Four more of Hungary’s seven neighboring countries joined Romania in condemning to various degrees Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’ decision to wear a football scarf sporting dual images of “Greater Hungary.”
In a Monday statement, the Romanian Foreign Ministry has expressed its “strong disapproval” of the gesture made by Orbán. The Hungarian prime minister appeared at a Hungarian-Greek football match on Sunday with a supporters’ scarf bearing a map of Greater Hungary, which includes the old territory of Hungary before much of it was partitioned and given to Ukraine, Serbia, Romania, and Slovakia at the end of the First World War. Hungary lost 72 percent of its territory and a significant amount of its population during the partition.
In a video posted on his official social media page, Orbán congratulated Balázs Dzsudzsák, who is retiring from the Hungarian national football team, and the motif of Greater Hungary is clearly visible.
Shortly after the Romanian protest, Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, posted on social media that “circulating revisionist ideals in Hungary is not conducive to the development of Ukrainian-Hungarian relations,” adding that “the Hungarian ambassador to Ukraine will be summoned to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry to be informed about the unacceptability of Viktor Orbán’s deeds.”
Asked about the incident, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that although he did not see the video in question and did not wish to concern himself with the “scarves of others,” any territorial claims against Croatia by anyone, including Hungary, are unacceptable.”
Andrej Stancík, state secretary at the Slovak Foreign Ministry, said that “Slovakia is a sovereign and independent country and not part of Hungary.” He added that “nowadays such revisionism of history is extremely dangerous.”
The lightest response came from Hungary’s western neighbor Austria: “A quick glance at the historical maps in the Vienna Foreign Ministry confirmed our suspicion that the Kingdom of Hungary had ceased to exist about a hundred years ago. As soon as we have the opportunity, we will inform our Hungarian neighbors of this development.”
On his part, Orbán followed up his original video that sparked the debate with a short message saying, “Football is not politics. Let’s not see into this something that isn’t there. The Hungarian national team is the team of all Hungarians, wherever they may live.”