Human rights and foreign policy
in Central Europe: Hungary, the
Czech Republic, and Poland
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,