Tag Archives: Jordi SOLE

Hungarian forced labour victims for justice

Brussels 17.11.2022 “The deportation of the Hungarians of Slovakia for forced labour 1946-1947” hearing took place in the European Parliament on November 16 under the chairmanship of the MEP Jordi Sole from the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya party, Spain, belonging to the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance.
“In order to understand the question of deportation of the Hungarian population of Slovakia towards the Czech countries some enlightenment is necessary”, said the keynote speaker Mikulas Krivansky, a Slovakian born Hungarian journalist, President of the Association of Victims of Deportations and their Descendants.

At the end of the Second World War the Czechoslovak leaders were deeply convinced that reconstituted Czechoslovakia had to become ethnically homogeneous.
The Conference of Potsdam accepted the evacuation of Germans but opposed the expatriation of Hungarians. As a consequence the Czechoslovak government asked the Peace Conference to compel Hungary to accept a Treaty on the exchange of populations, such a Treaty being signed on Febrary 27th 1946.
The Czechoslovak authorities decided to proceed to an unilateral and violent solution of this issue.
Instrumentalising the Law 88/1945 on general work liability (obligation) the displacement of the Hungarians towards the Czech country proceeded.

Comparing the Law itself and its application, in fact it has been used as a pretext to the displacement of the Hungarian population.

By virtue of such a law, in the case of an urgent and public interest work, it was foreseen, for a year at most, to impose the obligatory work on men aged from 16 to 55 and women from 18 to 45.

Those not to be constrained to work were gravid women and women with one child under 15, nor women having at least one dependent person. Married workers could only be called if the number of workers was not sufficient.

In spite of this, as early as November 19th 1946, forced transfers were executed, army and police troops encircled the Hungarian districts along the Danube.
The deportations produced many tragic victims and caused a lot of suffering; newborn babies at the breast and elderly people died, others suffered serious illnesses.
The displaced families were posted as rural servants or daily-workers for Czech big farmers and landowners.
Such a proceeding was contrary to the Czechoslovak laws, because the authorities had repeatedly violated the legislation in force.

According to the sources of the ministry of Social Affairs, in January 1948, 11 746 “economic units”, a term used to designate families, were deported, namely 44 129 persons.

The majority of the victims managed to go back to Slovakia after the communists took power in 1948.
Only after the change in 1989, did the victims express their claims, demanding justice to be served.
This is the reason why the Association of Victims of Deportations and their Descendants was founded. The Association represents 3 000 registered victims.

During the two mandates of Mr. Dzurinda’s Government ( 1998-2002 and 2002-2006 ) the Slovak Parliament voted for laws aiming to compensate certain victims of the past. These laws covered the 1939 to 1945 fascist period and the 1948 to 1990 communist period but excluded from any compensation the victims of the 1945 to 1948 period considered as a democratic one.
The exclusion of the victims of forced labour from all compensation is based on ethnicity and constitutes, in our opinion, a serious discrimination between the different groups of Slovak citizens.

Subsequently 1 500 members of our association have written personally a letter to the Prime Minister Mr. Dzurinda and to the European Commissioner Mr. Romano Prodi. The European Deputies mobilized in favour of the victims of forced labour. The question was put forward within various Parliamentary Committees: Nelly Maes, Miquel Mayol i Raynal, Bernat Joan i Marí travelled many times to Slovakia to attend the General Assembly of our Association.
Written questions were raised at the Commission and at the Commissioner for Enlargement Mr. Verheugen.
The MEP Erik Meijer confronted the latter four pertinent questions, but got only vague answers based on evasive generalities.

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The Czech Government under Mr. Jiří Paroubek finally decided to make a humanitarian gesture towards the victims of the past. Thanks to the intervention of many European Deputies from a variety of political adherences, the Czech citizens of Hungarian origin, victims of forced labour, are now included in the Declaration of the Czech Government.
In the light of the preceding facts one is entitled to raise a question: has there then been indifference or complicity on behalf of the decision-making politicians?
To sum up the the main violations of legality incurred in by the state authorities are the following:

– Use of coercion and armed force
– Non-respect of the prescriptions of the law when being enforced
– Non-respect of salary related provisions in force
– Absence of proper housing and food as indicated by law
– Exploitation of child labour
– Denial to include in pension schemes the period of work
– Absence of all benefits issuing from social security coverage.

“We believe that all those who have been through these works, contributed to the reconstruction of the Republic caused by World War II, they deserve recognition for their dignifying effort. Many are those, among which are the MEPs, who feel there is a compelling need for legislation aimed at repairing prejudice caused to the Slovak citizens – victims of forced labour” Krivansky continued.

The recent role of the European Parliament and elected representatives in matters of forced labour is reflected in the decisions taken against companies resorting to these practices.
The EU ban of products from forced labour is an encouraging gesture for our struggle for justice.

Presentetion by Mr. Krivansky, President of the Association of Victims of Deportations and their Descendants – Slovakia, during the Public Hearing held by MEP Jordi SOLÉ in Brussel on Nov.16th 2022

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SOLE: Catalans expect EU institutions to stand for their rights

Jordi SOLE MEP reflects upon new arrests of Catalan politicians and activists, deepening crisis between Madrid and Barcelona. He warns against danger of banalising terrorism, while Madrid attempting to compare peaceful political activism to terrorist activities. Use of obsolete terms as “rebellion” and “sedation” is symptomatic to flaws of Spanish democracy, denying Catalans their fundamental rights.

However SOLE admits there are not sufficient voices in European Parliament to stand for defence of democracy in Spain, and respect of human rights of Catalans. EU-Catalonia platform created in EP, is promoting dialogue, and it needs more support of MEP to enhance political solution of the crisis. SOLE regrets EP president Antonio Tajani aligned with Madrid even in wording of his position, while completely ignoring legitimate demands of Catalans.”We deplore this one-sided attitude”, SOLE said. Repeated denial of dialogue and negotiations by Madrid, is a denial of democracy, and democratic right of Catalans to choose their future.

Catalonia: overwhelmed by democracy

Jordi SOLE, MEP, OPINION

The time has come for Catalonia to reject the repressive response of the Spanish government to our call for a referendum on self-determination by using democracy, lots of democracy. The best response to the closure of websites promoting the referendum, the seizure of electoral material with words as dangerous as “democracy” or “referendum”, the pressure on the media to avoid publicising the vote, the legal threats against mayors for opening polling stations, the shameful arrests of members of the Government, the raids on  printers and messenger services searching for bullet papers… the best response to all of this authoritarian nonsense can only be votes, mountains of votes.

Votes not going against anyone, but just defending our freedom and our rights, our voice and our opinion. In fact, voting -after what we have seen and lived through in recent days- is no longer just a right, but almost an obligation. We have the obligation to safeguard our civil and political rights and our fundamental freedoms. And to do so by voting.

And by voting we will fundamentally undermine the twisted strategy of the most corrupt party in Europe, the Spanish PP, and its accomplices (PSOE and Citizens) to undermine the fundamental rights of the Catalan people by claiming to maintain the unity of the state above all else. They have all stuck to a single, weak argument: that voting is illegal. Well, in a democracy, laws which prevent a vote are unfair. And if it is impossible to change these laws, if everything has already been tried and has been in vain, then it is legitimate, just and necessary to tread all the paths of democracy. We will leave no stone unturned.

People have responded admirably during these days of provocation. We have seen a mobilized and creative people. While police forces were desperately chasing ballot boxes to stop the referendum, the whole country came together in peaceful and ingenious ways to defend freedom of expression and democracy. And while the official voice of the European Union was inaudible in the face of the abuses of Rajoy’s government (with very honourable exceptions), a European country called Catalonia became a beacon of hope for all of the democrats of the world who believe that real change occurs when people rise up and walk peacefully together to defend what is basic and fundamental.

#Catalonia: Who is afraid of democracy?

Jordi Solé i Ferrando, MEP, OPINION

Those who would deny Catalonia’s right to self-determination said back in 2015 that Catalan voters would never elect a majority of pro-independence MPs to our parliament, but we did.

Then they said that the pro-independence coalition would be too divided to agree on a new President and a new government, but we did. Then the talk was about the impossibility of passing the budget for 2017, and that would put an early end to the legislative term. But it didn’t happen.

Now opponents of the referendum say that it will never take place. But since last Friday we already know the date – the 1st of October, and question: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic?” – of the self-determination referendum, and during the coming weeks Catalans will officially be called to vote. Looking at the track record of those who would deny Catalans the opportunity to decide on our own political future, it is indeed a good sign that they keep saying we will never vote. This is possibly the best reassurance that just the opposite will happen.

In a democracy, how do you prevent a much awaited and widely called-for vote from taking place?

In a democracy, can a vote really be illegal, especially when it comes after all other alternative roads have been blocked by a central government unable and unwilling to negotiate and compromise?

These are the questions that come to mind when we hear from the Spanish government that they will do whatever it takes to impede the vote. Of course, we take it for granted that threats and pressures of every kind and on many people will continue to come from the Spanish government and judiciary. But this won’t make us depart from our commitment to make democracy prevail. We have a democratic mandate to let Catalans vote, and we will honour it. It is our basic democratic rights that are at stake. As the prominent football trainer Pep Guardiola stated clearly last Sunday in Barcelona before a crowd supporting the October referendum, “we will vote even if the Spanish government does not want us to”.  It is certainly not us who is afraid of democracy.

Jordi Solé i Ferrando

Member of the  European Parliament, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance

Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya

 

Will the Catalan Republic become an EU member state?

 

cataloniaJordi SOLE, MEP, OPINION

The emergence on new states in Europe is nothing new. In fact, many European states emerged at the end of the 20th century: from the Baltic States that regained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, through Czechoslovakia’s split that created the Czech Republic and Slovakia, to the breakup of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which gave birth to no less than seven new states.

The novelty today is that, while these countries did not immediately join the European Union and some of them even took a long and yet unfinished journey towards the Union, an independent Catalonia will claim its right to remain part of the Union, as Catalonia has been a partner in this common project since 1986, has always defined itself as one of the most pro-European countries in the continent, and pro-Europeanism remains a unifying element among Catalonia’s main political parties.

The EU has neither a direct precedent nor a clear policy for what is commonly known as internal enlargement. In fact, EU treaties provide the framework for countries to join the EU and to leave it, but the continuity in the EU of a new state emerging from within the EU is neither explicitly rejected nor foreseen in the treaties.

Nevertheless, the EU has accepted the redefinition of member states’ geographical limits on a number of unexpected cases in the past, adopting pragmatic solutions based on negotiated agreements. That was the case when East and West Germany merged, and also when Greenland decided to leave the EU, but not Denmark, in a referendum.

Furthermore, the EU is committed to the promotion of democracy, which is endorsed as a fundamental principle in its Treaties, and could never punish Catalans (who also enjoy European citizenship rights) for exercising this basic principle in a referendum.

Finally, it is in the economic interest of the EU and its member states –also that of Spain– to include the Catalan Republic among the EU member states, as Catalonia has strong commercial potential, is a strategic location for trade, and is a net contributor to the EU budget.

Thus, there is no reason to think that the EU will not be pragmatic again and will not defend its own economic interests by not taking the Catalan Republic on board.

Jordi Solé

MEP