Ethnic hungarians of Voivodina demand dual citizenship

16-08-2003

The issue of granting dual citizenship to ethnic Hungarians in the neighbouring countries is being hotly debated in Hungary following a campaign in the Northern province of Voivodina in former Yugoslavia. The Democratic Federation of Hungarians there are collecting signatures in support of their demand for dual citizenship. But State Secretary Andras Barsony says they have little chance of success

"There are no legal grounds for people to be able to ask for dual citizenship for a couple of hundreds of thousands of people. Because the citizenship as a phenomenon is an individual right of a person who is going to apply for that - based on an already existing legislation. So an government or any state can not provide, lets say as a common right, citizenship for an unknown 300,000 - 500,000 people."

Hungary is still going to discuss the issue and later decide on it. Naturally it will have to consider the forthcoming EU membership. To what extent will this influence Hungary's attitude?

"So the dilemma is quite clear for the EU as well: Is it theoretically possible to invite into the E.U a couple of hundred of thousand of citizens living outside the EU, simply because they are somehow ethnically related to people inside? If this is okay, if it is adopted as a general philosophy by the E.U, then we shall be happy to provide this option to the Hungarians living abroad. But we are no in the position to act on our own."

Dual citizenship as such exists in certain EU countries doesn't it?

"It exists in certain EU countries, it exists in Hungary as well. This is not the question, the question is: what is the basis to provide this double citizenship. For example the Spanish legislation is providing this opportunity for youngsters whose parents or grandparents are or were Spanish citizens. There are certain regulations but the question is what kind of rules apply to this double citizenship."

16-08-2003