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Hungarian of Transcarphatia
HUNSOR publikáció

Transcarphatia is a historical region of Kingdom of Hungary and a present western region of Ukraina. Transcarphatia also referred to as the Transcarpathian Oblast, Transcarpathia, Zakarpattya, or historically Subcarpathian Rus is an administrative province of nowadays Ukraine. Geographically Transcarphatia lies in the Carpathian Basin. The Magyars (hungarians) invaded this part of Europe in the begining of the 9th century. It was a part of Kingdom of Hungary untill 1920. At the end of World War I, as part of the Treaty of Trianon 1920, the Allies annexed Transcarphatia from Hungary to Czechoslovakia.

Transcarphatia (Zakarpattia) was part of Kingdom of Hungary, later Austria-Hungary until the latter's demise at the end of World War I. This region was briefly part of the short-lived West Ukrainian National Republic in 1918 and occupied by Romania at end of that year. It was later recaptured by Hungary in the summer of 1919. Finally, it joined the newly formed Czechoslovakia as Subcarpathian Rus, of which it formed one of the four main regions, the others being Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia.

kép nagyítás
The map of Transcarpathia


The first Eastern Slavic state called Kiev Rus was established on the territory of present-day Ukraine and embraced Byzantine (Orthodox) Christianity in the 10th century AD. Later on, the principality broke into several parts. In 1240, it was occupied by the Tatars, and later was conquered by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. After 1569, the territory became part of the Polish Kingdom under the name of Ukraine. In 1667, at the request of rebellious Cossacks, the area of Ukraine along the left bank of the Dnieper river together with the city of Kyiv were ceded to the Russian Empire. In 1793, during the second partition of Poland, Empress Catherine II united the two Ukrainian territories, which from then on became a part of Russia. With its transit trading, horse and cattle exports, and its wealthy peasantry, Ukraine was during the 19th century a prominently important part of the Czarist Empire. Since its educated social elite had become Russified as a result of its studies, the Ukrainian nationalist movement could come to the fore only in the second half of the 19th century when the Ukrainian literary language was born in Galicia, then attached to the Austro–Hungarian Monarchy. After the 1917 Russian Revolution, three states were created on Ukraine’s territory: the Ukrainian People’s Republic, the West Ukrainian People’s Republic, and Soviet Ukraine. Soviet Ukraine became one of the founding members of the Soviet Union being formed at that time although its population steadfastly fought for a long time for its independence. The bourgeois-liberal republic was liquidated by Bolshevik intervention while West Ukraine was annexed by Poland. Later on, a full blown civil war developed against collectivization, causing a famine which claimed millions of human lives. Following World War II, Transcarpathia (K?rp?talja, i.e. Subcarpathia in Hungarian), which formerly was part of Czechoslovakia), with its mixed population and where the Hungarian minority lives, was annexed to Ukraine. Although it became an independent member of the United Nations, Ukraine continued to belong to the Soviet Union. A large-scale population exchange took place on the territory of the country from 1945 to 1948, as the majority of the Germans and Poles living there were resettled while several hundred thousand Ukrainians from Poland moved in their place. In 1991, following Gorbachev’s perestroika, the independent Republic of Ukraine was established and a new constitution was adopted in 1996.

Transcarpathia, where the Hungarian minority lives, was part of the Hungarian state since the 10th century. It was not, however, a homogenous historical region until World War I. Throughout the past centuries, the population was at all times a mixed one. During the 13th century, following the destruction caused by the incursion of the Tatars, German urban settlers and large numbers of Romanian shepherds began moving into the area. The 18th century witnessed a radical change in the region’s ethnic landscape, with the Ruthenian community now making up the majority of the population while a large number of Slovaks and Jews also settled in the area. Because it was poorly endowed for agriculture and lacked trade relations, Transcarpathia remained until World War I most backward region, from where a mass emigration took place at the end of the 19th century and where the illiteracy rate was the highest, especially among those of the Orthodox faith.

The beginnings of Hungarian culture in Transcarpahia can be traced back to the 15th and 16th centuries. The first printed Hungarian book, "The Letters of Saint Paul in the Hungarian language", which appeared in Kharkiv in 1577 was printed in Nyal?bv?r (Koroleve). It was also there that Benedek Komj?ti , who translated the biblical text into Hungarian, was a tutor with the Per?nyi family. Péter Bornemisza, the tutor of the poet B?lint Balassi, bids farewell to his homeland in the "good castle of Huszt (Hust)" when he flees to Poland from his pursuers. For a while, Istv?n Geleji Katona (1589–1649), the author of "Hungarian Grammar", works as a rector in Beregszász (Berehove). Istv?n Gy?ngy?si, the author of "Venus of Mur?ny Conversing with Mars", was born in Radv?nc (Radvanka) near Ungvár (Uzhhorod). The poetess and translator Kata Szidonia Petr?czy spent the last years of her life in Huszt (Hust) and Beregszentmiklós (?inadieve) and died there in 1708. The poet G?bor Dayka, an eminent representative of Hungarian sentimentalism, died in Ungvár in 1796. Ferenc Kazinczy was a prisoner in the castle of Munkács (Mukacheve) in 1801–1802 and recorded his prison memories in his "Diary of my Captivity". Ferenc K?lcsey gained his impressions in Transcarpathia for his works "Huszt", "Munkács", and his "Song of Szobr?nc" known as "Zrinyi Song". It was also there that the poet Sándor Pet?fi found inspiration for his tale "In the Castle of Munkács".

All this does not mean, however, that Hungarian culture produced results of particular importance in Transcarpathia before the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. It is mainly local patriotism that recorded the birth in Munkács in 1844 of Mihály Lieb who became a world famous painter under the name of Mihály Muk?csy. Distinct painting tied to the Transcarpathian landscape was not his creation but that of Simon Holl?sy who lived in T?cs? (Tachiv) and Imre R?v?sz from NagyszŐlŐs (Vinohradiv). It was in their footsteps that J?zsef Boksay, B?la Erd?lyi, and Emil Hrabovszky created the so-called Transcarpathian painting school. It was from their school that the majority of Transcarpathia’s 20th century painters originated: Andr?s Kocka, B?la Boreczky, Ern? Kontratovics, Zoltán Soltész, Antal Kassay, Lászlo Habda, and János S?t?. The ceramist Anna Horváth, a multitalented artist who also created a school in Transcarpathia, is also listed among that generation. The Hungarian artists of Transcarpathia organized themselves in the Imre R?v?sz Fine Arts Society established in 1990.

During the course of the 20th century, as a result of the frequent border changes, Transcarpathia’s inhabitants successively became the citizens of five states without ever leaving their homeland. They became Czechoslovak citizens after the demise of the Austro–Hungarian Empire as a result of the peace treaties of Versailles, then citizens of Hungary during World War II, of the Soviet Union after1945, and of Ukraine since 1991. The various states always sought to assert the dominance of their own language and culture on the inhabitants. During the inter-war period, the Hungarians living in Transcarpathia were not able to fully exercise their rights in the civil democracy of Czechoslovakia. During this period, however, the infrastructure of Transcarpathia developed significantly, and the character of the towns changed in particular with the construction of many public and residential buildings. During the Soviet totalitarian regime, neither the human nor the nationality rights of the region’s ethnic Hungarian population were respected. However, ethnic Hungarians suffered the most during World War II and the period of reprisals that followed. Close to 25,000 of them fled to Hungary. At the end of 1944, occupying Soviet troops deported more than 25,000 men aged between 18 to 50, a third of whom never returned from the labor camps. In their place, thousands of ethnic Ukrainians and Russians were settled in cities that previously had a predominantly Hungarian population.

In a region of such ethnic diversity, Hungarian culture gradually lost its determining position in the 20th century. The most prominent cultural figures of the inter-war period were probably the poets of the Transcarpathian Hungarian minority, Menyh?rt Simon (1897–1952) and László S?f?ry (1910–1943). Two important figures of the decades of post-World War II Hungarian literature are László Balla, born in 1927, and Vilmos Kovács (1927–1977). Contemporary Hungarian writers and poets such as Károly D. Balla, László Fábián V?ri, Géza Fodor, György Dupka, Magda Fűzesi, Sándor Horváth, Guszt?v Bartha, Andor T?rczy, Zoltán Mihály Nagy and János Penck?fer emerged in the 1970s and later played an important role in preserving and promoting the mother tongue, then in starting the organization of nationality politics at the time of Gorbachev’s perestroika policy. Their contribution is very much needed because the economic emigration to Hungary, which started at the end of the 1980s, further weakens the social reception of Hungarian culture in Transcarpathia since there are many intellectuals (doctors, teachers, engineers, journalists, etc.) among those who have left or are leaving. The circles cultivating the native language and general education, and a variety of forums were the precursors of today’s organizations protecting Hungarian culture and interests.


In November 1991, the Supreme Council of Ukraine adopted a Declaration on National Minorities guaranteeing to every nation and nationality group the right to equal political, economic, social and cultural development, as well as the right to use the native language in every field of social life.

The Law on National Minorities adopted in June 1992 guarantees minorities the use of native language, the right to native-language education, to establish a system of cultural institutions, and to national-cultural autonomy. The law makes it possible to establish minority interest-protection organizations, to use national symbols, to use names in accordance with the rules of the native-language, and to maintain contacts beyond the borders with the mother country. (For the most part, the law reinforces all the principles formulated in the Hungarian–Ukrainian declaration on national minority protection signed in 1991. It does not, however, allow for the creation of territorial autonomy by minorities.)

On 17 December 1992, the representative of the Ukrainian President in Transcarpathia issued a Decree on the practical implementation of the Ukrainian language law and of the law on national minorities. The decree prescribes that wherever a national minority constitutes the majority of the population, the language of that national minority may also be used along the Ukrainian state language in state and social organizations, enterprises, and institutions. Under the terms of this decree, bilingual signs may be used and national minorities may also use their own symbols in addition to state symbols.

According to Article 10 of the Ukrainian Constitution adopted on 28 June 1996, "in Ukraine, the free development, use, and protection of national minority languages are guaranteed". Article 11 further declares that "the state promotes (...) the development of the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious characteristics of all the native nations and national minorities of Ukraine". In addition, three more laws deal with the rights of national minorities: the language law adopted in 1989, the law on education law adopted in 1999, and the law on association adopted in 1992.

In December 2003 the Supreme Council of Ukraine approved the law on the Ukrainians living abroad.

On 31 May 1991, the Foreign Ministers of Hungary and Ukraine signed a declaration safeguarding the rights of national minorities. In accordance with Item 1 of the appendix attached to the statement, the parties established an inter-governmental joint committee to deal with the safeguarding of national minority rights. The joint committee, in whose work the representatives of the minorities living in both countries also take part, has so far met eleven times. It draws up proposals for the governments of the two countries with regard to issues of particular importance to the Ukrainian minority living in Hungary and to the Hungarian minority living in Ukraine. Such issues include the preservation of national identity, education, cultural development, and the settlement of minority problems.

Relations between Hungary and Ukraine are regulated by the Basic State Treaty signed in Kyiv by both parties on 6 December 1991, and ratified by the Ukrainian and Hungarian parliaments in 1992 and 1993, respectively. Article 17 of the document provides for the mutual protection of the ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious identity of national minorities.

On 15 April 2005, at the initiative of the Hungarian Democratic Federation in Ukraine, a Hungarian–Ukrainian joint committee of historians was established which will examine in the future the common historical events of the two nations. The two co-chairmen of the committee are the academician and historian–archeologist Istv?n Fodor (Hungary) and the historian-professor Istv?n Vidny?nszky (Ukraine).

Until the 2002 parliamentary elections, the Ukrainian electoral law did not allow national minority organizations to nominate candidates of their own, but it did not exclude the support for candidates. Following the amending of the electoral law in March 2004, only parties can take part in general elections. Following the March 1998 parliamentary elections, Transcarpathia’ Hungarians succeeded for the second time to send a deputy to the Ukrainian Supreme Council. Hungarian representatives hold the absolute majority in numerous local self-governments. However, a major problem is the shortage of well-trained civil servants, which results in the exclusion of Hungarians from local administrations (there are only a few ethnic Hungarian public officials) even where it is possible to use the Hungarian language in administrative office work. Even in the Beregszász (Berehove) district where Hungarians constitute a majority, except for the top officials the native language of 95 percent of the public employees is Ukrainian.

In the 2006 parliamentary and self-government elections, 9 Hungarian deputies running under the banner of Transcarpathia’s two Hungarian parties and a few more from Ukrainian party lists entered the 90-member Transcarpathian County Council. Hungarian parties are represented by 14 representatives in the 36-member City Council of Beregszász (Berehove) with the rank of county, and 53 Hungarian representatives from the two Hungarian party lists entered the 90-member Beregszász District Council.

In the 2002 elections, citizens could directly elect the chairmen of the councils. The laws and regulations affecting self-governments have been changed and amended several times. In July 1995, the county and local administrations were centralized, thereby transferring the rights of the self-governments to the state administration. Since 2001 the districts have their own budgets independently from the county, and in the same manner the local, village, and large settlement councils may dispose freely over their own income. As a result, unprecedented infrastructural development could be achieved in 2002 by supplying settlements with piped natural gas.

Ukraine became a member of the Council of Europe in 1995. At the time of its admission into the organization, it made a commitment to study the European Charter on Local Self-Governments and the European Charter on Regional or Minority Languages for the purpose of their ratification. It further pledged to sign and ratify within one year after its admission into the Council the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and to pursue its national minority policy on the basis of the principles laid down in Recommendation No.1201 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In December 1999 the Ukrainian Parliament ratified the European Charter on Regional or Minority Languages, this in a variant more favorable to the Hungarians living in Transcarpathia by setting a 20% population ratio for the right to the use the nationality language. The law on the ratification of the European Charter on Regional or Minority languages was recently passed by the Supreme Council of Ukraine but the use of minority languages in state administration has been completely removed from it, the assumed guarantees to ensure the use of minority languages have been narrowed down in every sphere, and the prohibition to restrict the network of nationality institutions has also been removed.

In 1991, along with the referendum held on Ukrainian independence, two local referenda were held in Transcarpathia: one on the special self-government for the region, and the other in the Beregszász (Berehove) district on the establishment of an Autonomous Hungarian District. Even though the vast majority of the population supported both these ideas, the draft bills on Transcarpathia’s special self-government status and on the Hungarian Nationality District of Beregszász prepared in the wake of the referenda have not been accepted at higher governmental levels.

A general problem is that the institutional framework of law enforcement is inscrutable and legal competencies have not been properly outlined because of political uncertainty and the frequent modifications of legal regulations. With regard to the minorities, the laws and regulations in force are permissive in most cases, but their implementation is in some cases stalled at the local level. On the other hand, by relying on the above-mentioned laws, it has been possible between 1991 and 1997 to remedy a large number of the old grievances of the Hungarian minority. Close to 60 communities have regained their old, historic name; the use of Hungarian national symbols is allowed; many public statues, memorial plaques, and monuments relating to Hungary or Hungarians references have been erected. Bilingual locality signs have been posted in several communities, and there has been also progress in the field of Hungarian-language education.

At the same time, the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia is aggrieved at the fact that individuals who were deported by force during the Stalinist era on the basis of their ethnicity have to this day received neither financial nor moral compensation. Miklós Kovács, Chairman of the Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia (KMKSZ) and a parliamentary deputy from 1998 to 2002, and Mihály Tóth, a former parliamentary deputy, have both pressed Ukraine’s legislature and highest state leadership for the adequate resolution of the issue of financial and moral compensation. Istv?n Gajdos, the deputy from electoral district No.72 with center in Beregszász (Berehove) who held a mandate in Ukraine’s Supreme Council from 2002 to 2006, has submitted to the Supreme Council a draft law on the financial and moral compensation of the deportees.

In recent years, developments giving cause for worry are taking place. In 1996, President Leonid Kuchma, through a presidential decree that runs contrary to the spirit of the national minority law, downgraded the former Ministry for Nationality and Migration Affairs to the rank of a state main committee. In 2000, the state committee was converted into the Nationality and Migration Affairs Main Department of the Ministry of Justice. Then in 2001, the main department was reclassified as a state main commission. Following the 2004 presidential election, the State Committee for Nationality and Migration Affairs was placed again under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice. In September 1996, by issuing another decree, the President eliminated the foundation serving the development of the culture of national minorities in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian state does not provide any government financial support either to the Hungarian or any other minority organizations operating in the country as this is not prescribed by the laws in force. Under the regulations currently in force, minority organizations may request the financing of concrete events and programs. The financing of education, however, remains the task of the state, a situation that has resulted in a contradictory situation regarding minority educational institutions.

The Hungarian government is aware that a major part of the problems of the Hungarian minority can be explained not by the intentions of Ukraine’s nationality policy but rather the economic difficulties that the country faces. In most cases, these are social problems. In this situation, the Hungarians community in Transcarpathia will need in the future the increased support of the mother country.


After 1989, the Hungarian cultural organizations, primarily the Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia, provided the framework for the self-organization of the Hungarian ethnic community. Consequently, during the period when Ukraine became independent, Hungarians played a prominent role in the socio–political life of Transcarpathia and contributed decisively to the success of the local referenda on Ukrainian independence and on autonomy.

The ethnic Hungarian community in Transcarpathia has two political parties. On 17 February 2005 the Ukrainian Ministry of justice registered the "KMKSZ" – Hungarian Party in Ukraine, whose establishment was initiated by the Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia. In March 2005, the Ministry of Justice also registered the Hungarian Democratic Party in Ukraine upon the initiative of the Hungarian Democratic Federation in Ukraine (UMDSZ). The two Hungarian organizations opted to establish parties because under the amended electoral law, only parties are allowed to nominate candidates.

Following the 2006 parliamentary elections, there is no longer any ethnic Hungarian deputy in the Ukrainian Supreme Council. From 2002 to 2006, Transcarpathia’s Hungarians were represented in the Ukrainian parliament by Istv?n Gajdos, the chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation in Ukraine (he had been elected with the support of the United Ukrainian Social Democratic Party and was from 2005 on a member of the Socialist Party’s parliamentary faction). His predecessor during the previous 1998–2002 parliamentary cycle was Miklós Kovács (an independent deputy, Chairman of the Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia). In the 1994–98 parliamentary cycle, Mihály Tóth, Chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation in Ukraine, participated (also as an independent deputy) in the representation of Transcarpathia’s Hungarians in the work of the Kyiv legislature.

The interest protection activity of Hungarian cultural and professional groups is currently directed mainly at preserving the national consciousness and culture of the Hungarian community, developing native-language education, maintaining the Hungarian-language educational system, and establishing an autonomous Hungarian educational district. Major efforts are being made to preserve the possibility of taking native-language entrance examination to the National University of Ungvár (Uzhhorod). On the basis of the minutes approved at the Twelfth meeting of the Hungarian–Ukrainian Mixed Commission, the Ukrainian Ministry of Education has approved to supplement the university’s admission regulations, making it possible for students graduating from Hungarian-language institutes of education to take the entrance examination in their native tongue.

Recognizing the fact that the indispensable condition for remaining in the homeland is existential security, Hungarian organizations pay considerable attention to participation in the economic processes of Transcarpathia, to the utilization of the opportunities offered by privatization and the dismantling of the Soviet-type economic system, as well as by cross-border cooperation (establishment of enterprise development centers, farmers’ associations, and farmer training). As a result of the uncertain situation prevailing in Ukraine, however, the Hungarian organizations have not been able to achieve any significant success so far in this area. Following the end of the former kolkhoz or collective farm system, the land privatization program supported by the New Handshake Public Foundation was of particular importance. The program made it possible for 14,000 farmers to own land and launched the formation of a rural farming stratum.

The creation of various forms of autonomy figures among the long-term goals of every Hungarian organization, but the various organizations have differing concepts about how to achieve this objective. The Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia (KMKSZ) has worked out a draft for the establishment and functioning of a nationality cultural self-government. In December 1999, it submitted a proposal for the creation, in accord with Ukrainian laws, of an independent public administration unit under the name of Near-Tisza district which would include all the compact ethnic Hungarian communities, with Beregszász (Berehove) as its seat. The organizations grouped in the Hungarian Democratic Federation in Ukraine and the Association of Border Region Self-Governments in Transcarpathia see in the establishment of cultural and personal autonomy the chance for the further prosperity of Ukraine’s Hungarians and the possibility for them to remain in their native land. Parliamentary deputy Istv?n Gajdos has worked out a draft law on the national–cultural right of self-determination of Ukraine’s national minorities.

The ethnic Hungarians of Transcarpathia will also be affected by Hungary’s accession to the European Union. On 1 November 2003, a visa agreement between the two countries came into force, enabling Hungarian citizens to travel without visa to Ukraine and Ukrainian citizens to request free of charge a visa for longer periods and multiple travels. The issuance of visas is proceeding smoothly at Hungarian foreign representations in Ukraine. In 2005, 147,900 "C" type visas and 4,800 "D" type visas (for employment and study) were issued by the consular offices in Ungvár (Uzhhorod) and Beregszász (Berehove). On 1 January 2006, the Republic of Hungary introduced the so-called national visa which every Ukrainian citizen can request free of charge for five years for the purpose of maintaining family ties, cultivating the native language or continuing secondary education studies.

The Hungarian Democratic Federation in Ukraine (UMDSZ)

The UMDSZ is the only nationally registered Hungarian organization. It was established in October 1991 by the Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia (which has suspended its membership since 1995), the Cultural Federation of Hungarians in Lviv (Lemberg), and the Association of Hungarians in Kyiv. The chairmen of the UDMSZ have been Sándor Fod? (1991–1995), Mihály Tóth (1995–2002) and Istv?n Gajdos (since December 2002). The objectives of the organization as set by its founders include the general legal representation and interest protection of Ukraine’s Hungarian minority, the unconditional support of the efforts aimed to implement the goals and principles laid down in the statutes of the member organizations, and the coordination of organizational activities. The UMDSZ supports individual and cultural autonomy, the creation of a Hungarian Nationality District and, based on the result of the1991 referendum, the establishment of a Special Self-Administrative Territory in Transcarpathia. At its 2002 representative assembly, the UMDSZ a decision was over its internal reform and the status of individual membership was introduced. (The UDMSZ had a membership of 16,000 in 2003).

The structure of the UMDSZ was modified in 2002. Its decision-making and leading bodies are the Congress, National Council, National Control and Mandate Committee, National Ethics and Regulation Supervisory Committee, National Presidium, 16 permanent special committees (health, social affairs, youth, sports, culture, education, diaspora and scattered community care, self-government, communications, economy, law, agriculture, heritage protection, informatics, women’s council, council of mentors). The Federation has 12 middle level district and town organizations in Transcarpathia, 14 organizations outside Transcarpathia, and 12 collective member organizations. The membership of the UMDDSZ is grouped in 135 basic organizations.

In the meantime, the following organizations have joined the UDMSZ:

Community of Hungarian Intellectuals in Transcarpathia (1996);

Forum of Hungarian Organizations in Transcarpathia (1996);

Association of Hungarian Librarians in Transcarpathia (1997);

Balaton Hungarian Cultural Federation of Ivano-Frankovsk (1997);

Pet?fi Sándor Society of Hungarians in Crimea (1999);

Farmers’ Federation in Transcarpathia (1999);

Federation of Hungarian Journalists in Transcarpathia (1999);

Federation of Hungarian Health Workers in Transcarpathia (1999);

Forum of Hungarian School Principals in Transcarpathia (2000);

Parent and Teacher Council for Hungarian Education in Transcarpathia (2003).

The Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia (KMKSZ)

The KMKSZ, established in 1989, was the first and remains to this day the largest social interest protection organization of Transcarpathia’s ethnic Hungarians. In March 2006, the Federation had a membership of 42,000. To serve the community’s long-range interests, the statutes of the Federation aim to protect the interests, preserve and cultivate the national culture and traditions, promote native-language education and instruction, ensure the collective rights and shape the national consciousness of Transcarpathia’s Hungarians. The program of the KMKSZ sets as a goal the establishment of nationality self-administration, something the organization wants to achieve through the creation of nationality self-government or territorial autonomy.

The Federation formulates its views in all questions concerning the Hungarian community and but seeks to take an active part in shaping them.

The KMKSZ has mid-level branch organizations in the Ungvár (Uzhhorod), Munkács (Mukacheve), Beregszász (Berehove), and Nagyszőlő (Vinohradiv) districts, and in the Upper-Tisza region.

The Hungarian Cultural Federation in Bereg (Bereh) County (BMKSZ)

The BMKSZ was established in August 1994 by part of the Beregszász (Berehove) municipal and district KMKSZ basic organization after they left that federation. It has an estimated 5,000 members.

In its program, the BMKSZ committed itself to represent the political, cultural, and social interests of the ethnic Hungarians living in the Beregszász (Berehove) district and other localities in the historic Bereg (Bereh) County. On the basis of the result of the 1991 referendum, its main political goal is the creation of a Hungarian autonomous district. The organization, which has since 1994 the largest faction in the Beregszász (Berehove) Municipal Council, played a major role when the city – seat of the compact Hungarian community – gained the status of city with county rank on 18 May 2001. The erection on the territory of Hungary’s former Bereg county of several statues, monuments and more than 50 plaques commemorating great figures of Hungary’s past history is also due to the initiatives of the Federation.

Its activities are focused mainly on the organization of events that promote Hungarian tradition and culture, primarily in Beregszász (Berehove) and at its vicinity.

In addition to the above organizations, Transcarpathia’s ethnic Hungarians have several local and residential district cultural organizations:

Cultural Federation of Hungarians in Szolyva (Svalyava);

Cultural Federation of Hungarians in T?cs? (Tachiv);

Hungarian Federation of Ung (Uzh) Region.

Forum of Hungarian Organizations in Transcarpathia (KMSZF)

In order to coordinate the activities of the regional organizations, the Forum of Hungarian Organizations in Transcarpathia (KMSZF) was established in August 1994 at the initiative of the BMKSZ. The Forum groups together the Community of Hungarian Intellectuals in Transcarpathia, the Hungarian Cultural Federation in Bereg (Bereh) County, the Cultural Federation of Hungarians in Szolyva (Svalyava), the Cultural Federation of Hungarians in T?cs? (Tachiv), the Hungarian Federation of Ung (Uzh) Region, and numerous Hungarian organizations of entrepreneurs and farmers. The activities of the KMSZF are in effect carried out by its regional organizations. Since October 1995, the Forum has been a registered organization at the county level and is active primarily in the spheres of economic and entrepreneurial development, spheres the other Hungarian interest representation organizations had not dealt with earlier.


Agriculture is the dominant form of production in Transcarpathia. There are 1,471 farms in operation with approximately 321,000 registered individual farmers. The majority of the farms have an area of less than 50 hectares and 8 of them have a land area of over 100 hectares. Considering all its sectors, the economy of the county is characterized by low efficiency and backward technical standards and organization. Following the change of political regime, the existing urban industry has deteriorated and has been cut back. Thanks to foreign investors, however, the old industrial enterprises are gradually being revived and function with a new profile. Transcarpathia’s state subsidies exceed 60% and for the time being the county cannot meet its requirements out of its own resources.

In Ukraine, there has been no compensation for private properties nationalized after 1945. Instead, all citizens are entitled to an equal share of the assets of state-owned enterprises. Every citizen received personal privatization property coupons, the distribution of which began on 1 February 1995 and ended in 1998. The owners could invest their property coupons in the enterprise in which they worked if that enterprise had been privatized. In practice, however, the vast majority of the population sold their privatization coupons to buyers at a very low exchange rate. The coupons could also be used to purchase shares as well as investment fund and company bonds at security auctions, or they could be left with security management companies.

Due to the lack of economic background and of capital, the privatization process mainly affects small and medium size enterprises. The extent of foreign investments grew in 2004. In the first nine months of the year, US$50.6 million have flown into Transcarpathia, 19.7 percent more than during the same period of the preceding year. During the first ten months of 2004, the volume of foreign trade for goods and services increased from US$436,6 million during the same period in 2002 to US$989,4 million, a twofold increase. Transcarpathia’s most important trading partners are Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Italy, and the Czech Republic. These six countries account for more than 80 percent of the county’s exports and close to 75 percent of its imports.

75 percent of the members of the Hungarian minority live in small-size communities. Since they pursue professions of a lower social status because of the shortcomings in native-language training opportunities (for example, there are hardly any Hungarian lawyers), they are more threatened by the danger of unemployment. Official data give a very favorable picture about unemployment, with the rate of registered jobless reported to have been 2.4% in 1998, 5% in July 1999, 7% in December 2000, 6.5% at the end of 2002, and 7.4% at the end of 2003. There were some positive trends in 2004: as of 1 January 2005, 28,600 jobless persons were registered at the employment center, 12.9 percent less than a year earlier. Social problems are further aggravated by latent unemployment such as forced holidays, reduced shifts, and working hours.

Average wages in 2005 were 730 hryvnya per month or about US$120, compared to the national average wage of 883.9 hryvnya. A major part of the foodstuffs are imported by entrepreneurs from Hungary, Slovakia, and from neighboring and more remote Ukrainian counties and are sold in privately owned stores and to markets (pork costs on the average US$5 per kilo, milk US$0.30 per liter and cooking oil US$1 per liter).

A major part of the region’s Hungarian population survives in the current circumstances by means of cross-border trade. Many people take on illegal seasonal farm work in the neighboring Szabolcs–Szatm?r–Bereg county in Hungary. For most of the year, a significant part of the Hungarian male population works at various construction sites in Hungary. (The number of Transcarpathians working, for the most part illegally, in the neighboring and mainly South European countries is estimated at 100,000 to 150,000.)

The unresolved status of land ownership until recently hindered the growth of agricultural production and the development of private farms. It is expected that the Land Act adopted in November 2000 will make it possible to establish various forms of cooperative farms based on real private owners to replace the Soviet-type collective farms. These cooperatives could rely for support on the farmers’ circles set up in the past years in the Hungarian-inhabited settlements.

In December 1999, a month after his re-election, President Leonid Kuchma’s first decree aimed at the acceleration of agricultural reform. The decree calls for the dissolution of collective farms and the restructuring of agricultural production, setting the deadline for April 2000, and this has actually taken place.

Two laws adopted following the flood damages in November 1999 may help resolve the economic and social problems of the region. These laws allow for the establishment of a free economic zone over a 730-hectare area (for a 15-year period) and a special investment system extending to the entire county (for a 30-year period). The laws, which provide investors with various tax and other benefits are expected to increase the standard of living of the population, which would also slow down the emigration of ethnic Hungarians to their motherland. Since the Supreme Council for a long time did not adopt the document concerning the special economic zone, it came into force as a presidential decree. Following the latest big floods of March 2001, the Parliament in Kyiv drafted legislation on Transcarpathia’s special economic zone.

The President of Ukraine issued in 1995 a decree granting local public administrative bodies in Transcarpathia decentralized spheres of authority rights and empowering them to manage part of the state property. This also meant that the county public administration may offer guarantee when taking up foreign loans and may launch its own business ventures.

On 4 November 1994, businessmen from Ukraine, Slovakia and Hungary signed a document on the establishment of the Economic Development Federation in the Carpathian Border Region (KHGSZ). The Federation is an umbrella association of organizations and institutions in different countries from the three countries that are registered as legal entities and possess their own database. The objectives of the KHGSZ include strengthening mutual relations based on the principles and practice of a market economy and promoting cross-border economic cooperation in order to ultimately achieve economic growth in the region. The functions of the KHGSZ’s office in Transcarpathia are performed by the Business Promotion Center in Transcarpathia (KVK). The introduction of reciprocal visa requirement between Slovakia and Ukraine has, however, made it impossible to maintain concrete personal ties.

The floods of 5 November 1998 and of 4 March 2001 caused very extensive damage in Transcarpathia. The sad balance sheet of the 1998 catastrophe: 17 persons died, 3,098 dwellings were destroyed 12,769 were so severely damaged that they must be completely rebuilt. In 2001, 9 persons died, 1,955 residential dwellings collapsed and 8,998 were damaged. Each of the floods affected close to one-third of Transcarpathia’s population. One of the Hungarian-inhabited settlements which suffered the most severe damage in 1998 was Mez?v?ri (Vary) in Beregszász (Berehove) district. Tiszab?k?ny (Bobove) in Nagyszőlő (Vinohradiv) district was also severely hit. The amount of the damage caused at that time by the floods in the county has been estimated at US$100 million. In 2006, the Hungarian–Ukrainian Intergovernmental Joint Committee signed an environmental and water management agreement aimed at alleviating the flood concerns of the population living along the section of the Tisza river connecting the two countries. The agreement includes joint plans for environmental protection and water management. In the former field, the plans call for the introduction of control systems that will make it possible to make use of the most rapid methods.


Since Ukraine became an independent state in 1991, the structure of its civil society, the so-called "third sector", has developed to a remarkable extent and gained in experience. In earlier times – like in the case of every other former communist state – the growth of the civil sector was hindered by a seventy-year long state control, as a result of which citizens forgot how to launch any civic independent initiative. Following the change of political regime, new solutions and new structures became both possible and necessary. In 1992, the law on the association of citizens was passed in Ukraine, and in the middle of the 1990s the laws drafted further expanded the legal framework for the operation of the non-profit sector. This made it possible to establish organizations whose aim was to meet the social, economic, and cultural needs of the population. 63 percent of the country’s non-profit organizations were established during the first two years of Ukraine’s independence. Approximately one-third of these organizations carry out social, charitable, and humanitarian activities, 16% take care of children, and 9% are active in the health sector, but a large number of organizations perform simultaneously several types of activity. Although the government does not provide any financial assistance to the civic organizations, it grants them certain tax benefits. Despite the fact that the laws do not adequately encourage Ukrainian businessmen and private entrepreneurs, the larger half of the civic organizations’ income originates from the business sphere. Individual donations are out of the question because of the poverty of the population. Thus foreign sources also play an important role in the life of Ukraine’s civic society.

In 1996, approximately 1,200 civic organizations were registered with the Justice Ministry of Ukraine, and this number has continued to grow since then. Civic organizations can also request registration at the local level (in towns or districts).

In Transcarpathia, the minorities – among them the Hungarian minority – are characteristically contributing to the variety of local civil organizations. One of Transcarpathia’s Hungarian civil organizations with the most illustrious past is the Community of Hungarian Intellectuals in Transcarpathia (M?KK), which since its foundation in 1993 sees as its continuous main tasks the joining together of Transcarpathia’s Hungarian intellectuals and the promotion of their cultural, scientific, and economic activities. It is active in three societies (for science, literature and arts, and business management, respectively). Its principal objective is to create favorable conditions for Hungarian intellectuals in Transcarpathia, thereby slowing down the extent of emigration from their homeland. On 17 December 2003, the Prime Minister of Hungary presented the Prize for Minorities to the Community.

The Hungarian Self-Government Forum of Transcarpathia series of events organized by M?KK with the participation of Hungarian and Ukrainian mayors and representatives, was started in 1994. The new Ukrainian law on self-government adopted in 1997 allows for the establishment of area self-government associations. The Hungarian organizations of Transcarpathia made use of the opportunities offered by this law when they established in February 2001 the officially registered Self-Governmental Association of Border Settlements of Transcarpathia. The Association’s aim is to promote self-organization for Transcarpathia’s Hungarians, to ensure a higher level, more effective protection of the rights and interests of local communities, and to develop economic and community relations with the border regions of the neighboring countries. The Association also gave assistance in establishing several sister settlement ties.

The professional interest protection organizations set up at the county level are now functioning as independent organizations. The most important among them are: the Federation of Hungarian Teachers in Transcarpathia (1991), the Imre R?v?sz Fine and Industrial Arts Society (1990), the Dezs? Z?dor Music Society in Ungvár (Uzhhorod, 1991), the Society of Hungarian Scientists in Transcarpathia (1993), the Federation of Hungarian Health Workers in Transcarpathia (1996), the Society of Hungarian Librarians in Transcarpathia (1994), the Transcarpathian Writers’ Group of the Hungarian Writers’ Union (1994), and the Transcarpathian Federation of Hungarian Journalists (1998).

Major youth organizations include the Hungarian Scouts Association of Transcarpathia set up in 1991, the Pro Patria Youth Association, the Youth Organization of the KMKSZ (2001), the Youth Branch of M?KK (1996), the Youth and Sports Special Committee of UMDSZ (1996), the Gordius Hungarian Youth Democratic Federation in Transcarpathia (2004), and the Federation of Hungarian Students and Young Researchers in Transcarpathia (KMDFKSZ, 1999).

Many other Hungarian associations are active in the spheres of culture, tradition preservation, and literary life. Cultural circles and pensioner’s clubs in particular belong to this category.


Hungarian-language schools, following a brief ban after World War II, began to reorganize as early as 1946. The re-establishment of the Hungarian educational system is still going on today. The Ukrainian Law on National Minorities allows for the establishment of national–cultural autonomy and of the framework of educational autonomy. The Federation of Hungarian Teachers in Transcarpathia (KMPSZ), founded in December 1991 today has a membership of 2,140 (April 2004 data) and wishes to make use of the opportunities provided by the law. Its most important task is to have the Hungarian educational institutions from nursery schools to higher education under unified direction. In fact, this means the establishment of an independent Hungarian-language educational district.

Currently, most of the problems faced by Ukrainian educational institutions, including Hungarian schools, are financial in nature. The annual state subsidy per student approximately is 920 hryvnya (US$173), which also includes salaries, maintenance, operational, and other costs. In the past years, schools were forced one after the other to discontinue instruction in wintertime because heating and electricity in their buildings could not be provided. Because of the lack of public utilities, schools in rural areas often fail to meet the most basic hygienic requirements. There have been serious concerns with the supply of textbooks for Hungarian schools, which also had an effect on the situation of the Hungarian educational institutions. The conditions for the adequate mastering of the Ukrainian language are not met, and there is a lack of Ukrainian textbooks, trained Ukrainian language teachers for Hungarian-language schools, and bilingual dictionaries. The staff members of the Hungarian Textbook Editorial Office in Ungvár (Uzhhorod) were on leave without pay from November 1999 to June 2000. Textbook publishing was resumed in 2001 with the publication of 22 textbooks, of 8 in 2002, and of 10 in 2003. The preparation of Ukrainian textbooks for elementary schools has begun, and the editorial office has also taken steps towards the publication of a comprehensive Ukrainian–Hungarian dictionary.

At the initiative of the KMPSZ, the Federation of Hungarian Parents in Transcarpathia was set up in December 2002 to defend the interests of Hungarian schools and students, and in 2003 the UMDSZ established the Parent and Teacher Council for Hungarian Education in Transcarpathia (KAMOT). On its part, as a civil society, KAMOT established in the same year the KAMOT Charitable Foundation that takes an active part in the handling and coordination in Transcarpathia of the instructional and educational assistance given by Hungary.

The Forum of Hungarian School Principals in Transcarpathia was set up in 2000 to protect the interests of Transcarpathia’s Hungarian schools and to assist these schools to cooperate with the Ukrainian state.


Based on the statistical data published by Transcarpathia’s county school inspector’s office, there were in the 1991/92 school year 63 kindergartens in which 3,157 children were taught only in Hungarian. A total of 322 children were enrolled in mixed, Russian–Hungarian and Ukrainian–Hungarian–Russian language kindergartens. In the 1994/95 school year, Hungarian-language instruction was given in 90 kindergartens (68 Hungarian, 21 Ukrainian–Hungarian and 1 Ukrainian–Hungarian–Russian). In the villages where Hungarians constitute the majority, most kindergartens are Hungarian-language ones. As a result of the adverse economic trends of the 1990s, several kindergartens were closed because most of the parent lost their jobs. This was a general phenomenon and did not apply only to Hungarian-language kindergartens. From 2000 on the number of entirely Hungarian-language kindergartens increased, with Hungarian-language education given in 57 kindergartens in 2001 and 64 today. In addition, there are 1 Russian–Hungarian and 9 Ukrainian–Hungarian language kindergartens in the county. Unlike in previous years, there is at present no Ukrainian–Hungarian–Russian kindergarten.

Primary and secondary education

The situation of public education for the Hungarians of Transcarpathia has made considerable progress since Ukraine became an independent state, and the efforts to halt the atrophying of the Hungarian school network have been successful. In several villages, many schools where instruction was given in two or three languages have become independent Hungarian schools. Elementary schools (grades 1–4) have reopened in several villages, or existing elementary schools have been reorganized into primary schools (grades 1–9). The number of students in Hungarian-language classes has increased. While in the 1987/88 school year, only 7.2% of the children enrolled in the county’s schools went to Hungarian-language classes, in the 2001/2002 school year there were 8 independent Hungarian-language and 3 mixed language elementary schools, 40 independent Hungarian-language and 11 mixed language primary eight-grade schools, and 19 independent Hungarian-language and 16 mixed language secondary schools in Transcarpathia. A total of 20,468 students were receiving instruction in the Hungarian language in these schools. There are a total of six Hungarian-language high schools in the county. Four are run by the Reformed Church: (in Nagybereg/Berehi with 98 students, Nagydobrony/Velika Dobron/ with 107 students, P?terfalva/Petrove with 87 students, and T?cs?/Tachiv with 120 students. The other two area Roman Catholic high school in Munkács/Mukacheve with 59 students, and a Greek Catholic high school in Kar?csfalva/Karachin with 33 students.

Vocational training

There are a total of 19 vocational schools but not one Hungarian-language vocational school in Transcarpathia. However, Hungarian-language classes have started in the past few years in three vocational middle schools (in the Makosjanos/Ivanivka branch of the Agricultural Technical School of Munkács/Mukacheve, the Sanitary Training School of Beregszász/Berehove, and the Educational Vocational School of Ungvár/Uzhhorod). There would be a need for starting Hungarian-language classes in numerous trade schools if the necessary financial conditions could be met and if experienced instructors capable of teaching in Hungarian were available.

Higher education

Six institutions for higher education are functioning in Transcarpathia: the National University of Ungvár/Uzhhorod, the State College for Informatics, Economics, and Law of Ungvár/Uzhhorod, the Ferenc R?k?czi II. Hungarian College of Transcarpathia, the College for Humanities and Pedagogy of Munkács/Mukacheve, and the Transcarpathian Branch Institute of the Slavic Studies University of Kyiv.

Training of Hungarian language and literature teachers has been going on since 1963 at the Hungarian Faculty of Philology of the National University of Ungvár (Uzhhorod). Until the 2002/2003 academic year, a total of 709 students earned here teacher’s certificates in Hungarian language and literature. At present, 130 regular students are pursuing their studies there. Next to instruction, the teachers of the faculty also carry out scientific research since 1966. As a result, it has been possible to publish a Hungarian–Ukrainian dictionary (2001), an atlas of the Hungarian idioms of Transcarpathia (1992–2003), and the first anthology of the Hungarian literature of Transcarpathia (1993). The Hungarian faculty maintains close ties with institutions of higher education in Hungary and other countries abroad, with centers for Hungarian studies, and with scientific and academic institutions.

The Center for Hungarian Studies of Ungvár was set up in 1988 under the aegis of the faculty, and it was upon its recommendation that the Ukrainian parliament restored from the 1990s on to this day the historical names of 55 localities inhabited by a Hungarian-majority. The Hungarian Scientific Society in Transcarpathia and the Federation of Hungarian Students and Young Researchers in Transcarpathia were also set up in the Hungarian Faculty in 1993 and 1998, respectively.

In April 2000, the Highest Certification Commission of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science authorized the functioning of a Scientific Special Council at the Faculty of Philology of the National University of Ungvár for the defense of candidate’s dissertations in Hungarian language and literature.

In September 1994, college training was started in Beregszász (Berehove) in four departments of the branch college of the György Bessenyei Teachers Training College of Ny?regyh?za, Hungary. This non-state educational institution – set up by a foundation established by the Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia, the Federation of Hungarian Teachers in Transcarpathia, the Reformed Church of Transcarpathia, and the Beregszász (Berehove) Mayor’s Office – has been operating as an independent institution since 1996 with the financial support of the Hungarian state. On 11 December 2003, under festive circumstances, the college took the name of Ferenc R?k?czi II Hungarian College in Transcarpathia. The institution, which also serves as instruction center for off-campus Hungarian higher education instruction, had in the 2005/2006 academic year 569 day-time students, 32 corresponding (second diploma) students, and a further 252 students enrolled in off-campus instruction.181 students are enrolled in the various sessions and courses advertised by the college.

The Ferenc R?k?czi II Hungarian College in Transcarpathia is maintained by the Foundation for Hungarian College in Transcarpathia, which is supported almost exclusively from Hungarian government sources, primarily the Ministry of Education.

Students at the College are receiving training in departments for kindergarten teachers, primary school and secondary school teachers of English and geography, English and history, geography and history (since 1997), and horticulture (since 1999). A course in computer science was also started in 2000 in the framework of the international ECDL system. Specialized training for geography was also launched in 2000 and for teaching and English in 2003. Instruction in economics and management training also began with the 2001/2002 academic year. The number of faculties, joint faculties, and trade directions offered by the institution are constantly increasing.

The LIMES Social Research Institute, established in 1999 within the college, was succeeded in 2001 by the Tivadar Lehoczky Social Research Institute and the Antal Hodinka Languange Institute. The aim of the two institutes is to organize and coordinate social science and philosophical research carried out in Transcarpathia, and to collect and classify documents related to the local Hungarian community. The college’s Students’ Self-Government was set up in 1996. Since its inception, the college has functioned on the rented property of the Reformed Church of Beregszász (Berehove). On 1 September 2004, it started the new academic year in the building of the former Court of Law in the center of the city, which is the property of the college under a 2002 ruling of the municipal council. A total of 1,034 students were enrolled in the institution during the 2005/2006 academic year and until now, 249 students earned there their teacher certificates.

The Teachers’ Training College of Munkács/Mukacheve founded in 1914 functions since 2003 as a college and its present official name ifs the College for Humanities and Pedagogy of Munkács. Following the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, Hungarian-language education was discontinued for a long time but Hungarian-language groups were resumed in the 1950s. There are presently 1,000 students in the college, including 126 ethnic Hungarians who thus make up over 10% of the student body. In 2004, the Hungarian branch of the College for Humanities and Pedagogy of Munkács took the name of Ilona Zr?nyi Branch. At present, Hungarian students may absolve six-year studies. After completing the IVth year, the students earn middle-level teacher’s certificates, those who successfully complete the Vth year receive bachelor’s degrees, and those who complete the VIth year obtain "elementary school teacher" certificates. The students study 80% of the subjects taught in the Hungarian language. Next to Hungarian-language education, the graduates also acquire excellent qualifications in the knowledge of the Ukrainian language. Over 90% of the graduates find employment as teachers or in the sphere of public administration in the Hungarian-inhabited localities of Transcarpathia.

The Beregszász (Berehove) branch institute of the County Advanced Teachers Training Institute of Transcarpathia has been operating since 1993 as a non-independent institution, and provides advanced methodological training to teachers in Hungarian-language schools.

The most recent institution of higher education is the Transcarpathian Branch Institute of the University of Slavic Studies in Kyiv located in Ungvár (Uzhhorod). This multifunctional educational institute functions since 2000 with the following departments and paired departments: finance, customs, international relations, communication, knowledge of one’s country, history and English, psychology and English, Czech–English, Slovak–English, and Ukrainian–English. To these was added in September 2004 the Hungarian–English department to take into account the linguistic needs of the region. Instruction in the latter department is given in the Hungarian language.

Since 1990, it has become possible for young people in Transcarpathia to continue their studies in Hungary. 11 students began that year their university studies in Hungary. Their number rose to 27 a year later, then to 53 in 1992, to 80 in 1993, to 84 in 1994, and to 88 in 1995. During the 1995/96 academic year, a total of 350 students from Transcarpathia were enrolled in various institutes of higher education in Hungary. 66 students from Transcarpathia completed their higher education studies in Hungary in 1996, 70 in 1997, and in 1998. However, 75% of these students did not return home after graduation.


A professional theatre, the Gyula Illy?s Hungarian National Theatre, functions in Beregszász (Berehove) since 1996. The company, whose professional standard is outstanding, must constantly struggle with financial difficulties and its permanent location has not yet been resolved.

Several Hungarian organizations function or functioned in Transcarpathia in the fields of culture, preservation of traditions, and literature. They include close to 20 cultural circles, pensioners’ clubs, and literary circles. Among the most important ones, mention should be made of the Gizella Dr?vai Cultural Circle (Ungvár/Uzhhorod), the Ferenc R?k?czi II. Literary Circle (Munkács/Mukacheve), the Simon Holl?sy Circle (T?cs?/Tachiv), the B?la Bart?k Cultural Circle (Nagyszőlő/Vinohradiv), and the Vilmos Kovács Circle (G?t/Hat and Dercen/Drisina). (Most of them have currently suspended their activities.) Economic difficulties set very narrow limits to the opportunities in the sphere of culture and arts. Companies with deficits or not functioning at all are unable to appear as sponsors for cultural programs and the state does not provide any financial support either. The professional interest protection organization of the Hungarian writers in Transcarpathia is the Transcarpathian Writers’ Group of the Hungarian Writers’ Union with 10 members. Its forum is the literary, art, and cultural periodical Egy?tt (Together) published quarterly by M?KK. Three writers from Transcarpathia, namely D. Károly Balla, Fábián László V?ri, and Zoltán Mihály Nagy, have been awarded Hungary’s Attila J?zsef prize.

Book Publishing

Until the early 1990s, two state institutions, the K?rp?ti (Carpathian) Publishing House in Ungvár (Uzhhorod) and the Hungarian Textbook Editorial Office of Ungvár of the Radianska Skola (Soviet School) Textbook Publishing House in Kyiv, published Hungarian-language books.

Between 1951 and 1990, the K?rp?ti Publishing House published the works by local Hungarian writers, including several literary anthologies and almanacs, short stories and poetry books, novels and short fictions, children’s poetry books, youth novels, collection of reports and journalistic articles, and local history books. Its most popular publication has been the Carpathian Calendar, which served as a periodical-substitute.

In the middle of the 1990s, the Carpathian Publishing House came on the verge of bankruptcy and in effect liquidated its Hungarian section. Since 1993, it has been able to continue its activities as a multi-faceted enterprise. Its financial means allow it to publish one Hungarian-language publication a year. The Carpathian Publishing House earlier had very good relations with Hungarian book publishers, which resulted in the publication of several joint works. According to the publisher, one of the obstacles to Hungarian–Hungarian cooperation in the field of book publishing is due to the legal regulation according to which books published outside its borders are traded in Hungary as foreign language publications and as a result fall under a higher value-added tax.

From 1946 until 1994, the Hungarian Textbook Editorial Office of Ungvár (Uzhhorod) provided on a regular basis the Hungarian schools with Hungarian-language textbooks. There were times when it published annually 25 to 30 different textbooks and manuals on methodology in approximately 80,000 copies. Initially, this publisher also assumed the publication of the required school readings for the students enrolled in Hungarian-language schools. Over the decades, a group of translators was formed alongside the editorial office whose members translated into Hungarian the Ukrainian textbooks written on the basis of the unified national program of instruction.

Witnessing the crisis faced by the state book publishing, a few Hungarian editors and writers in Transcarpathia launched private book publishing with the assistance of foundations in Hungary. At that time, Hungarian-language schools in Transcarpathia suffered from a chronic shortage of textbooks. The first private publishers appeared at the beginning of the 1990s. The Gal?ria (Gallery) Publishing House was the first on the market and from1992 until its closure in 1996, it published 30 belles-lettres works. The Intermix Publishing House, also founded in 1992, aimed at helping the Hungarian minority by supporting and publishing its intellectual works. Up to 2004, it published close to 200 belles-lettres and scientific books in over 500,000 copies. The publication of its most popular series, "Hungarian Books in Transcarpathia", is supported by Hungary’s Ministry of National Cultural Heritage. Since 1993, it is a permanent invited guest at the traditional Budapest Book Week.

The UngBereg Literary and Cultural Foundation was established in 1997 and registered in Hungary. As a society for public use since 1998, it seeks, mainly through book publishing and distribution, to keep the Hungarian language alive in the region and to acquaint the wider public in Hungary and in international forums with the literary achievements of Transcarpathia’s Hungarians. It participated in the 1999 Book Fair of Frankfurt as the only literary workshop from Transcarpathia.

The T?rogat? Newspaper and Book Editorial Office has specialized in the publication of collections connected with music, and also prints the publications known as T?rogat? and B?bita-brochures. With the support of the Ministry of National Cultural Heritage, it has printed over 20 publications. Since 1996, the Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia, the Federation of Hungarian Teachers in Transcarpathia, and the Hungarian Scout Federation in Transcarpathia have also become involved in publishing activities. Most recently, the Reformed (Calvinist) Church in Transcarpathia and the Apostolic Administration in Transcarpathia also take part in the book competitions advertised by the Ministry of National Cultural Heritage. Nearly 50 books have been published as a result of this assistance. A joint newspaper and book printing shop has been established with Hungarian government support in Nagyszőlő (Vinohradiv) under the name of Ugocsa Print.

In addition to those mentioned above, about half a dozen smaller publishers release one or two Hungarian-language books a year. However, it is customary for all private book publishers outside the borders of Hungary to maintain themselves entirely through financial support from Hungary by means of annual ministerial competitions for Hungarian book publishing companies operating outside the borders of Hungary.


The members of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia belong to the Reformed (Calvinist), Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic Churches. According to church estimates, in Transcarpathia approximately 100,000 ethnic Hungarians belong to the Reformed Church, 65,000 Hungarians belong to the Roman Catholic Church, and 30,000 to the Greek Catholic Church.

It was only after the demise of the totalitarian system that normal conditions for the exercise of religion were restored. The persecutions of the previous decades, however, left their deep marks on the Churches. During the existence of the Soviet Union, the Greek Catholic Church was subjected to the most severe assault and it was even banned after 1949. Afterwards, Greek Catholic priests and faithful suffered reprisals that equally hit the Hungarian and the Ruthenian population (Hungarian-language believers were either forced to accept the Orthodox liturgy or to convert to the Roman Catholic faith).

Under the Soviet regime, both the Reformed and the Roman Catholic Churches were attacked and their representatives brought to show trials. The Catholics of Transcarpathia had 45 priests in 1945. Three were arrested in the same year, followed by another 15 in 1948, and still more were put on trial in subsequent years. Thus by 1989, only three Catholic priests were left in the region. Following a show trial, the majority of the Reformed ministers were deported and imprisoned in labor camps.

Transcarpathia’s Jews, most of whom spoke Hungarian and had played for centuries a prominent role in the economic and cultural life of the territory, have practically all been annihilated as a result of the Holocaust. According to the 1921 census, there were 86,000 Hungarian-speaking Jews in Transcarpathia, accounting for 12 percent of the population. The number of those who survived deportation is estimated at 30,000 but today, a result of the emigration that began in the 1950s and continues to this day, only 3,000 have remained in the county according to official data. The emigrating Hungarian-speaking Jews have been replaced by Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking Jews from the interior of the country. There are synagogues in Huszt (Hust), Munkács (Mukacheve), Ungvár (Uzhhorod), Beregszász (Berehove), and Nagyszőlő (Vinohradiv).

In earlier decades, the lack of clergymen was a serious cause for concern for all denominations. However, significant progress has been made in this regard over the past few years. Young Hungarians from Transcarpathia, albeit in a limited number, are now also able to study at church institutions of higher education in Hungary and in Transylvania.

Currently, 29 priests are active in the Transcarpathian dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church and 16 Roman Catholic seminarians are studying in Hungary. The Roman Catholic Church in Hungary is seeking to alleviate the chronic shortage of priests by sending over monk priests. The bishop of the Transcarpathian Roman Catholic Apostolic See is Mgr. Antal Majnek. Pope John Paul II in a 2002 edict has elevated the apostolic diocese to the rank of church diocese and appointed Mgr. Majnek as its first diocesan bishop.

Since 1989, 11 closed churches, 19 parish buildings and 13 other church properties have been given back to the Roman Catholic Church Diocese of Munkács (Mukacheve)..

Amidst the difficult economic situation, the Catholic Church, along with spiritual work, is carrying out extensive and indispensable charitable activities among its Transcarpathian faithful, many of whom turn to the church in the hope of receiving financial aid. Presently, charity groups are active in nearly every Transcarpathian settlement with Roman Catholic residents. In addition to organizing the distribution of aid shipments, the Catholic Church operates seven free pharmacies, with their center in Nagyszőlő (Vinohradiv), and free kitchens in Nagyszőlő and T?cs? (Tachiv), respectively.

Being aware that it cannot help every person in need, the Catholic Church, while maintaining the traditional methods for giving aid activities, is looking for new ways and tries to help its faithful in the areas of farming and business. At the initiative of church leaders and with the support of the ?j K?zfog?s (New Handshake) Foundation in Hungary and of other charitable organizations, it was possible to supply many people with seed grain and to start four bakeries. The latter provide bread for the poor either free of cost or at a very low price, using their modest income to maintain themselves. The church has established in Munkács (Mukacheve) its own high school for the education of Roman Catholic youth.

A total of 97 congregations are functioning within the Reformed (Calvinist) Church functions today (their number was 81 in 1988). In recent times, 15 new parsonages have been built and education is taking place in three high schools belonging to the Reformed Church. There are close to 40 ministers and over 50 students are studying theology abroad. The Reformed Church is headed by Bishop is László Horkay.

One of the Reformed Church’s main objectives is also to provide assistance to its needy followers. Its representatives, together with the delegates of the Catholic Church, the Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia, and the Federation of Hungarian Teachers in Transcarpathia, participate in the activities of the Aid for Transcarpathia Foundation, which seeks to ease the burdens of the flood-stricken Hungarian communities.

In the fall of 1999, with the cooperation of the Reformed Church, a waterworks station (costing HUF33 million) was put into service in the flood-stricken settlement of Mez?v?ri (Vary), whose residents became the first among Transcarpathia’s villages to receive clean drinking water.

In addition to the county’s three Reformed and one Roman Catholic high schools in the county, the church also contributes to the education of ethnic Hungarians by offering for permanent use to the Hungarian Teachers Training College of Transcarpathia its parsonage, recently returned by the state and located in the center of Beregszász (Berehove).

The Greek Catholic Church has 101 churches in Transcarpathia today, compared to 400 in 1941. The number of officially registered Greek Catholic parishes is 264. The restitution of its confiscated church properties is the most burning concern of the church. Ten years after the Greek Catholic Church was again allowed to function, its followers must still attend religious services in the open. To alleviate the shortage of priests, the training of clergymen takes place in the Seminary of Ungvár (Uzhhorod) and abroad. The bishop is Mgr. Milan Sasik (his predecessor, Mgr. J?nos Szemedi was relieved of his post by the Pope because of his age).

The second major concern of the Greek Catholic Church in Transcarpathia is that the Ukrainian priests with nationalist feelings, who make up 30 percent of the clergy, would like to attach the Greek Catholic church diocese of Munkács (Mukacheve), now under the direct authority of Rome, to the Greek Catholic Archdiocese of Galicia (with a population of several million). 70 percent of the clergy do not want to hear about this change even though the Holy See has sent a diplomat to Ukraine to try to convince the Transcarpathian priests to nominally recognize the authority of the Archdiocese of Galicia while remaining under the authority of Rome. The Greek Catholic priests in Transcarpathia rejected even this compromise solution, arguing that the church diocese of Munkács (Mukacheve) was multinational and that as a result of such a measure, they would lose the support of a major part of the faithful.


The Ukrainian state does not support the nationalities’ press and book publications. The only national Hungarian-language newspaper is K?rp?ti Igaz Sz? (Transcarpathian True Word) with subscribers from 14 of Ukraine’s counties. It is published three times a week (on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) and has a circulation of 11,000. It was founded by the County Council of Transcarpathia, the County Administration of Transcarpathia, and the Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia. K?rp?talja (Transcarpathia) is the political and cultural weekly of the KMKSZ published since 2001 in 15,000 copies at present. Three local papers, each of which are published by a city or district council, also appear in Hungarian translation: Ung-vid?ki H?rek (News from the Ung /Uzh/ Region), with a circulation of 1,324); Beregi H?rlap (Bereg/Bereh News) with 4,000 copies; and Nagyszőlő-vid?ki H?rek (News from the Nagyszőlő/Vinohradiv Region), with 4,000 copies). All three newspapers were founded collectively by the local councils, the executive authorities, and the editorial offices. The Mayor’s Office of Beregszász is publishing since 2000 a bilingual publication in 2000 copies titled Beregszász.

Transcarpathia’s Hungarian-language press is supplemented by the family and youth weekly K?rp?tinfo (formerly Bereginfo) printed in 6,450 copies, and Hat?rmenti Szoci?ldemokrata (Border Region Social Democrat), the Hungarian-language publication of the county organization of the United Ukrainian Social Democratic Party (USZDP(E) (published in 5,450 copies). The monthly magazine Irka (Exercise Book) for teachers and children is published by the Federation of Hungarian Teachers in Transcarpathia (KMPSZ) and has a circulation of 5,100. K?zoktat?s (Public Education) is a supplement to Irka. The quarterly P?ns?p (Pan Whistle) ceased publication in 2004. Egy?tt (Together), the quarterly of the writers’ group of Transcarpathia of the Hungarian Writers’ Union, and the UngParty literary website provide a forum for Transcarpathia’s Hungarian literature. A new countywide Hungarian weekly, Ukrajnai Magyar Kr?nika (Hungarian Chronicle in Ukraine) appeared in 2003 with a circulation of 5,300, and contains timely news and comments about Transcarpathia and Hungary. In 2005 the weekly also changed its external appearance and contents. Magyar ?js?g?r?k K?rp?taljai Sz?vets?ge (Federation of Hungarian Journalists in Transcarpathia) was established in 1998 as a professional interest protection organization and has 76 members. Most of the Hungarian-language newspapers can now be reached via the internet.

Previously, the broadcasts of the Hungarian state television could be received practically everywhere in Transcarpathia, except for the mountainous area of Rah? (Rahiv). The 04 channel transmitter in Tokaj, which broadcast the first program of Hungarian Television ceased operations on 31 December 1995. This is causing a problem particularly for those inhabitants of Transcarpathia who have outdated or black-and-white television sets. The Duna Television broadcasts transmitted via satellite are available only to a small number of viewers due to a lack of proper receivers. Since there are practically no subscriptions to Hungarian newspapers and since many Hungarian families cannot even afford to subscribe to local newspapers, the radio and the television broadcasts are their only sources of information.

The air time of Hungarian-language radio broadcasts in Transcarpathia is 470 hours per year, and that of television broadcasts, 70 hours. The Editorial Office for Hungarian-Language Broadcasts of the Transcarpathian Studio of Ukrainian Radio and Television maintains ties on a contractual basis with the Hungarian State Television and Radio. Since autumn 2003, it appears every two weeks with an independent program in the "R?gi?k" ("Regions") public life magazine of Duna Television.


Area: 603,700 km˛.

Total population: 46,859,000 (data of the March 2006 census).

Density of population: 81 people / km˛.

Ethnic groups: Ukrainian (77.8%), Russian (17.3%), Jewish (0.2%), White Russian (0.6%), Moldavian (0.5%), Bulgarian (0.4%), Polish (0.3%), Hungarian (0.3%), Romanian (0.3%), Crimean Tatar (0.5%).

Religions: Ukrainian Orthodox, Ukrainian Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Islamic.

Languages spoken: Ukrainian (state language), Russian, and others.

Health data: infant mortality is 21.1 deaths/1,000 live births, average life expectancy is 61 years for men and 73 years for women. The population is decreasing by 400,000 people annually.

Form of state: republic.

Structure of political power: The highest branch of the legislative power is the Supreme Council (Verhovna Rada, i.e. parliament, with 450 representatives), the executive power is headed by a Cabinet of Ministers, and the highest body of the judiciary is the Constitutional Court.

The Supreme Council is elected for five years. The most recent election was held in 2006. The distribution of mandates is as follows: Party of Regions 186, Yuliya Timoshenko Bloc 129, Nasha Ukrajina (Our Ukraine) 81, Ukrainian Socialist Party 33, Communist Party 21 deputies.

Administrative division: 24 counties (oblast), 1 autonomous republic (the Crimea), Kyiv (the capital city), Sevastopol (capital city of the Crimean Autonomous Republic).

Political parties: Several dozens of political parties are active in Ukraine. Following the 2004 amending of the electoral law, deputies can enter parliament exclusively from party lists. Better-known parties aside from those that entered Parliament are the Popular Bloc, the (United) Social Democratic Party of Ukraine, the Popular Democratic Party, Pora, and the Ukrainian Progressive Socialist Party.

Labor force: 21.3 million (industry and construction 33%, agriculture and forestry 21%, health care and education 16%, transport 7%).

Urban population: 67%.

Cities: Kyiv, capital (population 2.7 million in 2001), other cities include Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnypropetrovsk, Odesa, and Lviv.

GDP annual growth rate: decreased by 60% between 1991 and 1999, then rose by 9% in 2001, 5.2% in 2002, 9.3% in 2003, 13.4% in 2004, and 2.4% in 2005 compared to the preceding year. In the first quarter of 2006, the growth rate was 2.4% compared to the same period of 2005.

Currency exchange rate: 5.05 hrynya per US$1, 6.16 hryvnya per 1 Euro.

Inflation rate: 10.3% (March 2006 data).

Unemployment: 3.2% (April 2006 data).

Amount of unpaid salaries: 1.059,4 million hryvnya (March 2006 data).

Total foreign capital investment: US$9.5 billion (2005 data). .

Foreign Trade: The volume of Ukraine’s imports rose to US$24.4 billion in 2003 and reached US$31 billion, an increase of US$6.5 billion or 26.7%. Currently, exports make up 60% of Ukraine’s national production. Ukraine maintains economic ties with 220 countries and is the recipient of investments from 117 countries.

Hungarian–Ukrainian economic relations: Hungarian–Ukrainian economic relations are developing in a dynamic fashion. Bilateral trade also grew and its value reached US$1.3 billion in 2003, double the amount for 2002. In 2004, foreign trade between the two countries grew by some 30 percent compared to the preceding year. In 2005, foreign trade between the two countries grew considerably and by the end of the year reached US$1.337 billion. For the first time in modern Hungarian–Ukrainian trade relations, Hungary’s balance was positive with a surplus of some US$30 million. A contributing factor was the absence of the earlier regular large volume Ukrainian natural gas shipments of the past five to six years. In 2005 Hungary actually bought from Ukraine gas in the US$10.000 range compared to around US$100 million worth during the previous years.

The volume of Hungarian foreign trade shipments to Ukraine grew in 2001 by 21% compared to the preceding year, and further growth was registered in 2003 and 2004. The most important categories of Hungarian export products to Ukraine are live animals, meat and dairy products, grains, pharmaceutical industry products, chemical substances, synthetic and textile goods, and textile industry machinery. Among the neighboring countries, Hungarian investors and company shareholders rank first fourth in Transcarpathia (behind the USA, Germany, and Austria) and ninth in Ukraine as a whole.

Foreign trade turnover between Hungary and Transcarpathia reached US$277.4 million last year and accounted for 23% of Transcarpathia’s foreign trade and 21% of Hungarian–Ukrainian foreign trade. The situation was the same in the sphere of capital investments, with 199 joint ventures with Hungarian capital registered and an increase of 40 joint enterprises last year despite the withdrawal of benefits on 1 April 2005. The amount of Hungarian capital investments rose from the earlier US$26 to US$28 million despite a capital withdrawal of US$6 million by Hungary’s MOL enterprise. Thus the actual investment increase reached US$8 million.

Population of the Hungarian ethnic community: 156,600 (in the whole of Ukraine, based on the data of the 2001 census). The estimated figure is approximately 200,000.

Territorial distribution: The vast majority of the Hungarian population is concentrated in an area of 12,800 km˛, in Transcarpathia (K?rp?talja) county. According to official data, 151,516 persons of Hungarian ethnicity live in the Beregszász (Berehove) district /raion/ (close to 200,000 according to their own estimate), and in parts of the Ungvár (Uzhhorod), Munkács (Mukacheve), and Nagyszőlő (Vinohradiv) districts /raions/. Isolated ethnic Hungarian communities inhabit the Upper-Tisza region. Ethnic Hungarians live in scattered communities in the valleys of the Upper-Borzsa (Bilke, Ilosva /Irshava/), the Upper-Latorca (Szolyva /Svalyava/), and the Upper-Ung (Perecs?ny /Perechin/, Nagyberezna /Velikyi Bereznyi/). However, 84 percent of the Hungarian population is concentrated in a 20-km strip along the Hungarian border.

Geographic settlement: Most Hungarians live in river valleys, and in flatlands suitable for farming. They usually reside in sparely populated villages. Among the larger towns, Beregszász (Berehove) was the only one in which Hungarians constituted until the 2001 census a very small majority.

Urban population: 53,598 ethnic Hungarians (Ungvár /Uzhhorod/ – 8,000; Munkács /Mukacheve/ – 7,000; Beregszász /Berehove/ – 12,800; Nagyszőlő /Vinohradiv/ – 3,171; T?cs? /Tachiv/ – 2,640; Rah? /Rahiv/ – 1,282; Huszt /Hust/ – 1,759; Csap /Chop/ – 3,659; Ilosva /Irshava/ – 107; Szolyva /Svalyava/ – 322). According to 2001 data, the ethnic Hungarian communities in Lviv, Kyiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, and Odesa number only a few hundred persons.

Edited, written by HUNSOR


"The History of Hungary"
by Dominicus Kosáry
professor in History on Eötvös-Collegium in Budapest
with preface by professor Sven Tunberg,
published and printed in Stockholm 1944
in cooperation with Johannes Lotz and Dominicus Kosáry

Internet adresser:

- The Situation of Hungarians in Ukraine
- The Tragedy of the Hungarians of Transcarpathia
- Treaty of Trianon, 1920
- "East-Central European Syndrome"- by S.J. Magyarody
- A Case Study on Trianon
- Hungary and Her Successors - The Treaty of Trianon and its Consequences 1919-1937
- Borders of Trianon - by Palotas, Z.
- The Unmaking of Peace
- Maps over Hungary

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