Date: Tue, 29 Sep 98 22:25:27 CDT
From: “RNN Newsletter” <>
Subject: RNN/Minority Laws in Hungary considered to be best in Central Europe
Article: 44201
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Multicultural Paradise

RNN, 28 September 1998

The laws of minorities in Hungary are considered to be the best in Central Europe

The school of 10 years old Mihály Dian lies on the outskirts of Budapest. In this part the grey concrete blocks stand near the modern glass boxes. The modern school of the Slovakian minority was established in 1992 and has about 200 pupils. It has a beautiful gym and a modern computer equipment.

There are many events like sports, theatre, dancing groups and music groups, and they have a school magazine “Studentske pero”. Some months ago there was the 7th “meeting of the nationalities in Pest” with many performances of the gypsy group Khanci Dos, the South Slavian boys choir, the Bulgarian group Martenica, the German group of nationalities, and of course, Mihály and his school.

Thirteen different minorities live in Hungary, that is about 10 % of a population of 10 millions. They are Slovakians, Roma, Bulgarians, Germans, Romanians, Greeks, Croatians, Serbians, and Ukrainians. It is difficult to say whether this number is correct. Many of the people do not want to be regarded as Non-Hungarians. At the last census in 1990, 30.000 Hungarian citizens confessed to their German nationality, 10.000 to their Slovakian nationality, and 400.000 confessed to being Roma. However, the real number seems to be many times higher.

Mihály belongs to one of the minorities who have assimilated most. Opposite to the Serbians who are traditionally-minded and give their children Serbian and no Hungarian names, the other minorities are hardly speaking their own language any more. After the exchange of population in the Forties it seemed better not to differ from the rest of the population, says Mihály Mata, president of the Slovakian self-government.

With the laws of minorities of 1993 the new Hungary tries to stop the “Magyarizing”.

This is paradoxical, because the government tries to change the process of assimilation at the time of its fulfilllment. Since 1993, the minorities of Hungary have the right to be taught in their mother tongue and to have their own cultural meeting places. There are 219 schools with so-called nationailty-classes and 15 nationality schools. The representatives of the self-governments can influence certain laws and decisions of the communes.

The new law of minorities of Hungary is considered to be exemplary. But now and then the government is accused of only doing this with a look towards their own people in neighboured countries.

Each minority has its specific esteem, which is often connected with the mother country. In this respect the German minority is held in greatest esteem. On the opposite, it looks worst for the Roma. Under the Kadar system they had lived reasonably good. At least they had had a regular income. But the typical industry branches perished after the turning point, the workers living units were closed, and there was hardly a demand for unskilled labourers. Therefore, the Roma were reduced to poverty more and more.

A growing inner migration and more ghettos of dilapidated living units are leading to the situation, that Roma and Non-Roma are drifting apart more and more. “The Roma are going to become a strange and disapproved ethnic group”, says Aladar Horváth, one of the known Roma politicians of Hungary.