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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    WED, 06 APR 1994 17:32:42 GMT

    Congress of the Democratic Union of the Vojvodina Hungarians

    AGOSTON REMAINS THE LEADER, BUT...

    Disputes and embezzlement also in the Democratic

    Union of the Vojvodina Hungarians (DZVM)

    AIM, NOVI SAD, APRIL 1, 94

    After two whole days and a night, the Congress of the DZVM closed in Senta, after which nothing was essentially changed, but also nothing is as it used to be. Andras Agoston remains the President, meaning that the already known policy of the party will be continued, but that there is no longer a consensus regarding it, not only among the Hungarians but neither among the membership of this Hungarian party. In other words, the Hungarian movement in Vojvodina is not so strong any more, nor as united as it used to be.

    This could already be inferred at the last elections, when the DZVM lost four of its nine seats in the Parliament of Serbia. The explanation that the reason is the large number of Hungarians, who fleeing mobilization and existential problems, left the country, only partially justifies that defeat. A number of votes, secure until yesterday went to someone else or the previous supporters of Agoston's party, dissatisfied and disappointed by something, did not even take part in the election race.

    Many Hungarians did not like Agoston's coquetry with the Serbian regime, even if that was only tactics to achieve the main objective - three -tiered autonomy for the Hungarians - cultural, personal and regional. Some did not even like the idea about autonomy only for the Hungarians, considering it a form of their ghettoisation. A number of Hungarians is for the autonomy of Vojvodina, as the optimal framework for fulfilling all the interests of the Hungarian national minority together with the Serbs, and other minority peoples living there. And finally, it was seen at the Congress that the number was not small of extremists who deem Agoston's policy too conciliatory and do not approve of the statement of the Party to the effect that the existing borders are recognized as definitive, believing that that issue should remain open.

    Drawing on his rich experience in intra-party clashes from the time he was an official of the League of Communists, the Socialist Alliance of the Working People and the Trade Union Confederation, Agoston outwitted all his opponents. He opted to attack the extreme wing of the party, thus silencing the moderate Vojvodina - oriented faction, which in no way wished to be associated with radical or separatist ideas. In that way, attacking the weaker opponent which did not currently enjoy Budapest's support, he also neutralized the stronger and more dangerous rival.

    Namely, everything pointed to a showdown at the Congress and to a division between the Vojvodina and Hungarian champions of autonomy, in which the former rely on the majority of Hungarians which are not in the DZVM, but on whose votes this Party still counts. They advocate the solution of the Hungarian problem within the democratic processes in Serbia and through the strengthening of the autonomy of Vojvodina, not through its separation.

    They see DZVM in the united opposition of Serbia, with which they acted together achieving the best results in the elections both for the Republican and the Provincial Assemblies. They do not think it to be wise for the sake of some momentary concessions, possibly made by the regime with which they have nothing in common, to spoil their relations with the democratic opposition. What will happen when the opposition comes to power, if we betray it now, wonder the Hungarians, in favour of actual and not only formal integration. Such have several serious objections to the very concept of Hungarian autonomy, especially regional autonomy, which is possible only in several communes in the north along the Hungarian border, where the Hungarians constitute a majority. Almost half of the Hungarians in Vojvodina, who live in Novi Sad and in the south of Backa and Banat, would remain outside that Hungarian ghetto, so that many find that idea rather similar to the fate of the Serbs in Croatia outside the Krajinas. Will not that cause forced moving and a kind of silent ethnic cleansing and will not that Hungarian parish be a thorn in the side of the Serbian nationalists and present a convenient motive for new accusations and conflicts?

    Divisions along those lines have already gained momentum among DZVM deputies in the Assembly of Vojvodina, when because of their deal with Milosevic, according to which the DZVM should have gotten the "Forum" publishing house with the daily "Magyar So" if it helped the SPS in the Serbian Assembly, they were instructed to break away from the opposition. Most did not accept that and continued voting for the unified opposition, in contrast to the chief of their deputy group and his assistant. It turned out that neither Milosevic in Serbia needed the Hungarian votes, nor that most of the employees of the "Forum" wanted a party commissioner for their boss, so that the whole project was dropped. A number of DZVM deputies announced that they would clear up those matters with their leadership at the Congress. However, by a skillful manouver and by opening a front against genuine or make-believe separatists Agoston simply paralyzed them. In that way the decisive discussion on the strategy of the Hungarian movement in Vojvodina was postponed, pushed to the backgorund by tactical quibbling and the settling of personal scores in the struggle for power and money.

    Agoston accused his vice-president Sandor Hody of having stolen some DM 600,000 from the assistance which this Party, i.e. cultural institutions and papers in the Hungarian language received from Hungary through the "Iles Foundation". Hody return in kind, claiming that Agoston had manipulated that money, wishing to distribute it personally, and thus buy the sympathies of those he gave it to. Agoston, nevertheless, got the support of the majority at the Congress, primarily because of the fear from the separatist voices of extremists which the president opposed. The conviction actually won that at the moment it was most important to prevent the moving of the Party to the right, towards the vague Hungarian radicalism, and its possible division, for which there were actual possibilities.

    Consequently, the Democratic Union of Vojvodina Hungarians remains loyal to Yugoslavia and Serbia and continues along its way, but no longer as united as it was. Discussions on the models of integration of the Hungarians into the Yugoslav community, into Serbia and Vojvodina are yet to be expected.

    MILE ISAKOV