Close
2017. szeptember
H K S C P S V
« aug    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

Bridging Hungary’s divide with Roma

German version

Zoltán Balog to tackle prejudices and problems head
on
“Roma integration is not just a question of compassion and
altruism. Without involving Roma citizens in the economy and
politics
there will not be a sustainable upturn,” the chairman of the
parliamentary
Human Rights Committee Zoltán Balog (Fidesz) said at the start of
his talk
to the German Business Club (DWC) on 29 April.

 

 

 

The DWC was lucky in its choice of speaker since it is expected
that the committed politician and theologian will hold a high
position
aimed at Roma integration under the new Fidesz government. Balog
volunteered himself for the difficult and rather unpopular office
because
he can no longer bear to watch the important issue being so
shamefully
neglected, he told The Budapest Times following his talk. A final
decision
has not yet been reached however, he said.

Society’s chasm

If Balog is selected for the position, it can be hoped that the
subject
of Gypsy integration, which has fallen flat, will gain fresh
momentum.
Guests at the DWC event encountered a politician willing to speak
plainly
about the Roma question and act imaginatively. Addressing the
problems
openly is extremely important, he said. “We need to find a
language to be
able to speak clearly about the problem without offending the
human
dignity and the interests of one of the parties concerned. That
language
has been lacking in the past 20 years.”
The rise of the
nationalist
party Jobbik can be explained not least by that failure, he said.
The
party managed to put in words the very real everyday concerns of
the
non-Roma population, in particular their fears relating to the
increasing
numbers of criminal offences perpetrated by Roma citizens, that
Jobbik
calls “Gypsy crime”. That also explains why Jobbik has won
popularity
particularly in areas with a high proportion of Gypsies, Balog
said. Roma
in turn are strongly focusing on Fidesz in such areas because they
only
hope for protection and improvement in their situation from
Fidesz, he
said. Over 90% of the Roma voted for Fidesz in the areas that he
had
studied more closely, Balog said.

The way forward

Balog has a multitude of clear concepts for the reintegration
of
Gypsies into Hungarian society. He regards the dismantling of
mutual
prejudices and reciprocal familiarisation as extremely important.
“We are
familiar with the Roma problem, but not with the Roma themselves,”
Balog
pointed out. Including a subject like Roma studies in the school
curriculum is worth considering, he said.
The excessive
fixation of the
non-Roma population on Gypsies as criminals also needs to be
changed,
Balog stressed. According to a recent survey, 60% of those
canvassed held
the view that criminality is “in the blood” of the Roma. In that
context
Balog described granting honours to Romanian Roma who defended
ethnic
Hungarians against violent Romanians during clashes in Tirgu Mures
in 1990
as a step in the right direction. That happened on his initiative,
but was
performed by outgoing prime minister Gordon Bajnai.
Balog,
however, is
also a realist. He is fully aware that persuasion and reducing
prejudices
alone are insufficient. He takes a pragmatic view of the role of
the
church in the process of Roma integration. Although successful
individual
projects can be carried out by dedicated church representatives,
there
will only be sustainable improvement for Gypsies if more job
possibilities
are created for them by jumpstarting the economy. As a targeted
way of
enabling Roma citizens to lead dignified lives in employment and
earning
their own money, Balog spoke in favour of introducing a Gypsy
quota for
public projects.

Benefits and responsibility

To crack down on the phenomenon of more and more Roma children
not
being sent to school by their parents, some of the child allowance
should
again be tied to the school attendance of the children. Such a
measure was
already introduced in 1999 under the first Fidesz government, but
was
overturned by the Socialists citing reasons of human dignity.
Balog also
advocated tying benefits to community work. “That work, however,
must be
genuine and valued work, and not “occupational therapy”, he noted.

Forrás: budapesttimes.hu

Share via email+1

Share on FacebookShare on Twitter