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Az Ottawa Citizen Balog Zoltán kanadai útjáról szóló cikkére érkezett olvasói levélre küldött válasz

2010. nov. 17. Egyéb | Hozzászólások

To the editors of Ottawa Citizen

Dear Sirs, Madams,

I recently made an official visit to Canada. The visit prompted a reader’s letter full of unfounded allegations against me which you published and which I would like to answer. You are kindly requested to publish my letter as it is, without any changes.

Yours sincerely,

Zoltán Balog
Secretary of State for Social Inclusion, Hungarian Ministry of Public Administration 

Dear readers, dear correspondent,

A letter was published in Ottawa Citizen, which, on account of my visit to Canada, was very critical towards me and contained several unfounded allegations. Since the contents of the letter betray the ignorance of the author, I would like to take this opportunity to inform both the author and the readership of how matters really stand.

Quote from the reader’s opinion:

„To make matters worse, Balog is among the most unsavoury politicians in Hungary and his appointment to a department that deals with minorities is especially cynical, in light of his earlier public statements minimizing the Holocaust and suggesting that survivors such as Elie Wiesel were misinformed. During his last visit to Hungary,Wiesel — a Nobel Peace prize recipient — characterized Balog’s comments and attitudes toward the issue of anti-semitism and the Holocaust as both hurtful and “unforgivable.”

If the best that Hungary can do to ease Canadian concerns about both the treatment of the Roma and the high number of refugee applications on the part of Hungarian citizens is to send the government’s ill-informed and insensitive junior minister, then Hungarian officials don’t have a leg to stand on.”

On the contrary, the fact is:

In Hungary it is a well-known fact that I have been involved in the Roma issue for a long time both as a Calvinist minister and as a politician. My efforts have been honored by several human rights awards, one of them specifically came from a Roma organization working for Roma-Hungarian integration (2008, Halmajugra Roma-Magyar Egyesület).

Another recent example: in 2009 it was I who initiated a collaborate effort on the part of the leaders of the four biggest Hungarian religious communities (namely the Catholic cardinal, the Calvinist bishop, the Lutheran bishop and the leader of the Association of Jewish Religious Congregations in Hungary) to take on the case of the victims of the Roma killings and to sponsor the reconstruction of their houses. After the new government was formed my first decision as the new secretary of state for social inclusion was to allocate government funds to
the reconstruction. 

I was one of Elie Wiesel’s hosts, besides Jewish organizations, when he visited the Hungarian Parliament. At that time I was chairing the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights, Minorities and Religious Affairs. Everybody is welcome to read my speech that I delivered at his reception. If anybody would conclude from that text that I tried to deny or diminish the Holocaust, that person either deliberately misinterprets my words or doesn’t speak Hungarian. Elie Wiesel’s reaction to my message was based on a misunderstanding. He mistakenly took my sentences criticizing Hungarian public discourse as criticism against his person. I am one of the few people in Hungary who has taken active part in several conferences combating anti-Semitism, I have been to several places form Jerusalem to London.  I am a speaker regulary at commemorations of the Jewish and Roma holocaust in Hungary.

The aim of my visit to Canada was to express the concern of the Hungarian Government over the fact that Hungarian citizens leave the country by the thousands. Our government is concerned in spite of the fact that we have only been in office for half a year therefore we are not the ones who generated the present exodus. During my visit I didn’t only meet the representatives of the Canadian Government but also the Roma themselves both in the Roma Community Centre in Toronto and in Vancouver. When I was having negotiations with the deputy minister responsible for aboriginal affairs for the Government in Alberta I talked about the similarities of the tasks at hand and not the similarities of the solutions/ methods. This was another misunderstanding of your correspondent. I still maintain that there are similarities, because I believe that both the members of the first nation and the different Roma groups in Hungary should be included socially, should be provided equal opportunities in education, at work and in public life in a way that would allow them to preserve their cultural identities.

I hope that the above has illuminated the misunderstandings of the author of the letter. In retrospect I consider my visit to Canada extremely useful. I believe we have managed to move forward in solving our common problems, besides, the warm welcome I received and all the important experiences I gained during my trip make me rank this visit to your country as one of the most valuable ones. 

Budapest, 17. November 2010. 
Zoltán Balog
Secretary of State for Social Inclusion, Hungarian
Ministry of Public Administration

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