In the first week of May, 2020 the Prime Minister of Hungary, Victor Orban, conveyed his best wishes to the students appearing in history examinations. He may or may not have anticipated that his facebook post would create such fierce reactions in the neighbouring countries.
The controversial image, posted on Facebook, showed European countries of Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia within the borders of Hungary These countries came into existence when Austro-Hungarian state lost the World-War and signed the Treaty of Trianon in June, 1920 which envisaged the breakup of the empire.
Zoran Milanovic, the President of Croatia, was quick to respond to the post which persuaded the students of his country against posting such maps of Croatia which might ‘irritate’ the neighbours. “In our closets and archives there are numerous historical maps and maps that show our homeland much bigger than it is today … Don’t share them and put them on your profiles” he said.
On the other hand, Ludovic Orban, Prime Minister of Romania, retorted in a very ironic manner. “The sparrow dreams of the dough” he said, referring to a Romanian proverb which means that Victor was just trying to put Transylvania, now in Romania, back in the Hungarian territory.
It is important to note that Romania is home to a large group of ethnic Hungarians and the loss of Transylvania is still a highly poignant matter for Hungary.
Daniel Bartha, from the Budapest-based Centre for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy (CEID) thinks that there probably was no dual meaning rendered by Orban’s post. He said, “If there was a message in this, it was not intended to send it to other countries but it was a message to Romania… it is kind of a response to the ongoing clashes with Romania over the minority rights of Hungarian people living in Romania.”
Borut Pahor, Prime Minister of Slovenia said. "It is understandable and right that the recurring postings of maps which could be understood as an expression of territorial claims are met with rejection and concern by the democratic public and politics, including me as the president of the republic" .
Sebian Member of Parliament, Aleksandra Jerkov, called upon Aleksandar Vucic, President of Serbia, to lodge a protest against Orban regarding this issue.
It is worth mentioning that such controversial maps were displayed earlier as well by Victor Orban. In June, 2019, Orban’s office tweeted a picture of a similar map to celebrate Hungarian Day of National Unity, the day on which the Treaty of Trianon was signed. In December 2019, a Facebook photo posted by Orban showed a meeting of his party in progress under the same map.
The use of controversial map by Victor Orban fits perfectly well in his time tested strategy of using ultra nationalistic symbolism for solidifying his support base and continue to rule Hungry with an iron fist.