MINELRES: Hungary: Minority news, December 2006 - January 2007

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Tue Jan 30 18:52:07 2007

Original sender: Judit Solymosi <solymosij@mail.datanet.hu>

Office for National and Ethnic Minorities
Budapest, Hungary

Selection of news on
national and ethnic minorities in Hungary

December 2006 - January 2007

Government Decree No. 363/2006 orders the liquidation of the Office for
National and Ethnic Minorities

Government Decree No. 363/2006 on the governmental tasks related to
national and ethnic minorities and the reorganisation of the relevant
institutional structure orders the liquidation of the Office for
National and Ethnic Minorities. 

The Office was established in 1990 for the purpose of carrying out
governmental tasks related to national and ethnic minorities living in
Hungary. It was an autonomous organ of state administration with
nationwide competence. The sixteen-year autonomous existence of the
Office will end on the 31st of January, 2007.  

The tasks of the Office will be taken over by a Department for National
and Ethnic Minorities at the Prime Minister's Office. This department
will be led by Ms Erika Nemeth, who was a Member of Parliament between
2002-2006 and in this capacity was the vice-president of the Standing
Committee of Human Rights, Minority and Religious Affairs. The new
department will work under State Secretary Mr Ferenc Gemesi, who is also
responsible for policies connected to Hungarian minorities living

Government Decree on the proprietorship of National Minority

In line with Article 59/A of the Act on the Rights of National and
Ethnic Minorties, a Government Decree adopted on 30 November 2006 orders
that the buildings transferred to the thirteen national minority
self-governments for free use in 1995, shall be passed into their
proprietorship as a free one-off transfer of assets. 

In the past twelve years the Government did not only provid financial
means for the operation of the national minority self-governments, but
it also enabled them to use the premises of their headquarters free of

According to the newly adopted Government Decree, from the 1st of
January 2007 the national minority self-governments can exercise the
propriety rights of real estates the value of which amounts to circa HUF
1 billion. 

"Prizes for Minorities" awarded

Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany delivered the 2006 Prizes for Minorities
in the Parliament on 19 December 2006. State President Laszlo Solyom,
President of the Parliament Ms. Katalin Szili, and heads of several
state run institutions and minority communities also attended the
ceremony. In 1995, the Government of the Republic of Hungary, in harmony
with its endeavour to develop and maintain a tolerant athmosphere toward
minorities declared that henceforth 18 December, the day of the adoption
of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or
Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minoroties, will be celebrated as the
"Day of Minorities". On this occasion, every year Prizes for Minorities
are awarded to persons and institutions for their outstanding efforts
made in the interests of national minorities in Hungary and Hungarians

Among the fourteen persons awarded 2006 there were two desk officers in
charge of minority issues at the office of the Bacs-Kiskun County
Assembly, the Head of the Croatian National Self-government, outstanding
personalities from the Slovenian, Roma, Romanian, and Armenian
communities, as well as a leader of a political party of the Hungarian
community in Voivodine (Serbia), and a member of the Hungarian community
in Croatia. 

Reorganisation of the governmental work aimed at the integration of the

According to a recent decision of the Government, a new body named the
Council of Roma Integration led by Peter Kiss, Minister for Social
Affairs and Labour, will replace two, earlier existing bodies, namely
the inter-ministerial committee on Roma issues, as well as the Roma

The mandate of the Council of Roma Integration will include expressing
opinions on current issues, consultation rights, and the preparation of

The Council will be composed of delegates from the government, the
President of the Roma National Self-government and seven representatives
of the Roma community. These members of the Council will be appointed by
Minister Peter Kiss. The minority ombusdman and the Head of the
Authority of Equal Opportunities will be invited to all sessions of the

The reorganisation was welcomed by the President of the Roma national

Festival of Minority Theatres

The festival of minority theatres will be organised between 2 and 9
February 2007 in two Budapest theatres. Sixteen theatre performances
will be staged in ten minority languages by fifteen different minority
theatres. The festival is organised under the auspices of the Public
Foundation for National and Ethnic Minorities living in Hungary, with
the professional assistance of the Office for National and Ethnic
Minorities. The programme of the festival will end with a prize awarding

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