MINELRES: Hungary: Minority News February-June 2008

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Tue Sep 2 17:44:24 2008

Original sender: Okosi Nikolett <Nikolett.Okosi@MEH.HU>

Department of National and Ethnic Minorities
Prime Minister's Office
July, 2008 

Selection of news on national and ethnic minorities in Hungary
February-June 2008

The Parliament adopted the Government's Report on the situation of the

In March 2008 the Hungarian Parliament adopted the government's report
No. J/4722. on the situation of national and ethnic minorities living in
the territory of the Republic of Hungary that demonstrates the changes
made in the situation of the minorities between the period of February
2005 and  February 2007. The report contains the government's measures
taken in order to improve the situation of the minorities and to ensure
the widespread vindication of the rights of the minorities guaranteed by
the minority act. It mentions the experiences of the operation of the
system of the minority self-government, the multi-channelled financial
system, the general situation of the minority education and culture and
its judicial background, the minority civil sphere and religious life as
well as the widespread international relations concerning the
minorities. It deals with the 2005 amendments of the minority legal
documents and the preparation and implementation of the elections of the
minority self-governments and the drawable experiences. The annex of the
report introduces the activity and the results of the national and
ethnic communities with respect of the reporting period.

The Parliament adopted the extension of the European Charter for
Regional or Minority Languages to Romani and Beash languages

The Hungarian Parliament on its plenary session held in June 2008
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.

Hungary amidst the first ones signed the European Charter in 1992 and
undertook liabilities to reinforce the role of the mother tongue of six
Hungarian minorities (such as Croat, German, Romanian, Slovakian, Serb
and Slovenian) in education, administration, mass communication and some
fields of cultural, economic and social life.

The adopted act ensures regulated framework for Gipsies speaking Romani
or Beash languages to use their mother tongue in different fields of
education, jurisdiction or in the public offices. The obligations expand
to the making of Romani and Beash programmes in the Hungarian Radio and
Television and create the legal frameworks for the initiation of a radio
and television channel broadcasting exclusively only in Romani
The forth country report on the obligations of the European Charter for
Regional or Minority Languages will be completed in the second part of
the year 2008.         

Serbia has taken over the presidency of the Decade of Roma Inclusion

Hungary has given the presidency of the Decade of Roma Inclusion
Programme to Serbia in June 2008.
The Decade of Roma Inclusion Programme established by the cooperation of
nine Central and Eastern European countries and international
organisations is an international cooperation that has been working
since 2005 and its presidency functions under different countries year
after year. The aim of the programme is to fasten the societal and
economic integration of roma people and to contribute to the formation
of the positive picture of them. The participants have undertaken to
formulate long term strategies in accordance with their own economic and
social policy.

Under the Hungarian presidency new countries were invited. Albania,
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Spain have already notified in advance their
intention to join, whereas Slovenia participates in the programme as an
observer. Among the international organizations the UNICEF and the ENAR
(European Network Against Racism) indicated their intention on
participation in the implementation of the programme. Hungary has taken
steps in connection with the formation of the European Roma Strategy and
suggested the application of the support policy based on equal
opportunity which aim is that only those applications, programmes get
support that guarantee the declination or the ceasing of the territorial
and the school segregation of roma children.

Hungarian-Croat government meeting in Pecs 

The Hungarian and the Croat government have held two meetings so far:
first in Budapest in June 2006 and then in Zagreb in May 2007. According
to the plans the subsequent third meeting could be held in Pecs on 4th
of September 2008.

After the meeting the two prime ministers, Ferenc Gyurcsany and Ivo
Sander will plan a common visit at the Miroslav Krleza Croat School
where they could hand over the new institutions of the nationality
educational centre currently being under renovation. 

Hungarian and Slovakian co-chairs of the Hungarian-Slovakian Minority
Affairs Committee carried on negotiations in Budapest

Ferenc Gemesi, State Secretary of the Prime Minister's Office, chair of
the Hungarian section of the Hungarian-Slovakian Minority Affairs
Committee met Miroslav Mojzita, Slovakian chair of the Committee in
Budapest, in April 2008. At the meeting they discussed the situation of
the Slovaks living in Hungary and the situation of Hungarian community
living in Slovakia, the implementation of the recommendations stated at
the previous meetings and the actual questions of minority policy.

Hungarian-Ukrainian Intergovernmental Committee meeting

The Hungarian-Ukrainian Intergovernmental Committee held its meeting in
Budapest, in April 2008. The consultation committee surveyed the
operation of the crossing points at the frontier and pointed out that
the intergovernmental agreement on the control of the road and railway
cross-border traffic and the establishment of a common contact post
would be a significant step forward. Several alternative suggestions
have been prepared in order to simplify the goods traffic. The parties
agreed upon the support of mapping the illegal dumps endangering the
River Tisza, the development of the infrastructure of the Ukrainian
settlements as well as the waste-gathering and waste-using. They stated
that the Zahony-Csap region had become a strategic point in the new

The committee heard a report on the Hungary-Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine
Cross-Border Cooperation Programme materializing between 2007 and 2013
which will render a development amounting to EUR70 million possible. 
The next meeting of the committee will be held in Ukraine in the second
half of the year 2008.

Hungarian-Slovenian Minority Affairs Committee meeting

The Hungarian-Slovenian Minority Affairs Committee held its meeting in
Budapest, in April 2008. The Hungarian section of the Committee was
chaired by Ferenc Gemesi, State Secretary and the Slovenian section was
presided over by Zorko Pelikan, Senior State Secretary of the Government
Office for Slovenes Abroad. Cultural, educational and self-governmental
issues of the Slovene minority living in Hungary and the Hungarian
national community living in Slovenia as well as the questions of the
infrastructural and economic development of the region inhabited by them
were on the agenda. The committee regarded greatest importance to the
preservation of the language identity of national communities, the
maintenance of the national cultural heritage, and the support of the
educational and cultural tasks related to the above mentioned.

The cross-border projects were given distinguished attention (regional
development, educational and cultural cooperation), the effective usage
of the available sources, thus the development of the border region.
The final strategic aim is the formation such a Slovene-Hungarian border
region on the map of Europe which is a valuable and liveable in
cultural, health and natural terms.

Agreement on cooperation between Serbs living in Hungary and Hungarians
living in Serbia

An agreement on the cultural, educational and ethnographical cooperation
as well as a statement on neighbourliness neighbourly relations was
signed by the representatives of the National Serb Self-Government and
the Hungarian National Council of Vojvodina in Rackeve, in March 2008.
Ferenc Gemesi, State Secretary of the Prime Minister's Office and Petar
Ladevic, the Human and Minority Rights Service director of the Serb
Government took part in the event.

According to Ljubomir Alexov, head of the National Serb Self-Government
the reason why the agreement is important is that the previous
individual agreements could get institutional framework.
The head of the Hungarian National Council, Laszlo Jozsa said that the
minorities intended to create their future with common cooperation, and
this cooperation had its greatest "raison d'etre" in the filed of
educational, cultural and scientific work.

Having signed the agreement, Ferenc Gemesi put emphasis on his political
responsibility in making the Hungarians living in Serbia feel well in
Vojvodina and in this context he referred to the fact that Serbia
rightly keeps its mind occupied with the changing of the situation of
the Serbs living in Hungary.

On the activity of the working groups of the State Secretariat for
National and Minority Policy

Three working groups help the work of the State Secretariat for National
and Minority Policy.

The stressed task of the financial and support working group is
reviewing the financial order and operational conditions of the minority
self-governments as well as the financial support system of the minority
organizations. It is engaged in budgetary planning, issues of
development policy, examination of the situation of the minority
self-governments operating under small area partnership. The
participants of this group consist of the representatives of minority
self-governments and sectorial ministries as well as representatives of
organizations concerned with financial issues.

The media working group surveys the vindication of media rights of the
minorities, the picture of minority suggested by the majority media;
makes recommendations, observes the opportunities - hidden in the new
media - opened for the minorities. The parties are the following:
representatives of national minority self-governments, sectorial
ministries, Hungarian Radio and Television Broadcasting Corporation, the
Parliamentary Commissioners' Office of Hungary and the National Radio
and Television Board. The new media law under preparation, the digital
conversion and the preparation of the media section of reports resultant
from the international obligations are challenges for the group among

The legal working group's tasks consist of the preparation of the
necessary amendments of the minority legal documents. The issues related
to the minorities' right to vote and the preparation of the conception
of the election of the representatives of the national and ethnic
minorities were dominant in the year of 2007. This working group
prepared such a conception-plan that circumscribes both variations of
the parliamentarian representations and determines all relevant elements
of that. This conception-plan containing these two alternative is
suitable for providing the base for the formation of the governmental
point of view and for the political decision-making. The group has
already started to review the Act LXXVII of the year 1993 on the rights
of the national and ethnic minorities and at the end of 2008 the act
will be looked over.

On the task-based financial support of the minority self-governments

The minority self-governments are given plus support above the general
normative operational support with the condition that they undertake and
implement plus activities for the protection of minority interests,
minority education, cultural life and the field of equal opportunities
since the beginning of 2008.

Out of more than 80 % of the 2063 minority self-governments operating at
the beginning of the year 2008, 1662 minority self-governments made the
opportunity to apply for the task-based financial support. The most
active applicants were the Slovene (100%) and Romanian self-governments
(91,8%). Out of 1100 gipsy self-governments 828 submitted the
application and significant number of applications were sent from the
German, Slovakian, Croat and Romanian self-governments. One German, one
Slovakian and one gipsy minority self-governments were given the highest
rates. This year besides the basic support those minority
self-governments who fulfilled their tasks on the average were given
plus support. The regional self-governments came in for approximately
plus 150 000 Hungarian Forints comparing to the support they were given
in last year. 

Peter Kiss, minister of the Prime Minister's Office and Ferenc Gemesi,
State Secretary held consultation with the most successful minority
self-governments. At the meeting a claim has been formulated with regard
to further development of the task-based financial support system in
particular the historical settlements traditionally inhabited by the

Preparations of the third country report of the Framework Convention for
the Protection of National Minorities begun

The Department for National and Ethnic Minorities of the Prime
Minister's Office has started to prepare the third report on the
implementation of the obligations undertaken in the Framework Convention
for the Protection of National Minorities on the basis of the
recommendations prepared by the Advisory Committee and accepted by the
Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe. The deadline of
submitting it is the 1st of February 2009.

ECRI rapporteurs in Hungary

The forth round of the country-specific monitoring activity of the
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has begun in
January 2008 and will be ended at the end of December 2012.  The
rapporteurs of ECRI visited Hungary in April 2008.

The rapporteurs investigated the Hungarian situation in connection with
racism and intolerance. Antal Paulik, deputy-director general of the
Department for National and Ethnic Minorities of the Prime Minister's
Office and Nikolett Okosi, international desk officer participated in
the meeting. Antal Paulik described the activity of the Department in
the concerned period and replied to the questions posed by the
rappoerteurs. On the basis of the meeting ECRI will make the forth
country report on Hungary.

FUEN Congress held in Pecs

The Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) held its 53. Congress
in Pecs from 22nd to 25th May, 2008). Out of 35 European countries 180
delegates arrived at the meeting.  The assessment of the minorities'
right to media was in the center of the consultation. Ferenc Gemesi,
State Secretary of the Prime Minister's Office who took part in the
Congress emphasized that besides fostering the mother tongues of
minorities the most important aims that the minorities have cultural
autonomy which they can live it, can establish and maintain their own
institutions. The Prime Minister's Office supported the FUEN Congress
with 5 million Hungarian Forints.

FUEN regards the right to media as a fundamental right but the usage of
it brings about some problems. Although significant numbers of
minorities have their own mediums and publication opportunities presence
in the majority media causes difficulties for them - said Hans Heinrich
Hansen who belongs to the Danish German minority and president of the
organization (FUEN). 

Katalin Szili, speaker of the Hungarian Parliament highlighted that the
fundamental measure of democracies is the guarantee of the rights of the
minorities living in the given country and the situation of the
vindication of these rights. 

Csaba Tabajdi, member of the European Parliament participated in the
international forum. He drew attention to the fact that the European
Union does not have a united minority policy system. To accomplish this,
cooperation and coordination of the work of the different decision
making levels are needed.

Meeting of the Committee of experts on issues relating to the protection
of national minorities (DH-MIN) of the European Council

The Committee of experts on issues relating to the protection of
national minorities (DH-MIN) of the European Council held its first
meeting in Strasbourg in March. Antal Paulik, deputy-director general of
the Department for National and Ethnic Minorities of the Prime
Minister's Office took part in the programme.

The focal questions of the meeting were the minorities' accessing to the
services provided by the new media, the possible content and methods of
data collection connected to minorities. Forms were made in these two
questions and with its filling a number of countries described their own
practices, activities and methods. In the course of the debate about
data collection related to minorities it turned out that united
regulation of this issue are not expected in the immediate future. In
this subject the viewpoint of the minorities is not united as well, in
several countries they are afraid of coming into sight therefore why
they oppose the data collection related to minorities. The current
practice depends on historical, geographical, economic conditions to a
great extent and it makes hard to formulate position in almost all the
accepted relevant questions that there is no accepted specifying
definition on the minority nature by the member states. 

UN Forum on Minority Issues has a Hungarian president

Viktoria Mohacsi, member of the European Parliament appointed to be the
first president of the newly established Minority Forum by the UN Human
Rights Council seated in Geneva.

The aim of the body is to ensure the opportunity to promote dialogue and
to cooperate in the issues related to the persons belonging to national,
ethnic, religious and language minorities. The first meeting will be
held from the 4th to 5th September, 2008.

Bulgarian Bilingual National Nursery School opened its gates

The opening ceremony of the new institution of the Bulgarian National
Self-Government was held in the building of the Hriszto Botev Primary
School in Budapest in March, 2008. 
Muszev Dancso, head of the Bulgarian National Self-Government greeted
the guests giving thanks to all the state and self-governmental
authorities for the help and cooperation in connection with the
foundation and beginning of the nursery school. Erika Nemeth in the name
of the Department for National and Ethnic Minorities of the Prime
Minister's Office welcomed the meeting and then father Mamakov Sztefan
according to the Bulgarian customs blessed the new institutions.

Arcusfest nationality theatrical meeting

The 6th meeting of the Hungarian nationality theatres was organized in
Budapest, in February and March 2008. The main patron of the Arcusfest
was Istvan Hiller, educational and cultural minister. The audience could
see 21 productions of 11 minorities (Bulgarians, Greeks, Croats,
Germans, Armenians, Roma, Romanians, Serbs, Slovakians, Slovenes and

Nationality Movie Review with the support of the Prime Minister's Office

The Editorial Office of the Minority Programmes of the Hungarian
Television organized the 5th Nationality Movie Review on the 28th March,

The target of the movie review carried out as part of the events of the
European Year of Intercultural Dialogue the introduction of the
nationality movie workshops and the popularization of films dealing with
minority issues before the general public. The Bulgarian minority's film
productions got to the center of this year's film-programme.

The Department for National and Ethnic Minorities of the Prime
Minister's Office supported the organization of the nationality movie

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