Lecture by Petar Lastić, Serbian Institute, Budapest

October 13, 2022 at 18:00

Topic: The status of the Serbian national minority in Hungary



Serbs in Hungary are one of the 13 national minorities recognized by the law in Hungary. Although it is a relatively small community in numbers, and living scattered around on the territory of the country, Serbs belong to middle-sized minorities in Hungary and have a distinguished material, cultural and intellectual importance for the entire Serbian national heritage. In the introductory part of the lecture, the basic demographic and geographic data on Serbs in Hungary will be presented, as well as elementary information on the Serbian heritage on the territory of Hungary. The political and legal status of Serbs in this state are defined by the Constitution of Hungary (from 2011 by the Fundamental Law) and the Act on the rights of national and ethnic minorities in Hungary (1993, from 2011 the so-called Act on Nationalities). These legal acts declared minority rights in accordance with European standards and guaranteed cultural autonomy for the national minorities. In the course of listing the most relevant rights, a special attention will be paid to the status of Serbian language and alphabet. The three basic ways of organizing the Serbian community will be also presented: the Serbian Orthodox Eparchy (Diocese) of Buda with its parishes, the NGOs and the minority self-governments (councils) which are the product of the minority law (Act from 1993) and have the monopoly of the participation in political decision-making process, together with the so-called spokesman of Serbs in the Hungarian Parliament (from 2014). Basic information on the institutions of cultural autonomy (schools, different cultural institutions, media) will be given after that. The current authorities in Hungary in the last decade have encouraged and backed the process of forming a system of institutions of cultural autonomy and formed close and friendly contacts with the authorities in Serbia, which brought about an advantegeous climate for improving the status of Serbs in Hungary. According to the public opinion in Serbia, the status of Serbs in Hungary is the best in comparison with the other Serbian communities abroad and the organization capability of the Serbs in this country is above all others. Detailed critical analysis of this statement is beyond the scope of this lecture. However, in the end of the lecture some key questions will be put about the remaining or perspectives of this small community with a very rich heritage, in the circumstances of globalization, European integration of Hungary, facing numerous Serbian immigrants from the mother-country, as well as the etatization of minority self-governments that originally were formed to help preserving the identity of minority communities.