MINELRES: Hungary: Minority News July-December

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Tue Dec 9 16:01:02 2008

Original sender: Nikolett Okosi <Nikolett.Okosi@meh.gov.hu>

Prime Minister's Office
Department for National and Ethnic Minorities

H-1055 Budapest
Kossuth Lajos Ter 4.
P.O.Box: 1357, Budapest, Pf.2
Phone: +36 1 441-2220
Fax:   +36 1 441-2212
E-mail: Nikolett.Okosi@meh.gov.hu

Selection of news on national and ethnic minorities in Hungary
July - December 2008

Ministerial meeting with the heads of national minority self-governments

Peter Kiss, minister of the Prime Minister's Office met the heads of
national self-governments of the 13 national and ethnic minorities in
November, in Budapest. The parties reviewed the minority related issues.
It was agreed upon at the meeting that the funds for minorities living
in Hungary had been grown more than HUF 500 million and the finance of
the regional and local minority self-governments had been transformed to
a supporting system of the implemented tasks. The support of the local
minority self-governments comparing to the previous year has been
increased with 15%. 

It was highlighted at the meeting that the Hungarian Parliament adopted
the Act XLIII of 2008 on the extension of the European Charter for
Regional or Minority Languages to Romani and Beash languages as a
liability undertaken in the European Charter. Positive appreciation was
given to the fact that the activity of minority affairs committees
operated jointly by the State Secretariat for Minority and National
Policy of the Prime Minister's Office and kin-states of the minorities
living in Hungary had been continuous. 

The issue of European Union applications of minority content was
discussed as well. 253 educational institutions were given support from
EU funds for school development and 39 out of them implement minority
education. This number shows that the minorities were more successful
than the ratio of their number in the educational applications. 

On the basis of the experiences of the first application period the
minority segment of the application system will be transformed: in the
following application rounds it won't be necessary to accomplish the 80%
utilisation indicator in the case of minority education institutions and
the nationality extra points will be initiated too. Regarding the future
to ensure the systemic participation of minorities in the developments
of the European Union is still a target furthermore.

The parties surveyed the provisions serving minority purposes within the
draft budget of 2009. The 2009 draft budget - despite of the current
economic-financial situation - beyond the frameworks ensuring being on
level, shows increase on certain fields. The state budget can guarantee
the continuous operation of minority self-governments and increase the
support of the operation of national minority self-governments and
institutions maintained by them. The support of highlighted minority
related projects can be increased significantly. The reinforcement of
the institutions of minority cultural autonomy is included in the
priorities of the government. 


Hungarian-Croatian Minority Affairs Committee 

The Hungarian-Croatian Minority Affairs Committee was held its meeting
in Budapest, in July. The Hungarian section was represented by Ferenc
Gemesi, state secretary for Minority and National Policy. The head of
the Croatian delegation was Mirjana Vidovic-Bohanec, deputy
state-secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European

The meeting's agenda included the cultural, educational and
self-governmental issues of the Hungarian Croatian minority and the
Croatian Hungarian national community as well as the questions connected
to the economic, infrastructural development of the regions inhabited by
them. The parties were agreed upon that the Framework Convention for the
Protection of National Minorities signed by the Hungarian and Croatian
Republic guaranteed the high-level preservation of the tradition,
cultural values and historical heritage of both the Hungarian and
Croatian minority community and with this it contributed to fulfilling
their national identity.
Recommendations were made concerning the future on infrastructural (eg.
road construction etc.), educational (eg. cooperation between
universities etc.) and cultural (eg. establishments of community houses
etc.) tasks. The parties considered of great importance that the two
countries' minorities made the use of the available European Union
funds; hence they put great emphasis on the information, the inclination
of minorities in the process of planning and implementation. The next
meeting of the Committee will be held in Croatia in 2009. 

Hungarian-Ukrainian Intergovernmental Committee meeting

The Hungarian-Ukrainian Intergovernmental Committee held its meeting in
Ungvar, in September. Gemesi Ferenc, state secretary and Olekszandr
Szahan, head of the Ukraine State Committee on Nationalities and
Religion were participating at the event.

The core point of the meeting was to guarantee the right to the
Hungarian and Ukrainian native language education. For the sake of it,
several recommendations were formulated to serve for the preservation
and promotion of language and cultural identity of the Hungarian
Ukrainians and Ukrainian Hungarians. 

The Hungarian party gave information on supports given for the Hungarian
Ukrainian community, the Ukrainian National Self-Government and for the
institution founded and taken over by it as well as for the local
minority self-governments. It was emphasized that not only the
preservation of the language-cultural identity was important but it was
relevant to ensure the real presence of minorities both at individual
and community level in the society.

According to the Ukrainian delegation the Hungarian party guarantees
proper conditions for the development of the Ukrainian language in
Hungary, for its teaching and training of professionals in higher
The parties expressed that both of them were about to further advocate
the presence of minorities in the media as well as further development
of professional contacts with kin-state organisations. An agreement was
born that the Ukrainian party would give support for the modernization
of the Transcarpathian Hungarian schools and for the enlargement of the
school system besides ensuring their operation. 


Ministerial meeting at the Hungarian Slovaks' Day

Peter Kiss, minister of the Prime Minister's Office and Dusan Caplovic,
Slovak deputy of the prime minister participated at the Hungarian
Slovaks' Day held in July, in Pilisszanto.

The celebration organized by the national self-government of the
Hungarian Slovak community gave opportunity for the personal meeting of
the two neighbouring countries' leading politicians and for the
strengthening of the relations between Hungary and Slovakia.

At the latest prime ministers' meeting the parties were made an
agreement on the common developments concerning the two countries that
had been implemented by time. Amongst the developments the Ipoly bridges
and the preparation of the motorway construction between Kassa-Miskolc
were involved. 

The Slovak deputy of the prime minister underlined that there was a need
for better understanding between the politicians and for the promotion
of citizens' better life both sides of the Danube by so doing the
welfare of their minorities. 

Hungarian-Slovakian governmental financial support for the Slovak
Regional Center in Pilisszentkereszt 
The Slovak Regional Center will be carried out in the co-finance of the
Hungarian and Slovakian government in Pilisszentkereszt and the handover
of the building may be in next year. 

In order to solve the conflict evolved around the usage of an office
between the local self-government and the local minority
self-government, the government had offered HUF 80 million for the
National Slovak Self-Government to build the regional center. For this
purpose the same amount of money was offered by the Slovakian government
as well, so the investment can be carried out from HUF 160 million. In
the prospective institution not only the Slovaks of the environs could
nurture their traditions in the course of cultural programmes but the
office problems of the local minority self-government would be solved.

A Slovak Regional Center already operates in Bekescsaba and other
Hungarian minorities have similar institutions too. 

The reason of the conflict was that a couple months ago the local
self-government outgrew its own office building so it claimed the office
- owned by itself - in which the Slovak minority self-government
operated. Instead of the office the minority self-government was offered
another office by the local self-government but the Slovak minority
didn't accept it. 

New Romanian Nationality School at Battonya

This school year has begun in a new building at the Romanian Primary
School, in Battonya. Istvan Hiller, minister of culture and education,
Ferenc Gemesi, state secretary were taking part at the handover ceremony
and Gabriella Pasztor, state secretary of the Romanian Ministry of
Education represented the Romanian Government in September.

The primary school was built with budgetary support of the Hungarian
Ministry of Education and Culture on the basis of the recommendations of
the Hungarian-Romanian Intergovernmental Minority Committee. The
Romanian nursery school was renovated with state aid in last year as
well. These two Romanian minority institutions operating under common
leadership ensure excellent conditions for 70 children in the field of
native nationality language teaching. The Romanian Government gave
support amounted to EUR 100 thousand for furnishing the Romanian
kindergarten and school.

After the ceremony Istvan Hiller and Ferenc Gemesi visited the Serbian
Kindergarten and Nursery School in Battonya. The State Secretariat for
Minority and National Policy of the Prime Minister's Office gave HUF 6
million for the renovation of the Serbian nationality school in this
year. The Serbian minority institution ensures the education for 90
pupils in their mother tongue.

Croatian cultural collection inaugurated

Peter Kiss, minister of the Prime Minister's Office inaugurated the
Hungarian Croatian Christian Collection maintained by the National
Croatian Self-Government in Peresznye.

The collection and the museum in which it was to be found were presented
the National Croatian Self-Government by priest Istvan Dumovits.

The collection containing some 2500 books and 250 exhibits is the result
of a 5 decades work of collecting. The most valuable piece of the
collection is a volume presenting herbs in Latin and Croatian languages
dated back to 1543. The collection itself is the proof that the
Gradistye Croatians has succeeded in preserving their culture, mother
tongue and identity. This initiation is a clear example of how a strong
national community can contribute to the culture of the majority

At the end of the ceremony Peter Kiss gave the Gold Cross of Merit of
Order of the Republic of Hungary to Istvan Dumovits as an
acknowledgement of his work within the Croatian community. 


Meeting of the minority media working group in November

The actual issues of the overall media regulation concerning minorities
were stressed at the meeting of the minority media working group
operated by the State Secretariat for National and Minority Policy in
November. As the experts of parliamentary parties has prepared the draft
of a new law on media service. 

It was stated that in the course of the overall media regulation
protecting the obtained minority media rights was relevant and it was
important to put down the tasks connecting to minority service broadcast
and to denominate the obligation of programme diffusion beside the
obligation of programme making.

The participants were given information on the Service Broadcast Fund
which task is to support public service programmes and encouraging
cultural diversity. In two applications of the Service Broadcast Fund in
2007 the evaluation criteria favouring minorities was involved.  In one
application the programmes relating to Roma were preferred and in the
other one the programmes dealing with equal opportunity were given
preference. The Service Broadcast Fund offers allowances for diffusion
of programmes both for minorities and for cable television network
service providers. Their application on construction and widen of new
cable television network service providers gave preference to the
distribution of programmes broadcasting in minority languages in 2005.

Beyond the above-mentioned the Service Broadcast Fund encouraged the
service distributors to provide TV programmes made in the kin-states of
minorities. Those who undertake to broadcast programmes - such as Croat
TV1, Novi Sad 1, ORF 1, Slovak TV 1, Slovene TV 1, Romanian TV 1,
Ukrainian TV 1 - in minority languages in Hungary were given extra
points. According to the available data at the time of the acquisition
of programme transmission entitlement 29% of the line providers has
undertaken to broadcast programmes in the minorities' native language.
The monthly length of time of the programmes in minority languages
transmitting on community cable TV network is 90 minutes on average. 

30th anniversary of minority TV programme broadcast

A celebration was held on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of
minority TV programme broadcast in October, in Villany. The participants
commemorated the first broadcast of nationality programme in 1978 by the
Hungarian Television. 

The Hungarian Television started its minority programmes in 1978. The
first ones were broadcast for the Croats, the Germans and Serbs, then
for the Slovenians. The Romanian programmes have been made since 1981
and the Slovakian since 1983. The first Roma programme was broadcast in
1991 from Pecs, later on the editing of Roma programmes transferred to
Budapest. The audience could have watched the so-called "Rondo" from
1994 that ensures common television presence of Greek, Polish, Armenian,
Ruthenian and Bulgarian and for Ukrainian since 2000 then. At present
the Hungarian Television makes programmes for each of the 13 minorities
living in Hungary recognized by the minority act. The programmes are
made in Budapest (Bulgarian, Roma, Greek, Polish, Armenian, Ruthenian,
and Ukrainian), Pecs (Croatian, German), Szeged (Romanian, Slovakian,
and Serbian) and Szombathely (Slovenian). The weekly and biweekly
broadcasts are made with Hungarian subtitles; their length of time is 26
minutes. The nationality television programmes are available on the
internet (www.mtv.hu).
At the celebration Katalin Szili, speaker of the Hungarian Parliament
expressed her thanks to all who had contributed to the wide acquaintance
of the culture of the Hungarian minority ethnic groups.

Representatives of the embassies of the minorities' kin-states in
Budapest took part in the event: Ladislav Lipic, ambassador of Slovenia
in Budapest and Klaus Bonnemann, German embassy counselor who emphasized
the role of minority TV programme broadcast in the creation of a common
European house and in making the values arising in the region to be

Television professionals who performed outstanding achievements in
making minority programmes were received awards. Antal Paulik,
deputy-director of the Department for National and Ethnic Minorities of
the Prime Minister's Office handed over a certificate of merit to the
nationality programme in Slovak language of the Hungarian Television.


Regional Roma Forum 

Regional Roma Forums were organized by the Department for National and
Ethnic Minorities in cooperation with other relevant ministries and
institutions in the fall of 2008. 

The target groups of the forums were the leaders and members of Roma
civil organizations and Roma minority self-governments in the given

The aim of the programmes was to inform Roma people on the applications
and programmes affecting their lives, to increase the cooperation
between the minority self-governments and civil organizations and the
Prime Minister's Office as well as to create sphere and opportunity for
discussing the questions and actual problems of theirs. 

The participants could hear 3 presentations at the forums on development
programmes, the actual employment situation of the given region, the
governmental conceptions on social and employment issues, the fight
against discrimination of Roma etc.

Roma Holocaust Commemoration Day

The Hungarian state leaders and politicians called upon the Hungarian
and European society to refuse the extremists and to the importance of
the commemoration at the occasion of Roma Holocaust in August. 
Orban Kolompar, head of the National Roma Self-Government and
representatives of national minority self-governments, as well as Aliza
Bin-Noun, ambassador of Israel and April H. Foley, ambassador of the
United States participated at the event. 

At the commemoration Ferenc Kumin, head of department of the President's
Office in the name of the president of the Republic of Hungary, Katalin
Szili, speaker of the Hungarian Parliament, Janos Veres, minister of
finance as the representative of the government, Gabor Csizmar, state
secretary in the name of the Prime Minister's Office and Erika Nemeth
director of the Department for National and Ethnic Minorities as well as
several ambassadors, civil organizations, political parties placed their
wreaths at the commemorative plaque. After the ceremony a photo
exhibition on Roma Holocaust was opened.

Forum for the improvement of the situation of Roma 

Roma summit was organized by the European Commission with the
participation of some 400 delegates of the institutions of the Union,
the national parliaments and governments and the civil organisations in
September. They sought the answer to the question of how they could
improve the situation of Roma and what kind of means could be used most
efficiently to go forward.

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission emphasized
that steps had to be taken at the possible highest level against the
discrimination of Roma. Barosso stressed the coordination role of the
European Commission in it but each member states had to make additional
efforts in that field. Laszlo Teleki, prime minister's commissioner in
charge of Roma affairs pointed that the Hungarian government had
separated significant sum of money since 2005 for the purpose of easing
the problems concerning the Roma society. The socialist MP emphasized
the efforts made in order to liquidate Roma colonies and deep poverty. 

The aim of the summit in Brussels was to make the institutions both at
the Union and national level and civil organizations to undertake common
obligation on behalf of the improvement of the situation of Roma.


Information on the applications announced for supporting minority

The applications connected to the takeover and maintenance of minority
institutions and the use of the coordination and intervention budget for
minorities were announced in May 2008 by the State Secretariat for
Minority and National Policy of the Prime Minister's Office. The
elaboration of the application has done by the Department for National
and Ethnic Minorities of the Prime Minister's Office. 

The application meant for supporting the takeover and maintenance of the
minority institutions was used for supporting the intention of national
minority self-governments to take over the institutions and maintain
them. The budget of it was amounted to HUF 120 million. Having announced
the applications 17 applications were handed in by 9 national minority
self-governments and out of the applications 12 were judged as positive
The application of the use of the coordination and intervention budget
for minorities first of all serves for averting the dysfunction of
non-profit minority organizations, institutions, minority
self-governments. In case of particular reasons support can be given for
international, national or regional events, projects of great importance
from the viewpoint of minority policy that cannot be financed from any
other funds. The budget of it amounted to HUF 80 million. The applicants
handed in 145 applications; most of them come from the Roma minority
organisations and minority self-governments. In 52 cases positive
decision was made. 


Co-operation in the field of cross-border projects

Among the neighbouring countries of Hungary, Romania has shown the
highest interest so far in cross border co-operation projects supported
mainly by EU funds.

In the last two years the cross-border opportunities have been mapped by
the Hungarian side whilst the Hungarian communities living in the
neighbouring countries are given help with the available means in order
to join the common regional projects.

The intention in cross-border cooperation had already been shown at the
first Hungarian-Romanian government meeting where the harmonization of
the development plans was put on the agenda. For today there are several
ideas under way in which the two countries cooperate. These include
mainly the infrastructure or tourism. 
In the field of the Hungarian-Slovakian cooperation some projects have
already begun such as the construction of Ipoly bridges.

The participation in common projects is a declared intention from all
sides of the countries and there is a tight cooperation between the
concerned governmental bodies with regard to daily affairs. 

Prizes for Minorities awards ceremony

On the occasion of the commemoration of the Day of Minorities (18th of
December) 10 Prizes for Minorities will be awarded to persons,
organisations and minority self-governments for their outstanding
efforts made in the field of minority public life, education, culture,
religious life, science and mass media in the interests of national and
ethnic minorities living in Hungary. 

Beyond the awards ceremony there will be a formal meeting on the
occasion of the commemoration of the adoption of the Minority Act 15
years ago. The act was adopted by the Hungarian Parliament with a 96%
majority in 1993 and it ensures the self-organisation of minority
communities, contributing to their strengthening. There will be short
appreciations on the European acceptance and historic relevance of the
Minority Act within the framework of the parliamentary celebration. 

The ceremony will be held in the Dome Hall of the Hungarian Parliament.
The Hungarian members of the European parliament, members of the
Hungarian Parliament, especially members of the Committee of Human
Rights, heads of the parliamentary committees, boards of the national
minority self-governments and heads of minority institutions as well as
colleagues dealing with minority related issues in other

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