I recently attended the Bucharest Security Conference (BSC), held at the Athénée Palace Hilton, the Romanian capital’s most prestigious hotel, Csóti writes. The hotel is indeed impeccable: clean, comfortable, practical and with a very attentive staff. Upon entering my room, I was greeted by a personalized welcoming screen on the television.
What was a nasty surprise: there were 14 language choice icons at the bottom of the screen, representing the flags of so many nations, beginning with those of Great Britain, Denmark and somewhere in the middle Slovenia. There was, however, no Hungarian flag to be seen! Romania alone has about as many ethnic Hungarians as the total population of Slovenia. The population of Hungary is larger than those of Denmark and Slovenia put together. This was humiliating.
I did not, however, let the issue go. Upon my return home, I wrote a very polite letter to the hotel manager who processed my booking. In the letter I asked him to include Hungarian into the languages of the hotel’s information system. A few days later the manager of the front office replied that IT staff will include Hungarian into the language menu. Four days later, the same manager wrote in a much colder tone that they have no plans to include additional languages to the menu.
Still politely, I replied that their action – or rather inaction – is tantamount to chauvinism and I will do my best to dissuade any Hungarians from ever setting foot in said hotel. I didn’t exactly expect any reply or action on their part. But a few days later the director of the hotel wrote me a letter apologizing profusely saying they will add Hungarian to the language choices.
At the conference itself, one of the handout booklets detailed in full color and many maps Romania’s claims to territories from the Tisza river (in Eastern Hungary) to the Dniester river (in the Republic of Moldova). I don’t know whether anyone else even noticed the booklet, but when I mentioned it during the conference, I was met with disbelief.
I believe Hungarian foreign policy should pay attention to and keep track of such incidents and, if needed, even bring them up.