Dual citizenship for transborder minorities? How to respond to the Hungarian-Slovak tit-for-tat
On 26 May Hungary and Slovakia both amended their citizenship laws. Hungary removed a residence requirement for naturalisation, opening thereby the door to naturalisation of ethnic Hungarian minorities in neighbouring states, while Slovakia decided that any Slovak citizen voluntarily acquiring the citizenship of a foreign country would be deprived of her or his Slovak citizenship. Rainer Bauböck argues in his kickoff contribution that even if both laws do not violate EU law or the Council of Europe’s Convention on Nationality, they ought to be seen as highly problematic and indefensible from a democratic conception of citizenship. There is a remarkable consensus among the contributors that the Slovak policy is indeed not acceptable. The controversy focuses therefore on assessing the legitimacy of the Hungarian offer of dual citizenship for its kin minorities. Peter Spiro, Andrei Stavila and Florian Bieber express various degrees of discomfort with the motivations behind the Hungarian policy, but emphasise its democratic legitimacy or potentially beneficial effects for the members of the minority, whereas Mária Kovács, Gábor Egry and André Liebich highlight the nationalist goals behind the Hungarian policy or its devaluation of a democratic conception of membership. For Joachim Blatter, a republican conception of citizenship should promote political participation across borders, while Kovács sees dual citizenship as a first step towards enfranchising an external electorate in order to entrench a nationalist majority in Hungary. Erin Jenne and Stephen Deets regard Victor Orbán’s move primarily as a dog and pony show for domestic voters and Eniko Horváth argues that, although a policy of extending dual citizenship to transborder minorities may cause international tensions, the present law is less tainted by suspect ethnic discrimination than the 2001 Hungarian Status Law. Rainer Bauböck’s concluding rejoinder argues that migrants and transborder minorities differ in their democratic claims to citizenship in an external home country.
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