Published Humanitas, Volume XI, No. 2, 1998
Look at the map of East/Central Europe, where the Balkans are not very far away, at least ethnically, culturally, spiritually. Focus on Transylvania, now a Rumanian province but over which Hungarian consciousness has been bleeding since 1920 and the Versailles Treaty. Now zero in on the hardly visible border separating Hungary and Rumania, in reality Transylvania. Along that line not only two enemies face each other—like, further south, the Serbs and the Croats—but also two religions, the Catholic (and Protestant) and the Greco-Orthodox. You see now what the term “two cultures” means: Hungary has been Roman (Latin, Western) orientated, Rumania Byzantine-Greek and Russian. It is a question of hearts, habits, the shape of the script (Latin for one, Cyrillic for the other), but also of political alliances and cultural policies. In short, these neighbors could become, tomorrow, a new open wound. The respective governments, in Budapest and Bucharest, may sign many friendship treaties, they may become members of a “united” Europe and of NATO, they may trade according to the purest free-market dogma: still they will not be friends, allies, cousins. Each is sniffing out the other’s abuses…
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