The cultures of the Roma and Hungarian people have mutually influenced one another over the centuries, and the two peoples share a common passion for family, faith and respect for traditions, the Minister of Human Capacities said at the meeting of the Roma Coordination Council held on Monday in Budapest.

Miklós Kásler took the view that the Hungarian people have always held ancient and Christian traditions in high regard, appreciated other nations which arrived in the Carpathian Basin, and strove to live together with them in peace.

This has also characterised the coexistence of Roma and Hungarians throughout history, the politician added.

The Minister expressed hope that, based on the foundations of equality and respect for one another’s traditions, the two peoples will be able to live together as equals and partners also in the future. At the same time, he continued, equality does not mean uniformity because God created every human as an individual being. The greatest fault of liberal ideology is that, declaring equality, it seeks to turn people living in the world into uniform beings, he added. “They fail to realise that the foundations of equality should be sought not in liberalism, but in the Bible”, Mr Kásler said.

Zoltán Balog, Commissioner for Roma Affairs appointed by the Prime Minister, stressed that Hungary was the first in Europe to take on the affairs of the Roma, and it was in consequence of this that an EU framework for national Roma integration strategies was created.

This also meant that after 2010 the government elevated the “Roma issue” to the ranks of domestic and international priorities. In addition to social issues, the government also appreciated the importance of culture, and invited churches to join the process of coordination, he said.

It clearly indicates the scale of changes that while in 2010 there was funding for the implementation of a single Roma estate elimination programme, today municipalities are competing for rehabilitation programmes, he added.

As a result, they have achieved a significant improvement in almost every indicator “in the realm of the Roma population”, in particular, in the field of employment, Mr Balog said.

Félix Farkas, national minority spokesperson for the Roma in Parliament, said that up until 2010 there had been no progress in Roma affairs. However, after the change of government an intensive process started with a view to the effective integration of the Roma population.

At the same time, the establishment of the council enabled them to help people in the disadvantaged strata of society, to embark on the integration of those suffering from exclusion, and to improve the situation of the disadvantaged. The funding provided for national minorities has increased from HUF 3 billion in 2014 to HUF 10 billion by 2018, he said. This means that Roma people are important for Hungary and the government, the national minority spokesperson stressed.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)