MINELRES: News on national and ethnic minorities in Hungary, July - August 2007

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Wed Sep 19 18:43:08 2007

Original sender: Katalin Deak <Katalin.Deak@MEH.HU>

Department of National and Ethnic Minorities
Prime Minister's Office

August, 2007 

Selection of news on national and ethnic minorities in Hungary
July - August 2007

The government adopted the National Action Plan of the 'Decade of Roma
Inclusion' Programme 

As reported in our previous newsletter, on 29 May the Parliament held a
general debate on the National Strategy of the 'Decade of Roma
Inclusion' Programme. A Parliamentary Resolution adopted as an outcome
of the debate stated that on the basis of the National Strategy an
Action Plan by the governmental should be elaborated by 31 August 2007
at the latest.  

At a press conference on 2 July, Ms Edit Rauh, State Secretary of the
Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour introduced the Action Plan. As she
pointed out, the document was drafted by the Government and adopted by
the Parliament on 25 June in the belief that there is a pressing need
for establishing the conditions of social and economic integration of
the Roma population, improving their living conditions and their access
to public services. The State Secretary called for a more effective
economic policy, including the increase of the employment rate of the
Roma. She also urged the extension of integrated education and the
elimination of school segregation. The Ministry is continously
determined to tackle the issue of cultural autonomy separately from
issues related to social inclusion and accordingly it will dedicate
distinguished attention to the extension of roma cultural autonomy -
stated the State Secretary. 

The Action plan gives priority to education, employment, housing and
health care. Furthermore, it identifies objectives and tasks in relation
with the promotion of equal opportunities, media, culture and sports.
Before its completion in 2015, the progrrame will be carried out in
two-year-periods on the basis of packages of measures. The first package
of measures - to be adopted by 30 September 2007 at the latest - will
identify tasks for 2008-2009. It is important to draw attention to the
fact, said Ms Rauh, that the first package of measures is a continuation
of the earlier governmental medium-term packages of measures aiming at
the improvement of the life quality of the Roma, renewed by the
government every second year since 1997.      

The priorities of the Action Plan are as follows: 

- Education - the extension of integrated schooling; the elimination of
school segregation; the improvement qualifications of the Roma;
- Employment - the promotion of the integration of the Roma into the
labour market; 
- Housing - the improvement of housing conditions;
- Health care - the increase of life expectancy; the improvment of
access to health care;
- Promotion of equal opportunities - elimination of discrminiation
against the Roma.   

Ms Rauh also reminded that Hungary is to carry out the Presidency of the
Decade of Roma
Inclusion between July 2007 - June 2008. In her capacity as such,
Hungary will use her influence with the current nine member states to
invite other countries to the programme. 

At the press conference Mr Andor Urmos, Head of the Roma Integration
Department of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour recalled that
the government had taken up the elaboration of the National Strategy in
2005 with the inclusion of some 700 roma NGOs. Mr Urmos said that the
European Union would provide around 70 billion HUF for its realisation.
The implementation of the Action Plan will be monitored by NGOs.         

The Parliamentary representation of national and ethnic minorities on
the agenda 

At a press conference on 12 July reporting on the activity of the State
Secretariat for Minority and Nation Policy of the Prime Minister's
Office, State Secretary Mr Ferenc Gemesi stated that the government was
continously committed to strengthen the cultural autonomy and to
establish the preferential parliamentary representation for national or
ethnic minorities.  According to the legislation programme, the
government will submit to the Parliament a bill on the establishment of
parliamentary representation for minorities by 2008. 

A more effective integration of civil society into designing minority
policy, the evaluation of minority policy financing and the situation of
minority media are also among the government's priorities, added Mr

The newly created website of the State Secretariat was introduced to the
press. Information about minority policy is available at: www.nek.gov.hu

Commemoration of the Roma Holocaust

On the official memorial day of the Roma Holocaust, 2 August, hundreds
of people gathered at the headquarters of the Roma National
Self-Government, at the Holocaust Memorial Center and in Park Nehru in
Budapest to remember the victims of the Roma Holocaust. 

In his message conveyed on the occasion of the Roma Holocaust, Prime
Minister Mr Ferenc Gyurcsany stressed that the times of distress began
with verbal and spiritual violence followed by physical brutality. The
thoughts of those who talk about "Roma criminals" in today's Hungary,
envision the terrible times that people had to face a generation ago and
which caused only dispair and shame - as the Prime Minister put it. The
most important message of the memorial day is that the Holocaust can
never happen again - stated Mr Gyurcsany in his message read out by
spokesman of the government Mr David Daroczi, a Roma

A number of other high ranking officials such as State Secretary Mr
Ferenc Gemesi, Parliamentary Commissioner of Minority Rights Mr Erno
Kallai, President of the Roma National Self-Government Mr Orban Kolompar
and Mayor of Budapest Mr Gabor Demszky addressed the public and payed
tribute to the victims and their families.    

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopts
recommendations with respect to Hungary

Based on the Opinion of the Committee of Experts, the Committee of
Ministers adopted recommmendations on the application of the European
Charter for Regional or Minority Languages by Hungary. The Committee of
Ministers called upon the Hungarian authorities to take resolute
measures in language planning for Romany and Beas with a veiw to
starting effective teaching of and in these languages at all appropriate
stages. The improvement of the financial situation of minority language
education, the promotion of the establishment of further bilingual
schools and the increase of the number of teachers capable of teaching
subjects in these languages were also urged by the Committee of
Ministers. Furthermore, the recommendations call for the improvement of
conditions of language use before administrative and judicial
authorites, as well as in the media. The improvement of the conditions
for the transferal of educational and cultural bodies and institutions
to minority self-governments was also identified as a need in order to a
more effective application of the Language Charter. 

The Romanian editorial office of the Hungarian State run Television
celebrates its 25th anniversary 

Since the very beginning in 1982, Ecranul nostru, the Romanian programme
of the state-run television has been edited in the Szeged regional
editorial office. Over the years it gained international recognition as
a standard setting television programme. Ecranul nostru has always
objectively informed the communities endangered by assimilation about
current issues relevant to them. It has considered the introduction of
minority culture and traditions as its mission.

The introduction of the weekly programmes in 1982 marked a turning point
in the life of Ecranul nostru and since then its editorial staff
numberes three professionals.       

Ecranul nostru was recently awarded the Prize of the Civis Europe film
festival in Poland, as well as the Prize of the Camera Hungaria
television festival.   

International Conference on Minority Languages (ICML) in Pecs

The 11th International Conference on Minority Languages was organised by
the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of
Sciences, the Research Institute for Ethnic and National Minority
Studies, and the Faculty of Political and Legal Sciences of the
University of Pecs. The ICML was held on 5-6 July 2007 in Pecs. 

The aim of the conference was to provide a frame for transfer of
knowledge and experience between research communities about the current
situation of linguistic minorities in Europe.
The special focus of the conference was Multilingualism, Citizenship and
the Future of Minority Languages. The conference offered an opportunity
to discuss various disciplinary approaches to minority languages, and
also to dynamise dialogue and deliberation in policy formulation and

For more information about the conference, please visit:

Some roma now head to England in search for a living
Mr Istvan Kovacs, president of the Roma minority self-government in
Mohacs told the press on 30 June 2007 that several roma families from
Baranya travelled to England to find a living there. According to Mr
Kovacs's knowledge, there are 25 roma families in north England at
present, most of them settled in Bolton.  

As a reminder, last autumn some 300 Roma families from Pecs and Mohacs
left to Sweden but due to lack of proper qualifications, they were
refused work permits and had to return to Hungary.   

Mr Kovacs thinks that this time the families are motivated by finding
jobs abroad instead of simply relying on social benefits of the target -
country. The president confirmed that those who recently left Hungary
get on well in England. Mr Kovacs refused allegations that the travel
was organised on business basis. 

Mr Kosztics Istvan, president of the Roma minority self-government in
Pecs informed the press that there are approximately 50 roma families
from Pecs who recently travelled to England or Ireland in the
expectation of earning a living there. Mr Kosztics is less optimistic
and fears that the roma families may be exploited in Bolton, since as
far as he has been informed, they have been offered help in findig jobs
by the same woman who recently seriously betrayed a man. As it was
reported in the Hungarian press earlier this year, a 52 year- old man
from Hungary was literally kept in slavery in Bolton and finally managed
to return home with the help of the British

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