No Room for `Greater Hungary'

Article excerpt

THE nationalist rumblings in Hungary began last August. Vice President Istvan Csurka, a radical right-wing writer, told the parliament that the borders of Hungary ought to be reconsidered. He raised the idea that some of the 2.7 million Hungarians living uneasily in places like Slovakia, Romania, and Serbia, might best be drawn into a kind of Greater Hungary. Part of his message contained blatantly anti-Semitic elements.

To Westerners who have long considered Hungary the most progressive of the former East bloc countries, such talk was shocking, given the bloody war being fought in neighboring Yugoslavia. At the time, however, liberals in Budapest did not take Mr. Csurka very seriously. He seemed a solitary extremist. But the nationalism Csurka represents can't be overlooked any longer. At the end of January, Csurka failed in a leadership bid - but forced the governing Hungarian Democratic Forum into an alliance that puts five Csurkites into the 20-member party presidium. These politics have also forced Prime Minister Jozsef Antall, a moderate centrist, to the right - to describe himself as the "spiritual leader" of all Hungarians in the region. …