after the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989. The Czech Republic and Poland, too, considered themselves Western but often found themselves within the sphere of influence of an Eastern power. In all three states there was considerable support for individual rights, but international — as well as domestic — politics prevented their full development.

A brief look at recent history indicates the main lines of political evolution as regards human rights in these three states in Central Europe. In the 1920s and 1930s Hungary was an authoritarian state with a parliamentary facade; real parliamentary democracy never existed. 5 Conditions for human rights were definitely less favourable in Hungary than in Czechoslovakia (the predecessor of the Czech Republic and Slovakia) and similar to or slightly better than those in Poland. In the interwar period, Czechoslovakia was a well-functioning constitutional democracy, which possessed a Constitutional Court with powers over primary legislation. 6 Both the rule of law and legal science were highly developed in Czechoslovakia, as reflected in the well-known school of jurisprudence in Brno. 7 Between 1921 and 1926 Poland was a parliamentary democracy; in 1926, however, Marshall Pilsudski returned to power with the help of a military coup d'Ètat. Pilsudski curtailed political freedoms, although he preserved a (limited) multi-party system. In 1935, with the acceptance of a new constitution, Poland was similar to later authoritarian-bureaucratic states in Latin America. 8

After a short and limited parliamentary democracy (1945-1947) in Hungary, the Stalinist period (1947-1963) was brutal and provoked a revolution and a national uprising (Budapest Autumn) in 1956. This was suppressed by the Soviet Union, followed by a cruel repression. In the 1970s and 1980s Hungary was regarded as a reformed communist country, mainly owing to the market-oriented reforms in the economy. As a reformed country, the state permitted certain freedoms in areas of economic activity, especially consumer patterns. These freedoms slowly expanded to include other spheres of society, although fundamental rights were never recognized as belonging to individuals. Fundamental rights should not be confused with benefits conditionally given upon the "benevolent understanding" of the party leadership. 9 The Hungarian democratic opposition played a crucial role in undermining the official communist ideology, while the populist opposition drew the attention of the international public to the violation of Hungarian minorities' rights in the neighbouring countries. Since there were sizeable Hungarian minorities in neighbouring states such as Slovakia and Romania, human rights in the form of minority rights loomed large in Hungarian foreign policy in the first decade after the collapse of European communism.

After the Czechoslovak communist coup d'Ètat in February 1948 a similar period of "construction of socialism" started; 20 years later, in 1968, this socialism wore a human face for a brief time under Alexander Dubcek. The Prague Spring, and the effort to combine socialism with some civil and political rights, were followed by a Soviet-inspired military intervention by the Warsaw Pact states, and personal freedom was once again suppressed. The political opposition took the form of a small human rights movement, the famous Charter 77, which was linked to the 1975 Helsinki Accord and the Western ideas (and pressure) supporting it.

In Poland, the Catholic Church was able to preserve its integrity and major parts of its social role. Furthermore private ownership remained legal with respect to agriculture. Mass demonstrations shocked the ruling circles in 1956 and in 1970. Personal freedoms were never secure, however, as seen by the anti-Semitic campaign lauded by the party state apparatus in the aftermath of the Middle East War in 1967. In 1980-1981 the Communist Party was forced to accept the conditions laid down by the independent trade union, Solidarity. In 1981, martial law was introduced in the country, and as a result the authorities banned Solidarity. Between 1981 and 1989, however, underground activities were so widespread in Poland that it was justified to talk about the existence of a second society. After the end of martial law (1983) the Communist agenda to polish the image of the regime led to a Constitutional Tribunal (1985) and a Parliamentary Ombudsman in 1987. The latter proved to be truly useful for human rights practices, mainly because of Ewa Letowska, who filled the job. 10

The Hungarian transition to democracy (1989-1990) was slow because of negotiations and a peaceful adjustment to the new era that were strictly legally guided. In this process the fact that Hungary is said to be a nation of lawyers definitely played an important role. 11 In October 1989, "the velvet revolution" occurred in Prague and it changed the political system. The Polish transition to democracy was also a negotiated process with certain crucial but tentative elements of compromise (e.g. the first parliamentary election was only partially free, with the Communist Party having reserved seats in the Sejm).

In sum, Hungary and also Poland have so far had a rather weak democratic culture. It existed, for example, amongst the nobility in the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. In these two countries, the push for civil and political rights has reappeared at certain times — in 1956 in Hungary and periodically in the modern era in Poland. The Czech Republic, on the other hand, has had direct experience of a functioning liberal or quasi-liberal democracy for some two decades.

Even where democracy has been weak, as in Hungary and Poland, two principles have been reasonably well accepted, at least in intellectual circles: the idea of constitutionality and the idea of self-government. The first refers to the operation of the state according to constitutional statutes and its accountability. 12 The second was interpreted by some Hungarian intellectuals to include protection against state power, at least in the form of what we would now call federalism, if not individual human rights. JÛzsef Eˆtvˆs, 13 an eminent thinker, wrote in 1851:

In order to limit state power ... it should also be provided that the individual should not stand isolated against the state power. Consequently, the only means of protection, in our age, against the omnipotence of the state is the same which has been serving as protection against any kind of unlimited power for centuries, namely that villages, provinces and state organs, which link the individual to the state should be given certain spheres of independent activities thus limiting state power very strictly in practice. 14

Summing up important social and political virtues, in the case of Hungary it is necessary to emphasize the importance of individual economic freedoms, 15 a preserved sense of legalism1 16 or legal formalism, 17 and sensitivity to minority rights. As far as the Czech Republic is concerned, the tradition of liberal constitutionalism, along with the spirit of civic action, although damaged by 40 years of communism, is still the strongest in the former communist Central Europe. Elements of Polish political culture are supportive of many internationally recognized human rights, 18 and the sense of political pluralism was preserved in Poland because of the role of the Catholic Church and the "second society." In Poland the working class was a leading anti-communist force. Yet trade unionism is still the most important contributing factor to the "trap of inherited entitlements" 19 — the demand to maintain the material content of social rights, which is, of course, a phenomenon in Hungary and in the Czech Republic as well. All three countries became used to an extensive welfare state, which is difficult to reconcile fully with an increased emphasis on individual freedom, especially on the basis of private property in the economic sphere.

II. Domestic factors

As a consequence of the fall of communism, today the people do have human rights in Hungary but this does not mean that old social habits, especially patterns of behaviour that reflect the experiences of the communist period, have totally disappeared. People, unlike laws, have memories and established patterns of behaviour. These can be changed only gradually, if at all. 20 To transform hearts and minds is much more difficult than to model constitutions and laws on those of Western democracies, as a Judge of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic pointed out. 21 In an essay written in 1986, a Hungarian political dissident compared everyday social life in Britain and in Hungary. Unfortunately he missed three important social virtues in Hungary: privacy — general respect for the private sphere; fairness — trust in social exchanges; and efficiency in the management of everyday businesses. 22 As of the late 1990s, trust and efficient social management are still serious problems. As far as privacy is concerned, in the past politics endangered it. Today private consumerism does something almost as irritating. One of the achievements of "liberalization" under late socialism was some domestic privacy in Hungary, assuming you did not happen to be a political dissident. Today, even the human body and its intimate biological functions are perfect targets for aggressive television advertisements, as the flood of commercials demonstrates. 23 The realm of personal privacy is threatened more by economic than by political abuse.

Analysing the mood of the public towards human rights in Poland, Professor Kurczewski comes to a conclusion that is equally valid in Hungary and the Czech Republic:

First, it is difficult to imagine an interest in human rights if poverty, disorganisation and discontent would exceed a certain level. Visibility of crime, new types of crime, the influx of criminals abroad and the availability of weapons make crime problems the most vulnerable point in the barrier that divides societies friendly to human rights from those that put other considerations above human rights. The Polish police find strong organized crime and a large amount of crime in general, and in this climate very often ideas focus on that. This has the potential to endanger the proper respect and protection of human rights. Until now however, the problem has not achieved the scale that would lead to the real endangerment of the right in question. 24

The fear of rising criminality is the reason Poland, at least theoretically, has preserved the death penalty. This is also why proposals in favour of capital punishment have re-emerged in Hungary 25 and in the Czech Republic.

People are becoming accustomed to the legal defence of their human rights, whereas it was natural for them to turn to the law when there was a conflict over inheritance, for example. This has implications for foreign human rights policy. In all three states, there is now the possibility of submitting an individual complaint about rights violations under the European Convention on Human Rights. Ratification of this treaty has resulted in a large number of petitions in each state. Apart from this development, the lack of test cases and the relative weakness of domestic human rights groups continue to thwart the human rights culture, which is why the role of transnational human rights NGOs (Amnesty International, Interights, etc.) is still rather important. This, of course, does not mean that the top Hungarian human rights groups do not engage in valuable work. Here it is necessary to refer to the activities of the following NGOs: the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, mainly dealing with asylum seekers and victims of the brutality of the police; the Society for Freedoms, focusing on the rights of mentally ill patients; the Raoul Wallenberg Society, concentrating on racial discrimination; the Martin Luther King Society, fighting discrimination against blacks and Asians; the Hungarian Centre for the Protection of Rights, the Roma Civil Rights Foundation, and the Bureau for the Protection of Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities, combating discrimination against Romanies; and the Shelter Society, providing help for asylum seekers. They collect evidence of the violation of human rights, publish reports and periodicals, organize protest activities, build networks which raise funds, and provide legal aid. These activities are becoming more and more professional. 26

In Hungary, two scientific periodicals are exclusively devoted to human rights (Acta Humana and Fundamentum). As far as the general press coverage of human rights violations is concerned, police violence, skin-head brutality against Romanies, and racial discrimination issues in particular attract significant attention.

Another important factor influencing the mood of the public towards human rights issues, which is to a certain extent connected with the fear of criminality, is immigration. Reflecting the negative attitude of the public, the government has put obstacles in the way of asylum seekers. 27 The same is true in the Czech Republic.

The widespread desire for secure jobs, and for social security in the broadest sense, not only leads to the "trap of inherited entitlements" but heavily influences voting behaviour. The electorate voted for the former communists in Hungary in 1994 and in Poland in 1993 because the people wanted to enjoy social protection again. But in both countries the new socialist parties strictly followed the path of marketization and the devolution of the welfare system. The search for social security led to the return of a Solidarity government in 1997 in Poland, and could also easily cause the fall of governments in Hungary. The Klaus government, which was devoted to strict market capitalism, 28 fell in the Czech Republic, but more owing to scandal than simply to a rejection of its economic policies. All three countries under review here continue to struggle to find a stable synthesis between the desire for social security and the desire for individual freedom — especially in economic matters. The older Western democracies have found a general zone of consensus about how to combine individual freedom with a welfare state, even though different political parties compete to move public policy one way or the other. The new Central European democracies are still trying to establish that general zone.

During the first years of transition from communism to market democracy, the constitutional courts, especially in Hungary, played a surprising if indirect role in shaping foreign policy on human rights. The paradigmatic case was the decision of the Constitutional Court of Hungary concerning the unconstitutionality of the death penalty. 29 At the time of the decision, Hungary was not bound by an international commitment to remove the death penalty, but the judgment referred to, among others things, Protocol 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights — which required outright abolition. In his concurring opinion, the President of the Court, Judge LászlÛ SÛlyom, stated that it was appropriate for the Court to examine foreign practice and noted that the international trend had been towards the abolition of the death penalty. 30 This judgment pre-empted a debate about ratification of Protocol 6 to the European Convention and of Protocol 2 to the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

If one evaluates domestic developments as regards the realization of human rights in Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic through the eyes of human rights NGOs, the general picture is mostly favourable. These countries are liberal democracies, no political or other extrajudicial killings occur, habeas corpus exists, trials are fair and public, and there are free elections, free speech, and freedom of peaceful assembly and association. 31 This does not mean that sometimes serious rights problems do not arise, but this situation obtains in all liberal democracies. In Hungary, the slow privatization of nationwide TV channels (which was completed in 1998), abuse by the police, conditions in police detention facilities, the ill-treatment of the Romany population, and inhuman repatriation of foreigners 32 are all serious. The Commission of the European Union (EU) emphasized two things: corruption and treatment of Romanies. 33 In the Czech Republic, one finds the problems of access to information by journalists, abuse by the police, the degradation of the Romany population, and an over-long application procedure for asylum seekers. 34 In Poland, much scrutiny has been directed to the vague legal formulation of the law allowing wiretapping, inadequate conduct by the police, the problems of the right of appeal against a negative decision on asylum, and the legal existence of the death penalty (although it has been under a moratorium since 1 November 1995). 35 Thus the problems are similar: the aggressiveness of the police, discrimination against Romanies, bad treatment of asylum seekers, problems with the right to information and the freedom of the media — to which can be added declarations of racial hatred by right-wing extremists. Instead of focusing on these defects, however, the typical man in the street is more likely to mention the inability of the state to serve its citizens: the state provides insufficient regulations on this or that social service (for example on the rights of physically disabled), or inadequate conditions in centres for mentally ill persons or in prisons; the authorities exceed deadlines; court decisions remain on paper, etc. 36 Until a rights culture is instituted at home, human rights are not likely to be a major issue in foreign policy.

Thus, with the exception of certain issues — the multilateral protection of minority rights in the case of Hungary, or bilateral relationships including human rights aspects (Hungarian minorities in Slovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia; the Polish minority in Lithuania; the Sudetenland question between the Czech Republic and Germany) — the Hungarian, Czech, and Polish states do not have many other specific human rights priorities in their foreign policy other than to prove their sincere adherence to international, especially to European, norms and to the EU common foreign policy. 37 The common foreign policy goals — full membership in NATO and the EU — create a community of interests 38 in the field of human rights policy among the three countries. 39

It was symptomatic that until 1998 in Hungary there was no separate unit for human rights in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs; 40 human rights issues belonged to different directorates (UN and European integration). There is, however, a Government Office for Hungarian Minorities Abroad, which is independent from the ministry. At the time of the preparation of "basic treaties" with Slovakia and Romania (1994-1996) there was an institutional competition between these two units. The office represented the stronger position on minority rights claims, but in both cases the ministry was the "winner." The ministry emphasized that it was more important to conclude mutually acceptable treaties — as preconditions of membership in NATO and in the EU — than to demand unacceptably strong provisions to protect Hungarians abroad. Thus human rights issues were enveloped in other Hungarian foreign policy objectives.

III. Multilateral policy

As far as the adherence of Hungary, the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia before 1 January 1993), and Poland to the two UN basic human rights Covenants is concerned, these states had already ratified both during the period of dictatorial socialism in the 1970s without reservations. 41 But, like other socialist states, they did not at that time ratify Optional Protocol 1 to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which allowed individual complaints before the UN Human Rights Committee.

In 1988-1989, as a reflection of the new domestic politics, Hungary became a very active ratifier of human rights treaties (the most active among the three and in the Warsaw Pact). 42 Hungary ratified Optional Protocol 1 to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the (1977) Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions on Human Rights in Armed Conflict, and acceded to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. After 1 January 1990, Czechoslovakia and Poland followed this general line as well — although Poland has failed to ratify Optional Protocol 2 to the Civil-Political Covenant on abolition of the death penalty. All three states publicly renounced their abstentions in the 1948 vote approving the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the UN General Assembly. Thus all three are now on record as endorsing the International Bill of Rights.

Regional human rights activities are very important for all three states. Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland actively participate in the system for the protection of human rights of the Council of Europe, which activity is strongly interconnected with the widespread desire within each to prove their commitment to the "idea of Europe." 43 One proves that one is European by committing to regional standards on human rights. All three ratified the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights), with reservations of minor importance. 44 All three accepted Articles 25 and 46 of the Convention on the right of individual petition and on the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. As far as the Protocols attached to the European Convention are concerned, there is almost complete adherence by each of the three countries, with small differences. Year by year, individual complaints are getting more and more satisfactory (early applications from Central Europe were frequently unacceptable). 45 National courts in all three countries are becoming accustomed to basing their decisions directly on the European Convention on Human Rights; 46 previously they never relied directly on an international treaty. With regard to the European Social Charter, all three states signed it, and Poland and Hungary have ratified it; Czech ratification is on its way.

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, on the basis of its first periodic visits, criticized prison conditions in both Hungary and Poland. Such issues were raised as insufficient accommodation and recreational activities, or the censoring of correspondence. 47 The governments tended to accept these well-documented observations. 48 The experts of the Council of Europe criticized the Czech Citizenship Law of 1992 because it excluded from Czech citizenship Slovaks who had their permanent residence in the Czech Republic. That law created a number of stateless persons, and it was also used in a discriminatory manner against the members of the Romany community. In Slovakia, Romanies who had been arrested but not prosecuted were treated as not meeting the legal requirements of a clean criminal record in order to apply for citizenship. 49 The government had failed to respond to criticism of this practice by human rights non-governmental organizations, but as a consequence of a report by the experts of the Council of Europe in April 1996 the law was amended.

From the mid-1970s, the diplomatic process known as the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), which later became the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), proved important to all three states. Hungarian diplomacy in the 1980s under late socialism took CSCE humanitarian commitments more and more seriously and tried to use them to justify domestic liberal steps (in the field of travelling abroad, for example), but Budapest tried to avoid any open confrontation with the Soviet Union. 50 The ruling political parties in both Hungary and Poland attempted to improve a range of humanitarian issues, but without changing the existing features of socialism or the one-party state. A more rigid view existed in Czechoslovakia (and also in the majority of the socialist states), which saw the whole subject of human rights and humanitarian affairs as a disguised Western attempt to smuggle a Trojan horse into the socialist camp in order to destroy it. During the second half of the 1980s at the Vienna Conference on CSCE principles, Hungary became active on minority issues. In 1988, Hungary supported a Canadian protest against Romania's policy toward its Hungarian minority. For the first time in the Helsinki process, an ally of the Soviet Union crossed the line between East and West. In June-July 1990, Hungary was an important actor in the group of states stressing minority rights at the Copenhagen Conference on the Humanitarian Dimension of the CSCE. 51

When in the 1990s the OSCE addressed human rights in armed conflicts and/or issues of the right to collective self-determination, Hungary continued its active diplomacy — once again motivated by concern for the Hungarian minority in foreign countries. Thus Hungary was active diplomatically regarding the Ossetian, Abkhaz, Chechen, and other conflicts, in order to send diplomatic signals to Bratislava and Bucharest in particular. The basic message was that major problems can be avoided later through correct minority protection now.

In general, Hungarian foreign policy has been sympathetic to the human rights activities of the CSCE/OSCE since the 1980s. 52 In 1995, LászlÛ Kovács, the Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs, evaluated the human rights commitments of CSCE/OSCE thus: "The political commitments are more elastic than the legal ones, consequently the political commitments accepted in the context of the OSCE — thus, in the field of human rights — point further than conventions. Obviously this tendency enforces the authority of the OSCE." 53

With regard to the international financial institutions, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland are borrowing states. Thus their voices are far from being important in such institutions as the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. Because of their general support for the principle of international protection of human rights, they are not against the injection of human rights considerations into the conditions of loans of these international financial institutions. All three countries are founder members of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which was the first development bank explicitly to include human rights requirements in its founding Statute. 54

Hungary, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (1992-1993), actively participated in the management of such delicate issues as the peaceful transition to majority rule in South Africa, problems affecting the process of monitoring UN decisions on Iraq, the war on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, and the establishment of the Criminal Tribunal devoted to the violation of international humanitarian law there. In the case of South Africa, Hungary's representative compared the transition to democracy there to what happened in his country:

The dramatic changes which have occurred recently in the eastern-central region of Europe, including Hungary, bear some similarity to those now taking shape in South Africa. The most critical challenge that those changes posed for our region was that of ensuring that the transition towards democracy would take place peacefully. The experience my country has gained in this matter suggests that changes to our system carried out in our region were helped enormously by the absence of violence. Those changes of system succeeded in becoming substantial and convincing in nature, to the extent that power was transferred exclusively by peaceful means, through negotiation mechanisms, by means of agreements concluded between political partners of opposing camps. That experience has also shown that one must avoid doing anything that might serve to unleash passions and to set in motion uncontrollable processes, thus jeopardising the success of the transition itself. 55

Hungary clearly indicated its support for the punitive measures of the Security Council against Iraq in defence of the right to existence of small states:

A year ago, the forces of an international coalition pitted themselves against Iraqi aggression. They liberated Kuwait and thus re-established international legality by acting in accordance with the United Nations Charter. We would like the government of the Republic of Iraq and its high-ranking representatives who are with us today to understand how a small country such as Hungary was jolted and distressed — through the implications of this act for international relations in general — at seeing a country not only invade another but then deny the very existence of that country Member of the United Nations. Therefore, Hungary has expressed its full support for the measures taken by the Security Council since the outset of the Gulf crisis. 56

In answer to the Iraqi accusation that the members of the Security Council committed genocide against the Iraqi people, the Hungarian representative stated: "In our view, that is not the best way to convince the international community of the need to ease the sanctions imposed on Iraq. It is because of Iraq's refusal to cooperate." 57

In the Yugoslav crises, for example in connection with the expulsion of CSCE missions by the Belgrade government, the Hungarian representative tried to act as a protector of the rights of ethnic Hungarians living there:

The decision of the Belgrade Government was taken at a time when the situation in each of the three regions continues to be volatile. The international community has had well-founded reasons to concentrate its attention recently on Kosovo, where tension gives cause for serious concern. However, the situation is also very fragile in Vojvodina and Sandjak, where the human rights and fundamental freedoms of ethnic communities are far from being fully respected. We are particularly concerned about the situation of the Hungarian minority in Vojvodina, which is being continuously threatened and lives under conditions of intimidation and harassment. As a consequence of this, tens of thousands of Hungarians have had to leave and seek refuge abroad, mainly in my country. It is not by accident, either, that at the same time Serb settlers have been sent to Vojvodina in large numbers, moving into the homes of Hungarians who left the region. Although the methods are somewhat different, the objectives behind this scenario are all too familiar by now. 58

After UN Security Council Resolution 827 (1993) unanimously approved the establishment of the Criminal Tribunal, the Hungarian representative underlined the connection between the settlement of the Yugoslav conflict and the punishment of perpetrators:

Hungary has firmly supported all resolutions of the Security Council concerning grave violations of international humanitarian law. Hungary is convinced that persons who commit or order the commission of grave and systematic violations of that law should not escape the hand of justice, and their acts cannot enjoy impunity. We are deeply convinced that it is impossible to envisage a lasting settlement of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, including the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, without the prosecution of those who massacre and burn children, women and elderly people; who, with diabolical regularity, shell innocent civilian populations; who practice "ethnic cleansing", the true tragic implications of which have not yet been fully appreciated; who cut off the water supplies of besieged communities; who deliberately destroy cultural or religious property, and so on. 59

The Hungarian seat in the Security Council was first taken over by the Czech Republic (1994-1995) and then by Poland (1996-1997). The Czech delegate, in the debate over the UN Secretary-General's report on Bosnia and Hercegovina, proved to be almost as passionate as the Hungarian delegate in the previous quotation:

Some have described the Secretary-General's report as containing "shortcomings", as providing "insufficient evidence", as containing "arbitrary statements". They have argued that the "alleged" mass killings and disappearances furthered a "propaganda campaign" of the Bosnian Government, and even that it was renegade Muslims who slaughtered thousands of their co-religionists.... We would, most of all, delight in finding out that the Srebrenica thousands were not killed at all, that they had merely been forgotten — sequestered, perhaps, in some barn in a hidden mountain valley. However, we are not aware of any such factual evidence. We are not aware of any evidence better than that provided in the Secretary-General's report, and we agree with him that it is indeed undeniable. 60

The Polish delegate, in connection with the UN role in the solution of another conflict, the Haitian problem, emphasized two things: the fact that the Polish delegation associated itself with the statement by the Italian delegation on behalf of the European Union, and the contribution of the UN mission to the strengthening of the fragile nature of Haitian democracy. 61 The identification with the EU's standpoints and commitments to international endeavours to promote human rights are common in the foreign policy of the Visegrád three. The voting behaviour of the Central European states in the Security Council during the years of almost completely unanimous resolutions is not a real indicator; they just followed the dominant line. 62

Hungarian leaders delivering speeches in the UN General Assembly in the 1990s attached special importance to human rights questions. GÈza Jeszenszky, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the first freely elected (conservative) Hungarian government, emphasized that minority rights are a part of human rights:

In our age, the power of human rights has become global and cannot serve any particular interests. The idea of free individuals in a free world transcends State frontiers and fulfils a mission which will ultimately lead us to a world without borders.... The Government of the Republic of Hungary devotes particular attention to the international protection of minority rights. Therefore, we welcome the growing awareness that the rights of national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities form an integral part of universally recognised human rights. 63

In the same month (October 1991), Prime Minister JÛzsef Antall, indicating Hungary's commitment to the principle of self-determination, took a step to correct one of the diplomatic misdeeds of communist Hungary. In 1975, as a country of the Soviet bloc, Hungary was in favour of the anti-Zionist resolution of the General Assembly.

The principle of the self-determination of peoples cannot be applied selectively. Peace in the Middle East can be brought about, inter alia, on the basis of that principle. It is urgent, therefore, that the General Assembly revoke its resolution on Zionism adopted in 1975. Zionism is the Jewish people's philosophy of self-determination and the establishment of their own State. The resolution to which I have referred thus calls into question those fundamental rights of the Jewish people. 64

In October 1994, LászlÛ Kovács, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the socialist-liberal government (elected in 1994), underlined the universal character of human rights:

By the same token, we believe that the United Nations has not yet exhausted the means available for the international protection of human rights. We urge the international community to seek new and innovative means and methods to safeguard the rights and freedoms of our fellow human beings, wherever they may live. 65

He indicated Hungary's readiness to participate in civic human rights monitoring. 66 In October 1997, Kovács described the Hungarian contribution to the fulfilment of one of the prerequisites of respect for human rights — international peace:

It is in this context that in recent years Hungary has increased its participation in UN mandated peace-keeping operations in a variety of ways, including both infrastructural and logistical support and the deployment of military and police personnel, an example of which is the Hungarian contribution to IFOR and SFOR and the considerable increase in the number of Hungarian peace-keepers serving in UNFICYP. We are pleased that the performance and professional skill of my compatriots engaged in various such operations all across the globe are considered positively. 67

Hungary took other clear positions on human rights issues in the General Assembly. Budapest welcomed the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action accepted by the UN Human Rights Conference in Vienna in 1993. It endorsed the innovative procedures developed by various human rights treaty bodies — such as the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and the Human Rights Committee — with regard to preventive action, emergency situations, early warning, and follow-up. 68 Hungary condemned the violation of human rights in Serbia, Iraq, Cuba, Myanmar, and the Sudan. 69 Hungary, as well as Poland, attached special importance to the adoption of the resolution on the establishment of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights 70 and identified itself with the EU statement in support of the High Commissioner's strategy. 71

This identification with the EU's standpoint is the main characteristic feature of the voting behaviour of Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland in the General Assembly. In 1995-1996, for example, similarly to previous years, the voting behaviour of the three countries was identical and strictly followed the line of EU states. 72

The participation of the three Central European states in the work of the UN Commission on Human Rights reflects their attitude towards leading human rights issues and initiatives. Their policies changed as a consequence of their transition from dictatorial socialism to market democracy. They became supporters of Western, especially European, policies rather than followers of Soviet voting patterns and supporters of draft resolutions introduced by radical developing countries.

The icebreaker of the unity of the socialist camp was Hungary, as already noted with regard to the Vienna Conference of the CSCE. Hungary focused on Romania's persecution of its Hungarian minority not only in that regional body but also in the UN's Human Rights Commission. During the era of European communism, the socialist countries adhered to a tacit agreement not to openly criticize each other's minority policies. Hungary broke with this tradition and co-sponsored a resolution on Romania in the UN Commission on Human Rights. The resolution on the human rights situation in Romania 73 noted:

That the Romanian Government's policy of rural systematization, which involves forcible resettlement and affects long standing traditions, would if implemented, lead to a further violation of the human rights of large sectors of the population and expressed the Commission's concern at the imposition of increasingly severe obstacles to the maintenance of the cultural identity of Romania's national minorities. 74

The socialist member states either abstained (Yugoslavia) or did not participate in the vote (Bulgaria, German Democratic Republic, Ukraine, USSR). The co-sponsors of the original draft resolution, 75 with the exception of Hungary, were all OECD member states. 76

If one reviews the policies of Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland in the UN Human Rights Commission during the 1990s, it is fairly easy to conclude that they followed the European, but not necessarily the US, position on issues touching upon Cuba, 77 Iraq, and Iran, or the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social, and cultural rights. 78 It is difficult, however, to identify the dominant human rights theme of the three states. The only exception is Hungary's clear emphasis on minority and ethnic questions. Thus Hungary was active in the preparation of the resolution on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. 79 A Hungarian national was also active on similar issues in the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, which reports to the Commission but consists of private individuals rather than state representatives. On many issues before the Commission and Sub-Commission, such as the human rights of all persons subjected to any form of detention or imprisonment or human rights violations in different parts of the world (Burundi, Rwanda, Myanmar, etc.), Hungarian, Czech, and Polish diplomacy is supportive. But these three Central European states normally do not play a leading role in human rights initiatives; they are European "followers" or "partners." 80

IV. Bilateral policy

Hungary's bilateral foreign policy on human rights has been dominated by its concern for ethnic Hungarians living abroad. As shown above, this concern was not absent from its multilateral policy. But this concern looms even larger in bilateral relations with its immediate neighbours. Although there is some variation across Hungarian governments, bilateral policy on rights abroad made in Prague and Warsaw is quite different, owing to different factual contexts. Thus this section focuses heavily on Hungary — if only for reasons of space limitations.

Hungary's modern borders had been set in 1920 in the Trianon Peace Treaty and they were reaffirmed in the Peace Treaty of Paris of 1947. More than 3 million ethnic Hungarians remained in neighbouring states. Today, 2.0-2.4 million live in Romania, 600,000—700,000 in Slovakia, 300,000-350,000 in Serbia, and 150,000—200,000 in Ukraine. 81 Hungary is a country where the percentage of national and ethnic minorities (Slovaks, Germans, Serbs, Croats, etc.) is comparatively small. Consequently, there is an asymmetry between Hungary and its neighbours regarding the protection of minority rights.

In general, the legacy of Trianon, the "Trianon syndrome," proved to be highly difficult to overcome for Hungarian foreign policy, with concern for human rights as a modern attachment to this syndrome. The Trianon syndrome, with its many different meanings, has since the Paris Peace Treaties that concluded the First World War never ceased to be present in Hungarian thinking on foreign policy. Trianon has been identified first of all with incapacity in political and economic affairs, with its neighbourhood policy sentenced to failure, and, last but not least, with the experience that Hungary has become a victim of Great Power politics. 82

The collapse of the Soviet Union and its empire brought considerable hope for improvement in the status of the Hungarian minorities. It presented a historic opportunity to pave the way to a durable solution to this problem, but as it turned out progress was not possible immediately. More time was needed to conclude bilateral treaties on this historically sensitive issue. After 1989, Hungary played the role of the kin-state, demanding protective guarantees. But the neighbouring countries showed a noticeable reluctance to respond affirmatively. The reasons they behaved this way are complex.

In states such as Serbia and Slovakia, the process of creating a modern nation-state placed great stress on national and even ethnic unity. In Romania the process was different but the outcome was largely the same. An overwhelming emphasis on national unity did not leave much political space for the concept of minorities and minority rights. In all three states, ruling circles tended to view multilingual usage, especially in the state administration, in schools, or on street signs, as unpatriotic. The same negative view prevailed regarding claims for local self-government and for the return of properties seized from the Hungarian community during the Cold War.

The conservative Hungarian government (1990-1994) contributed to these broad feelings. Prime Minister Jo¥zsef Antall declared himself to be the leader of 15 million Hungarians, although Hungary has only 10.5 million inhabitants. Antall later said that he regarded himself as a spiritual leader of all Hungarians, but the damage had already been done: his words were taken as a clear sign of the rebirth of Hungarian territorial revisionism. Without underestimating the damage from this clumsy diplomacy, one can note that, objectively speaking, any kind of Hungarian territorial revisionism is completely unrealistic. In the most important case, that of Romania, the overwhelming majority of the ethnic Hungarians do not live in the vicinity of the common borders, and the majority of the population of Hungary is not interested in any kind of border revision. 83 Maybe what happened in former Yugoslavia gave the impression to certain policy-makers in the West that the same could occur between Hungary and Romania or Slovakia, but this danger was overexaggerated. It is also true, however, that it is very difficult to measure the seriousness of a conflict. The standpoint of the conservative government on the connection between neighbourly relations and minority issues was clearly indicated by Prime Minister Antall: "We never said that the minority question was the only factor in interstate relations, but we find it impossible to have good relations with a country that mistreats its Hungarian minority." 84

As far as the violent conflict in former Yugoslavia itself was concerned (1991-1995), at an early stage Antall allowed himself to say that the Trianon Peace Treaty and the Paris Peace Treaty had given Vojvodina, partly inhabited by ethnic Hungarians, to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, but not to Serbia. 85 This seemed to imply that Vojvodina rightly belonged to the former Federal Yugoslavia, but not necessarily to modern, rump Yugoslavia. This statement, and the selling of weapons to Croatia, 86 clearly gave the impression that the Hungarian government was fishing in troubled waters. Consequently, when the Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs spoke about the Hungarians living in Vojvodina as "hostages to the Serbian or Yugoslav army," 87 his words, although reflecting political reality, did not repair the damage. In any event, Hungary was able to handle the mass influx of asylum seekers from Vojvodina, Croatia, and Bosnia-Hercegovina. Budapest did not get involved directly in the conflict. It basically coordinated its policy with that of leading NATO powers. 88

In 1991 Hungary concluded a bilateral ("basic") treaty with Ukraine in which the parties denounced even the peaceful revision of borders. They included a declaration with a list of minority rights, framed after the Copenhagen Declaration of the CSCE. They added the right to autonomy, and a commission was to set up oversee compliance. Towards Romania and Slovakia the conservative Hungarian government kept such a declaration as an ultimate bargaining chip, to persuade the two governments to respect the rights of the ethnic Hungarians. 89

In 1993 Hungary tried to use its political relationships, mainly the German connection, 90 to link Slovakia's and Romania's admittance to membership in the Council of Europe with their treatment of minorities. This effort failed in the sense that both states were admitted without preconditions. But the Council subsequently set conditions for their treatment of minorities, which was to be monitored (Hallonen procedure). 91 The bilateral relationship with the countries was strained by Hungary's stance.

The socialist—liberal government led by Gyula Horn, elected in 1994, committed itself to speeding up Hungary's integration into NATO and the EU, even at the price of lowering the importance of minority rights commitments in the Basic Treaties with Slovakia and Romania. Horn was prepared to offer a declaration that Hungary had no intention of modifying its borders, peacefully or otherwise. The process of negotiation was pushed by both the elaboration of the Pact on Stability in Europe and President Clinton's plan to enlarge NATO eastward. Finally, the Hungarian—Slovak Basic Treaty was concluded in the spring of 1995, and the Hungarian—Romanian Basic Treaty in the autumn of 1996 (the signing partners were Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar of Slovakia and President Iliescu of Romania). Minority protection was achieved by transferring non-binding international commitments, drawn from the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and the CSCE, into the text of the treaties. Article 2 of the Basic Treaty between Slovakia and Hungary states:

The Contracting Parties, in their mutual relations as well as in their relations with other states, shall respect the generally accepted principles and rules of international law, in particular the principles laid down in the Charter of the United Nations, the Helsinki Final Act, the Paris Charter for a New Europe and other documents adopted in the framework of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Article 2 is vague, to be sure, but Article 15 (4) b is more specific:

[I]n the interest of defending the rights of persons belonging to the Slovak minority living in the Hungarian Republic, as well as the Hungarian minority living in the Slovak Republic, [the parties] shall apply as legal obligations the rules and political commitments laid down in the following documents....

The section then lists three documents: the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Humanitarian Dimensions of CSCE, UN General Assembly Resolution 47/135 (Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities) and Recommendation 1201 (1993) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on an Additional Protocol on Rights of National Minorities to the European Convention on Human Rights.

This "legislation" of political commitments is not completely unique in international law. For example, Article 20 of the Czechoslovak—German Treaty of 1992 also "legalizes" the Copenhagen Document. 92 Article 15 (4) of the Hungarian—Slovak Basic Treaty contains the "Most-Favourable-to-Minority Persons Clause" vis-à-vis the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities:

[A]s regards the regulation of the rights and obligations of persons belonging to national minorities living within their territories [Slovakia and Hungary] shall apply the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities adopted and signed by the Contracting Parties on February 1, 1995, as from the date of the ratification of the present Treaty and of the above-mentioned Framework Convention by both Contracting Parties, unless their respective domestic legal systems provide a broader protection of rights of persons belonging to national minorities than the Framework Convention.

Beside these regulations, specific minority rights were included in the Treaty, including a wide range of linguistic rights (Article 15 (2) g): the right to use one's own name, the right to be taught in the minority language, the right to establish minority schools, etc. Slovakia attached a unilateral explanatory note to the Treaty claiming that there is no commitment on the Slovak side to applying collective minority rights, particularly since Recommendation 1201 (1993) of the Council of Europe does not include such rights. 93

The Basic Treaty between Romania and Hungary follows the same line. Article 1 (2) refers generally to the same documents, Article 15 (2) contains the Most-Favoured Clause vis-à-vis the Framework Convention, Article 1 (b) refers to international documents in the field of minority protection mentioned in the appendix as legal commitments (the appendix mentions the same three documents), Article 15 (3) deals with language rights. The Treaty has a "footnote" explaining that, according to the understanding of the parties, Recommendation 1201 does not generate "collective" minority rights. 94

The implementation of these provisions has gone better in Romania under the Constantinescu government than in Slovakia, especially under Meciar governments. In Romania the political party known as the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians became part of the ruling coalition in 1997 and was thus able to achieve an improvement in the treatment of ethnic Hungarians via local governments, as well as a widening of schooling rights in the Hungarian language. Unfortunately, in Slovakia, tensions remained between the two countries concerning the great emphasis on the Slovak "state" language, the opposition to bilingual school records, the failure of local governments to allow the use of Hungarian, etc. 95 Since the fall of Meciar in autumn 1998, the situation in Slovakia is more promising.

There were, of course, other human rights issues in Hungarian foreign policy besides the minority question. In June of 1997, Budapest concluded a treaty with the Vatican on state support for the Catholic church in Hungary and on a schedule for returning former church properties. 96 In 1996 the Hungarian parliament passed a law on collective compensation for seized personal assets, and the government came to an agreement on details with Jewish organizations (this duty came from the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947, but under the Soviet system it was never put into practice).

It might be briefly mentioned that Poland and the Czech Republic also faced the question of minority rights and ethnicity in their foreign policies — but on a much smaller scale than Hungary. After the renewed independence of Lithuania, issues about the Polish minority in that state generated tensions between the two countries. For example, planned diplomatic visits were cancelled in protest. This tension was eased 97 with the help of the CSCE and the Council of Europe, and Polish language and educational rights became better protected in Lithuania. With regard to the delicate issue of ethnic Germans in the Czech Republic, a Basic Treaty was concluded between what was then East Germany and Czechoslovakia in 1973 containing a declaration of the acceptance of the existing borders. Nevertheless, the sad memory of the German occupation and of the ethnic cleansing of the Sudeten territory by the Czechs after the Second World War, when ethnic Germans were sent to Germany, had cast a shadow on the Czech—German relationship. Finally, in 1996 they concluded an agreement expressing mutual forgiveness.

V. Conclusions

Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, formerly part of the Soviet Zwangsordnung, as well as former parts of Vienna's empire, now have reasonably well-functioning liberal democracies. This is the fundamental reason for their sincere if imperfect commitment to international human rights standards — both at home and abroad. Domestic factors pushing toward greater attention to human rights are reinforced by key international factors — primarily the requirements for membership in NATO and the EU. The foreign policies of the three countries toward the international protection of human rights are generally supportive, although each state puts its own nationalistic stamp on developments.

Hungary, the former "ferry-state" between the East and the West, and closely linked to the Czech Republic and Poland, seems to be firmly harboured among the Western nations and their emphasis on human rights. Its foreign human rights commitments and its home performance are becoming similar to what one might observe in any core state of the Western world. Because a relatively large number of ethnic Hungarians are found in neighbouring countries, Hungary's multilateral and bilateral policies both emphasize the deepening and widening of the protection of minority rights. The conclusion of Basic Treaties with Slovakia and Romania, which include minority rights standards, is not simply a precondition for Hungary's membership in NATO and EU, but a starting point for a long process creating liberal and peaceful relations in the Carpathian basin. Something similar could be said of Czech and Polish foreign policies on rights, but with much less emphasis on questions of particular interest to Hungary.


Note 1: Jacques Rupnik, "Central or Mitteleuropa?" Daedalus 119/1 (Winter 1990), 253.  Back.

Note 2: Historical data quoted by Andras Inotai, "Past, Present, and Future of Federalism in Central and Eastern Europe," New Europe Law Review 1/2 (Spring 1993), 516.  Back.

Note 3: Timothy Garton Ash, "Reform or Revolution?" in Timothy Garton Ash, ed., The Uses of Adversity: Essays on the Fate of Central Europe (New York: Random House, 1989), 250.  Back.

Note 4: Wojtek Lamentowicz, "Russia and East-Central Europe: Strategic Options," in Vladimir Baranovsky, ed., Russia and Europe: The Emerging Security Agenda (Oxford: SIPRI, Oxford University Press, 1997), 356.  Back.

Note 5: Kalman Kulcsar, "Constitutionalism and Human Rights in the Transformation of the Hungarian Political System," in Marta Katona Soltesz, ed., Human Rights in Today's Hungary (Budapest: Mezon, 1990), 15.  Back.

Note 6: Istvan Pogany, "A New Constitutional Disorder for Eastern Europe?" in Pogany, ed., Human Rights in Eastern Europe (Aldershot: Edward Elgar, 1995), 225-226.  Back.

Note 7: Zdenka Polivkova, "Human Rights in Post-Totalitarian Czechoslovakia," All-European Human Rights Yearbook, vol. 1 (1991), 231.  Back.

Note 8: Jacek Kurczewski, "The Politics of Human Rights in Post-Communist Poland," in Pogany, Human Rights, op. cit., 112.  Back.

Note 9: Elemer Kankiss, Kelet-Europai Alternativak [East European Alternatives] (Budapest: KJK, 1989), 82.  Back.

Note 10: Roman Wieruszewski, "National Implementation of Human Rights," in Allan Rosas and Jan Helgesen, eds., Human Rights in a Changing East-West Perspective (London: Pinter, 1990), 286—287.  Back.

Note 11: Geza Herczegh, the Hungarian judge of the International Court of Justice, wrote in 1993: "Some days ago, I was asked about the reasons or the secrets of peaceful transition from a dictorial regime to a pluralistic society. My answer was that we Hungarians are a nation of lawyers. Jurists have always played a great role in the Hungarian society. We are proud that our King Andrew II issued the so-called Golden Bill in 1222, seven years after the English Magna Carta limited royal power and recognized some fundamental rights and privileges for the nobility. But those remote historical events are not the most important; far more important is the fact that during the period of communist dictatorship we could preserve, at least partially, our legal traditions and culture, and some of our institutions." Geza Herczegh, "The Evolution of Human Rights Law in Central and Eastern Europe: One Jurist's Response to the Distinguished Panellists," Connecticut Journal of International Law 8/2 (Spring 1993), 325.  Back.

Note 12: Kulcsar, "Constitutionalism and Human Rights," op. cit.  Back.

Note 13: Eo®tvo®s never regarded himself as a federalist, as the idea of the federalization of Hungary was favoured by Hungarian political thinkers only at the end of the First World War.  Back.

Note 14: Jo¥zsef Eo®tvo®s, "XIX. szazad uralkodo eszmeinek befolyasa az alladalomra [The Influence on the State of the Prevailing Ideas of the 19th Century] (Budapest, 1851), as quoted by Kulcsar, op. cit., 22.  Back.

Note 15: According to some views, these experiences of individual economic freedoms without having true political rights somehow deformed the idea of citizenship in the eyes of the Hungarians and led to a kind of "leave me alone" or "everybody deals with their own business" mentality, which is frequently but not necessarily intertwined with political passivity.  Back.

Note 16: It is interesting to note that, although the Hungarian legal system belongs to the European continental legal system, the first Civil Code of Hungary was adopted only in 1959, 11 years after the communist political takeover. Consequently, until that time Hungarian civil law was based mainly on judicial practice, considered and treated as precedents. Being unique in Central Europe, Hungary had a civil law culture "which concentrated on the solution of individual legal cases using legal principles and processing them cautiously." Csaba Varga, "Transition in Central and Eastern Europe," Connecticut Journal of International Law 8/2 (Spring 1983), 502.  Back.

Note 17: In November 1956, in the shadow of the Soviet troops, Prime Minister Imre Nagy declared the neutrality of Hungary; he postulated a wished legal status as reality.  Back.

Note 18: David P. Forsythe, Human Rights and World Politics, 2nd revised edn. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989), 226.  Back.

Note 19: Kurczewski, "The Politics of Human Rights," op. cit., 125. In the former socialist countries, maternity benefit, for example, in practice was a consequence not of the constitutional protection of the family but of the population policy. Andras Sajo, Jogosultsagok [Entitlements] (Budapest: Seneca, Institute of Legal Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1996), 7.  Back.

Note 20: Istvan Pogany, "Constitution Making or Constitutional Transformation in Post-Communist Societies?," Political Studies 44/3 (Special Issue 1996), 571.  Back.

Note 21: Vojtech Cepl, "Transformation of Hearts and Minds in Eastern Europe," quoted by Pogany, "Constitution Making," op. cit., 571.  Back.

Note 22: Istvan Orosz, Westminster Modell [Westminster Model] (Budapest: Katalizator, 1993), 69.  Back.

Note 23: Peter Gyorgy, "Absztrakcio es Realitas" [Abstractions and Reality], Elet es Irodalom, 7 November 1997, p. 4.  Back.

Note 24: Kurczewski, "The Politics of Human Rights," op. cit., 133.  Back.

Note 25: In Hungary, the Smallholders Party (sitting in opposition) in particular favoured capital punishment.  Back.

Note 26: Mate Szabo, "A Katakombakbol a Professzionalismus fele" [From Catacombs toward Professionalism], Fundamentum 1/2 (1997), 124-127.  Back.

Note 27: See Boldiszar Nagy, "Changing Trends, Enduring Questions Regarding Refugees in Central Europe," in Pogany, Human Rights, op. cit., 185-215.  Back.

Note 28: In certain fields only in rhetoric, especially as far as the functioning of the bankruptcy legislation is concerned.  Back.

Note 29: Constitutional Court records: 23/1990 (X.31.) AB hat.  Back.

Note 30: See Stephen I. Pogany, "Human Rights in Hungary," International and Comparative Law Quarterly 41 (July 1992), 681.  Back.

Note 31: See, for example, the yearly reports of Amnesty International or Freedom House.  Back.

Note 32: See "Are Police Officers Punishable?," "Police against Citizens: Cases of Ill-Treatment and Forced Integration, 1 January-30 September 1996," " Rights Denied: The Roma of Hungary," "The Case of Elmas Hasan," "A Statement on Hungarian Refugee Policy and Aliens," "Policy Concerning the Refusal of the Recognition of Elmas Hasan as a Refugee," Reports by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, 1996.  Back.

Note 33: "Az Europai Bizottsag Velemenye Magyarorszag Europai Unioba torteno jelentkezeserol" [The Opinion of the Commission on the Application of Hungary to the EU], Agenda 2000, HUN (1997), 13.  Back.

Note 34: See Annual Report 1996 by the Czech Helsinki Committee; "Czech Republic: Roma in the Czech Republic — Foreigners in their Own Land," Newsletter 8/11 (1996), Human Rights Watch/Helsinki.  Back.

Note 35: See "Human Rights in Poland" (January-September 1996) and "Update" (February 1997), reports by the Helsinki Committee in Poland.  Back.

Note 36: This is the conclusion of a Hungarian sociologist after he had read the 1995-1996 "Report of the Hungarian Parliamentary Ombudsman." His observations are valid also in the case of the two other countries. See Endre J. Nagy, "'Hetkoznapi jogallamiatlansag' vagy egy jelentes diszkret szociologiai baja" [Everyday Lack of Rule of Law or the Discreet Sociological Grace of a Report], Fundamentum 1/1 (1997), 71-73. Back.

Note 37: The political steps in the Yugoslav war and in its aftermath show this very well.  Back.

Note 38: President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland used this expression in his Budapest lecture to the Hungarian Society for Foreign Affairs on 21 January 1997. Aleksander Kwasniewski, "Lengyelorszag es Magyarorszag az euroatlanti integracio fele vezeto uton" [Poland and Hungary on the Road Leading to the Euro-Atlantic Integration], Kulpolitika 2/3—4 (Autumn—Winter 1996), 5.  Back.

Note 39: The protection of human rights and the maturity of political democracy were the fields that gave Prime Minister Klaus of the Czech Republic the feeling that his country was superior to the other Central European states: "After the division of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic moved geopolitically closer to the Western part of Europe." Miroslav Had, "The Visegrad Cooperation: Czech Policy and Cooperation in Central Europe," in Peter Bajtay, ed., Regional Cooperation and European Integration Process: Nordic and Central European Experiences (Budapest: Hungarian Institute of International Affairs, 1996), 130.  Back.

Note 40: But there has been a Human Rights Department in the Ministry of Justice since 1989.  Back.

Note 41: Here it is worth recalling what Professor Vojin Dimitrijevic, a former member of the UN Human Rights Committee, wrote: "Hypocrites are the parasites of true values." See Vojin Dimitrijevic, Human Rights Today (Belgrade: Medjunarodna Politika, 1989), 5.  Back.

Note 42: Lauri Hannikainen, "CSCE State Adherence to Human Rights Convention," in Rosas and Hegelsen, Human Rights, op. cit., 343.  Back.

Note 43: The "idea" or "thought" of Europe is generally understood as government based on freedom and the realization of human rights. See the Statute of the Council of Europe.  Back.

Note 44: In the case of Hungary, it did not guarantee the right to access to courts in proceedings for regulatory offences before the administrative authorities. In the case of the Czech Republic, it did not get rid of military penitentiary disciplinary measures that contravened Articles 5 or 6 of the Convention.  Back.

Note 45: See, for example, Appl. 21647/93, 22049/93, 24407/94 from Hungary.  Back.

Note 46: In Poland, the first such decision was the 21 November 1995 judgment of the Court of Appeal of Byalistok.  Back.

Note 47: The Reports were published in January 1996 (on Hungary) and February 1997 (on Poland) (Strasbourg: Council of Europe).  Back.

Note 48: As a consequence of the Report on Hungary, the detention centre in Kerepestarcsa in Hungary was closed.  Back.

Note 49: Report of Experts of the Council of Europe on Citizenship Laws of the Czech Republic and Slovakia and their Implementation and Replies of the Governments of the Czech Republic and Slovakia (Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 1996).  Back.

Note 50: Istvan Gyarmati, "Az Europai Biztonsagi es Egyuttmukodesi Ertekezlet/Szervezet es Magyarorszag" [The Conference/Organization of European Security and Cooperation and Hungary], in Pal Dunay and Ferenc Gazdag, eds., A Helsinki folyamat: az elso husz ev [The Helsinki Process: The First Twenty Years] (Budapest: Strategiai es Vedelmi Kutato Intezet, Magyar Kulugyi Intezet, Zrinyi Kiado, 1995), 170.  Back.

Note 51: Alexis Heraclides, Security and Cooperation in Europe: The Human Dimension 1972-1992 (London: Frank Cass), 123.  Back.

Note 52: Gyarmati, "Az Europai Biztonsagi es Egyuttmukodesi Ertekezlet/Szervezet," op. cit., 172-174.  Back.

Note 53: Lászlo¥ Kovács, "As EBESZ a jelen es a jovo kihivasai elott" [The OSCE in Front of the Challenges of Present and Future], in Dunay and Gazdag, A Helsinki folyamat, op. cit., 8.  Back.

Note 54: The preamble to the Bank's Articles of Agreement states that contracting parties should be "committed to the fundamental principles of multi-party democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and market economies."  Back.

Note 55: S/PV. 3095, pp. 91—92.  Back.

Note 56: S/PV. 3059, p. 58.  Back.

Note 57: S/PV. 3139 (Resumption 1), p. 77.  Back.

Note 58: S/PV. 3262, p. 6.  Back.

Note 59: S/PV. 3217, p. 21.  Back.

Note 60: S/PV. S/PV. 3612, p. 9.  Back.

Note 61: S/PV. 3638, p. 9.  Back.

Note 62: See Indexes to Proceedings of Security Council, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 (New York: UN Dag Hammarksjo®ld Library).  Back.

Note 63: A/45/PV.18, p. 57.  Back.

Note 64: A/46/PV.16, p. 26.  Back.

Note 65: A/49/PV.14, p. 13.  Back.

Note 66: Ibid.  Back.

Note 67: Lászlo¥ Kovács, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Hungary, "Address at United Nations General Assembly Fifty-Second Session General Debate," New York, 1 October 1997, Current Policy (1997/6), 3.  Back.

Note 68: A/C.3/48/SR.39, p. 5.  Back.

Note 69: A/C.3/48/SR.49, pp. 3—4.  Back.

Note 70: A/C.3/48/SR.58, p. 2.  Back.

Note 71: A/C.3/50/SR.22, p. 4.  Back.

Note 72: Index to the Proceedings of General Assembly Fiftieth Session — 1995/1996, Part I, Subject Index (New York: Dag Hammarksjo®ld Library), 379-391.  Back.

Note 73: Resolution 1989/75.  Back.

Note 74: E.CN.4/1989/L.86, p. 172.  Back.

Note 75: E.CN.4/1989/L.76.  Back.

Note 76: Australia, Austria, France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.  Back.

Note 77: See, for example, the critical human rights situation in Cuba (E.CN.4/1996/L.86). The Czech Republic and Hungary are co-sponsors.  Back.

Note 78: In the past, the cornerstone of the apologetic socialist (etatist-positivist) concept of human rights was to play off economic, social, and cultural rights against civil and political rights.  Back.

Note 79: Resolution 1993/24. The text of this resolution is annexed to General Assembly Resolution 47/135 of 18 December 1992, by which the Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities; the latter was also elaborated with an active Hungarian contribution.  Back.

Note 80: There is an emerging widespread consensus in the Commission — see the resolutions and decisions adopted by the Commission at its fifty-second session (1996), about three-quarters of which were adopted without a vote.  Back.

Note 81: The numbers of ethnic Hungarians in Slovenia, Croatia, and Austria are significantly smaller. There is disagreement about the numbers of ethnic Hungarians living in neighbouring countries. George Schopflin divides the available data into three groups: official or semi-official figures of variable credibility (1), highest credible figures (2), and highest available figures, generally not credible (3). Hungarians in Romania: 1,620,000 (1), 2,000,000 (2), 2,500,000 (3); Hungarians in Slovakia: 560,000 (1), 650,000 (2), 750,000 (3); Hungarians in Serbia: 300,000 (1), 350,000 (2), ? (3). George Schopflin, "Hungary and Its Neighbors," Challiot Papers 7 (May 1993), 35.  Back.

Note 82: Laszlo J. Kiss, "Historicher Rahmen und Gegenwart ungarischer Aussenpolitik," Osteuropa 43/6 (1993), 569—570.  Back.

Note 83: Laszlo Valki, "Security Problems and the New Europe: A Central European Viewpoint," in Andrew J. Williams, ed., Reorganizing Eastern Europe: European Institutions and the Refashioning of Europe's Security Architecture(Aldershot: Dartmouth, 1994), 114.  Back.

Note 84: MTI (Hungarian News Agency), 20 April 1991. Quoted by Edith Elate, "Minority Rights Still an Issue in Hungarian-Romanian Relations," RFE/RL Research Report 1/12 (1992), 16.  Back.

Note 85: Alfred A. Reisch, "Hungary's Policy on the Yugoslav Conflict: A Delicate Balance," Report on Eastern Europe 2/28 (9 August 1991), 37-38.  Back.

Note 86: See James Gow, "Arms Sales and Embargoes: The Yugoslav Example," Bulletin of Arms Control, no. 3 (August 1991), 3.  Back.

Note 87: Geza Jeszenszky, "Europe at the Parting of the Ways," Current Policy, no. 36 (1991), 6 (statement delivered at the Paris Institute of International Relations, 19 September 1991).  Back.

Note 88: Pal Dunay, "Hungary: Defining the Boundaries of Security," in Regina Cowen Carp, ed., Central and Eastern Europe: The Challenge of Transition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 138-140.  Back.

Note 89: Pal Dunay, "Minorities in Hungary, Hungarian Minority in the Neighboring Countries," manuscript (Budapest, 1995), 13.  Back.

Note 90: Germany was (and is) the centre of political gravity for Hungary because of its economic ties, its geographical location, and the good personal relationship between Chancellor Kohl and Premier Antall, then later between Kohl and Premier Horn.  Back.

Note 91: In the case of Romania, after the election of the new president Emile Constantinescu and the inclusion of the Hungarian political party (the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania) in the Romanian government in 1997, the monitoring procedure in practice came to an end.  Back.

Note 92: Bart Driessen, "A New Turn in Hungarian-Slovak Relations? An Overview of the Basic Treaty," International Journal of Minority Rights 4 (1997), 11.  Back.

Note 93: "The Government of the Slovak Republic emphasizes that it has never accepted and has not enshrined in the Treaty any formulation that would be based on the recognition of the principle of collective rights for the minorities and that would admit the creation of autonomous structures on ethnic principle. It insists that it has agreed to mention the Recommendation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe No. 1201 (1993) exclusively with the inclusion of the restricting clause: '... respecting individual human and civil rights, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities.' In conjunction with other relevant provisions of the document, the Treaty consistently respects the recognized European standards based exclusively on individual rights of persons belonging to national minorities. Consequently, no other interpretation comes into question." Quoted by Driessen, ibid., 7.  Back.

Note 94: In most cases, individual rights necessarily have collective dimensions, since how can you practise your right to assembly, to association, or to religion completely alone? Here, "collective" means collective subjects (minority organizations), not individuals belonging to a minority community.  Back.

Note 95: One should also take into consideration Premier Meciar's frequently intolerant and aggressive policy-making.  Back.

Note 96: It is interesting to note that Poland, an almost completely Catholic country, ratified its concordat after long debates only in January 1988.  Back.

Note 97: See, for example, The Joint Declaration of the Presidents of the Republic of Poland and the Republic of Lithuania, Warsaw, 17 February 1995.  Back.