The Hungarian Diaspora Council will meet on 15 November, while the plenary session of the Hungarian Standing Conference will be held the following day in the Castle Garden Bazaar in Budapest, the Minister of State for National Policy announced. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will address both gatherings.

Árpád János Potápi highlighted that the Hungarian Standing Conference was re-launched in 2010, while the Diaspora Council has had meetings since 2011.

Regarding the agenda of the Hungarian Standing Conference, the Minister of State said they would like to simplify the regulations concerning elections. Gergely Gulyás, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office will deliver a speech about the details at the Hungarian Standing Conference. He pointed out that this week Parliament will start debating the proposal which would enable Hungarians beyond the borders to take part in the EP elections.

The Minister of State rendered an account of the social programme package for Transcarpathia, confirming that this year’s allocation of HUF 1.37 billion will be increased to HUF 3 billion next year.

The Hungarian Standing Conference will decide on the topic of the next thematic year, but they will “carry on” with the concept of supporting families. It is to be expected that the allocation will amount to HUF 1 billion also next year, the Minister of State said in answer to the question of the Hungarian news agency MTI.

Mr Potápi added that the closing gala of the current thematic year will be held on 18 January. The assessment of the applications submitted in response to a call for proposals worth HUF 200 million published in connection with the thematic year was completed on 31 October, but the awarded funds have yet to be disbursed, indicated the Minister of State who believes that additional funds may be released and allocated to the cause of supporting Hungarian communities beyond the borders.

He informed the press that at present the number of new Hungarian citizens stands at 1,038,000 which may increase by a few hundred thousand more.

He said that a school refurbishment and development programme may also be developed.

He spoke about the national council elections to be held in Serbia shortly. In his view, the candidates of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians have good chances in the elections. He added that municipal elections will be held in Slovakia on 10 November, and it is to be expected that the Party of the Hungarian Community (MKP) will do well. In territories inhabited by Hungarians MKP is traditionally stronger than Most-Híd, Mr Potápi said.

The meeting of the Hungarian Diaspora Council will be attended by the representatives of 87 invited organisations and 21 observers, the Minister of State said, stating that they also invited to the meeting representatives of the Kiev and Lviv Hungarian organisations.

István Grezsa, ministerial commissioner for the programme focusing on the development of nursery schools in the Carpathian Basin said he has been unable to pay a visit to Transcarpathia in person since 20 August, but this situation may change on Monday when the official announcement regarding the change of his title will be published in Magyar Közlöny (Hungarian Gazette), and it is to be hoped that in consequence the Ukrainian party will lift the ban on his entry into the country.

He also said that there is steady and ongoing interest in Hungarian language courses, and in the past two years more than 16,000 people have completed such courses.

Regarding the nursery school development programme, he highlighted that from the programme worth HUF 39 billion they have already contracted some HUF 33 billion, and 103 refurbished nursery schools have been delivered. The third stage of the programme has been completed and will be presented to the government shortly, he indicated.

Péter Szilágyi, ministerial commissioner for the coordination of responsibilities related to Hungarians beyond the borders said they have managed to achieve outstanding results regarding diaspora communities as earlier there were no programmes focusing on them and there was no daily communication either.

He spoke about the Kőrösi Csoma Sándor Programme which will be launched for the sixth time. This year they are working together with 142 scholarship holders, and additionally church scholarship holders are also serving on the programme. In countries in the Southern Hemisphere they have increased the term of the stay of scholarship holders from six to seven months, while Istanbul and Kiev have emerged as new venues in the programme.

He mentioned the programmes which are specifically designed for diaspora organisations as well as programmes which assist weekend schools as new initiatives. The relevant calls for proposals were published last year, with a total allocation of more than HUF 500 million. Calls for proposals will also be published this year, in the second half of November, he pointed out.

Mr Szilágyi said that an exhibition had recently been opened in the National Archives featuring the documentation of the Mikes Kelemen Programme.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)