Democratic Community of Vojvodina Hungarians (DZVM), whose president is our collocutor Sándor Páll, is a part of coalition Hungarian Union whose other partners are the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM) and Democratic Party of Vojvodina Hungarians (DSVM) the later led by András Àgoston. At the past election the candidate of the Hungarian Union István Pásztor achieved a good result. For the next Republican, Province and local elections the platform this coalition advocates is – the autonomy of Hungarian national community in Vojvodina.
In these days a true storm has been raging in the media after the statement issued by the Hungarian coalition that they advocate the ethnical territorial autonomy for Hungarians at north of Vojvodina. Can you explain this for our web-portal?
– Our opinion is that Hungarians have right to ask the same as other minorities on the territory of Serbia. If during the process of implementation of minority rights some higher standards are ascertained like, let’s say, the ethnical autonomy for Serbs in north of Kosovo, then it is only logical that other minorities are also entitled to same rights. Only in this way, in the autonomous regions where we are the majority we can realize our national interests. It is the question of democratic principle and the democratic way of resolving the minority issue. Also, these are actually the European standards. It is nothing new in Europe that one minority, on the territory where it is majority, is entitled to self-administration. Whenever we present these arguments, the Serbian political scene reacts with aversion and always finds excuses to avoid such talks because it is never a proper time to discuss such themes as, allegedly, the Serbs have other national interests and more important problems than these are. We think that there is always time to discuss how to solve the minority issue and, of course, we will not give up.
What is your attitude towards the autonomy of Vojvodina? Does this ethnical autonomy is in contradiction with autonomy of Vojvodina?
– Not at all. As regards the autonomy of Vojvodina we believe that it should be absolutely differently conceived, that it should be much broader, that Vojvodina is entitled to the executive, legislative and judicial power. The Province should have its revenue source, its taxes and to function in reality as a Euro-region. In such autonomy what we are speaking about is also possible – the ethnical autonomy on the territorial principle in municipalities with the Hungarian majority. They don’t contradict each other.
Where is, in your opinion, the weak point of autonomous movement, actually is there a real possibility for Vojvodina to obtain a higher degree of autonomy?
– First of all this depends on the Serbian population in Vojvodina, actually how much this population is interested above all for economic autonomy. Is belonging to one nation or are other national topics more important for them than is economy? One should have in mind that 47 percent of the republic budget is filled by revenues from Vojvodina and that Vojvodina gets back much less. There is no logic that the republic collects all taxes and then returns (some) back. In this re-distributive system it should be left to Vojvodina to collect its own taxes and these taxes should remain where they are collected. And only then Vojvodina should contribute to the republic treasury as much as it is necessary i.e. for army, diplomacy and other common needs.
Vojvodina’s autonomous parties criticized your proposal for the ethnical territorial autonomy at north of Vojvodina?
– They can criticize, but it is a European claim. They may like it or not! The autonomy-oriented parties of the majority nation in Vojvodina held that Hungarians should be loyal to them and to fight against Belgrade so that they call out: FORWARD! but not: FOLLOW ME! Their problem is that they don’t want to be in the frontline, they wouldn’t go to, let’s say, Vrbas or Vršac, but they go and fish in ‘mud waters’ where the Hungarians are majority. They tell them – we are the Euro-Serbs, we are your friends, we are better than others who don’t understand you. This is a plain deceit! They should fight for a higher degree of autonomy of Vojvodina so that they should first of all explain to the Serbian population why the autonomy is so crucial. There is no need to persuade minorities – we know! Our task is not to spoil this game. They have a reverse policy, they think that they may grab several (representatives’) terms if they appear in Ada, Senta, Kanjiža or Topola. These are their target places instead other and more tougher places.
In case that they decide to, as you say, take a lead and call FOLLOW US! they will certainly have the support of political parties of Hungarian minority?
– No question about it, but they must persuade the Serbian body of voters that autonomy is crucial!