Encouraging members of the diaspora to assume Hungarian citizenship is an effective way of halting or even reversing their assimilation, Zsolt Semjén said, adding that the government has earmarked 1 billion forints (EUR 32.5m) for the ‘Körösi Csoma programme’ next year and another 500 million forints for the ‘Mikes programme’, aimed at preserving the material heritage of diaspora Hungarians.
The first programme was named after Sándor Kőrösi Csoma (1784-1842) who was a Hungarian philologist and orientalist, author of the first Tibetan-English dictionary and grammar book. Hoping to study the claim and to find the place of origin of the Hungarians by studying language kinship, he moved to Asia in 1820 and spent his lifetime studying the Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy.
The other programme, focused on Hungarian diaspora in Carpathian basin, was named after Kelemen Mikes (1690–1761) who was a Transylvanian-born Hungarian political figure and essayist. Mikes was noted for his rebellious activities against the Habsburg Monarchy but it was his book entitled ‘Letters from Turkey’ which made him famous and regarded as one of the first Hungarian prose authors.
According to statistics in 2011, the Hungarian diaspora numbers in Australia about 67,000, in Canada 316,000, in the US half a million, in Latin America 200,000 and in Western Europe about 388,000. As for the Hungarian communities of the neighbouring countries, 1,230,000 Hungarians live in Romania, 460,000 in Slovakia, 254,000 in Serbia and 150,000 in Ukraine.