The situation of the Roma cannot be resolved without majority support, and Hungary’s advancement cannot be achieved without the active participation of the Roma, the Minister of Human Resources announced on 28 February in Budapest.

Henri Malosse, President of the European Economic and Social Committee offered the Hungarian Roma integration policy as a possible model for Europe in his lecture. As an example, he mentioned that every child in Hungary learns about Roma history and culture.

On 28 February, the second day of the international conference, Zoltán Balog highlighted the significance of mutual responsibility in the integration of the Roma. He said that continuity is important and it is therefore necessary to ensure the availability of inclusion programmes which span government cycles.

Photo: Gyula Bartos

Among the most important stakeholders of the cause, the Minister mentioned churches, local governments, civil organisations, employers, the Government, the centralised education system, the National Roma Self-Government, the European Union and the wider public. Without these key players, there is no successful Roma integration in Hungary, he reiterated.

According to the Minister, there are bad responses and good responses in Roma affairs. The former include racist responses, racism in general, social benefits, the process of „ghettoing”, truancy and the „victim mentality”. In the realm of positive responses, the Minister mentioned the necessity of straight talking about conflicts, the Start work programme, the establishment of a firm Roma middle class, scholarship programmes and social responsibility.

In the context of the upcoming parliamentary elections, the Minister said with respect to the national minority lists that there has been a lot of misunderstanding and criticism on account of the national minority registration. He stressed that there had never previously been such an opportunity in Hungarian history. The Minister reiterated that those who claim it is discriminatory that people who register to vote for a national minority list cannot vote for a party list simply do not understand the system.

Gyula Bartos

This is an opportunity; everyone is free to decide whether or not to register as a member of a national minority. Those who believe that it is more important to vote for a party list will not register. The Minister of Human Resources said that the compensation awarded to the relatives of the victims who died in the Roma killings committed in 2008-2009 will be paid next week.

Henri Malosse, President of the European Economic and Social Committee offered the Hungarian Roma integration policy as a possible model for Europe in his lecture. As an example, he mentioned that every child in Hungary learns about Roma history and culture.

He said that in the body headed by him they are working on launching a project this year, the purpose of which is to identify the available best practices in integration. They intend to identify and develop best practices in the fields of education and employment, among others, he remarked. 
Similar to Henri Malosse, Romani Rose, head of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, too expressed his gratitude to Hungary’s EU Presidency for having launched the European Roma strategy.

Photo: MTI

In his speech, he highlighted that racism is a determinant in many Roma’s lives as it leads to regular discrimination in the fields of health care, education and employment alike. He believes that it would be essential to set up a Roma fund on an EU level in order to make aid more effective.

Mária Schmidt, Director General of the Public Foundation for the Research of Central and East European History and Society said in her welcome speech that the Hungarian Roma community has been a part of Hungarian society for centuries. ”The Hungarian nation can only become successful if it renders its Roma brothers and sisters its partners”, the Director General of the House of Terror Museum underlined. Mária Schmidt said that Roma people in substantial numbers have become marginalised and are in a hopeless situation.

Suad Numanovic, Montenegrin Minister of Human and Minority Rights said on behalf of the presidency of the decade of Roma inclusion programme that the Roma population are exceptionally at risk and the integration of the Roma is a problem for small and large countries equally.

Photo: Gyula Bartos

Flórián Farkas, Member of Parliament for Fidesz, President of the National Roma Self-Government stressed that the cause of the Roma is one of the EU’s most decisive issues, a truly „vital pan-European issue”. In his opinion, after the 2010 elections, Hungary elevated Roma affairs to the highest level; „there was a change of Roma policy paradigm in Hungary”. He reiterated that the Government and the National Roma Self-Government entered into a framework agreement in 2011. He said that the employment cooperative which may provide jobs for tens of thousands of Roma will be launched within days.

Katalin Bogyay, Permanent Delegate of Hungary to UNESCO spoke about plans to set up a regional cultural and educational centre in Hungary which would be a suitable medium for cooperating and sharing experiences with the neighbouring countries in the field of integration.

Member of the European Parliament Lívia Járóka (Fidesz) said in her lecture in the context of the European integration strategy that the programmes still fall short of reaching the target groups in adequate numbers and that there is a need for much more effective monitoring.

The two-day international conference Bound Together: Inclusion Policies in the 21st Century was organised by the Ministry of Human Resources and the Public Foundation for the Research of Central and East European History and Society.

(Ministry of Human Resources)