Hungary’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday rejected Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic’s recent statement labelling ethnic Hungarian leader Janos Esterhazy as a follower of Hitler, and said that the ideology reflected in the statement did not contribute to the development of bilateral relations.
The ministry “notes with regret and incomprehension” that issues surrounding the martyred count are in the focus of daily Slovak politics, the ministry said in a statement sent to MTI.
The achievements of Esterhazy – the only member of the Slovak parliament to vote against anti-Jewish laws during WWII – are recognised in many countries including Israel, the statement noted.
Marek Trubac, the Slovak president’s spokesman, told MTI that Esterhazy is considered a war criminal in Slovakia, “for supporting fascist ideology”. Though Esterhazy did vote against the anti-Jewish bills, he also welcomed (former Hungarian governor) Horthy’s “fascist troops” that occupied Kosice, the spokesman added.
Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen said he was appalled by Gasparovic’s statement. He said that Esterhazy “heroically exercised the virtues” and was all along committed to the teachings of the Catholic church, so it is not by chance that his beatification is under way.
Semjen called the attack on Esterhazy’s memory an insult to the Hungarian nation and the Catholic Church and a violation of universal human rights.
Giving an interview to anti-fascist biweekly Bojovnik, Gasparovic opposed erecting a sculpture in Esterhazy’s memory in Kosice, saying that the one-time deputy had been a follower of Hitler and fascism.
Esterhazy died in a Moravian prison in the 1950s.