Hungary marks 100 years since post-WW1 treaty losses


Budapest (AFP)

Hungary marked Thursday the centenary of a post-World War I peace treaty that saw the surrender of two-thirds of its territory to neighbouring states and is still resented by many Hungarians.

The Treaty of Trianon, signed in Versailles, France, in 1920, defined the country's new frontiers after the dissolution of the defeated Austro-Hungarian empire.

Hungary was not only forced to sign away vast swathes of territory, but also half its multi-ethnic population.

Church bells rang out around Hungary for 100 seconds at 4:30 pm, the exact time the treaty was signed.

In Budapest public transport was halted and many observed a minute's silence, while other commemorations took place nationwide.

The treaty meant that at a stroke, more than three million ethnic Hungarians -- or Magyars -- became part of neighbouring states, along with key economic resources and cultural sites.

Although during World War II Hungary temporarily took back some of the territory with Nazi Germany'S help, the borders have remained unchanged since 1947.

The lingering effects of the territorial and population losses -- sometimes described as "Trianon trauma" -- have often strained Hungary's relations with neighbours.

Magyars abroad are engaged "in a bitter struggle to survive, preserve their mother tongue, culture, to feel at home in their place of birth," said Hungarian parliament speaker Laszlo Kover in a speech to the chamber.

He went on to strike a more conciliatory note, saying: "We, Hungarians, who lost the 20th century don’t want to lose the 21st, but we don’t want our neighbours to lose it, either."