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It is a bold, perhaps foolhardy venture, to launch a new ship in stormy waters, but the Hungarian Review is just that – a craft on the mainstream of the Danube, seaworthy enough for the Atlantic, elegant enough for the Black Sea or the Baltic, and all the myriad land and water ways in between. And the timing, we believe, is perfect. Since the glory days of the early 1990s, our countries have somewhat slipped off the map. Public interest in the intellectual and political efforts which have gone into the rebuilding of a full half of Europe has waned. But as first Hungary then Poland prepare to take on the presidency of the European Union, 2011 will be a year, if ever there was one in this region, of opportunity.
We make no apologies for our name. This is a publication which is proud to be Hungarian, in a world all too prone to deride identity or patriotism as something old-fashioned, or hostile to others. In fact, the title comes from our affiliate Magyar Szemle, a journal that has entered its twentieth year of publication. Ours is an inclusive Hungarianness, in an interdependent age. Central and Eastern Europe need champions, and the Review will offer space in its pages for authors from this region and beyond. Our aim is both to reflect an ongoing debate on the future of Europe, and to help shape it.
In this issue John O’Sullivan writes that nations can and should protect their own interests in a world of ever increasing regulation. He argues for close central European cooperation – and for Hungary to play a leadership role in the south of the region, just as Poland does in the north. Former Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrj Rupel brings a genuine Central European touch to these concerns. Tibor Várady offers a powerful critique of the uses and abuses of the term ‘populist’. Zoltán Balog spells out the new government’s policy towards the Roma, and Lívia Járóka makes sixty proposals of her own, from a Roma perspective, to aid the true integration of her people. Former President Ferenc Mádl reflects on the legacy of the 1989 revolution, and former foreign minister Géza Jeszenszky argues for enhanced regional cooperation, with a strong Atlanticist component; economists Péter Ákos Bod and György Barcza examine the sometimes troubled relations of the new Hungarian government with international financial institutions, and Nick Thorpe remembers Hungary’s worst chemical disaster – just days after it happened. Mária Illyés asks Anna Szinyei Merse about her work to restore the Hungarian Impressionists to their rightful glory, and Tony Brinkley discusses Alaine Polcz’s harrowing memoir One Woman in the War.
There has been little time or effort this year, writes Péter Ákos Bod, to remember Hungary’s first post-Communist Prime Minister, József Antall, elected in 1990. But his contribution to history permeates this issue.
November is a mournful month in a country which excels at mourning – the anniversary of the Soviet re-invasion of November 4th, 1956 to crush the Hungarian Revolution. But the revolutions of 1989 rekindled the fire in our hearts. And that fire still emits a good heat as autumn moves on to winter, to borrow a line from the Greek poet, Giorgos Seferis.