Should Hungarian-speaking Roma students be educated in Hungarian schools in Slovakia and Romania?

Zoltán Balog, Viktor Orbán’s minister of human resources, is in the news again. Regular readers of Hungarian Spectrum know by now that Balog normally makes headlines when he says or does something that the public finds objectionable. Over the last seven years he has acquired the reputation of being a less than caring man which, given his pre-political life as an ordained Hungarian Reformed minister, is jarring to say the least.

After his last interview, with his ill-chosen words about the lack of CT and MRI machines in the National Cardiology Institute, several articles about the head of the Emberi Erőforrások Minisztériuma or, as he is often called, the “emberminiszter” (human minister) appeared. But lately one can hear people talking about the “embertelen miniszter” (inhuman minister).

The most interesting of these articles appeared in 168 Óra. The piece is based on several interviews with Balog’s old friends and acquaintances. The picture of the man that emerges is pretty devastating. An old friend, László Donáth, a Lutheran minister, told the reporter that Balog owes him only a bottle beer after they bet on who is going to win the 2002 election, but there will be a day of reckoning when he will have to stand before the Lord. It will not be easy, Donáth added. Apparently, Balog lost most of his friends in 2006 when, after some hesitation, he chose politics instead of the church. Balog’s father, also a minister, told him, “My son, you became a politician because you were not good enough as a minister.”

His former subordinates describe him as a man who craves praise and constantly brags about his awards and accomplishments. He doesn’t tolerate criticism. He is often harsh toward his subordinates and tries to make them scapegoats in order to cover up his own mistakes. As an unnamed former employee said, “I am truly sorry that I cannot say much good about such an intelligent and talented man.”

Apparently, Balog’s devotion to Viktor Orbán and what he represents is genuine. According to a former parishioner, “Zoltán truly believes that Viktor Orbán is doing a job given to him by God and as prime minister he will make Hungary prosper again.” Balog apparently needed someone he could follow while Orbán needed someone who would assist him in reducing the amount of money spent on social welfare, education, and health. That’s why all these disparate fields were put under one ministry.

According to people in the know, only once did Balog try to say no to Orbán. It was at the time when the Orbán government decided to submit a new law on the churches. Balog told Orbán that he can’t support the bill without some amendments. Otherwise he will resign. Apparently, Orbán responded: “OK, write your resignation and tomorrow morning put it on my desk. I will sign it.” Balog quickly changed his mind. Apparently, after this minor incident their friendship became very strong and, it seems, enduring despite the fact that Orbán knows as well as anyone that Balog’s administrative talents don’t match the enormous tasks of his mega-ministry. Thus, in 2014, Orbán installed one of the Christian Democratic hardliners, Bence Rétvári, to actually run the ministry. Balog was reduced to the role of “drum major.”

Balog’s ill-chosen words on the state of Hungarian healthcare were barely uttered when a week later he managed to call attention to himself again. He was one of the participants in the three-day Fidesz extravaganza in Tusnádfűrdő/Băile Tușnad. According to the official program, Balog was the keynote speaker at a lecture and discussion on the “Idea of the Reformation and the Future of Europe.” After his lecture he joined a discussion group on the state of Hungarian youth both in Hungary and in the neighboring countries. Among the many topics, the quality of Hungarian schools in Romania and Slovakia came up. Balog told the audience that in Slovakia many Hungarian families don’t send their children to Hungarian schools because too many Gypsies attend them. He added that “neither the Hungarian communities nor the government has decided yet whether the Hungarian-speaking Gypsies are a burden or a resource. We must decide what we consider to be a Hungarian school.”

Béla Kató, Hungarian Reformed bishop of the church’s Transylvanian district, and Zoltán Balog, Tusnádfrürdő/Băile Tușnad

The government media, although it reported on the panel discussion, neglected to include Balog’s comments on the Orbán government’s ambivalent feelings toward Hungarian-speaking Gypsies in Slovakia and Romania. I did a quick check to find out how many people we are talking about. In Slovakia, of the half a million Hungarian speakers, researchers estimate that 60,000 are Gypsies, that is, a little more than 10%. The Roma population of Romania is very large. We are talking about perhaps as many as three million people. About 80,000-90,000 of them are Hungarian speaking.

The Orbán government is in a quandary: should they embrace the Roma on the basis of the common language or simply take away the opportunity for Hungarian language instruction, forcing them to attend Romanian or Slovak schools instead? I gather from Balog’s remarks on the Slovak situation, where non-Roma families would rather send their children to Slovak schools because of the presence of too many Gypsies in the Hungarian ones, that the Orbán government is inclined to get rid of “the burden” Hungarian-speaking Gypsies impose on the government in Budapest. We can safely say that they are approaching the question along racial lines. I might also add that Balog is a firm believer in segregated education for Roma children in Hungary. It doesn’t matter how many experts tell him that segregation leads to sure failure, Balog remains unconvinced. I might add that the segregation Balog advocates is unconstitutional and forbidden by many international agreements which Hungary signed.

Today an article appeared in 24.hu reminding Zoltán Balog and his Fidesz friends of the events of March 20, 1990 in Marosvásárhely/Târgu Mureș where Hungarian demonstrators were attacked by members of the nationalist Vatra Românească but Hungarian-speaking Gypsies came to the rescue. First, the Hungarians didn’t know who they were, but then one of them yelled: “Ne féljetek magyarok, mert itt vannak a cigányok!” (Don’t be afraid, Hungarians, because the Gypsies are here). If the Orbán government closes Hungarian schools to Hungarian-speaking Roma students in Slovakia and Romania, soon enough there won’t be any Gypsies to ride to the rescue. They’ll speak Slovak and Romanian and feel no ties to Hungary.

July 25, 2017
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Ferenc
Guest

So Mr.B prefers segregation, which apart from being unconstitutional and against international agreements, is very simply inhumane.
If such a man is made minister of ‘Human Capacities’, I think it means that those responsible for appointing him are against humans, even ‘their own’.

wrfree
Guest

Seems like Sparta and its relationship to its downtrodden helots. Treated like the lowest of the low but loved for their ‘utility’.

tappanch
Guest

In the three Szekely districts of Transylvania, about 15% of the Hungarians are Gypsy.

Source: my recollection of a detailed ethnic map. It would take me some time to dig out this map.

tappanch
Guest

Remark. According to the 1910 Hungarian census, 6.94% of the people counted as Hungarians were Jewish by religion. Teleki’s anti-Trianon maps from the 1920s would show smaller ethnic territory for the Hungarians, if we subtracted the Jewish population. And the Hungarian governments between 1941 and 1944 scored this huge own goal with gusto, making Trianon final.

Z Balog tries to repeat this stupidity of exclusion 70 years later.

Metzger
Guest

According to TARKIs latest polls Fidesz is getting popular and MSZP and DK are losing ground, the rest of the opposition including Jobbik is stagnating.

Not a good development. For once one would like to see a poll in which Fidesz was losing ground and the opposition was on the rise.

From what I gather from the talk on the beach, however, middle class voters (voters with steady jobs, cars, kids and tatoos) from Bacsalmas and Szabadszallas are not about to vote for impotent lefties. These people respect power and thoroughly dislike clueless weaklings and intellectuals.

Member

“These people respect power and thoroughly dislike clueless weaklings and intellectuals.”

Yes, exactly the kind of scumbags who “respect” defenceless women being beaten up at Orban rallies. They are a lost cause and democrats shouldn`t lower themselves to appeal that kind of mentailty.

Metzger
Guest

Without the votes of this “white working class” (in Hungary this is the economic middle class) no opposition can hope to win.

(Same in the US, unless the Democrats can genuinely convince this constituency they will continue to lose across the board and dont tell me that Clinton received more votes than Trump its irrelevant.)

I am not sure what the strategy should be (and apparently the opposition is also unable to talk to them in a credible way) but these people absolutely must be targeted and convinced that the opposition is a better option than continuing with Fidesz.

This is not easy because these people viscerally distrust the “left” and “liberals”. But giving up on them has been clearly suicidal.

Szegeny ember vizzel foz, one has to work with what is available.

Member

No. When you said they respect “power” what do you mean? The thuggery we see when the Fidesz mask slips? The fat dictator abusing Brussels whilst simultaneously holding out a begging bowl? The racism, anti-antisemitism, homophobia, violent misogyny seen at the weekend? No, it is immoral to even to try to attract that voter demographic. I want Orban and the fascist dictatorship removed by any means possible and I mean any. The thought that the fascists will allow themselves to be removed by a “free and demographic” election is a fanciful one. But

Metzger
Guest
These people are attracted to politicians who exude power. They envy power and they think its awesome. They are ambivalent about money from corruption. I am certain many people secretly admire Antal Rogan for his antics and his ability to steal so much and get away clean (or Orban for that matter). They like people who decide and not use expert committees and waver forever. They like machismo. They themselves would like to be strong and powerful and rich and the “decider” in their lives (which they cannot be since by definition they are employed by some more powerful people). They dont like educated people (so called experts and professionals) who tell them to lose weight, live healthier lives, drink and smoke less, respect women and gays and gipsies. They like what they like and politicians must accept them as they come (Orban and Trump do so). Orban can or could be dismissed in an election (even though the election itself would not in my view be an evidence of Hungary being a democracy, which it clearly isnt even if the EU pretends that it is). Thus the actually existing opposition must do something differently. Dont forget that Hungary was… Read more »
Anne Carroll
Guest

Metzger, you make American and Hungarian “working class” (and let’s not mention the groups left out) seem like vain cowards willing to betray their fellow citizens for a shot of fake power. Or maybe that is just what I am afraid will happen. I cannot say much about Hungary, but given how quickly the Southern white people and Northern children of immigranta turned on the US Democratic Party when they started talking about civil rights, even being attentive to the needs of “the silent majority” will result in betrayal.

Member

“Even if Orban is out these white working class people will remain and democratic minded politicians must find a way to their hearts otherwise their victory will be short lived.”

No, their prejudices which you have alluded to shouldnt be pandered to. Their toxic attitudes need to be neutralised, which is not an overnight operation I agree and may even be a hopeless target for this generation. But just playing the racist or anti-gay card, being the macho misogynist in order to bribe these people for their votes in not the long-term interest of Hungary.

But first step is removal of the fascists and in particular their dictator. That cant be done at the ballot box because the very nature of Orban will not permit it.

Metzger
Guest

No, this is a huge misunderstanding. One does not necessarily have to be racist, mysoginist to get the attention of these people. But the human rights discourse must be abandoned because it just doesnt work.

And these people certainly should not be given up on by the opposition.

As long as they can vote their votes will be required to attain a majority for any government.

I agree that Hungary is not a democracy and Orban will not give up power even if he lost an election which he all but rigged.

But power sometimes slips out of the hands of unpopular tyrants because often they cannot control everything.

And the opposition must work to gather a genuine popular support because nobody will just hand power over to it. And for that real popular support the opposition simply needs the white conservative working class votes.

Member

Jobbik is the solution, right, white Vogel ? Or even more extreme ?

A clueless intelectual weekling

Metzger
Guest
winston/D7Democrat Stop being literally two bit liberals. In your world view there are either fascists or nice people (who somehow always appear to uncritically push the liberal, identity based human rights agenda). People are more complicated than that. There are indeed racists etc. among the white working class but most people are not. They have (mostly economic but also cultural) problems, however, which the liberal side is apparently unable to address. I only say that if you continue to treat the migrant issue as a human rights issue or the gipsy issue as a human rights issue then Jobbik and Fidesz will win because they at least acknowledge and recognise the grievances of orderly whites folks who like sports instead of opera and who go on vacation to Balaton istead of Berlin. Their solution is fascist but if the liberal side avoids complicated issues like living with uneducated gipsies in small villages the liberal side is then lost. People naturally move towards exremes if the (mainstream, liberal) political establishment gives up on them. There must be some middle ground found, thats what I am saying. (Obviously hitting women is an absolute no go.) Dont count on any deus ex machina,… Read more »
Member
“But the human rights discourse must be abandoned because it just doesnt work” What do you define as the “human rights discourse”? The right of a woman not to be beaten up because she blows a whistle at Orban? No, sorry. No compromise on that one. There are 2 questions here. First, the removal of the fascist dictator. If that is achieved at the ballot box, yes, great. But I won`t hold my breathe for the reasons I have already given. Other more realistic options: 1. Orban has one langos too many and suffers a fatal heart attack. 2. Some disaffected member of the “security services” slugs him one. 3. His grateful citizens string him up from a lamppost in Bpest strong enough to support him. I know I am probably in a minority of one on here but to me any of these three options seem more likely than the “democratic” one and if that is what it takes to get rid of him, then… Ok, fine by me . Regarding the second question, the de-toxification of the potential Fidesz voter-base. We are talking years maybe decades here but for the long-term health of Hungary we need to remove… Read more »
vzir
Guest

What can safely be said about that is, if V. Orban would have the chance, than he’d be no different than Erdogan, or Putin. He has the goals, just not the means to see the though.

vzir
Guest

Your US analogies with other countries are false. Trump won undemocratically by some artifice which is US specific only. By the way, where do you take your alias from, is it that you’ve got some connections (ideological or otherwise) to Tom Metzger?

exTor
Guest

comment image

Re Metzger [1:36 PM], you may be onto something WRT his alias. I didn’t twig to the Metzger link, which may just be a coincidence, but looks suspicious when he talks about the Magyar “white working class”.

Hungary is the whitest place I have lived in. Anybody who has lived in any big city in North America notices how white this country is. In Hungary, the whites are the majority ethnic grouping. The Roma [Gypsies, about 10% of the population] are not considered to be black [négerek] by the Magyars, just ‘cigányok’, who vote Fidesz in any case.

For those who dont know, Tom Metzger, a white-supremacist scumbag, a former Ku Klux Klan White Dragon, later graduated to the White Aryan Resistance [WAR]. He is still doing his dirtbag thing, image somewhat less-tawdry, more suit-and-tie like that nosejob nazi David Duke.

The US Metzger is a loozer !!! Is the HS Metzger a ‘lúzer’ ???

MAGYARKOZÓ

bimbi
Guest

Minister (political) Balog’s attitude to Roma makes me very uneasy. It is so easy to slip into the Roma vs. Hungarian dichotomy just in the not so distant past it was the Jew vs. Hungarian dichotomy. The lie of the Hungarian nationalists, the fascists and the alt right.

Jesus Christ! (I hope THAT impresses minister (political) Balog) it is the job of any government to provide needed services to each and every member of the population – not on some putative “separate-but-equal” basis but on the basis of “full and equal”. If the Hungarian Roma need additional help and instruction and facilities in schools, let them be granted those and let them benefit from them. Roma are also Hungarians. Education for all!

However, and I don’t understand why, it seems that this article is about Hungarian language schools, financed by Hungarian tax-payers, but for Slovaks and Romanians in Slovakia and Romania. Why are Hungarians paying for educating foreign citizens when the education facilities at home, within Hungary, are so poor? Or is this just another aspect of Fidesz’s plans to win more votes in the forthcoming (inter)national election 2018?

Guest

bimbi, I think you nailed it!
Fidesz is doing evrything to win the votes of those ethnic Hungarians not living in Hungary.

Btw the segregation in schools reminds me that this was also usual in many US states until 1960 something – so again Hungary is 50 years behind the civilised countries!

wrfree
Guest

Guess we can say on this issue like indeed for many others: It’s a Balogian contemplation that’s a ride back to the future.

Ferenc
Guest

About Fidesz’s education policies.
I recently heard about differences between students at the university of Debrecen: requirements for receiving stipendium [ösztöndíj] are for Hungarian students from abroad (mainly from Romania) lower than for Hungarian students from Hungary.
Curious if anybody here knows if this is at more universities and/or general for all universities in Hungary.
One can consider this as being ‘positive discrimination’ for ‘not-Hungarian Hungarian’ students, but for me this is complete nonsense.

Agnes Bende-Farkas
Guest

In Romania the majority of schools is run by the government, including Hungarian schools, so the government of Hungary has NO SAY w regard to student enrolment. What they CAN do is 1) withhold from Roma families the financial support granted to Hungarian Hungarian families who choose Hungarian schools, or 2) withhold aid from private (church-run) Hungarian schools with Roma students. Both options are disgusting, but they do show that the options of the Hungarian gov-t are limited, and yet officials like His Disgrace Balog delude themselves in imagining total control over, well, anything remotely Hungarian, including, possibly, kitchen sinks.

vzir
Guest

Freedom of choice is really a foreign notion in this part of the world.

vzir
Guest

Roma people have their own identity and culture, and Hungarian culture and issues certainly cannot be transferred onto them. This is a reminiscence of the Austro-Hungarian habit of increasing Hungarian numbers with Jews.

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