MINELRES: Hungary: Minority News February - March 2005

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Fri Apr 8 09:21:25 2005

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

February - March 2005

Employment initiatives for the Roma in 2004

Numerous programmes were launched last year to improve the situation of
the Roma in the labour market. As the Ministry of Labour reported, 12
out of the 30 tenders won by the Labour Offices had the objective to
integrate unemployed Roma into the labour market, primarily throughout
skilled-workers' training. The number of participants of the programmes
designed for Roma unemployed exceeded 4700 in 2004. The state budget put
HUF 3 billion (Eur 12M) at the disposal of the Labour Offices to
implement their partnership-based programmes.  

Two further calls for proposals were announced last year in the
framework of the Human Resource Development Operational Programme of the
National Development Plan.  In 2004-2006, Eur 30.2 M and 10M are
available for the fortunate applicants respectively from EU and
Hungarian budgetary funds within the framework of the Community
Initiative "EQUAL". The projects focus on public work and the fight
against exclusion. A considerable part of the projects aims to create
equal opportunities for the Roma. 

In 2004, the Public Foundation for Employment provided financial support
for 6 different programmes to tackle the high unemployment rate of the

Hungarian-Serbian tolerance programme  

Presidents of the Serbian-Montenegrin and the Hungarian Parliament
agreed to launch a tolerance programme. After consulting with her
Serbian colleague, Ms Katalin Szili announced that the programme would
include educational, cultural and economic aspects in order to promote
the peaceful coexistence of national and ethnic minorities.  The
organisation of a youth tolerance camp and an economic forum is also
envisaged in the framework of the programme.  

The Equal Treatment Authority took up work in February, 2005

The Equal Treatment Authority (henceforth: the Authority) formed under
the Law on Equal Treatment (henceforth: the Law) started its operation
in February. As Mrs Judit Demeter, President of the Authority informed
the press, the Authority initially carries out its duties with 10
colleagues and it plans to hire more experts in the future. The
President said the Authority was not the only body responsible for the
implementation of the Law on Equal Treatment. As the Law has been in
force since January 2004, courts, counsels, civil servants are evidently
obliged to take account of its provisions. Furthermore, in most fields,
such as consumer protection, employment and so on, independent
authorities protect the rights enshrined in the different sectorial
pieces of legislation. Mrs Demeter underlined the importance of
co-operation between all affected bodies in order to avoid

As for the procedure commenced before the Authority upon application or
ex officio, Mrs Demeter also spoke about the shift of the burden of
proof. If a person who considers himself/herself wronged because the
principle of equal treatment has not been applied to him/her, it shall
be for the respondent to prove that there has been no breach of the
principle of equal treatment, or that he had an objective and
justifiable reason to act against the principle of equal treatment. It
is for the plaintiff to prove the offence.        

In case the breach of the Law is proven, the Authority may state the
infringement, it may order the respondent to refrain from any
wrong-doing in the future or to eliminate the injurious situation,
furthermore it may impose a HUF 50,000-6M  ( 200-24,000) fine on those
who have violated the law. Mrs Demeter thinks that their power to
publicise the Authority's decisions will be a powerful means to refrain
people from violating the law.

Equal Treatment Authority
1051 Budapest, Vigado u. 6.
Phone: (00-36) 1-235-4509; (00-36) 1-235-4507.
E-mail: ebh@icsszem.hu

Establishment of the Hungarian National Focal Point (NFP) of the
European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) 

According to its founding regulation, the EUMC is to set up and
coordinate a European Racism and Xenophobia Network (RAXEN). RAXEN is
one of the central tools for the EUMC to achieve its goal in providing
the European Union and its Member States with objective, reliable and
comparable data. The Hungarian National Focal Point was set up in
February 2005.

As Mr Endre Sik, Head of the Hungarian NFP stated at the debut meeting,
the NFP considers as its primary task the collection and the analysis of
data and information provided by non-governmental organisations, EU
member states and institutions, international organisations and
researchers. The main areas of concern of the Hungarian NFP are as
follows: social policies, education, vocational training and youth
policy, ethnicity-based violence, media, communication, publication,
legislation and culture, and religion. 

Head of Department of the Ministry for Youth, Family and Social Affairs
and Equal Opportunities Andor Urmos pointed out that he, as a
governmental representative in the Hungarian NFP, would report on the
data collected by the NFP, as well as draw the Goverment's attention to
the necessity of solving problems related to discrimination. Mr Urmos
added that in order to remedy the discriminatory practice in most fields
of public life, the Government operates an Anti-discrimination Client
Network and the People's Advocates Programme. 

Roma Ministerial Commissioner appointed 

Sandor Lakatos was appointed as Ministerial Commissioner of the Ministry
of Economy and Transportation. 

Mr Lakatos was born in Debrecen in 1974. Originally trained as a social
worker at the Gusztav Barczy Teachers' Training College, he first worked
as a family visitor. In 2001 he was appointed councillor of the Office
for National and Ethic Minorities. In 2002, as the newly appointed Roma
desk officer of the Ministry of Economy and Transportation, Mr Lakatos
was entrusted with promoting the economic integration of small-and
medium size Roma entreprises.   On 4 March 2005 he was appointed
Ministerial Commissioner responsible for the transparency, the
traceability and the accountability of Roma programmes run by the

The Hungarian Parliament issued a political declaration regarding  Roma

With 329 affirmative votes, without any votes against and abstentions,
the Hungarian Parliament adopted a political declaration by the means of
which it wished to express apologies for the Roma holocaust. The
declaration makes it clear that although in the course of our common
history, Roma were frequently hit by exclusion, the Hungarian nation
considers itself as an acceptive nation. 

The most unworthy treatment of the Roma took place in the shameful
period of collaboration between the Nazi German troops of occupation and
the then Hungarian Government. The declaration states that it was
desirable that Parliament expressed its apologies not only to Hungarian
Jews but also to the Roma. The declaration notes that the Roma are still
hit by prejudice, poverty and lack of education. These disadvantages may
be overcome only if the majority population shows solidarity towards the

The elaboration of a Roma language book is under way in Gyulaj           
Gyulaj is a small settlement in South Transdanubia with an unemployment
rate as high as 40 %. In order to remedy their urgent problems, the
municipal government develops not only adult education, but as part of a
long term strategy, it also attaches great importance to kindergarten
and school education. Accordingly, ten years ago the Gyulaj municipal
government launched a language programme for the Beash speaking Roma
students who make up 70% of the pupils of the primary school. The latest
achievement of the settlement was brought to the attention of the public
in February: teachers have worked out together a Beash-Hungarian
bilingual language book containing poems, fairy tales, language
exercises and texts on Roma civilisation. 100 copies of the book will
come out in May, and if it can be well used in education, the school
will initiate its approbation as a schoolbook.

Agreement signed by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education on
new forms of scholarships for the disadvantaged

On 22 February, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and Minister of
Education Balint Magyar solemnly signed the document on the
establishment of the National Scholarship Programme named "Utravalo". 

The National Programme contains four initiatives. "The way to secondary
school" programme supports primary school students in their studies so
that they can get higher chances to go on with their studies in
secondary education. "The way to the final examination" programme aims
to assist pupils to finish their studies in secondary schools. The third
initiative puts emphasis on support for students in vocational training
institutions. Finally, the fourth programme intends to provide
scholarship to gifted students. 

As a matter of fact, the National Scholarship Programme unites the
existing and the newly elaborated programmes designed to help
disadvantaged students in educational institutions. As a result of the
above, a student living under poor conditions may, from the primary
school on, be granted a scholarship and the assistance of tutors in
order to finish studies in higher education.     

According to a national daily newspaper, the government intends to
assign HUF one billion to develop the new scholarship system.

Joint Memorandum signed by the Hungarian and the Croatian Prime

During his official visit to Hungary in February, Prime Ministers Ivo
Sanader and Ferenc Gyurcsany signed a joint memorandum on the fruitful
co-operation of Croatia and Hungary achieved in the area of minority
protection in the past ten years. 

The memorandum points out that the commitment on both sides in favour of
the fullest possible realisation of cultural autonomy for minorities is

Training of future Roma community leaders 

The "Roma Inclusion Decade" will start with the training of future
leaders for Roma communities in the South Transdanubian region. As
project manager Gyula Vamosi stated, 80 % of the finances would be borne
by the EU, while the Hungarian government would provide for the missing
20 % of the costs. The budget of the project amounts to HUF 123M, which
will be spent on training 48 future Roma community leaders. 

Aspirants had to pass an application test on 25 February. In the course
of the evaluation of the test results, one has taken into account the
eventual work experience in a Roma non-governmental organisation or a
Roma minority self-government, a primary school degree, and the command
of the Beash or the Romani language. The privileged participants will
take courses on development of personality, community development and
counselling in order to be able to assist members of Roma communities to
find work or become entrepreneurs. 

The Roma football team of Hungary plays in Poland      

On the basis of their previous outstanding performance, the Roma
football team of Hungary have been invited to play against the Polish
national team on 2 May. Member of the presidency of the Roma Committee
of the Hungarian Football League Bela Kiss considered that the event
would be remarkable not only because of the game itself but also because
of the Holocaust. 

Ten young Roma received a degree in journalism     

As reported on "Hir TV" on 17 March, ten young Roma acquired a degree in
journalism in Hungary in the past semester. As an unique initiative in
Central Europe, the training of gifted young Roma as journalists began
in Hungary seven year ago. Since than it has proven to be a successful
programme and has been taken over and implemented by Romania, Bulgaria,
Slovakia and Macedonia as well.

During the seven years of the existence of the programme, 72 Roma
finished the ten months training session with a degree in Hungary. 

The elimination of Roma ghettos may start soon  

Before the end of April the Ministry of Youth, Family and Social Affairs
and Equal Opportunities will designate those settlements whose
application to the HUF 800M programme for the elimination of Roma
ghettos was successful. In the course of the assessment of the
applications, emphasis was laid not only on the mere elimination of
ghettos but also on the creation of jobs in the given settlements at the
same time.  State Secratary Lajos Korozs noted that the Ministry would
therefore involve local Labour Offices and Family Care Institutions in
order to produce the expected results of this complex task ahead.