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Caught in the Trap of Integration Roma Problems and Prospects in Hungary



Bureau for European Comparative Minority Research

Caught in the Trap of Integration Roma Problems and Prospects in Hungary

International Roma Conference Budapest, June 22-23, 1999

Budapest, 2000


Published with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary

Copyright © 2000 by the Bureau for European Comparative Minority Research Published by the Bureau for European Comparative Minority Research H-1093 Budapest, Lónyay u. 24. Phone: +36.1.216-7292, 456-0779, fax: +36.1.216-7696 Internet:, e-mail: All rights reserved ISBN 963 00 3539 1 Translation by Peter Sherwood Photos Judit M. Horváth, György Stalter Cover design by AVARRO Graphics Ltd. 1118 Budapest, Frankhegy u. 8. E-mail: This book is composed in BakerSignet. Typeset/Layout by MATT DTP H-1119 Budapest, Etele út 32/c. E-mail: Printed in Hungary by Reprota Ltd. 1037 Budapest, Zay u. 1-3. E-mail:


Contents PREFACE I. POLITICS AND ROMA POLITICS Erika Törzsök: The unavoidable Toso Doncsev: Government strategy Gabriella Varjú: Government action promoting the social integration of the Roma Péter Eckstein-Kovács: The Romanian Government’s policies for the Roma Vasile Burtea: Roma in the Romanian Government’s Programme Miroslav Kusỳ: The Roma question in the Slovak Republic Edit Bauer: Squaring the circle: Roma in Slovak society Ron Korver: Strategies for human and/or minority rights in the European Union II. DEBATES AND DEFINITIONS Péter Kovács: Roma and the Roma question in the context of human rights in the Council of Europe György Csepeli: Rom or human being? Ernő Kállai: The Roma and research on the Roma Balázs Krémer: Debate and deadlock Ágnes Daróczi: Accepting responsibility for one’s identity Iván Szelényi: The Roma of Csenyéte: the first 150 years III. CONFLICTS AND THEIR RESOLUTION Jenő Kaltenbach: Roma conflicts and the prospects for integration, as seen from the Ombudsman’s perspectives Imre Furman: On notions of discriminatory practice István Haller: Roma in post-1989 Romania Ferenc Csortán: Who are the Roma of Romania? István Kemény: Language and education: assimilation and segregation Lajos Aáry-Tamás: The education of Roma pupils in the light of research in the Office of the Commissioner for Minority Rights


Andrea Szalai: Educating the Roma minority: language use and linguistic rights in education IV. STRATEGIES Sándor Palásti: Integration into society and the Hungarian Constitution Róbert Veresegyházy: Improving productivity: laying the foundations for prosperity Endre Miklóssy: The socio-economic (re)integration of the Roma AUTHORS




Erika Törzsök The unavoidable A look at the proceedings and at the map will show that there is virtually no part of Hungary that is not populated by at least some Roma. For Hungary, one of the most difficult areas in the negotiations on European integration is undoubtedly that of human rights; in particular, the development of a conceptual framework and strategy appropriate to this issue. The issue, that is, of how all of us in Hungary are dealing with the Roma question, also poses one of the most demanding challenges to Hungarian society. One might almost say that the question of the Roma has become a fashionable topic in Hungary, since it is preoccupying a vast number of people, from the prime minister to the research institutes of the Hungarian Academy. At the same time, the situation of those concerned is catastrophic. This is, in itself, a serious matter, but if we were to see this in a narrow way, without considering the context of the increasing antipathy (or at least lack of tolerance) of the “majority” society, a question of vital concern to all of Hungarian society would become extremely difficult to handle. On the other hand, this is not a problem faced by Hungary alone; all the societies of Central Europe are seriously affected. That is why we have invited to our conference scholars and government representatives from the Czech and Slovak Republics, as well as from Romania and Poland. Thus the choice of the theme of this conference, organised by the Bureau for European Comparative Minority Research* (BECMiR) in conjunction with the Office for National and Ethnic Minorities, is no accident in the Hungary of the last year of the millennium. Yet this conference is not a political forum; rather, it offers a framework for sharing their thinking on this theme by all the participants: representatives from the neighbouring countries, international organisations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Union, those from the Roma organisations, scholars in the field, and distinguished office-holders from the Hungarian government. “In a country where the [Hungarian] minorities beyond its borders are a dominant concern, the fair and responsible study of the culture of its own minorities – with their involvement and participation – is still some way off.” (Mária Neményi). This conference is an attempt to change this picture. In my view, although the government has secured approval for its medium-term plan of action, in the Roma question the only way to progress beyond government policies
The Institute (from 2000 on: Bureau) for European Comparative Minority Research is a research institute linked to the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Established in 1998, it was not intended as yet another research institute located at the intersection of politics and scholarship; rather, it aims to provide a bridge between the sciences concerned with social phenomena and the politics shaping the modus operandi of society. This is, indeed, the role it is playing now in organising this international conference on the Roma.


that lag behind events is to forge realistic, long-term plans to treat the possibilities of Roma integration in a broader, extended perspective which will make clear the roles of those involved by providing a system of timetables and guarantees. In other words, we must ask ourselves where we would like to be by, say, 2010? I imagine all of us here are aware that the real losers of the change in political system since 1989 have been the Gypsies. “With the Changes of 1989-90, the Gypsies lost their means of living for the second time in the last hundred years,” wrote Gábor Kertesi in his work, Employment and unemployment among Gypsies before and after the Changes. The mass unemployment brought about by the Changes managed to destroy in a few short years virtually all the achievements of the slow, if ambiguous, process of modernisation that was integrating the Roma through the extension of basic education and the expansion of unskilled jobs in industry. These processes coincided with the burgeoning of political democracy in Hungary and also with the emergence of a self-awareness among the Gypsies, or, at least, among a not insignificant proportion of them. In the 1990 census, for example, the number of those claiming Gypsy ethnicity was unprecedentedly high, a number impossible to imagine in previous years. Their decline in society may well, in their eyes, discredit political democracy itself. If they see no prospects for their future, no hope for their children, they may turn away from the institutions of democracy and towards social deviance and political radicalism – writes Gábor Kertesi in the work cited above. This unprecedentedly profound crisis among Hungary’s Gypsies was, incidentally, anticipated in István Kemény’s representative, nation-wide Gypsy surveys in the early 1970s. At the time there was no appetite for this scholarly prognosis. I remember very well the idea formulated by Kemény when, as young researchers, we had been working together in this field for about a year, an idea that stunned us all: once Hungary starts to modernise, it will be Hungary’s Gypsies who will have the most to lose. Thus, although Kemény’s research clearly articulated the danger well in advance, for over twenty years we failed to take action. Moreover, I believe that if anything, Hungary is somewhat better off, as far as knowledge of this history and these facts are concerned, than its neighbours; this is clear from the studies published in the periodical Regio in 1991, and such publications as the Hungarian Central Statistical Office’s Gypsy Census of 1993. This means that no-one dealing with the Roma question, whether scholar or government employee, can claim that they have to start from zero. The issues of modernisation and globalisation naturally raise a raft of new and complex problems for us all, since we all find ourselves in a new situation. In this context, we must ask whether what we are doing is solving the question of the minorities, and within this of the Gypsies, or rather simply eliminating individual cultures, making distinctive cultures uniform? Or perhaps something else again? In particular, what happens to those who cannot follow the rules of the (new) game, because they are not prepared for it? And what has caused this lack of preparedness? Is it the result of legal restrictions, conflicts between the relevant


laws, the slow pace or the arbitrary application of the international harmonisation of laws? Or is it prejudice and discrimination in everyday life, marginalisation in the new economy, loss of role? And there are many more questions like this, questions, to which we are trying to find answers, questions which we must try and answer, not just here, at this conference, but in our daily lives. For we are all participants in these processes, those who are here and also those who, alas, are no longer with us, particularly János Bogdán, whose painfully early death robbed us of one who also sought answers and believed that the majority as well as the minorities, scholars as well as civil servants, could together, with steady and unflagging work, move things forward and make it easier to bear that which seems hopeless and unbearable.


Toso Donchev Government strategy The Office for National and Ethnic Minorities of the Hungarian Government has recently organised a number of conferences jointly with the Council of Europe, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the embassies in Hungary of the Austrian Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. The aim of these meetings, as of the symposium Prospects for Roma Integration in Hungary, is to contribute to the development of a long-term strategy for the Gypsy population. As a sociologist and a scholar I am convinced that the results of scholarly research must be taken on board by those shaping minorities policy. The accumulated wisdom of the various research projects has much to contribute to decisions taken by the administration. I say this with conviction gained through twenty years of research on minorities in Hungary, particularly on the identity of Hungary’s Bulgarians. Before my present appointment I was president of both the Minorities’ RoundTable and the National Bulgarian Council and in these capacities I can say that, in the preparatory phase of decisions on minority policies hitherto, partial use was made of scholarly research in this area. The recently approved government decree no. 1047 contains a package of medium-term measures designed to improve the life and social status of the Roma. Decree 1048 establishes an Interdepartmental Committee on Roma Affairs, and outlines medium- and long-term goals. Item 4 in the section on medium-term measures sets out the necessity for developing a comprehensive, long-term strategy for social and minorities policy, founded on scholarly research and in the interests of promoting the social integration of the Roma and improving their way of life and their status in society. This makes it clear that the long-term strategy must build on the results of scholarship and the proposals of those involved in research. The government’s task is to select proposals on which economically viable programmes may be based. The prime minister personally received the head of the National Roma Council and assured him of his personal commitment to Roma affairs. He reiterated the importance of carrying out the medium-term plan of action and also proposed that there should be annual plans of action to prioritise the specific tasks affecting the various departments. The prime minister will pay particular attention to student bursaries and scholarships for young Roma, and has designated additional resources for this purpose. It is our hope that this support for talented young people will lay the foundations for the Roma elite of the next millennium. The prime minister entrusted the task of developing and co-ordinating these tasks to the Office for National and Ethnic Minorities.


Gabriella Varjú Government action promoting the social integration of the Roma What is the current position of the Roma in Hungary? Where do we start from in defining the Government’s tasks and goals? Hungary’s Roma live in disadvantaged circumstances and are socially marginalized. This is well-known and their problems have been the subject of detailed studies. The Roma are generally seen as the most serious casualties of the change in Hungary’s system of government after 1989. The disadvantages affecting them surface in three areas that reinforce each other: - the set of disadvantages in the social, health, employment, and other fields; - the mass of problems affecting the Roma as a minority; and - the problems of the relationships between social groups belonging to the Roma minority and the non-Roma majority. The Roma are not a homogeneous group and their complex problems differ in a number of respects across regions and local communities. They are constantly changing and a thorough knowledge of them is vital to the shaping of policies to resolve their problems and alleviate their lot. Are the measures outlined in the law on minorities adequate to deal with the problems oppressing the Roma? The law on minorities guarantees the Roma minority rights and opportunities identical with those of the other recognised national minorities in Hungary. Despite the admitted contradictions and some operational problems, the Roma Minority Councils have brought about new opportunities to develop and strengthen cultural autonomy. The capacity of the Roma to assert their interests has been strengthened. In settlements where up to now they have not been involved with decision making, today the Roma minority’s opinion is also taken into account and decisions affecting the Roma are made with their active participation. After the elections for minority self-governments in 1998, more than 3,000 individual minority representatives in 768 Roma Minority Councils became part of the public activities of the local settlements. The law on minorities treats Roma culture as having the same value as, and on a par with, the culture of the other national minorities. The position of the biggest Hungarian minority, the Roma community, however differs – as I indicated above – in a number of respects from that of the other minorities in Hungary. Its problems are not only of a linguistic and cultural nature; they are of a kind that cannot, for the most part, be solved within the framework of the law on minorities, and require government action of other kinds.


To increase the chances of the social integration of the Roma, concerted efforts and action at the levels of central government as well as county and local councils will be required. Does the present Government have a distinctive package of measures to offer? The Roma policy of the government continues and builds upon the achievements of previous administrations. The new medium-term package of measures was prepared on the basis of a review of the medium-term package of 1997, conducted with the participation of the National Roma Council, the relevant government departments, representatives of civilian organisations, as well as experts in the field. Because of the large number of modifications and additions put forward, it seemed sensible to formulate the government’s proposals in a new Government Decree. Following some months of preparation and technical harmonisation, the new medium-term package was accepted by the government in May 1999. The goal of the tasks formulated in this package is to rein back social inequalities, prevent and diminish prejudice and discrimination, as well as to reinforce the Roma communities’ sense of identity and promote their culture. The problems of social integration of the Roma must be regarded simultaneously as a minority and as a socio-political issue. The task before us is to ensure that members of the Roma minority can decide for themselves that they can be full and equal members of society without loss of their identity and minority culture. The importance of the package of medium-term measures By accepting it the government pledges that improving the social position of the Roma, the biggest minority living in Hungary, is a government priority of exceptional importance. In line with the complex nature of the problem, the medium-term package offers a multilateral programme of action consisting of educational, cultural, employment, agricultural, areal, social, health, housing, anti-discriminatory, and communicative components. To co-ordinate the executive aspects of these objectives, and to harmonise the work of the ministries and the nation-wide organisations involved, the government established an Interdepartmental Committee on Roma Affairs, the membership of which is detailed below. The task formulated in the medium-term package aims to promote the social integration of the Roma without, however, exacerbating existing tendencies towards segregation. Some of the objectives concentrate on specifically minority problems, such as education and culture; others, such as the programmes with social, housing, employment, and areal content, are aimed at the Roma population as a disadvantaged sector of society. Support for disadvantaged sectors in society is intended to reach the Roma population, too, as effectively and as productively as possible.


In the medium-term package there is also a new element: the recognition of the need to develop a long-term social and minority policy that is both comprehensive and based firmly on scholarly research. The actions proposed in the medium-term package and the measures it proposes to be taken by the various ministries The sixth chapter of the annex to the medium-term package of measures identifies 41 objectives for the ministries and nation-wide organisations. The package identifies the departments responsible for each task and sets out timetables for implementation. Within the medium-term package the areas of education and culture are given priority. In the area of Roma minority education the most important goals in primary education are improvements in terms of content, while for secondary education and tertiary training they are to improve drop-out rates, ensure the obtaining of qualifications, and the nurturing of talent. To achieve this, the maintenance of the existing training programmes and institutions must be complemented by the provision of training college places in secondary education and, should the Roma minority so demand, the establishment of additional centres of teaching and learning. Bearing in mind the report on minority education of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities, another important task is to increase the proportion of Roma children participating in kindergarten education, and generally in schools and other levels of education. To promote the application of minority rights in education, professional training should be provided for the officers of the minority councils so that they can exercise the rights guaranteed for them by law. In the sphere of culture, both the network of specialist institutions serving the preservation of Roma cultural values and the education system linking the groups promoting the cultural activities of the Roma must be further expanded. In this task an important role will be played by the National Roma Information and Education Centre. Under the aegis of the National Roma Council since its establishment in the autumn of 1998, the Centre is funded by a grant of 180 million forints provided from the Government central budget. An important role has been played in recent times by Roma community centres established by local initiatives and fulfilling a wide range of roles; these have also received financial support from the central budget. The community centres are an important source of strength in the local communities and in maintaining Roma culture. In addition to education, the realisation of objectives in employment and in areal development is of prime importance. Regarding employment, the programmes already in place must be developed further by renewing the technical co-operation agreements between the county


employment centres and the Roma minority councils and other organisations, by continuing the centrally-organised occupational and training programmes for the long-term unemployed, by expanding the schemes for the support of unemployment among school leavers, and by organising additional public works programmes to improve the labour-market situation of the Roma population. The disadvantaged among the population must be helped to become more entrepreneurial. Among the goals in agriculture, priority is given to supporting disadvantaged families through the continuing operation and further expansion of the social land programme. Training and specialist advisory services must be provided to help the participants in the social land programme to become farmers, primary producers, and entrepreneurs. In the framework of areal development, the county area development councils and the county employment centres must be involved in the creation of support systems which may be used to initiate complex development programmes to improve the employment situation of disadvantaged groups, among them the Roma. To carry out the areal development programmes, additional, separate funding must be guaranteed to supplement the self-funded share of costs borne by the regional, county, and local crisis-resolving programmes Among the social, health, and housing programmes a particularly important goal is the clearance of housing estates and similar environments, or alternatively the improvement of their infrastructure and services. A research programme must be initiated to improve the state of health of the Roma and to prevent discriminatory practices against them in the health service. The National Roma Minority Council’s experience of the housing programme should be evaluated with a view to making proposals about solving the housing problems of disadvantaged families. High priority among the anti-discriminatory programmes must be given to the practical implementation of the laws forbidding discrimination against the disadvantaged and to ensuring that police behaviour towards those in the Roma minority remains within the law. Bodies and institutions defending the law, and preventing or resolving conflict, must be supported. To promote the carrying out of the package of programmes a communicative plan is required. Citizens not directly involved with Roma matters have so far received little information about the problems of the Roma and the medium-term package of measures. The events of the past year suggest that much of society is neither aware of the problems of the Roma population nor interested in improving their situation. The prejudices at local level greatly intensify the problems of the social integration of the Roma. The existence of prejudices must be seen as a social fact of life, the elimination of which is conditional on understanding its causes and its intensity.


In improving equality of opportunity for the Roma the package of mediumterm measures must also target the whole of society and its armoury of institutions. This is the only way that the life of the Roma can be improved. In order to create a true-to-life image of the Roma for the majority of society, a strategic plan must be developed in conjunction with the National Roma Council and experts in the media. Communication and co-operation must be improved between the Roma population and the various institutions: education, health, social and other services. This will be achieved by initiating programmes aimed at eliminating discriminatory practices and offences and by attempting to change the climate of social prejudice. There is a need to develop networks for the prevention and resolution of conflict at a local level. The financial basis of the objectives defined in the medium-term package of measures Resources for carrying out the tasks of the medium-term package must be found from within the budgets of the departments involved. Item 3 of the document states that the chair of the Interdepartmental Committee on Roma Affairs must inform the Government by 15 September each year about progress on the timetable for the execution of the package, and budgetary requirements for the following year. Resources from the departments come in the form of earmarked grants and from sources associated with disadvantaged groups and required for their other professional tasks. Efficiency improvements in the deployment of regular and special grants will be gained by applying quality control to the rules of expenditure in line with government regulations reshaping the support system to conform with EU requirements. The role of the Interdepartmental Committee on Roma Affairs The medium-term goals of the package of measures can be successfully achieved only by wide-ranging co-operation. It was to this end that the Government set up the Interdepartmental Committee on Roma Affairs. The Committee’s role is to promote the social integration of the Roma by co-ordinating the implementation of the objectives defined in the medium-term package of measures The Interdepartmental Committee is chaired by the Minister of Justice, with the chairman of the Office for National and Ethnic Minorities as deputy chair. The Committee’s regular membership consists of designated undersecretaries of state at the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and Regional Development, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of


National Cultural Heritage, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Social and Family Affairs, as well as the chair of the National Roma Council. Additionally, the Committee can co-opt deputy under-secretaries of state from six further ministries as well as chairs of the Public Foundation for the Roma of Hungary and the advisory board of the Gandhi Public Foundation. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities is a member of the Interdepartmental Committee ex officio. Representatives of nation-wide organisations, the chairs of county assemblies, representatives of social organisations of the Roma minority, as well as experts and scholars have the right to attend, and participate in, certain meetings of the Committee, by invitation. Some essentials, without which the package of programmes cannot be carried out Tangible results from the medium-term package of measures can be expected only with the active participation of the Roma minority councils and organisations as well as of the communities affected. The discussions and the decisions require the involvement of as many experts of Roma origin as possible. The various ministries will each year draw up a plan of action to ensure the successful implementation in the following year of an agreed proportion of the objectives outlined in the medium-term package, so that specific tasks may be carried out. The ministries will ensure that appropriate financial resources will be made available for these specific tasks from the budget of each ministry. An important goal is to link to the medium-term package and to the annual plan of action, at regional, county, and local level, the launching of as many independent initiatives as possible, as long as these take into consideration the given area or settlement and the particular situation and needs of those affected. A new objective of the medium-term package of measures is the development of a long-term socio-political and minority policy strategy with the goal of improving the social position and way of life of the Roma. The long-term strategy might be based on the results of scholarly research and experiences gained in the course of government action in this area. The general goal in terms of minorities policy is the development in Hungary of a minority-friendly environment in which those citizens who belong to a minority settled in Hungary can freely enjoy the rights guaranteed them by law. In the case of the Roma there is the additional requirement – as in the case of other disadvantaged groups – that they have appropriate living conditions and a lessening in the degree of social inequality. The roots of these problems lie deep in society and the economic system, hence only in the long term can change of any kind be reasonably expected.


Péter Eckstein-Kovács The Romanian Government’s policies for the Roma Just as the issue of the Roma transcends national boundaries, so some of the problems are shared ones. I believe that, as far as solutions to the problems are concerned, we have always had much to learn from one another and this is likely to be the case for some time to come. In the Romanian census of 1992, more than 400,000 people declared themselves to be of Roma nationality (i.e. ethnicity). Reliable sources suggest that there are a further 500,000 to one million who were omitted from the census, or rather, who do not regard themselves as Roma but are none the less in practice discriminated against, because the majority regards them as Roma. This minority is very significant, as is the problem they represent, not least because amelioration of the Romas’ situation is a condition of entry into the European Union. The development of a nation-wide medium-term strategy for the Roma was one of the planks in the programme of the coalition that came to power in Romania in 1996. The heart of the institutional network formulating this strategy is the Romanian National Roma Office under the aegis of the Office for the Protection of Minorities, which I head. The National Roma Office devotes all its efforts to this issue. There is also an Interdepartmental Committee concerned with the issue of the minorities and this has a Roma subcommittee which has agreed that the term ‘Roma’ was to be used in the Romanian context also. In the Roma subcommittee the experts within the ministries most closely involved are also represented; a similar number of specialists from the Roma organisations also take part in this activity. It is the view of the present coalition that it is impossible to evolve a Roma strategy without involving representatives of the Roma organisations. This is because a strategy lacking the confidence of the Roma organisations is inconceivable, for it would be obviously impossible to implement without them. Hence I regard as one of major achievements of the present Government and Office for the Protection of Minorities the very fact that it has helped the richly variegated Roma community of Romania to bring forth, by and from within itself, leading figures from the most significant Roma organisations to participate in a dialogue with the Government side. There are two words of key importance that are constantly debated within Romania: one is ‘integration’, the other ‘discrimination’. Opinion on these is no doubt divided in the Roma organisations, but the majority agree that the Roma question is not a question of integration, for the Roma have already, in their particular ways, integrated into Romanian society; it is, rather, primarily a question of discrimination and, additionally, of poverty, and of society as a whole, for it is plain that the Roma are disadvantaged in housing, health, and education, too.


Romanian legislation in matters of discrimination still leaves something to be desired. Though the criminal code has stipulations forbidding discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnicity, language, or religion, these apply only to those in public office. The Romanian constitution outlaws discrimination and also states that in human rights matters if there is a conflict between Romanian law and international treaties adopted by Romania, the latter are to prevail. This is evidence of a considerable degree of openness towards anti-discriminatory action in practice. None the less, it is the intention of the National Minority Office under my direction to prepare explicit anti-discriminatory legislation to be placed before the Romanian parliament.


Vasile Burtea Roma in the Romanian Government’s Programme I am here, in a country where the political debate about the Roma is part and parcel of Government policy, to inform you of the situation of the Roma in Romania, a country where this is very far from being the case. There is, of course, a sense in which one might say that there already exist in Romania administrative and political frameworks for discussing minority matters; but these structures can by no means be identified with a deliberate Government policy. Although the Government set up an Office for the Protection of Minorities after elections in the autumn of 1996, those for whom it is intended have yet to see any concrete steps taken by this Office. My view, and this almost certainly shared by other voters, is that the Government should not be expected to clarify concepts or articulate theories; it should take action. A Government that merely conducts inquiries and clears up misconceptions is a weak and helpless Government. The Romanian people want action, but this action is slow in coming. A Government should be clear about its ideas even before it begins to govern, and must come forward with a political programme that it wants to put into action. This is what is demanded of the entire Romanian Government and its young offshoot, the Office for the Protection of Minorities. I regard the existing legislation on elections in Hungary as also being a law on minorities. In actual fact, it seems to me a rather confused piece of legislation; I owe whatever understanding of it I have gained primarily to Professor Kaltenbach, who kindly tried to elucidate it for me in 1997, and also to a number of conversations with my sociologist colleagues Éva Orsós and Péter Radó; to all of them my heartfelt thanks. At the same time I was very glad to learn of the multicultural education programme, which in my view is a high-quality achievement, at least as regards its theoretical foundations. I am greatly looking forward to hearing what steps have been taken to implement this programme. For, if the implementation of this programme approaches anywhere near the goals outlined in the theory, it is bound to offer invaluable experience for all minorities, but especially for the Roma. What I have said about the election legislation and the multicultural education programme is no empty compliment. These form part of the teaching materials for my courses at the Department of Minority Studies in the University of Bucharest. My impression is that the fact that the Hungarian Government is concerned about the Roma is not only advantageous to you, but also a great challenge. I think that the political and theoretical work being carried out in this part of Europe by Hungary is perhaps the most valuable of its kind in Europe and the most likely to point the way to the future.


Coming back to Romania: the fact that there is, as yet, no centralised, conscious Roma policy does not mean that certain steps have not been taken. Quite a few notable achievements can be credited to local authorities and Roma organisations. Research has been carried out in the various regions of Romania which has made some progress possible. Nation-wide, too, representative samples have been the subject of research and have helped to identify these people’s fundamental problems. The first of these was carried out in 1992 and the resulting volume is often cited throughout Europe. It is hoped that the research carried out in 1998 can be published next year. The organisation of which I am head is the Unitary Organisation of the Roma and aims to integrate the majority of Roma intellectuals. Our campaigns draw attention to the still-unsolved core problems of the Roma. As a sociologist I can say that these fall into two parts. On the one hand there are the material issues, consisting essentially of problems of poverty, shortages in housing and food, an unfulfilling way of life, marginalisation, and the strategies for survival that accompany these. Roma communities play no part in public affairs and this is the source of the other range of problems, those in the cultural sphere. The two sore points are thus poverty and marginalisation. These problems are in a reciprocal, reproductory relationship. The cultural disadvantage leads to absenteeism from school, which in turn leads to the Roma being left out of the process of modernisation, thus preserving their defence mechanisms, which are then passed on from one generation to the next. And all this must be seen in the context of the collapse of the Romanian economy. The material issue surfaces in three ways. First, in the form of the absence of property ownership and unemployment. By the ownership of property I mean the ownership of agricultural land and other land where the Roma live. Both raise serious legal issues. A study of the employment patterns of the Roma revealed that some 89% have no permanent place of employment, though less than 3% receive unemployment benefit. Before 1989, 49% of those Roma capable of work were employed in the agricultural sector, that is to say, in agricultural co-operatives. Following the land reform of the new era, only 19% of this original 49% received any land. This was the result of the way in which the law formulated the right to land ownership: though the Roma did indeed work in agriculture, only those who had been employed in agricultural co-operatives in their place of residence were entitled to land. I realised at the time that the legislation was drafted that this restriction was a threat to the Roma and drew the attention of the legislators to it. I suggested changes to three articles in the proposed law but parliament paid no attention to our proposals; its disregard, we realised, was intentional. The next problem is the education and training of Roma children. In Romania the education of children is free, that is to say, no-one has to pay school fees. What is not free, however, is clothes to wear at school, food to eat there, the provision of some school equipment, the cost of travel, and all those items that must be paid for by parents. These costs are often quite beyond the means of


Roma families. After 1989 it was often the case that even certificates of technical and vocational training were of no practical use, since skilled workers and labourers were no longer in demand in the employment market. It is no secret – the Romanian press and even local authorities are quite open about it – that no Roma are appointed to the posts advertised. The third area is that of health. I need give only one example of the allocation of health resources: in many maternity wards and homes the support staff have designated separate wards for Roma mothers giving birth. As for the cultural aspects, the problems are those of identity, customs and dress, and discrimination – problems that are difficult to provide evidence for and pin down from a legal angle. We have not yet managed to acquire the legal skills required to catch the offenders red-handed, to articulate the issues, and thus to seek legal redress. With respect to the issue of human rights violations, what is most painful is that we are incapable of respecting our own laws, laws that have already been passed by parliament. A number of Romanian laws discriminate against the Roma. The most eloquent of these is social security law 67, which is respected only in the two months on either side of the elections. What we are trying to do is to increase the sensitivity of both the administration and the general public to the Roma question and strengthen communication between these two spheres. When I worked in the Ministry of Employment I tried to establish an area supervisory network to identify employment problems among the Roma. It proved impossible to fully develop this structure, because of inadequate facilities for the work of supervisors on the sites, but even so, we secured valuable feedback and proved that work supervisors of Roma origin can be perfectly good officials. They are perhaps less corrupt than their gadjo (non-Roma) counterparts, and can attend very fairly to the problems of both Roma and non-Roma, and their presence in such places and roles has contributed to the establishment of an improved dialogue between the Roma and the local administrations. It helped the Roma to articulate what they expected of the authorities and thus take further steps toward law and order and civilisation. The scheme was originally rather more ambitious: the goal was to encourage local governments to employ more Roma as officials and administrators. Launched on 10 May 1999 with $75,000 dollars from the Soros Foundation, the scheme is currently training 110 Roma as local administrators in seven counties of Romania. We hope to be able to employ at least half of them. This is a considerable outlay, but if the project is successful, it will justify our efforts. I believe that both Hungary and Romania will have success in addressing and resolving the problems of the Roma. This important issue must be addressed by both government bodies and by non-governmental organisations. I am sure that it would make sense to translate our most valuable experiences into each other’s language.


Miroslav Kusỳ The Roma question in the Slovak Republic The Roma question is one of the most urgent and most hotly-debated issues in Slovak society. The new Slovak Government, unlike its predecessor, has shown the will to deal with this issue. It has not only made a declaration; it has taken genuine steps towards the goal: it has reorganised the cabinet committee dealing with minorities in such a way that the representatives of the eleven minorities represented have a majority; it has established a post of deputy prime minister (currently occupied by Pál Csáky) for human and minority rights and areal development; it has set up a Department of Human and Minority Rights under Juraj Hrabko, and a Committee for Human and Minority Rights with László Nagy at the helm. Several ministries (Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education, Ministry of the Interior) now have a minorities department. The Slovak Government has also established a supra-departmental office for Roma affairs, under the leadership of Danihel Vincent, a doctor of laws of Roma origin. He has organised a series of round-tables which have also yielded evidence of the value of new approaches to the issues. Two extraordinary events have aggravated the Roma question in the Slovak Republic. First, the floods of July 1998, which led to a dramatic decline in the position of the Roma in eastern Slovakia; and second, the introduction from the end of 1997 of compulsory visas for Slovak citizens by Great Britain as a result of the number of Roma refugees seeking asylum there. In 1998 the United Nations Development Program published a report on human rights in the Slovak Republic which described the position of the Roma in the Slovak Republic as extremely bad. According to the report this is a minority that has failed to produce an elite, which has no credible political representation, whose members are marginalized on the lowest rungs of the social ladder and shunned by the majority. The Slovak state must respect the civil rights of the Roma, desist from attempting to regulate and stigmatise the Roma by force, guarantee that the Roma can exercise the whole spectrum of their rights as citizens, take steps to oppose discrimination against the Roma in the institutions of the state as well as the negative treatment meted out to them, and – not least – analyse the causes of the intolerance and the rejection they experience. Whatever proposals are put forward, particular attention must be paid to the fact that their effectiveness could well depend on whether the Roma themselves are involved in their consideration and implementation. Discrimination is very much a fact of life today. An opinion poll reported in 1994 that 94% of the population in the Slovak Republic would rather not have Roma as their neighbours. Recently the daily Sme reported that several restaurants


and diners in the eastern Slovak city of Košice had banned Roma from their premises. A concrete, positively discriminatory plan must be developed to influence the public role of the Roma in the Slovak Republic, starting with the high unemployment rate, through the school system and on to the personal security of the Roma, who are themselves often the victims of crime, particularly at the hands of skinheads. Those who met to exchange views and experiences about the rescue of the Roma of Slovakia in March 1999 formed three working groups. These consisted of representatives, respectively, of the various charities, of the central administration and the local councils, and of independent experts on the Roma. Our proposals to the Slovak Government are based on these discussions. Proposals from the representatives of the charities A database of Roma organisations and projects is needed; a foundation should be established to maintain them; a framework for co-operation must be created between non-Roma and Roma NGOs in Slovakia; representatives of this minority must be involved in the legislative process; a campaign for tolerance must be initiated in the state-owned public media. Proposals for the longer term include reform of the school system, with an emphasis on the acquisition of advanced models of communication; teacher training of much greater effectiveness than at present; the involvement of parents in the framing of school regulations; changes in the system of auxiliary schools; and more effective means of organising after-school activities. The most important step is the creation of a mechanism for multilateral dialogue between the Government, the prime ministerial Roma Office, and the relevant ministries. A special committee should investigate racist attacks on minorities and legal practice must evolve so that racist crimes are dealt with in accordance with international legal standards. The idea of nominating mediators to work with the police and local communities should be centrally promoted. Programmes fostering tolerance between majority and minority should be multiplied. The package of proposed measures was organised along the following fundamental lines: a realistic assessment of the Roma’s opportunities; the need for overinvestment in teaching and the social areas; the ensuring of the minimum possible level of Government intervention; and educational broadcasts in the public service media. Proposals from the representatives of central administration and of local government They suggest that the Roma themselves articulate their demands. More money should be made available for the Roma from the budget and a multilateral dialogue should be ensured between central administration, the local authorities, and the


Roma minority. Problems of the regions should be solved locally. After a long educative process xenophobia is diminishing and it will soon be possible to make better use of the opportunities afforded by the Phare programmes. Advisory bodies are needed at the level of central government. The number of social workers employed by the state should be increased and Roma enterprises and housing programmes should be supported. Roma students must be integrated into the school system. They propose the creation of a college in eastern Slovakia to train Roma social workers and musicians, and the organisation of six-month courses for administrators. The University of Košice should establish a chair in Roma cultural studies. The proposals of the independent experts in Roma studies Parliament should repeal law 74 of 1958 concerning the compulsory settling down of travelling peoples, and also amend the education act. Pre-school education should be made more effective through “year zero” courses (the insertion of a preparatory year before the normal first year), and textbooks should be updated to reflect the characteristic features of the Roma and their way of life. Roma initiatives should be publicised in the media and journalists’ awareness of them should be encouraged. This working party proposed to the Slovak Government that it should not keep producing new plans and programmes, but rather develop those that are already in place and have proved effective. Government officials should take part in trainings organised by NGOs, and a foundation should be set up to help eliminate Roma unemployment. NGOs should play a role in the organisation of trainings to foster communication between the majority and the minority, and should themselves take an active part in such sessions.


Edit Bauer Squaring the circle: Roma in Slovak society The integration of the Roma cannot be seen as just an internal problem of individual countries. The Roma problem is a European problem, if only because there is hardly a country on the continent that does not have a population of Roma, even if of differing sizes. The issue surfaces, sometimes quite unexpectedly and with surprising force, on the road to the European Union and European integration. We witnessed this in Slovakia when the Roma began to emigrate and suddenly the problem of the Roma of Slovakia became topical and acquired great significance. I use the term ‘Roma’ intentionally, and not ‘Gypsy’, as the Roma defined themselves as Roma when the Slovak constitution was adopted; this is accepted by the law which declares that they are a nationality [i.e. ethnic group]. This is how they are referred to in the Slovak definitions. The number of Roma living in the Slovak Republic is estimated at between 400,000 and 520,000. They live mainly in isolated groups, but there are areas where they are gradually becoming the majority. They are particularly concentrated in eastern Slovakia, in the Szepesség [Slovak: Spis] region, in former Gömör county and around Rimaszombat [Slovak: Rimavská Sobota and the area of which it is the capital]. It is particularly difficult to make an assessment of the situation of the Roma, precisely because of the protection afforded them by law. In the 1990 census no more than 80,000 declared themselves to be Roma. None the less, when we claim that the Roma question is not, perhaps, primarily an ethnic or minority issue, but rather a matter of socialisation or civilisation, we must concede that, as has already been mentioned, the main casualties of modernisation have been the Roma. In 1988 some 14,000 Roma lived in what the scholars refer to as Roma settlements; in Hungarian we might well call them ‘péró’. By 1998 this figure had risen to more than 120,000. Some households are without mains water or electricity. Perhaps the most dramatic lesson from this survey was that, irrespective of whether they completed their schooling or not, in practice 100% of the children who grew up on these settlements failed to obtain employment. Ways out of this situation are extremely difficult to find. Various medium-term plans have been drawn up over the last few years, all of which have foundered, either through lack of funding, or through paternalistic-socialist attempts to impose general models of self-assertiveness or life-strategies on those living in a variety of cultures, attempting to promote assimilation without recognising that happiness cannot be imposed on people against their will. After its election in the autumn of 1998 the present Government quickly recognised that no strategy or grand plan can be conceived without the involvement of the Roma themselves; their situation cannot be resolved without their own efforts. There is however another, very serious limitation that cannot be ignored: they do not have sufficient internal


resources to be able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Let me give just one example: when it became clear that the educational attainments of the Roma were tragically low, the Komensky University of Bratislava tried to develop a catching-up course of its own devising. It had only two applicants. When they looked into the reasons for this low take-up, it emerged that in the entire western Slovakian secondary school system there were no more than five Roma. It must also be said that every local council is tempted to find its own loyal Roma minority, which is not a difficult achievement in what is undoubtedly a highly fragmented Roma population. The consequences of this are at times bizarre. The social system has come under such enormous pressure that it is today on the verge of collapse. Furthermore, it is in practice counterproductive from the point of view of the large numbers of Roma voters. It fails to encourage them to look for employment; rather, it promotes a derived, secondary way of life at a low level, with a derived, system of needs, for which they receive a measure of political support. Anyone who devotes himself to the Roma question in this part of the world is attempting the well-nigh impossible. It is like trying to square the circle. But squaring the circle, that it is to say, searching for a solution to the impossible, looks as if it is unavoidable.


Ron Korver Strategies for human and/or minority rights in the European Union Reading the program I realised that I would not be the most suitable person to enter into details on ways to study the social situation of the Roma in Hungary since the previous speakers and speakers to come are far more knowledgeable in these respects than I am. What I will do is trying to explain the European Commission’s view on the situation of the Roma in candidate countries and the underlying reasons for giving it so much attention. I will first outline the European policy on the issues of minorities, then I will turn to the issue of minority rights in the context of enlargement. Well, the Union’s policy is incorporated into its human rights policy. The rights of minorities are part of universal and indivisible human rights. The general obligation of EU members to accept and protect the specific rights of persons belonging to minorities arises from their commitment to international human rights standards. The EU participates, in its own right, in the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe and actively contributes alongside its Member States, to the work of the UN bodies dealing with minority issues, including the Commission on Human Rights and the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. The Commission also stipulated in 1993 that all draft directives for association agreements and economic co-operation agreements with third countries should incorporate a clause specifying that relations between the Community and the country concerned are based on respect for democratic principles and human rights. (This clause is therefore incorporated in all the Europe Agreements except those with Hungary and Poland which were negotiated before 1993.) However, it is fair to say that the Union’s policy on human rights and democratic principles has only developed gradually – it only actually became explicit in the 1993 Maastricht Treaty. The Treaty literally says: “respect for human rights is one of the main prerequisites for membership of the European Union, a basic principle influencing all its activities.” Article F2 states that “the Union shall respect fundamental rights as guaranteed by the 1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.” This was then strengthened by the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 which introduced further provisions. For the first time, “action can be taken in the event of serious and persistent breaches of fundamental rights occurring in any Member State.” It is possible via Amsterdam that a member state could be expelled for failure to respect human rights. All the mentioned provisions concern human rights generally, rather than minority, or Roma rights, specifically. To date, the assumption has been that


protection of individual human rights at Community level is adequate to satisfy minority needs. Minority rights are not an area for Community action, and they feature rarely on the EU’s internal agenda. Protection of minorities is an area left to member states who have taken a wide range of approaches according to specific circumstances. The need for the EU to formulate a minority rights policy of its own has not seemed obvious. And indeed, the case against direct EU involvement can be made in terms of the principles of subsidiarity and respect for diversity, widely recognised today as the key to effective and locally acceptable solutions. However, the basic principles of liberalism and democracy on which the EU is based need to be constantly confronted in practice with new realities and changing circumstances if they are not to lose credibility. There have been some recent developments which seem to point the way for more action at Community level for the protection of minorities. There is also the very significant fact that enlargement to the East will radically alter the picture with regard to minorities as many of the new members have significant minorities and have minority issues which will be new to the EU (besides the specific Roma related social problems one can think of the issue of ethnic minorities living in non-member states). This is an area where enlargement may be expected to have an impact on current EU policy. I will consider this in a moment. I want first to look at recent developments on minority policy on the EU’s internal agenda. The Maastricht Treaty signalled the willingness of member states to see the EU developing cultural and educational action programs to promote “the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity” (Art. 128). While this is not explicitly aimed at ethnic minorities, it does represent recognition of the value of cultural diversity in the EU’s basic constitutional document. This provides a legitimate basis for further development of EU action in the field of minority rights. Amsterdam has also opened up new possibilities by adding reference to ethnicity to the EU’s anti-discrimination agenda. The new Article 6a gives the European Community competence to “take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.” We could as a result of this see increased resort to the Court of Justice, as well as to the European Court of Human Rights, by members of minorities. This could give a major new impulse to the member states’ way of thinking about the treatment of minority issues. I want now to turn to the issue of minority rights in the context of enlargement. Preparations for enlargement have already set the EU addressing the issue of the rights of ethnic minorities which is a new area for the EU. This issue first came onto the agenda as a matter of external policy, when the EU began to redefine its relations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe after 1989. The obvious aspiration of the CEE states to return to Europe has presented the EU with an opportunity to influence developments by


including minority rights into a broad definition of political conditionality. The political criteria for membership laid down in the European Council of Copenhagen in 1993 state that: “the applicant country must have achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.” Therefore, the treatment of minorities in candidate countries is an area of concern for the EU and it is being monitored, through the Association Partnership and through the Regular Reports, the first of which has been published in November last year [1998]. Allow me to look briefly at this Regular Report for Hungary. The Report concentrates naturally on the situation of the Roma minority, and notes that: “Continued attention needs to be paid to the respect of the human rights of the Roma by the Hungarian authorities. The Roma are not always granted equal treatment before the law (…) “The Ombudsman for National and Ethnic Minorities raised some critical points concerning education of the minorities, especially Roma children suffering discrimination through segregated classes and schools. The Ministry has not accepted the Ombudsman’s report. “The government adopted a comprehensive Roma action programme in July 1997, which the Report deems positive but notes that ‘there appear to be only limited sums available from the central budget.’ ” As I said in my opening words I will not enter into detail on the background of social problems that Roma are encountering in Hungary, but I think that it is obvious for all that are present here today that the Roma deserve better attention to improve their situation in the Hungarian society on all levels, including housing, medical care, education including nursery schools, job opportunities and training, and at the same time to recognise, even to encourage preservation and development of their precious identity, including their languages, their family ties and their special cultural values. The situation of the Roma minority in Hungary is therefore viewed by the Commission as a priority area in Hungary’s accession preparations. I should note in this context that, through the Phare program, the Commission has been making modest sums available to NGOs who are working at improving the conditions of the Roma minority. NGOs supporting minorities typically receive about 10% of the funds allocated to the Phare Democracy Programme and Phare LIEN Programme for disadvantaged groups. On top of that we are now in the process of negotiating a Phare contribution from the Phare National Budget for 1999 for the Programme in the field of Education that has been elaborated by the Ministry of Education in cooperation with the Ministry of Social and Family Affairs. I must say that we were pleased to see that the Ministries themselves made significant funds available for the implementation of the Programme. This Programme comprises three elements laid down in the following (simplified) aims: reduction of the number of drop-outs and to increase the Roma participation in higher education.


I will not elaborate on the modalities of the Programme as it stands but as far as I can judge it looks very promising since it incorporates a lot of elements that have already proved their value on smaller scales. The Union is constantly evolving, and as I said earlier, the minority issue is one area where we may see enlargement having an impact on the EU. Furthermore now that the Treaty of Amsterdam has been adopted, employment will be high on the European agenda as well. With an unemployment rate under the Roma population of over 75% this can only lead me to the conclusion that there should be a strong will to improve the situation of the Roma in Central Europe in general and Hungary in specific. Allow me to finish my speech by expressing my hope that this conference will contribute to achieve this aim.





Péter Kovács Roma and the Roma Question in the Context of Human Rights in the Council of Europe 1. The European Convention on Human Rights The European Convention on Human Rights is one of the most effective and respected mechanisms for human rights protection; yet its ability to protect minorities has so far been limited, partly because of its legal format. Though article 14 of the Convention proscribes discrimination against minorities, amongst others, the legal protection afforded by this article is not autonomous; it can apply only in conjunction with statutory laws enacted in the Convention or its annexes: “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.” This Article as such does not, as the European Court of Human Rights has pointed out, exclude the possibility of what has been called ‘positive discrimination’. In the view of the European Court what article 14 in fact proscribes is differential treatment “lacking objective and reasonable justification”, or “without reasonable balance between the methods used and the goal aimed at.” On the contrary, differential treatment is justified in so far as it is “based on the objective evaluation of essentially different facts and if, in the public interest, it also guarantees a just balance between the protection of the interests of the community and the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Convention.” It is a hard fact that, although the European Court of Human Rights frequently alludes to article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, there have been few cases where judgements were decided on the basis of complaints by national, ethnic or linguistic minorities or their members; indeed, few cases came within purview of these concerns.1 Ten years were to pass before there was a ruling relevant to minorities; yet in Buckley v. the United Kingdom, 25 September 1996, the complainant lost, despite the positive view of the Committee. This was the case of a Roma woman who, unwilling to settle down, preferred a nomadic way of life and was prosecuted by the local council on the grounds of environmental protection and disfiguring the local landscape. Mrs Buckley wanted to park her caravan in Meadow Drove, South Cambridge, but ran into council by-laws which, partly for hygienic and social security reasons, provided for Roma families specially prepared residences instead of the previous, higgledy-piggledy arrangement of caravans. The licensing policy of the local council was, however, intended to ensure that the number of


those specially settled should not exceed a certain number; indeed, as emerged during the trial, the council was not loath to admit that the new settlement did not wish to take in any more nomadic Roma. There remained the possibility of Mrs Buckley’s being settled in the village, but this she firmly rejected. The complainant alleged that article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights2 had been contravened, i.e. her right to have her private life respected had been violated. The European Court of Human Rights, though reserving judgment,3 took the view that, on the evidence of the facts presented, the local council did not exceed its discretionary powers in law. It is true that some cases were brought by complainants of Roma origin, but these did not necessarily reflect specifically Roma concerns. A ruling of this kind was announced on 24 September 1992, in Gyula Kolompár v. Belgium, where the issue was the protracted nature of the extradition proceedings in Holland in the matter of a Yugoslav citizen resident in Holland, who was charged with major offences in Italy and minor ones in Belgium. The European Court of Human Rights threw out the case, since the delay in the extradition proceedings was directly attributable to the behaviour of the complainant. Likewise, the case of Assenov et al. v. Bulgaria, judgment on which was issued on 28 October 1998, involved Roma participants. These young men from Shumen were charged by the Bulgarian police with the offence of illegal street gambling, which brought their parents into an affray on their behalf. Though the complainant claimed in his appeal to the European Committee of Human Rights that he was targeted because he was a Roma, the Committee saw no evidence of the ethnic prejudice claimed by the complainant when, it was said, the police spoke to him in an offensive tone.4 As he could not offer supporting evidence (statement by a witness, etc.), this element of the complaint was rejected when the case was with the Committee, 5 and so the Roma dimension did not surface in the subsequent phases of the complaint. The complainants could, however, claim a measure of success, in that several points in their complaint – detective practice in Bulgaria, procedures applied to those being taken into custody, failure to investigate complaints about physical abuse – were found to be justified and resulted in the European Court of Human Rights issuing a condemnation of Bulgaria. 2. Conventions for the Protection of Minorities in the Council of Europe As is widely known, the Council of Europe has produced two agreements for the protection of minorities,6 The European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority
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Languages. While the Framework Convention does not distinguish between the various national minorities, the Charter does, since the languages designated as not “identified with a particular area” are governed only by the objectives and principles, and even by these only mutatis mutandis.7 While the commentary to the Charter8 does not spell out which these languages are, it was clear in the course of drafting that Government experts meant the Yiddish and Roma languages. The later draft of the commentary referred by name to these two languages and the practice of the Charter confirms this interpretation. 3. The Committee of Ministers and Expert Bodies The role of the Committee of Ministers in the activities of the Council of Europe is of pivotal importance, yet it is much less known to the public than work of the Parliamentary Assembly, which tends to be the focus of media attention. Should there be a special Ombudsman for Roma Affairs in the Council of Europe? Though the Parliamentary Assembly has more than once made a proposal along these lines,9 the view of the Parliamentary Assembly10 has been that since the establishment of the position of Commissioner for Human Rights was imminent, and that since part of the remit of this post was to make accessible to all the practice of human rights, it was a post by definition suited to the achievement of goals such as these and that therefore the designation of a special Ombudsman for Roma Affairs was not indicated. However, the Assembly stressed that the individual states could use these institutions, among others, to help ensure the participation of the Roma in public life, and that appropriate use should made in the international arena particularly of the guarantees secured in the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The expert preparatory work of the Committee of Ministers is carried out by a variety of committees of government experts. These expert committees are mutually supportive, examining according to their remit different but interconnected aspects of the same problems. The CDMG and the problems of the Roma The CDMG, the committee dealing with issues of European migration, issued a report in 1995 entitled “The Situation of Gypsies (Roma and Shinti) in Europe”. In this it pointed out that “where the Roma live a nomadic or semi-nomadic existence, problems with respect to opportunities for settlement continuously arise.” In this context it is worth pointing to Resolution 75(13) of the Committee
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of Ministers on the social position of Europe’s nomadic peoples, of which appendix B runs partly as follows: “Areas designated for the settling down and residence of nomadic peoples must ensure that their hygiene and security needs are met, and ways of pursuing their livelihood must be encouraged and facilitated (...)”. In 1995 the Committee of Ministers instructed the Steering Committee for Social Policy (CDPS) to consider what kind of support might be needed to implement resolution 75(13).11 In fact, the original proposals have stood the test of time, even though the term “nomadic” is no longer appropriate to describe the way of life of the Roma and the CDMG has itself said that the definition 12 is less than fortunate.13 In the view of the CDMG, in the event of the possible renewal of the proposals – something that should be done with the active involvement of all the Roma communities – attention should also certainly be devoted to the economic sphere. The MG-S-ROM and the problems of the Roma Subsequently the Council of Europe’s committee of experts on Roma issues (MGS-ROM) in 1996-1997 designated the following areas as being those where the Roma population is particularly disadvantaged: a) opportunities for employment, unemployment; b) legal problems in the area of human rights (discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, acts of coercion, police behaviour, access to legal rights, racism, racist attacks, incitement to racial hatred); c) legal status (citizenship, minority rights); d) education and culture (the extent of children’s participation in the education system, underperformance, reading and writing skills, knowledge and promotion of Roma culture); e) the media (access to the media, Roma journalists, the presentation of the Roma in the media); f) the disadvantaged position of Roma women and children; g) matters of health; h) housing and urban development (unsuitable accommodation, ghettoization); i) the nomadic way of life; j) relations with the authorities; k) migration across national frontiers. Subsequently the MG-S-ROM attempted a more detailed mapping of the thematic points listed, including actual practice as well as the description of the legal ideal. In this area it also tried to intensify professional links with the Organization for

11 12 13


Security and Cooperation in Europe and the appropriate bodies of the European Union.14 ECRI and the problems of the Roma ECRI, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, is the body specifically charged with countering racial prejudice, intolerance and racism, partly by monitoring the legislation and legal practice of the member states and partly through its own initiatives. In General Policy Recommendation No. 3 ECRI draws the attention of member states to the following: - They should sign and ratify the relevant international agreements, above all the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. - 00000000They should take effective measures against discrimination and discriminatory practices, including bringing forward civil legislation relevant to employment, housing, and education, and forbidding through punitive measures their local authorities from practising any kind of discrimination, while ensuring, should such practices occur nevertheless, that legal aid and compensation is available if the basic rights of the Roma have been violated. - In training those in the justice system, appropriate attention should be devoted to the complex issue of the Roma. - The media, with their great responsibility in this sphere, should give special emphasis to this issue and to the fight against prejudice in the training of journalists. - They should be alert to the phenomenon of segregation in education, take action against it, and promote Roma history and culture in the school curriculum. - They should reinforce the presence of the Roma in civil society, and support the various organisations of the Roma. - They should promote the dialogue between the police, the local councils, and the Roma, through appropriate institutional means. The CDDH and the problems of the Roma In its decision no. CM/625/220695 the Committee of Ministers asked the Steering Committee on Human Rights (the CDDH) for its interpretation of the term vagrant in article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The CDDH concluded that in order to avoid misunderstanding and because of the narrow judicial interpretation of the word, it would best to remove it from article 5 of the



Convention.15 Thus the conflict between the vagrant and the nomadic ways of life would be eliminated.16 CAHAR and the problems of the Roma CAHAR is a committee of legal experts on questions involving asylum, refugee status, and those displaced from their homeland. In its decisions nos. CM/622/220695 and CM/623/220695 the Committee of Ministers requested an assessment of the nature of the international migration of the Roma. CAHAR however concluded that, since national databases and statistical information generally did not record ethnicity, no reliable figure can be given for the proportion of cross-border migrations that might be attributable to the Roma community. None the less, it is clear that attacks on the Roma by virtue of their being Roma come under the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees.17 The CDCC and the promblems of the Roma In 1998 the Committee of Ministers charged the Council for Cultural Cooperation (CDCC) with preparing an agenda on the steps to be taken to ensure that Roma children take part in education Europe-wide. 4. The Parliamentary Assembly and the Roma The Parliamentary Assembly lies at the heart of the Council of Europe. Here the members move proposals to foster intergovernmental co-operation. Its concern for the issue of minorities is well-known; hence decisions on minority matters generally make reference to the improvement of the situation of the Roma. Moreover, in considering applications for membership from other states, it devotes particular attention to the Roma situation on the basis of information specially requested, as happened in the case of Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Romania. In the interests of improving their chances of becoming members, these states undertook to implement certain legal reforms, which the Parliamentary Assembly strove to monitor closely. In my survey of the activities of the Council of Ministers I already drew attention to the Parliamentary Assembly’s Recommendation 1203 (1993), which urged the establishment of the post of Ombudsman for Roma Affairs. The Assembly’s Order 511 (1995) concerning the fight against racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism highlighted the atrocities committed against the Roma and the importance of combating them. The members also discussed the health problems

15 16 17


of especially vulnerable communities, particularly the incidence of poliomyelitis, as well as options for the development of backward regions. 5. Conclusions The Council of Europe has clearly been concerned with the problems of the Roma, generally considering them in the context of human rights more generally, or specifically in the framework of minority protection. The question remains, however, to what extent these initiatives have remained at an Olympian height and how far they have been able to percolate down to those who shape, and are shaped by, Roma affairs. That is to say, what matters is how many effective steps have been taken towards making the acquis européen in Roma affairs genuinely a concern for all.


György Csepeli Rom or human being? Before we can talk about any particular group, we must know who we have in mind. This applies equally in the case of the Hungarian Roma, even if the definition proves more elusive than is usually the case. Group definition The reason that groups of humans are often difficult to define is that the act of defining is itself part of what we want to define. Furthermore, since groups do not exist in a limbo, the would-be definer must also take into account the selfdefinition of the members of the group, as well as definitions that come from sources that must be treated as being external to the group. A complicating factor is that more than one self-definition may be offered by members of the group, and these will not necessarily be identical. Self-definitions may be based on various criteria, but even those based on identical criteria may not converge. A similar confusion may reign over definitions originating from outside the group. Ultimately, the defining of a group may be counted successful only if a multiple consensus is achieved through the convergence of competing internal and external definitions. The chief difficulty in defining the Roma minority is that a consensus of this kind does not exist. The range of definitions from within the group are just as discordant as those from outside the community. Roma and Gadjo If this is, indeed, the case, the question arises: who are we talking about? There are many who, though they may not know, somehow claim to know, or perhaps only to feel, that a Roma minority does indeed exist. We must, however, ask whence comes the certainty of society’s assumption about the existence of the Roma minority, which forms the basis of discussion of the Roma. The primary means of defining a group is by giving it a name. György Tatár once quoted from the book of Genesis to show that the reason we cannot discuss humanity in terms of group psychology is that in the competition for names there was not a single name that every individual was willing to accept as his own: “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens; and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’” (Genesis 11.4) The chief difficulty in defining the Roma minority would seem to be the absence of a suitable name. The names in use foster only a negative definition.


The Hungarian term cigány is a label originating from outside the group and, with its profoundly negative, prejudicial connotations, is hardly conducive to providing the basis of a secure, well-balanced, positive sense of identity for those named by the term. At first sight a more useful term might appear to be gadjo, which the group we are interested in here uses to demarcate itself from those it feels are ‘others’. Its definition is, however, also negative, since it says nothing about who might be labelled non-gadjo. The cognitive problems associated with negative definitions are exacerbated by the fact that, whether we are looking at the functions of the terms cigány or gadjo, the situational and discourse variables preponderate strikingly over legal, historical, cultural and biopolitical definitions seen as objective in social terms Boundaries between groups Thus, the boundary exists, even if it is not clear who might be on one side of it and who on the other. Nikos Fokas, who in his recent book applies set theory to the social sciences, regards as ‘fractal’ those boundaries between sets which show capriciously intertwining borders while none the less fulfilling their delimiting role. For a fractal structure the fragmentedness of a border, the absence of an unambiguous bounding line, is connected with the fact that however hard we might try to decompose the bounding line into sections, each section is further decomposable, since the result of the decomposition is a reproduction of the structure of the whole. Applying this to the boundaries between human groups, this may mean that every member of a group carries, within him/herself, his/her group as a whole and thus the boundary that separates him/her from other groups. Bearing in mind the multi-level definition of groups, both the structural functionalism of Talcott Parsons and the social dramaturgy of Ervin Goffman offer a number of definition schemata, in each of which there may be different ways of treating the boundary between the ‘own group’ and the ‘other group’ From the outside, looking in In 1999 I and two colleagues used focus-group techniques to seek answers to some of the issues involved in defining the Roma minority. First we sought external features of a definition, which led us to draw the following distinctions: The first dimension is physical appearance. An important role is played by the assignment of colour. If the adjective used about skin, eyes, or hair is sötét (‘dark’), the probability of the person concerned being defined as cigány (‘Gypsy’) increases. Fehér (‘white’) can be adjectival in the case of teeth. It is hard to write this down, but a frequently-mentioned criterion was body odour. The second dimension is social situation. A person may become a Rom by virtue of the fact that he/she lives in a segregated place, known to be inhabited


chiefly or solely by Roma (a settlement, ghetto). Similar weight is given to poverty, and here might be mentioned the family name. The third, psycho-sociological, dimension proved to be the richest source of perspectives. The chief source of being labelled a Rom is the indirectly experienced one of hearsay. Furthermore, certain forms of behaviour are perceived as particularly characteristic of Roma, for example: the performing of Gypsy music, begging, bragging, aggressiveness, and solidarity. Guidance may be offered by mode of dress, distinctive variety of Hungarian speech (vocabulary, intonation), and, naturally, (Vlach) Romany speech. Precise distinguishing features were not elicited from the area of mood and lifestyle, which may also influence categorisation as a Rom. Those asked genuinely believed that these attitudes did not reveal any negative discriminatory tendency. It did not occur to them that the attitudes mentioned are very largely conditioned by the situation and in another context may have quite other values. It would therefore be interesting to carry out an experiment in which assignment to a particular group is carried out in a context where the person used as a stimulus possesses, in addition to the features mentioned, other non-Roma features (for example, he might be dark-skinned, but well-off and with standard Hungarian intonation). In 2000, Iván Szelényi will co-ordinate sociological research in five EastCentral European countries to study the social integration of the Roma. In a trial investigation of a representative sample, after the standard question-and-answer sessions, the interviewers were asked “Do you think the interviewee, or anyone in his/her household, is a Rom?” The proportions assigning the respondent or a member of his household to the Roma group varied from country to country; but, more interestingly, so did the degree of the interviewers’ confidence in the validity of the classification. Table 1 Classification as Rom in the five countries According to the interviewer: none are Roma the interviewee is a Rom there is a Rom in the family cannot say H 94 4 1 1 RO 92 6 1 1 R BG 80 9 11 SLK 84 1 1 14

The degree of confidence in the assignment is shown in the table below: Table 2


Degree of confidence in making the judgement in Table 1 quite certain almost certain guessing cannot say H 97 3 RO 47 26 26 1 R BG 57 38 3 2 SLK 79 13 6 2

It is immediately apparent that categorisation as a Rom, at least from the point of view of the outsider as represented by the interviewer, is not necessarily certain. The Roma/non-Roma boundary in Romania and Bulgaria is much more hazy than in Slovakia or Hungary, where the degree of confidence in the judgement is conspicuously high. In countries where delimitation proved relatively easy, those doing the delimiting were able to choose from the variables on offer according to how important they regarded them for the identification of the Roma. On the other hand, in countries where delimitation was more difficult, and a number of uncertainties arose, fewer differences in importance were identified between the variables on offer. Among Hungarian interviewers the most important features appeared to be lifestyle, and the closely associated ones of home furnishings, segregated residential area, and mode of dress. These are typically contextual points of reference. Skin colour, family name and mode of speech were less prominent. In the Slovak Republic the otherness of the language, and the closely associated feature mode of speech, served as the primary identifying feature. In Romania none of the features regarded as identifying the Roma was seen as more important than any other. In Bulgaria linguistic traits and descent appeared fairly significant, as did the answer to the question whether the person judged to be a Rom regard him/herself as one. From the inside, looking out We have no sociological data concerning the features used by the Roma population to define itself. Ethnographic evidence suggests that there are very great divisions among the Roma and that the absence of a unitary name is accompanied by the absence of a unitary self-image. According to the Hungarian focus-group based study, the most powerful group-forming force is negative discrimination and the perception of prejudice. Consequently we see that in the case of individual Roma there is a clear disparity between the unbearable burden of the identity ascribed to them by the non-Roma other and their identification with their own group. Among external influences the Roma mention first of all their childhood experiences, which defined who they were in a negative way. They cannot shake


off the memory of the sentence “You are not Hungarian”. A trail of practices perceived as discriminatory follows from this sentence. A child who, whether he wishes to or not, defines himself as a Rom because of such external influences, is treated with suspicion, or hostility, or is ignored, looked down on, and negatively discriminated against at every opportunity. There is no chance to shed the burden, since the environment wraps anything positive in something negative, as in the surprised “Hey, you’re quite smart for a Gypsy”, or “Well now, that’s not something I’d have expected of you, that’s not typical of your lot.” Negative identity is a psychological symptom in all minorities that are discriminated against, and can on occasion turn into self-hatred. The more serious the discrimination, the less the political, economic, and cultural power that the minority possesses to help it forge a counter-identity. A1. Do you think that the interviewee or anyone living in his/her household is a Rom? Interviewee is a member of the Roma minority Neither the interviewee nor anyone in his/her household belongs to the Roma minority The household is ethnically mixed and at least one member of it is Roma I cannot decide whether s/he is a Roma or not H 4.3 93.8 1.3 0.6 RO 6.3 92.5 1.2 – R n/a n/a n/a n/a BG 8.6 80.0 0.2 11.4 SLO 1.4 84.0 0.9 13.7

I am quite certain I am almost certain I was guessing I cannot judge It does not apply H skin colour eye colour A 11.9 4.5 B 9.6 11.6

H 96.2 3.8 – – – SLO A 2.1 0.5

RO 47 26 26 – –

R n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a RO A 2.3 1.8 B 0.3 0.9

BG 57.0 38.2 3.4 0.2 0.7

SLO 79.1 12.8 6.2 – 1.9 BG

B 2.3 2.5

A 1.8 0.3

B 3.2 1.9


hair colour 5.4 facial type 6.2 teeth 1.7 dress 7.2 manner of speech 6.9 vocabulary 6.6 mother tongue 2.2 lifestyle 10.2 value system 5.9 cliquishness 0 customs 1.1 aggressiveness 0.8 residence (area, 7.5 street) begging 0 braggadocio 1.2 superstitiousness 0 criminality 0 poverty 6.3 self-accepted identity 3.4 parasitical way of 2.1 life family name 6.6 house furnishings 7.5 surroundings/outside 11 of house family descent 5.4 many children 0.7
A: very important B: quite important

13 12 7.3 7.7 20.3 12.6 10.1 15.5 11 4.1 5.5 2.8 9.5 1 0.4 0 1.4 6 4.5 10 10.9 12.6 12 3.4 7.1

1.1 1.6 0.7 1.8 8.3 9 12.5 3.9 2.8 2.8 2.8 1.1 4.9 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.6 1.4 2.6 1.2 2.8 2.1 2.5 2.8 1.4

2.5 2.1 2.1 6 4.9 4.1 2.6 6 6.3 5.8 6.5 1.8 5.1 1.2 1.6 1.8 1.2 1.9 4.1 1.4 6.5 4.4 3.9 7.1 1.4

0.8 2 0.2 1.2 3.9 3.2 3.8 1.9 1.3 2 1 0.6 2.3 0.6 0.6 0.2 0.9 1.1 2.7 0.9 3.4 2.4 2.5 3 0.9

1.1 1 1.1 2.5 1.6 2.1 1.4 2.4 2.2 1.4 1.5 1.2 1.3 0.3 1.3 1.3 0.6 1 2.8 0.9 4.1 4.1 1.3 2 1.7

0.3 1.8 0.5 2.8 6.3 6.8 8.3 5.6 4.1 5.6 5.4 1.1 2.9 0.5 0.1 1 0.9 1.9 6.9 1 4.3 3.3 2.2 6.6 1.3

2.6 4.2 2.1 2.9 1.8 1.4 0.7 3 2.4 2.4 2.4 1.2 2.6 1.4 0.9 2.7 1.3 1.6 1.4 1 3.4 4.7 4 1.4 2.5


Ernő Kállai The Roma and Research on the Roma Is research on the Roma really necessary? This question suggests itself not only because of the prejudices of the majority of society towards the Roma, but because it is often the subjects of the research, the Roma themselves, who question the need for such research. It is indeed no simple matter to try to justify the goals of scholarship to folk who see only men in suits debating something they don’t understand, while their conditions remain unchanged, very much as if nothing had actually happened. Whether there is more or less research, the majority of society continues to see only what the ossified stereotypes dictate: the Roma don’t work and thieve, rarely send their scabious and lice-ridden children to school, or if they do, they are financially rewarded, as in Tiszavasvári. It is almost exclusively in this context that the man in the street encounters a problem which many already judge to be an issue that will lead to unresolvable conflict in Hungarian society. The reader of a newspaper or television viewer is very rarely informed about the questions raised (and sometimes answered) by scholarship, as the small-change of scholarship, even if concerns the country’s future, is much less newsworthy than the appearance of a moderately well-known politician at some conference or other. Instead of the presentation of the many complex and convincing arguments, two points must suffice. A recent government report on the situation of the minorities concluded its analysis of the circumstances of the Roma as follows: “The representative surveys completed in 1971 and in 1993-94 show that the Roma population increased by 50% over twenty years. Cautious estimates suggest that, while the population of Hungary as a whole will decline, by 2015 the proportion of Roma in the population of the country will rise to some 8%. Because of demographic changes, the population as a whole will age, while the Roma will have a higher proportion of younger people.” Even if some were to dispute – in my view pointlessly – the fact that the Roma comprise the stratum of society right at the bottom of the heap, it would be enough to link the fear articulated in the government report with the general theory of subcultures, of which many are well aware. It is widely reported that the young people who form gangs, the youth of the lower strata of society, are representatives of subcultures who are unable to achieve any status within the traditional institutions of society and therefore reject the goals and norms of the middle and upper classes because they create for them unequal and unjust conditions of existence. Poverty and the absence of a vision of the future defines the lives of these young people and makes their criminality inevitable. There is a


steady increase in the number of those younger folk who have tried to beat this system but failed. A commentary on these interrelations is superfluous. If we accept that the pulse of society beats according to some discernible laws, the present trends will ensure the continuation of the tendency whereby Hungarian society is splitting in two. If we were able to make those thinking people who care about the future of their country at least aware of this, these would become arguments more important than the Roma-related legislation required for joining the EU or humanitarian reasons, or even perhaps human rights. The researchers To be sure, the intentionally and perhaps excessively simplified need to conduct research outlined above is no burden for those professionally concerned with minority studies in general and Roma society in particular. In recent years, though one cannot speak of an explosion of interest, the scholarly opportunities to reveal more profound interconnections have undoubtedly increased. Of especial significance is the fact that in an increasing number of areas scholars and researchers identify closely with the issues of the Roma. Sociologists and ethnographers, working in fields of pioneering importance with by now wellestablished techniques and with vital achievements to their credit, are now being joined in the study of the Roma by historians, political scientists, anthropologists, linguists and, not least, by Roma studies experts, whose discipline is yet to be fully defined. More and more fascinating data are coming to light, which in my view will become truly useful only when the process of creating a synthesis from the winnowed out results has begun, that is, when the scholars and researchers find it vital to co-operate in the interests of their common goal. For in vain do we acquire valuable statistical data on Roma unemployment or the numbers who speak their indigenous tongue, if we fail to draw any conclusions or to relate the data to each other. Of the many debts scholarship still owes to this field, an important one is the recognition of Roma who have been successful by seizing the opportunities offered by society at large. For there is still a lot of mileage in presenting them as “exotic wild men” romantically pursuing a traditional way of life in folk dress, speaking Romany, struggling to survive from day to day in difficult circumstances through tricks and crafts. A lengthy period of participatory observation can provide a young scholar with memories and resources for a lifetime; but at least as important is the less spectacular work of investigating how it is that some Roma have managed to reach the medium or even upper entrepreneurial sector, or how some have made successful careers in the arts or sciences. Such folk could provide – even if not in every case – role models and possible alternatives for many Roma hungry for recognition and a steady income.


Missing, too, are those chapters in textbooks which might inform the majority of society, from primary school upwards, about the role of the Roma in Hungary’s history and culture. This could help to cut down the apparently indestructible petrified forest of stereotypes about the Roma. The pleasingly expanding opportunities for the scholar none the less place increasing responsibility on him/her. It is not enough to research an area of study, publish the results, and then wash one’s hands. The scholar must find ways of attracting the attention and the interest of political decision makers. This has not yet happened. For example, in the case of the minority local authorities it is not enough to stress the truly important point that we have passed minority legislation that is unique in Europe; what should be examined is the way the legislation operates in practice. Now, this has in fact been done: a team at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences looked at the first four years of minority local authority activity. But the political language that speaks of the Roma local authorities as “operating in a unique way” and “responsible for unique tasks” in practice means that these bodies are dysfunctional and are simply vegetating, at best. There are two reasons for this: on the one hand, the minority representatives, who are genuinely committed and enthusiastic, have not had – and could not have had – professional training in those areas (job-creation; the resolution of social problems, such as housing) which the majority of society expects them to handle once they have been elected. On the other hand, even when Roma intellectual and professional resources are equal to the problems, the impossible financial constraints strangle every attempt to move on, while the local authorities are beginning to pass the buck on Roma issues, since “that’s the Roma authority’s responsibility”. I am using this example to suggest that although we are about to amend the legislation on minorities, I am not aware of any amendment that attempts to deal with these problems. This is despite the fact that there has been a nation-wide survey, with results widely available; all that is needed is to make use of these results, now that so much energy, money, and intellectual prowess has been expended on investigating these issues. And the scholar, too, would then see some point to his labours. The role of the Roma intelligentsia in research In conclusion we must mention the place of educated Roma in scholarly life. We must first ignore (without debating its rights and wrongs) the notion that has, unfortunately, become ingrained in many Roma politicians, namely that only Roma scholars can carry out research into Roma life and history, since only a Rom is capable of understanding the distinctive spirit of his/her people (as if only a bird could be an ornithologist). The task facing the Roma scholar is huge. It is a cliché that it is not enough to be a Rom to carry out scholarly work: you also have to have professional training. Despite the well-known and appalling statistics on


Roma education, there are now a number of Roma well qualified for this task. These young people in their twenties, often with more than one degree, are still unknown in the world of scholarship and politics, partly because they have to fight a battle for recognition on two fronts. On the one hand they must surpass the average at university by a huge margin, in order to show that their achievements are not due solely to positive discrimination because of their origins. On the other hand they have to struggle to gain the recognition of Roma politicians who are household names. Béla Osztojkán, deputy head of the National Roma SelfGovernment, has said that he and the vast majority of nationally-known Roma leaders came into public life as a result of the boom of the 1970s and 1980s and the blast of democracy; they were the pioneers and did what they could to nurture a new, professional generation. This is true. But if the better-known leaders of the Roma want their successes to continue and expand, they will soon have to involve young, well-qualified Roma professionals in their work. Summary Research into the Roma is not merely timely; it is a most urgent task that will have a decisive and definitive influence on the fate of the whole of Hungary in the third millennium. We must break with the past, as superficial schemata for the handling of crises “in the heat of passion or anger” will no longer do. Answers to the Roma question will be forthcoming only from the political powers that be, based on sound scholarly foundations and through the involvement of well-trained young Roma professionals. And they will come not only to succour a people with a most unhappy fate, but primarily to have a decisive influence on the future of the whole of Hungary.


Balázs Krémer Debate and Deadlock It is now generally agreed that the position of the Roma in society is not just appalling; it is unacceptable. And as far as defining the goals to be achieved to secure the consolidation of their role in society is concerned, there now exists – at least among specialists in the field – a greater and more profound consensus than at any time in the recent past. Regarding the fundamental goals of the policies aimed at the social status of the Roma, it seems there is no substantial disagreement on the following points: - Social disadvantages attributable to being a Rom, or to coming from a Roma background, may be diminished. - 00000000In the institutionalised manifestations of the majority society the use of coercion (primarily in policing and in the administration of justice) should have a lower profile and more emphasis should be given to peaceful coexistence, the maintenance of day-to-day good relations, and to techniques of promoting and keeping open channels of communication. There is some tendency to regard such techniques as means of “integration”. The arsenal of technical resources available for the reduction of the social disadvantages stemming from being part of, or originating from, a minority can also be easily and consensually presented: - The fact that one belongs to or originates from a minority cannot provide grounds for, or any means of, discriminating against them by any member of society. The institutions of society, above all those wielding power and providing services, must become ‘colour blind’, at least in the sense that human rights and the demands of the international protocols and agreements, as well as the laws of the Republic of Hungary, must extend equally to every citizen. - The general right freely to choose an identity belongs, to an extent, to the Roma communities and their members, just as any other communities and their members in Hungarian society may, individually or as a group, freely nurture their identity. - To diminish the social disadvantages characterising the Roma, goal-oriented affirmative policies and programmes are required, which will diminish the chances of social collapse, isolation and endemic poverty among the Roma Compared with the recent past, debate in which individual policies were regarded as mutually exclusive has now lost much of its force, and a joint endeavour has emerged that accepts the need to make progress on all three fronts. It is no longer the case, as it was some years ago, that experts with differing political affiliations impugned each other’s morality, decency, and common sense. Today the debate has been honed down to the following two issues: - Where are the limits of the policies in terms of content and institutions, to whom do the particular principles relate, what is the timetable, and what is the


justification for those principles? In other words, what is the right mix of appropriate political and judicial measures? - What concrete steps can be taken to move forward on individual issues? Where are the breakthrough points through which progressive processes can be launched and subsequently maintained? To answer these questions a change of style in the dialogue is desirable. We should now concern ourselves less with the unhappy present and individuals’ dream of the future (and with whose dream is the most more splendid); we should rather be thinking of the sacrifices we are prepared to make, and the price we are prepared to pay, in the interests of palpable progress. In what follows I shall suggest some possible areas where we might move forward, in the full knowledge that I cannot offer even the outlines of a consistent and multi-layered political programme. Deadlock and moving forward – operationalisation of the issue of discrimination After many attempts, it is time to replace the “grasp all, lose all” approach, in order to grasp at least something. Many folk like to regard every social disadvantage as discrimination with a legal remedy (courts, punishment); this is fundamentally repugnant to all officials and politicians, whatever the discriminatory practice concerned might be. Discrimination exists and it is true that far too much of it stems from the legal process, rather than political or social disadvantage or discriminatory treatment. To make progress in this area: - We must spell out, in legal categories, all those practices which can be seen as discriminatory and thus offensive to everyone’s interests, aiming not for the ideologically “good” but rather carefully circumscribing what is to be avoided and thus “bad” . Such practices will thenceforth be legally identifiable and punishable. This should be done even if these steps do not offer the prospect of immediately eradicating every discriminatory practice; the rapid elimination of just some, perhaps of the crudest and the most unjust, would be well worthwhile. - If we wish to treat social discrimination as something that is not merely the suffering of an individual but an offence against the common good, against the interests of society as a whole, we should clarify what kinds of public task can be carried out, and by which public institutions, in order to realise the goal of banishing discrimination. We must think through which of the tasks aimed at unearthing, pursuing and taking action against discrimination can be assigned to the supervisory and administrative bodies in society: the police, the judiciary, the courts and so forth. Equally, we should consider to what kind of support – such as legal aid from public funds and legal representation – those who are discriminated against are entitled.


The freedom to choose a minority identity, the freedom to belong to minority a group or institution: the freedom and authority of minority institutions In Hungary today the problems are not where they might be easiest to seek. Noone looking at the proliferating numbers of diverse Roma organisations could claim that the Roma are prevented from establishing their own minority institutions. Such a large number of organisations could make a much more substantive contribution to the eradication of social disadvantage attributable to accident of birth, if it were operating – indeed, allowed to operate – with greater efficiency. As regards the circumstances in which these organisations operate, everyone, both those within them and those without, expects too much of them, so that their grandiose plans typically end up as frustrated dreams. The necessity of blowing these cowebbed dreams away comes especially from outside, as legislation and the very limited public funds both fuel the majority’s illusion that “the Roma question can now be regarded as solved”. If we wish to disabuse ourselves of this, we should first calmly consider what it is possible to achieve within the existing institutional framework and with the existing resources. The gaps and unfulfilled needs could then also emerge in an increasingly rational way. It may be inconvenient, yet it is unavoidable, to point out that, serious as the problems of the Roma might be, considering the mushrooming of their organisations in recent years and the resources provided, tangible achievements have been few and far between. This situation results partly from the undoubted insensitivity and cynicism of officialdom, but the Roma organisations themselves must take a share of the blame. Clearly the perception has been that the personal interests of the Roma elite, and the institutional interests of the Roma organisations, have often overridden the social interests of the Roma as a whole. Exaggeration, attempts to outbid one another, dreaming about the impossible, huffing and bluffing – all these spring from internal divisions and competition that is not always fair, and, at the same time, help to nurture the cynicism of officialdom (Cf.: “More?? For this lot?? What for??”, etc.) All that a gadjo like me can do, to try to ensure that the necessary internal pluralism of the Roma, their competitiveness and their conflicts properly interact with co-operation in the interests of common goals, is to say from time to time to my Roma friends as kindly as possible: “Look lads, perhaps that’s not a good idea...” Something must be said, too, about the freedom to choose one’s identity, which sometimes brings conflict to organisations built upon a Roma identity: serious problems are faced not only by those who are prepared to stand up for their Roma identity, at least to the extent of being members of some Roma organisation; those who opt out of Roma life and wish to assimilate also encounter difficulties. As a sociologist concerned with social policy, I have to say the latter are also part of the picture. I cannot, however, offer any suggestions as to how the Roma bodies


might be more understanding and accepting of these folk, who might be called “traitors”. What I can say is that exclusion of assimilating Roma from the formal representation of the Roma question certainly weakens the power and credibility of that representation, at least as regards the maintenance of relations with the institutions of the majority society. Poverty: Attacking disadvantage in education, employment, and health through affirmative policies and programmes It was in no small measure due to institutional pressure from Roma organisations that policies aimed at the splitting in two of public services have increasingly gained ground: let there be just one school, doctor’s surgery, workplace; everything else is the Roma’s and they should kindly keep their distance from the other institutions. Alas, such initiatives cannot be ascribed to the powers-that-be; they are rather a manifestation of the kind of “outbidding” mentioned above. A number of organisations, noticing that they could not afford to finance the representation of interests, accepted public service functions which provided income for its political activities, too. The result is dramatic: the Roma programmes, which were in any case under-resourced (a pie the administration already had its fingers in), had to provide finance for yet other schemes as well. To cap it all, these institutions normally inherit the stigmata of the community, and the public services provided are typically poor. With the best of intentions, they help preserve social disadvantage. To break out of this vicious circle, we need to think of these programmes less in the framework of the Roma. A housing programme does not necessarily best serve Roma interests by being managed by a Roma organisation; it is best if good value, good quality, sufficiently large and well-equipped flats are built for Roma families who previously lived in poor-quality housing. The same applies in the sphere of employment and health; and also, though a little more subtly, in education: the programmes are not guaranteed to work by virtue of the fact that they are managed by Roma; they are worthwhile if they genuinely improve the way of life and social mobility of Roma and Roma communities. If a consensus in this can be agreed, we might want to think again about how to deal the cards: who does what, who will be responsible for bringing these new desiderata about? Most particularly: how can we ensure that a more progressive role of the Roma organisations should be not so much the securing of funds, but ensuring that it is in their interests to improve the life of Roma and diminish their social disadvantages. An epigraph – by way of conclusion In the early 1990s I was at a public meeting where General Electric wanted to close the Tungsram plant in Kisvárda but were prepared to support generously the


relocation of the workers. The ministry officials became impatient, as they could not see why so much time had to be spent on the fate of 170 workers, when in Szabolcs County alone the number of those out of work was in the tens of thousands. In an equally impatient but rich, booming voice Charles Huebner, at that time president of the Foundation for Hungarian-American Enterprise, said: “Well, now, how does one eat an elephant? Well? One bite at a time, right?” When we try to digest the elephant-sized problem of the Roma, and we just go round and round the beast, I am often reminded of Mr Huebner’s words. It is time to take bites; indeed, to take one bite at a time.


Ágnes Daróczi Accepting responsibility for one’s identity Assimilation For many centuries two simultaneous processes have been at work among the Roma of the eastern parts of Europe: assimilation and integration. Assimilation is primarily a process affecting the individual and brings with it the abandonment of the Roma community and a complete merging into the surrounding people. In the middle ages, for example, this merger took place along the axis of religious ideology and was relatively straightforward, as Christians assimilated to Christians, Muslims to Muslims, and so forth From the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries onward, the ideology of the nation gained ground and this natural assimilatory process became more problematic. In line with the demands of the nation state, the centripetal role of the state exerted a coercive assimilatory pressure upon every minority in the region. Indirect forms of this pressure included the compulsory Volksschule and the use of the state language in government administration. The last stage of this process was represented by the practice of the denial, under socialism, of the existence of minorities. Integration The other process, integration, is based on an organic relationship between the Roma community and the outside world, and involves a continuous process of adjustment, harmonisation of interests, division of labour, and co-operation to ensure the preservation of the linguistic and cultural integrity of the Roma community. This co-operation and coexistence and mutuality of influence can take many forms in terms of content and quality. In Hungary in the middle ages, or in Serbia somewhat later, the process of integration for the Roma communities included autonomy in terms of civil law. Subsequently this became restricted to the microstructures at the community level and increasingly meant that the Roma community had to resign itself to a subordinate role. After the fall of communism, it became possible to ensure the minority rights of the Roma on a legal basis and so to provide a legal framework, of equality before the law and collective cultural needs of the minority, within which the process of integration can take place. A frequent by-product and enemy of the integration process is segregation, a form of oppression that is isolating and disintegrative in every sense: economic, cultural, and political.


An ongoing problem for the Roma of East-Central Europe is whether to yield to the pressure to opt for individual and communal assimilation, or to remain in their communities and go down the road of integration on the basis of a partnership that rejects isolationism and segregation. (Pre)conditions A precondition of choosing either path is the openness of the receiving, majority society, the acceptance of equality of status and of the dignity of man. Only this can ensure that assimilation or integration can be chosen without coercion. In fact, a precondition of assimilation is that road to integration should also be guaranteed. For the freedom to choose and change one’s ethnic ties to the Roma is conditional upon being able freely to assert them. The other precondition of free choice is the recognition of Roma values, of the Roma’s civil equality and human dignity, of their existence as a minority. An integral part of this is the creation of institutions embodying and nurturing the various aspects of their identity. Issues of the fate of the Roma Many of the countries of East-Central Europe, particularly the successor states of former Yugoslavia, are in upheaval because of their delayed national and institutional development. In this region the nationalist processes that created nation states in the nineteenth century were so protracted that they became intertwined with the tenets of feudal socialism. Both at the level of European integration and in terms of ensuring the minority rights of the Roma, these are barriers which, for the Roma, threaten their very existence. For the Roma of the region there are two fateful issues, which surface side by side but are often inseparable: - because of the economic crisis, there is the uncertainty of being able to make ends meet and a descent into miserable penury, which for historical reasons affects them more severely than those in their environment; - 00000000and they have to resolve problems stemming from their minority status: the preservation of their communities, the creation of their language, the development of their means of communication, and the establishment of their cultural institutions, education system, and the representation of their minority interests. To both of these challenges they must receive – and offer – answers without further ado. The social welfare question


Of the two problem areas just listed, the first might be addressed through national poverty (rehabilitation) programmes. These countries have, however, been so badly shaken by economic crises and restructuring that they have no resources to spare for expensive social and rehabilitation programmes. At the same time the role of the state is eroding as it withdraws from major areas of social concern (housing, health, etc.), which reinforces trends opposed to poverty aid and rehabilitation. In the battle for a share of the limited social resources and of the new opportunities for employment, the Roma are handicapped by the presence of discrimination and the absence of local networks and hence influence; in brief, they have very little clout. Political clout is needed to finance the necessary social welfare and job-creation schemes, for the struggle for national political power among the various interest groups is above all for resources. In these countries new, property-owning classes are evolving, and capital is being accumulated. It is primarily the interests of the new property-owners that determine decisions about resources. Social welfare programmes are financed only from whatever is left over, and even from this little pot it is the well-organised, politically-aware groups that stand the best chance of getting their share. This is therefore another field in which the Roma require strong representation of their interests, organisation, political allies, and an acceptable environment. At present, however, it is difficult to identify in these countries any political will to make sacrifices in the interests of building an open society free of prejudice and willing to make available resources adequate to prevent the complete breakdown of the impoverished strata of society. In such circumstances it becomes even more vital to organise effectively the civic battle for the representation of Roma interests and against discrimination, and to reinforce the entrepreneurial spirit and organisational effectiveness of those belonging to poverty-stricken communities struggling simply to survive. At the same effective publicity must help to secure acceptance of the Roma by the majority, and their willingness to show solidarity with the Roma, while the Roma must be helped to articulate their values and goals, precisely in order to convince their would-be allies that they must support the joint struggle to ensure the only possible way forward: local and nation-wide programmes on emancipation, social justice, and job-creation. Cultural issues The other crucial issue concerns the maintenance and modernisation of the communities, their language, and their culture. The communities mentioned earlier are ‘relic forms’, increasingly unsuited to the battle being fought for sheer survival against exploitation and cultural and media pressures. A new, competitive strategy must be developed. So far the mutually-supportive, cohesive strength of the counter-culture of folklore and family-kinship communities has not proved equal


to the task. We need a new ideology of emancipation, values that yield a civic consciousness and offer models, as well as institutions in culture, communication, scholarship and education that can articulate and transmit these from the past and into the future. But these tasks cannot be achieved without effective representation of interests, allies committed to the pluralism of an open society, and, not least, adequate material resources. While the content of processes of political and representational selforganisation representing Roma interests (including cultural, artistic, scholarly and communicative processes) may differ from country to country, their form and scope is invariably national rather than regional. This is only natural, since the institutions of the interest-groups and the political systems are similarly distributed, not least because of the tradition of statist dirigisme. In every country the Roma are present as a national minority. In each, the political and legal environment acknowledges the minority in its own way, sometimes blocking the justified demands arising from the minority situation. In principle, the existence of the Roma nationality should now be safeguarded by the burgeoning international protective legislation protecting minority rights (such as the Charter for Minority Languages, the Framework Convention), but in practice, countries do not make possible for the minorities to flourish. The centralised organisational and institutional model is everywhere dominant and this is little affected by the fact that institutions established earlier using government funds have been located in the regions (Museum of the Polish Roma in Tarnow, of the Roma of the Czech Lands in Brno; the German Documentation Centre in Heidelberg, and so on). The decisive influence here seems to have been not the needs of the local Roma but the will of the state, even if the locals’ willingness to accept such centres is worthy of note. Government policy often prefers to keep Roma institutions as far away as possible from political centres and Roma communities and situations where they might assert their rights. An exception to this can be seen in the case of the Phralipe Theatre, established in Sutka, the Roma district of Skopje, where the leaders of the local community of some 30,000 Roma provided the initiative for, and then brought into being, an institution of national value and even of European import, even if the fighting and financial troubles have forced it to move to Germany for the time being. The institutions discussed above have thus to be identified at three levels: - European (bases representing communicative, scholarly and representative interests), - in each country (centres representing cultural, communicative, scholarly, artistic, community, and organisational interests), - locally (community institutions representing local interests).


Iván Szelényi The Roma of Csenyéte: the first 150 years It was just ten years ago that I began, together with Gábor Havas and János Ladányi, ethnographic research in a village called Csenyéte about halfway between Miskolc and Kassa (Košice, Slovak Republic). Csenyéte is tiny; it was at its biggest around 1900, when the population was some 500; currently it is about 300. What drew us to Csenyéte was the peasant farmer exodus that began in the mid-70s and continued in the 80s. When we first visited it in 1989, the population was almost 90% Roma. Today that figure has risen to some 95%. The non-Roma still living there are limited to a few elderly women. Csenyéte is by no means unique in this respect; there are several dozen small settlements of this kind in Hungary, especially in Borsod and Baranya counties. When we started our research we hypothesised that the Roma at one time lived in their traditional isolation from Hungarian villages and that they began to move into the villages in the 1970s; this view was supported by what we were told locally. The Roma who actually lived in the village appeared to us to be newcomers. We imagined that typically Roma numbers in the village would swell as they moved further into the village with the departure of the peasant farmers. We were particularly interested in the details of this process and in how the evolution of such Roma village ghettos influenced the Roma way of life. We have been studying these changes in detail over the last ten years or so. A couple of years ago I became interested in the historical dimensions of this study. I thought it would be useful to sketch in the historical background, to find out something about the village’s past. For the first time in my life I committed the unforgivable sin of venturing inside a historical archive. Once you are in an archive you are beyond redemption; and this is what happened to me. Among the records in Kassa I was unfortunate enough to find the census returns of 1857, which documented every household in Csenyéte. It was generally held that the Roma settled in the village at the beginning of the twentieth century, somewhat isolated at the northern and southern ends. In principle, then, there ought not to have been Roma here in 1857, which is also suggested by the absence of Csenyéte from the Roma census of 1893. However, to my great surprise, in 1857 I found five families whose names sounded like typical Csenyéte Roma names. Four families were called Kótai (in Csenyéte today every Kótai is a Rom), and there was a Horváth, too, which in this village is also a Roma name. It was interesting that the census-taker did not record any Roma in the village when he collated the ethnic data; I could not see why the Roma-sounding names were excluded, when those of other ethnicities were duly recorded. There was nothing for it but to plough on in the archive. I began to look at the parish registers. The church registers showed that four out of the five families with Roma names were Roman


Catholic and in every case the parish priest had recorded, under the rubric of ‘social status’ (where, for others, were given their occupation), that they were Roma. The remaining Kótai family was Calvinist, and in their case the pastor’s practice in the birth and death columns varied. In the ‘social status’ column he first wrote, for Pál Kótai, that he was the village blacksmith (in 1857); and he added that he was a ‘new Hungarian’ (“újmagyar”). So it turned out that there were Roma in Csenyéte in 1857; in fact, there were altogether twenty Roma in the village at this time. All five families that I had identified as Roma lived in the poorest part of the village together with the substantial numbers of poor Jews. In 1857 some 60 of the 400 people in the village were Jews. About half were day-labourers whose large families shared the fate of the landless serfs and the Roma. One of the Roma actually owned the house his family lived in, which is surprising, as none of the Jewish families owned theirs and even the peasant farmer families were tenants. The remainder obviously lived in peasant houses and not hovels, because the owners of the houses were better-off peasant farmers. It would appear that I uncovered the interesting fact that in mid-nineteenth-century Csenyéte, the Roma did not live in a Roma settlement; in fact, there was no settlement. The structure of the Roma family was similar to that of other poor families. A mother and father, two or three children, grandparents: this is what a typical Roma family might have looked like at this time. According to the censuses taken between 1850 and 1890, the number of births outside marriage was somewhat higher among the Roma than among the peasant farmer families, but not significantly higher. It was normal for the Roma to marry and live as a family. The significant change occurred around 1895-96, as follows. Csenyéte was a typical one-street village, with the traffic flowing mainly in a north-south direction. In 1896 the village was reorganised and a new link road was opened up from the south. The southern part of the village was then the poor quarter. I came across a map dating from 1896, which has the new road inked in – and interestingly enough, this is the earliest map to show the planned Roma settlement in the north. Though no actual settlement yet existed, it was clearly planned at the time that the new road was about to reach the village through the old Roma poor quarter. I have no other evidence, but it would seem that the village elders were concerned that it would not look good to reach the village through the Roma poor quarter and decided to move the Roma to a dedicated settlement at the northern end. And by the early 1900s all the Roma had indeed been moved out to the settlement. I imagine that those Roma who had previously lived in the village decided to move out, and new Roma folk moved into the new and now quite isolated Roma settlement. For me, this is the beginning of the second period in the life of the Roma of Csenyéte. The first was the age of assimilation, when the Roma were identifiable and counted amongst the poorest in the village, but were little different from the other poor groups in the village. They resided in areas seen as integral parts of the village.


The second period began around 1896 and lasted until 1950. In this period all the Roma were confined to areas outside the village, and the demographic indicators for the Roma fell into decline. A dramatic indication of this can be seen in data on infant mortality. Between 1935 and 1948 around 70-75% of Roma babies died in their first year. While this figure was similarly high in the nineteenth century among the peasantry, in fact by the late 1930s and 1940s, among the latter this figure had improved to 30-40%. The figures from the early 1900s onwards show a steady decline, but amongst the Roma they steadily rise. After 1930 the proportion of children born outside wedlock also rises steeply. The Roma adjusted not to the community norm but created their own. There is every indication that the Roma also lived in enduring family relationships, but they did not bother to have these legitimated; that is to say, they did not concern themselves with the long-term identifiability of fathers. About 1950 a new period began in the life of the village. Two things changed dramatically. Infant mortality fell (between 1949 and 1951 it was virtually eliminated), and the proportion of those born outside wedlock also fell. Between the 1920s and the 1980s on average 20 Roma children were born each year. Of these, in the 1930s, every year six or seven died before reaching their first birthday; but from the 1950s onwards, only one such child died every two or three years. Between 1956 and 1961 there was a policy decision to force Roma to the Town Hall and get them married. At the same time they were officially registered wherever possible: a 65-year-old grandmother would be registered as unmarried; many people of grandparental age were forcibly married; children were legitimised and their dates of birth registered. The number of Roma married couples had grown by the 1960s, the third period in the life of the Roma of Csenyéte. The next period can be dated to the mid-1970s or perhaps the early 1980s: this was the exodus of the peasant farmers from the village. The cause of this was primarily economic. The schools and the local councils were reorganised on a district basis, and this encouraged the peasant population of smaller villages to leave. Thanks to the special terms offered by the OTP (National Savings Bank), the empty peasant farmer houses were quickly taken over by the Roma, thus speeding up the departure of the peasants, as the Roma were by this time perceived as a danger, especially in the increasingly Roma-dominated schools. By the time of our 1989 visit, there wasn’t a single peasant child in the school; indeed, there had not been one since the mid-1980s. The Roma ghetto had thus begun to take shape, with far-reaching consequences for the situation of the Roma. One consequence was a leap in population figures. In this respect there are distinctions to be made in the village: the upwardly-mobile and more settled families practise family planning and the number of children in such families is two or three, but less integrated families have eight or ten, or even twelve. It goes without saying that in the most penurious families the children are the only sources of income. A demographic explosion in the village has resulted in a slow but definite growth in population figures and a much younger average age. Another interesting point is


that the proportion of those cohabiting has again increased. While by the end of the 1970s there was clearly no longer any political pressure to legalise cohabitation, there was a drift to the acceptance of the norm; but over the last fifteen or twenty years this has weakened considerably. There is a marriage in Csenyéte only once every three years, while the number of children born is about 20 a year. Thus the proportion of those born outside wedlock has increased significantly. And for the first time the average age of those giving birth has started to decline. I have every piece of data on every person who was born, died, got married or gave birth in Csenyéte since the last century: up to 1980 I have managed to find only one Roma girl who gave birth to a child at the age of 15. In fact, the age at which Roma girls first gave birth is identical with that of peasant girls: between 17 and 19. It is only in the last fifteen to twenty years that there has been an increase in the proportion of Roma girls giving birth at a younger age: today a first child at 15 or 16 is no longer uncommon. This is as far as have we got in our research. If I had to sum up in one sentence the lessons I have learnt from the historical sociology and demography of Csenyéte, it would be the extreme volatility of the relationships between majority and minority groups in society. Just consider the enormous differences here over the last 150 years. I would not wish to identify any particular period as ideal; I would not know which period is good, which bad; these are complex matters. But I think it is possible to state the facts of how the Roma community stands in relation to the majority population in terms of life expectancy, or the number of children, of the proportion of children born out of wedlock, or geographical segregation. The changes – whether assimilatory or segregatory – are not dramatic and not even linear; they tend to be cyclic: assimilatory periods follow segregatory periods in a cycle. I would need much more time and evidence to hazard a guess as to why a particular period is more assimilatory or segregatory. Nor, though I have thought much about it, can we say much about whether assimilation is to be preferred to segregation, or vice versa.




Jenő Kaltenbach Roma conflicts and the prospects for integration, as seen from the Ombudsman’s perspective18 Majority, minority, equality of opportunity Everything points to the fact that the age of the nation state, of the period of linguistic and cultural homogeneity in Europe, is nearing its end. For the European citizen of the future a multicultural environment will be a normal, everyday experience, in much the same way as the gastronomical variety on offer to the city-dweller today. The coexistence of different cultures can, however, also be a source of tensions, which must be attended to. This is clearly one factor in the growth in the arsenal of machinery, both judicial and extra-judicial, evolving to prevent and eliminate racial (ethnic) discrimination, and indeed in the general mushrooming of interest in the topic in recent years. This is true in the wider international context (the Council of Europe), in the context of the European Union’s legal and political sphere, and not least in relation to the legal systems and public life of individual states, particularly in the West. We have to learn to live with each other, and this does not happen overnight, by waving a magic wand. This is all the more so when, and in those places where, set views of the nation state is still fairly widespread – or are even the only permitted views – and simplistically reduce the debate to the absolute superiority of the dominant majority. The notion of “cultural superiority” has a long historical pedigree and is naturally reinforced on a daily basis if we compare the parameters of the nation state majority with a particularly marginalized, defenceless minority, which never enjoyed the same opportunities. No better illustration of this can be imagined than the relations between the Roma and the permanent majority society. By “permanent” I mean to suggest that this is a general European problem which, curiously but for a variety of reasons, is only now beginning to take centre stage. Just to suggest the European dimensions of this problem area, and without going into too much detail, let me quote a sentence from paragraph 38 of the ECRI annual report for 1998, which states, a propos of its General Policy Recommendation No. 3, concerned with the improvement of the situation of the Roma: “Throughout Europe the Roma suffer seriously from prejudice, and are the victims of a racism deeply rooted in society. They are often the target of racist and intolerant practices, which are sometimes violent, and their basic rights are frequently infringed and endangered.” To this we can add, from a document about relations in Hungary: “…The most acute tensions in the near future will almost certainly focus on the Roma


ethnic group. It is the Roma who are most severely affected by the economic downturn, for the process of their social integration has been interrupted and the members of the group are being increasingly forced out of the world of work, lack a white-collar elite, and their culture and way of life evince a number of distinctive features. Their circumstances are forcing more and more of them to turn to crime. The local conflicts that have flared in the last two or three years have been in this area and nearly always manifested themselves as tension between ethnic groups. The probability of the Hungarian Roma becoming ‘duty scapegoats’ in the near future is rather high.” This prediction from 1993 has proved to be entirely accurate. Good relations between the Roma and the rest of society have been clouded by a range of conflicts at both local and national level. The charge most frequently levelled at the Roma is their lack of willingness to integrate. But if we look more closely, it is clear that society and its institutions, individuals as well as organisations, are not merely indifferent to the problem but a number of indications suggest that they are directly contributing to its exacerbation. The picture is extremely complex, as even the most fundamental startingpoint – the nature of integration – is itself much disputed. What the majority expects from the minority is the unconditional acceptance of the language, culture, and values of the majority, that is to say, complete assimilation and the giving up of a separate identity; while the minority understands by integration a mutual rapprochement, involving the symbiotic, partial acceptance of elements of one another’s identity, without the loss of the core of self-identity. In the case of Hungary’s national minorities – those minorities whose kinsmen are in the majority in the neighbouring countries – this latter process is indeed taking place, even if it has been through some rocky patches, and under the constant threat of complete assimilation in the long term; in some cases the threat has become a fact. In the case of the Roma, however, even the alternative route, in principle more palatable, is not available, precisely because of the resistance of the majority, their denial of their acceptance. This “resistance”, seen through legal spectacles, manifests itself as the violation of the constitutional right to equality, that is, in various kinds of discrimination. But what is discrimination? On the nature of (racial) discrimination Despite the fact that the constitutions of all the “Western-style democracies”, including that of Hungary, have for some time referred to the obligation to maintain equality (even equality of opportunity) and to outlaw discrimination, and even though these have become the subject-matter and practice of constitutional law, it cannot be claimed that the debates on what constitutes discrimination, or anti-discriminatory policy and legislation, have been satisfactorily resolved. The most glaring instances of discrimination, that is, discriminatory practice in the creation and/or application of legislation lacking (on occasion intentionally


lacking) a constitutional basis, can lead to the basis of a consensus, but there is virtually no agreement on how its more subtle instances and manifestations might be identified, let alone on how they might be combated by the state. At the heart of the problem lies not so much the degree to which the disadvantage suffered by a group is attributable to (historical) discrimination, but rather the issue of how far the elimination (or at least: amelioration) of the condition of the disadvantaged should be a task for the state – and if it should, what role in this should be played by government bodies and the legal system. To put it another way: is it the task of the community as a whole to enforce social justice even if it prefers disadvantaged groups in general, and certain ethnic groups in particular, to be supported by earmarked government means? I am convinced that the Western(-style) democracies’ humanism-inspired conception of law and the state, points very much in this direction. None the less I am equally certain that we are all agreed that one of the basic duties of the state is to ensure the maintenance of peace in society in the broadest sense; more narrowly, it must guarantee public security by, inter alia, minimising such sources of conflict as might threaten it. It will readily be agreed that unprovoked differences between groups in society and the tensions arising therefrom can indeed be regarded as sources of conflict if they develop along ethnic faultlines or manifest themselves in ethnic garb – and are amplified by the ever-alert media of an information-hungry society. The phenomenon of discrimination is complex not only in respect of the senses discussed so far; it is also complex in its manifestations. Discrimination surfaces not ‘in general’, but in all-too-concrete segments of public life, so the above-mentioned conceptual uncertainty surrounding both diagnosis and treatment will perhaps be more tractable if we look at it through these specific segments. Types of discrimination as seen in the Ombudsman’s practice Set up four years ago, the office of the Ombudsman for the Rights of Minorities receives nearly 400 complaints each year, almost 70% of them from Roma; the overwhelming majority of these concern (alleged or genuine) discrimination. The range of areas of concern reflects the areas relevant to the Roma in the public arena: education and training; employment and income; use of public services (in the broadest sense, including restaurants and clubs); and the actions of the authorities (here exemplified by the police). Discrimination in schooling “Of the many challenges to be met in the future, education is perhaps the most important, in that it can be used to help mankind attain peace, freedom, and social equality...Education is perhaps the most important means of ensuring mankind’s advance towards an incontestable and harmonious future free of poverty, exclusion, lack of understanding, oppression, and war.”


After these words of wisdom, let me quote one sentence from another study: “The extent of the inequality of opportunity is shocking: the factor is more than fifteen.” I need hardly say that this statement refers to the prospects of a Hungarian Roma child as against those of a Hungarian non-Roma. Is this discrimination, and if it is, are we doing enough about it? In this case we have at least a definition of sorts to appeal to. The UNESCO Convention on discrimination in education (promulgated in Hungary in 1964) forbids discrimination on the grounds of race, skin, colour, etc., if its aim or result (emphases mine: JK) is: - the exclusion of any person or group from any kind of education; - restricting the level of the education provided to any person or group; - putting any person or group into a position irreconcilable with the dignity of man; - and the provision of separate educational systems or facilities for specified persons or groups. This was why the office decided to launch a full review of how the education system affected minorities. This led to reviews, in successive years, of teaching and what was labelled auxiliary school teaching. Both reviews supported the views and conclusions already familiar from the specialist literature: there were serious problems in the relations between Roma pupils, their parents, and the schools, which resulted in the Roma as a group receiving education at a lower level and in isolation. As we saw, both these factors feature in the UNESCO definition of discrimination. Our system of schooling and teacher training as presently constituted is quite obviously unable to deal with the conflicts outlined. At the same time, it is worrying that despite the scholarly analysis of the problem and proposals for reform going back many years we have hardly been able to make any headway in achieving change. The consequences are shocking. Today, in the institution formerly known as the auxiliary school and now regarded by all as a blind alley or cul-de-sac, almost half the children are Roma, though in Borsod county, for instance, they make up 94% of the population of such schools. The proportion of Roma children at ordinary primary schools is 5-6%, in secondary schools 1%, while they are virtually absent from higher education (cf. UNESCO). Thus their fate may be sealed at differing points in their lives, but it is invariably sealed at an early stage. Those in the auxiliary schools are branded at the start of their school career, while the vast majority of those in ordinary primary schools move on to the trade schools, which are now in serious crisis and where the Roma often acquire trades that are on the decline. The path leading to the white-collar elite is virtually closed. The real conflicts therefore emerge in the next segment, that of employment. Equality of opportunity in employment


Thanks particularly to the work of Gábor Kertesi, Gábor Havas and István Kemény, we have a reasonably accurate picture of what the figures say. Their research suggests that the unemployment rate among the Roma is four or five times the average; even worse is the fact that this situation has arisen at breakneck speed, without there being any hope of adapting to it. As Kertesi put it: “With the collapse of the socialist economic model the value of ‘school certificate’, the completion of eight years’ schooling, simply disintegrated and a great mass of integrated folk found themselves, within a year or two, quite outside society. The incredible speed of the collapse of ways of life achievable until that point has made it impossible for the majority of Roma to adjust to the new ways, and they remain at subsistence level. And the longer the Roma spend in their present state, the faster will they spiral down the vicious circle of poverty–uneducation– unemployment–poverty.” While there is little point in disputing the researchers’ claims, a common reaction has been to suggest that there is an ‘objective’ reason for the difficulties: the lack of specialist/technical skills in marketable areas. Kertesi devotes a section to discussing how far the differences in employment figures can be attributed to discriminatory practice and remarks: “It is difficult to resist the conclusion that between half and two-thirds of the difference in the rates of unemployment bears the stamp of discriminatory practices in employment.” Discrimination, then, does exist and the Hungarian Constitution “deals severely” with it (Section 70/A, paragraph 2), but what sanctions exist in practice? The major survey of 1998 aimed to establish how far Hungarian law permitted the identification and punishment of discrimination in employment. The survey supported the view that, although employment law forbade discrimination, and in fact embodied guarantees of procedure and a system of sanctions that might be accounted fairly sophisticated by international standards, in practice, however, these rules were not obeyed. Typically, while the employment inspectorate carried out more than 30,000 inspections in 1997-98, not once was any action instituted on the grounds of discrimination. The chief cause of failure is the inadequacy of the regulations relating to employment centres and the inspectorate, the unacceptable “community of vested interests” between the centres and the employers, as well as the very poor skills and low levels of assertiveness among the would-be employees. While the ministries involved have generally welcomed proposals aiming to change the legal environment and the practices of the employment administration, these proposals are at the moment a dead letter. The Roma and the providers of public services. A typical variety of racial discrimination is seen in the unequal benefits from public goods. This problem may arise in any branch of the public services, but as Ombudsman my legal experience has been limited and here I shall confine myself to two areas, housing occupancy and access to public restaurants and bars.


One easily recognisable characteristic of disadvantaged individuals and groups is that their living conditions are worse than average. Typically this is accompanied by a poverty ghetto and districts or peripheral settlements where folk gather not only because of their shared fate but also their shared ethnicity.In Hungary, such folk are typically Roma. Segregation in places of settlement is also reinforced by a tendency of the Roma to move spontaneously to areas in economic and infrastructural crisis, as a result of which the non-Roma population begins to move out. The local conflicts of the past few years, often giving off a whiff of scandal, are evidence of the inability to dispel accumulated tensions and resolve conflicts. Discrimination in housing can, however, operate as much in the allocation of council housing as in the selective application of council ownership rights. In this area we typically encounter under-regulation and a lack of clarity regarding relationships of obligation and responsibility and the boundaries between the role of the state and that of the council as regards distribution. It is increasingly common to find that Roma are, for various reasons, declared undesirable and denied entry to particular restaurants and bars open to the general public. I am thinking here not only of the notorious Góman affair in Pécs – though this was undoubtedly a kind of judicial breakthrough – but of changes in administrative attitudes, too. The consumer protection inspectorate, unlike its fellow inspectorate in the field of employment, is beginning to employ the rapidly applicable measures that the law now allows, and the results, when they are applied in a consistent way, are rather effective. The Roma and the police This is a rich area but here I shall limit myself to sketching out a few thoughts. The relationship between the police and the Roma is undoubtedly one of the most difficult areas. This mutually prejudice-laden relationship has been the subject of a number of studies in recent years, and these have resulted in some modest progress. One of the studies mentioned above gives the following account of the attitude of the police to the Roma: “The image that the police have drawn of the Roma certainly includes the notion, arbitrarily derived from the mere fact of membership of the group, that they have criminal tendencies, are irresponsible and aggressive. Because of this it becomes inconceivable that there is the remotest possibility of the Roma minority taking its place in society and of minority affiliation becoming just one option for those perceived as Roma.” Police racism is, however, dangerous throughout the world, because police procedures offer opportunities for serious abuse and breaches of the law. It is therefore of particular importance that interaction between the police and persons in their custody, which is difficult or impossible to reconstruct subsequently, should be subject to suitable external and impartial monitoring. “Police work unavoidably involves the most fundamental rights, such as the right to life and to human dignity, and this is enough on its own to justify the demand for special


guarantees.” A number of countries have experimented with “civilian control” of the police. On the other hand, even legal institutions that appear effective cannot achieve goals by themselves; for this one needs the support of a number of elements among police personnel. One must communicate knowledge which is able to influence police attitudes in a positive way, at the training stage and subsequently, too. As far as the Hungarian context is concerned, I believe that when we consider the exercise of outside control, it will be necessary to rethink the current supervisory role of the judiciary. This applies equally to the criminal investigation system. It is not satisfactory that a set of state institutions so significant from both the general basic law angle and particularly from the point of view of the topics discussed, that is to say, the police and the criminal investigation department, should operate without an external, independent monitor distinct from management. There also remains much to be done regarding the Hungarian perception of the role of the police. The relationship of the police to the whole of society, and thus to the Roma, needs to be refashioned. Though there have certainly been steps taken in this area, inter alia in police training, but with half a century of neototalitarian past behind us, the process of changing perceptions will be neither rapid nor smooth. But it is vital: not only to counter discrimination in the ranks of the police, but also because the increase in tensions in society and the accompanying decline in public safety demand it.


Imre Furman On notions of discriminatory practice In our annual White Paper we publish the more important cases that NEKI has dealt with in order to reveal the nature of the discriminatory practices current in Hungary, and to indicate some consequences and suggest possible legal remedies. In some cases it has not proved possible to establish discriminatory practice, or at least not unambiguously. These cases are given separately. The cases we deal with generally involve ethnic (negative) discrimination. We apply these terms not only in the obvious sense that they are understood in Hungary; we include varieties of discrimination which we find are becoming more widespread. To help clarify the concepts involved I give here our own classification. Discrimination By discrimination we mean the identification, whether intentionally or unintentionally, of certain groups or of people belonging to those groups not on the basis of any quality or property relevant to the matter in hand, but on the grounds of opinions held about the minority group. The basis of the identification and grouping as a minority (or protected) group is most often race, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, sex, sexual orientation, specific illness, and social class. Discrimination is generally taken to be a negative act disadvantaging those discriminated against. Affirmative policies and/or action to help eradicate existing disadvantages is often called “positive discrimination” in Hungary. In our view action of this latter kind is misleading, in that it suggests that some group is getting more than its fair share, rather than a striving to eliminate existing disadvantage. For this reason we prefer the term “affirmative action”. (It may happen that such well-intentioned discrimination is accompanied by negative effects). Open (facial) discrimination An act or action, by statute or an individual, with the explicit purpose of excluding, or otherwise negatively discriminating against, one (or more) minority/minorities. (E.g. denial of service to Roma in a restaurant, with the denier himself expressing the reason for the discrimination, as in the Góman case.) Hidden discrimination Historical discrimination: a term used primarily in the literature in the United States, it refers to the consequences, whether historically cumulative or as contemporary prejudicial residue, of the discriminatory laws, administrative


measures and, indeed, individual acts (naturally not illegal at the time), which have created for today’s minorities a disadvantaged situation despite legal guarantees of equality. (For example: teaching problems today stemming from segregative practice that was formerly permitted, or at least was not illegal; another good example might be those aspects of the employment problem that have their origins in earlier discriminatory practice.) To remedy this situation some countries introduced affirmative action (E.g. Roma remedial or “catching-up” tuition, Order 32/1997 (XI.5) of the Ministry of Culture and Education.) Disparate impact:19 The phenomenon whereby an item of legislation or an action or some condition appears to be neutral in its impact but, because of their disadvantaged situation, which has evolved over time, the protected groups20 are far more vulnerable: the position of the minority is aggravated, or means a greater burden for them than for others, in that it prevents them from obtaining employment or rising on the employment ladder. (E.g. unemployment attributable to being under-qualified as a result of segregated teaching; the interest-rate on state loans for housebuilding – much utilised by the Roma – went up at the same time as the unemployment rate: the latter affected proportionally more Roma than nonRoma, so disproportionately large numbers of Roma were forced to sell off their houses.) Disparate treatment: when private persons or legal entities or state bodies treat minorities in an unequal or inequitable manner and are unaware (and possibly unwilling to recognise) that they are doing so. Since it is difficult to prove the existence of this type of hidden discrimination, in Holland, the United Kingdom, and the USA statistical information is also permitted as evidence in such cases. In the USA if the plaintiff can show (a) that s/he belongs to a protected group, (b) responded to an advertisement concerning accommodation or work, (c) his/her application was rejected, and (d) subsequently the application of a member of a non-protected group, not differing from the plaintiff in terms of relevant skills or abilities, was accepted – in such cases juridical practice is to regard the plaintiff’s case for illegal discrimination as proven. (Cf. the case of Mrs Cs. M., where the local authority asked her for a statement not sought from other applicants.) Intentional discrimination: where the law appears to be “neutral”, but in application may none the less be intentionally discriminatory. (E.g. in a village where most people know one another, the number of Roma asked for their papers by the police may be disproportionate for no particular reason; or banks’ investigations of creditworthiness may lead to more proofs of identity or other evidence being demanded of Roma than of non-Roma. “De jure” discrimination: legislation which is neutral both in its wording and in the potential of its application, but which none the less results in
In the literature this is synonymous with “the principle of the greater burden”. Instead of the term “minorities” we use the expression “protected groups”, since in our view this expresses more accurately the position and status of the group in the sphere of (human) rights and, more generally, in democracies.
19 20


discrimination in practice when it is implemented. (E.g. any type of social support offered on conditions more difficult to satisfy for the minority than for others: this might be a financial burden such as the one-third that must be provided to secure the remaining two-thirds of a state loan for the purchase of accommodation, or rules relating to one’s circumstances and way of life, which used to have great bearing on whether children were taken into care, but were none the less inordinately influenced by income.)


István Haller Roma in post-1989 Romania Prologue: the Roma immediately before 1989 The coming of the socialist system wrought significant changes in Romania, as it did elsewhere in Easter Europe. Its effects were first felt in the villages, where the collectivisation brought about the end of private property. Since the Roma have traditionally not owned land, they lost nothing, and appeared to the majority population as beneficiaries of the change. The Roma population of the villages, like everyone else, were in the employ of the agricultural co-operatives. The towns began to industrialise in the 1960s, after collectivisation into cooperatives had been completed. The villagers who had been deprived of their properties flooded into the towns seeking new opportunities and a better way of life. Many Roma followed suit, looking for work in the towns and cities of Romania. All this also happened in Hungary and in the other countries of the region. However, from the second half of the 1970s Romania went into economic decline, industrial production came to a halt, and hidden unemployment reared its head. Roma lost their jobs en masse, but, as under socialism everyone was obliged to have a place of employment, the Roma were taken away from their families and employed by the regime on “grand projects”, massive building works such as the Danube canal. The economic crisis was not all negative; it also brought about some changes into the lives of the Roma that were then considered positive. There was increased demand for certain traditional crafts (for example, the illegal brandystills made by Roma became much prized, as were their woven baskets, since plastic products disappeared from the market), and the black market also began to flourish. As it was above all Roma who lost their jobs and sources of income, they were the people with the highest degree of mobility and thus formed the core of the black market. They bought up goods smuggled across the Yugoslav and Hungarian borders and sold them in the heart of the country. As at the time of collectivisation, the majority population perceived the Roma as profiting and perhaps profiteering from the situation. Indeed there were rumours (attributable to the Romanian secret police, which used rumour as a weapon) that the crisis was not the fault of the socialist system but was intentionally engineered by the Roma to make their fortune. They were buying up everything just to sell it at a profit. Consequences of the political change of 1989 Romanian socialism came to a violent end. Only after much bloodletting were the husband-and-wife dictators toppled, and the message from the forces that took


power (including the execution of the dictator at Christmas 1989) was that getting rid of the old was an adequate solution. At first the new leaders’ only political programme was the retention of power at all costs. Society’s view of the Roma was negative even before the changes, so it is hardly surprising if in the given situation violent manifestations of xenophobia also rose to the surface. In other countries the anti-Roma forces were supported largely by neo-fascist organisations, but in Romania it was the “peaceful” village folk who launched the violence against the Roma, with lynchings, the torching of homes, and the hounding of groups out of their area. Such acts took place in more than 30 settlements throughout the country. Since these events were typical of Romania and occurred in much the same way throughout the country, I feel bound to give an account of one of them. Kászonfeltíz (in Romanian: Plaiesii de Sus) an isolated place; Thursday afternoon. Four drunken Roma were whipping their horse when Ignác Daró, a local, asked them to stop. By way of reply the four drunkards beat him up. Some hours later the police arrested all four men and later punished them for assault and causing an affray. Meanwhile a crowd had gathered and decided to beat up two elderly Roma who had nothing to do with the business; one of them, Ádám Kalányos, later died of his injuries. Those responsible have never been identified. On Saturday a poster appeared on the road leading to the Roma houses calling on the Roma to leave their homes because they would be torched on Sunday afternoon. The Roma turned in vain to the mayor and the police. On Sunday the village went to church, had lunch, and set off for the Roma houses. They cut the electricity supply lines to ensure that the fire did not cause a short and plunge the village into darkness, and then went from house to house setting fire to the buildings. The Roma moved into stables, though some watched from the other side of the stream, noting who did what. But it was no use: their evidence to the Hargita prosecutor’s office was discounted and no-one was held responsible. Unsurprisingly, there is flagrant discrimination in Romanian society. It is typical of the justice system (an example: during the pogrom in Marosvásárhely [Romanian: Tîrgu Mureş] it was the Romanians and Hungarians of the region that clashed, yet the first to be condemned by the courts were the Roma who had come to the Hungarians’ assistance). The police and the press also practise discrimination; the latter, for example, print the ethnicity of those that it holds to be Roma, whether or not the person concerned has been asked if s/he considers himself such. Entrepreneurs also discriminate, by excluding Roma from restaurants, or by openly stating in job advertisements that “Roma need not apply.” While the years 1990 to 1993 were characterised by lynchings and the torching of houses, between 1993 and 1996 the number of police raids on Roma areas rose substantially. The alleged reason was the need to prevent crime by keeping the Roma intimidated. These raids received wide media coverage; several television channels showed scenes of the police using axes to batter down front


doors without warning, with Roma hopping about half-asleep and half-dressed as they were crushed to the ground, and the raids ending in mass arrests. It usually escaped the attention of the media that such folk were for the most part innocent of any offence and after they had been made to clean the police station were allowed to go free. Not every aspect of the changes should be seen as negative from the Roma point of view. For example, one important change for the better was the very fact that it became possible – in fact necessary – to talk about the Roma; under the dictatorship this had been completely taboo. Another important point is that the Roma slowly achieved representation. For one thing, the laws of Romania provide for a parliamentary seat for the representative of each minority, which has ensured that the Roma Party has been represented in the House of Representatives (the lower house) since 1990. In the local elections, furthermore, Roma representatives were elected to local as well as county councils. That the quality of this representation leaves much to be desired is quite another matter; this is a consequence of the political inexperience of the Roma and their reluctance to trust their leaders (their lack of confidence is often justified, since other political organisations also try to take advantage of the Roma electorate). The first steps have also been taken on the road to Roma education, though with varying degrees of success. For example, “showcase” classes were started to train Roma teachers, with very questionable results; on the other hand, guaranteed university places for the Roma ensured that there were Roma students of important subjects such as sociology, ethnography, and law. Although the education of the Roma can be said to have begun, the same cannot be said for education about the Roma. As ignorance is the breeding ground of xenophobia and discrimination, it is vital for the Romanian education system not to ignore the culture, history, and traditions of the Roma (and of the other minorities). In post-1989 Romania it is a matter for debate whether the Roma question should be approached from the human rights angle or as basically a social issue. From the human rights perspective the disadvantaged situation of the Roma is the result of centuries of discriminatory practice which can be changed only by altering the attitudes of the majority society. Once there is an end to discrimination and the Roma are assured of equal opportunities (this inevitably involves, at least initially, affirmative action programmes), the other questions will resolve themselves. The social approach, on the other hand, claims that the basic issue is poverty and that once the Roma can maintain themselves through work, the antipathy of the majority will automatically dissipate. How the system changed for the Roma – Romanian perspectives Though the change of political system in Romania was incomplete, some of its people feel excluded even from this limited improvement. The Roma are one of these groups.


For the Roma a genuine change of political system would mean integration. By integration they mean not assimilation, not the wiping out of their culture, but the sociological indicators of the Roma approaching the average: for example, their rates of unemployment, infant mortality, TB, crime, poverty, and so forth, not diverging too much from the Romanian national average. What is needed to achieve integration? Countless projects have focussed on the Roma, but with precious little result. Why? Roma leaders often complain that although they have “integrated”, the majority community is still not willing to accept them. So why should they continue with their efforts? For the projects aimed at the Roma to be successful it is necessary to make integration possible; to make it possible, the majority society must be primed: the process of integration can make progress only when the majority is capable of accepting the minority despite the latter’s otherness. In what respect must the minority – in this case the Roma – remain “other”? In its culture. Assimilation is a process whereby values are sacrificed without any counterweight. The best illustration of this is Hungary, where the assimilatory process is strongly under way, yet prejudice against Roma who have assimilated is just as powerful as against those who have not. What is the nature of Roma culture? The endless debate has polarised around the preservers of tradition versus the modernisers. It must be recognised that culture is neither unchanging nor unchangeable. Though my ancestors rode here on horseback, I can’t ride a horse; indeed, coming from a middle-class background, I can’t even dance the csardas properly. This does not mean that I have “lost my culture”; it means that it has accommodated itself to a world of change. Knowledge of and respect for the traditional way of life cannot imply the preservation of a particular state in aspic. I do not think that it is responsible to support the singing and dancing of the Roma because “that’s their culture” and we gadjos clap and pay up. The reservations of the American Indians must not be our model. There has also been much discussion concerning the character of Roma culture: should it be national or should it retain its regional diversity? More than one group has in the course of history become a nation and, although this had a damping effect on regional cultures, it never endangered their existence. Any desire to evolve a national culture must come from the Roma themselves; interference in this process from the outside, artificially, is neither permissible nor, in fact, possible. This particular knot of issues includes the mother tongue question. The development of a unified Roma language is under way. Roma speaking particular varieties of Romany often react negatively to this process and fear for their traditions. Yet a solution to this issue was provided many hundreds of years ago by the Transylvanian Saxon communities of Transylvania, who used (standard) German textbooks, with each community studying in its own variety of German.


A genuine change of political system would include the possibility of the Roma being part of the democratic system of institutions. The framework for political decision-taking already exists in Romania, but in order to implement it, steps must be taken to increase the political self-awareness of the population and to end the perception of democracy as “dictatorship by the majority”. The sole representative of the Roma Party in a parliament of several hundred has very little room to manoeuvre until s/he is granted a restricted veto over political decisions which are unequivocally damaging to the group s/he represents. The change of political system awaited by the Roma is not limited to Romania; it should also come to other countries of Central and East-Central Europe. Indeed, there is a view that a general Europe-wide change of political system is needed, whereby the Roma would gain not minority or ethnic minority status, but recognition as a European minority. For a people with no “motherland” and a presence throughout much of Europe, this would provide protection and make possible contact between their communities. At present, however, when (for example) Great Britain cites the Roma as grounds for introducing visas for Slovak citizens, the prospects for such hopes appear rather remote.


Ferenc Csortán Who are the Roma of Romania? The question is posed so baldly because under the party state all discussion of the Roma was taboo. Even the word “Gypsy” was banned: if it cropped up in a Laurel and Hardy film or in an Elvis Presley song, it had to be translated as “nomad”. The issues of Roma existence were successfully swept under the carpet, emerging suddenly in 1990. The present study is based primarily on the following sources: first of all, the volume edited by Elena Zamfir and Cătălin Zamfir which contains the results of a nation-wide survey carried out in 1992 by the University of Bucharest and the Institute for Quality of Life of the Romanian Academy of Sciences; the work of the sociologist Vasile Burtea, the experiences of the Minorities Directorate of the Romanian Ministry of Education (which employs Vasile Ionescu, founder of the Aven Amentza Foundation, a vital initiator of cultural programmes); and on my own experiences. My use of the terms “Roma” and “Gypsy” is not entirely consistent. Hungarian usage accepts “cigány” (“Gypsy”); however, Romanian Roma do not – and official Romanian usage avoids the term “Roma”. In this area, too, usage is in flux and transitional. It is not up to me to define the Roma. If we think of the Roma as a national minority a significant number – perhaps the majority – share the language and the religion of the majority in their areas. So precisely those markers which ensure and articulate the identity of other national or ethnic minorities are not available. The theory and the practice applied to other minorities does not work for the Roma. Their standard of living, the otherness of their occupations, and the accumulated disadvantages can all be traced back to cultural roots. The story of the Roma can also be seen in terms of a community’s strategy for survival. This community’s principal means of expressing its identity is: being free. And its strategy for survival is essentially: marginalisation, poverty, and isolation. The Roma are a heterogeneous people comprising culturally, linguistically, and occupationally very diverse groups which are of common origin, yet sometimes not even in contact with one another. The critical relationship in their evolution and survival has been not that of their sub-groups to one another, but of all of them to the majority population; at the same time, they identify very closely with their micro-community, which defines and circumscribes their identity and relationships vis-à-vis other Roma communities. The shared feature is perhaps that they all live on the periphery of majority communities, taking over their values only in part and to varying degrees, thus ensuring that their participation in the life of the majority community varies according to the part of the country they live in.


Their social status and economic role has been, until recent times, defined by the traditional needs they chose to meet. A unique situation arises in multiethnic communities, such as those areas of Transylvania with, until recent times, a Saxon or Hungarian majority, where the local economic and political elite came from these ethnic groups and the Roma, settled there for many generations, assimilated in language, culture, and religion either to the Hungarians or to the Saxons. In the last few decades it became a disadvantage to be counted with the Hungarians, and the necessity to change their “first language” to the state language brought about a kind of dissimilation in the Roma elite and sometimes in the Roma population of an entire community (for example, in the village of Koltó [Romanian: Coltău], near Nagybánya [Romanian: Baia Mare]). By contrast, in a number of Saxon villages near Szászrégen [Romanian: Reghin], the Roma communities stood by their Saxon identity, thus perpetuating some Saxon cultural traditions. The definition of the Roma is, of course, like Sartre’s definition of the Jew: A Rom is someone that his/her environment regards as a Rom. This is valid to the extent that in the last census, that of January 1992, 409,723 people (1.8% of the population as a whole) claimed to be of Roma nationality. In reality this number is far higher and can only be guessed at. In a few cases it is possible to compare the numbers identifying themselves as Roma (preceding the slash) with the numbers of Roma identified by the community (known as “heteroidentification”, following the slash). Here are some examples: Carei, a medium-size town in Satu Mare county (Hungarian: Nagykároly, Szatmár county): 413/1200 Ineu, smaller town in Arad county (Hungarian: Borosjenő): 185/1000 Mihail Kogalniceanu, a community in the Dobrudja: 131/250 The census showed 25,107 identifying themselves as Roma in Bucharest, some 1.1% of the capital’s population. However, an estimate based on births in 1989 in five of the capital’s maternity wards and homes suggested that 19% of the mothers were Roma. Bearing in mind other factors, researchers estimate that the ratio of self-identification to heteroidentification is 1:2 in the countryside and 1:3 in the towns and cities.21 Factoring this in, the Roma population must then have been somewhere above the 1,010,000 mark, a figure accepted by researchers and representing some 4.6% of the population. The police (then known as the “milicia”) conducted their own internal survey and came up with a figure above two million. The historical background The presence of Roma is documented from the 14th-15th century, both in the lands of the medieval Hungarian kingdom (i.e. Transylvania and the area of contemporary western Romania known in recent times as the Partium) and also on

Zamfir and Zamfir 1993b: 59-63.


the territory of the two Romanian principalities, Moldavia and Wallachia. It is thought that the Roma reached the Balkan peninsula from Asia Minor via Byzantium, but it is not impossible that at least some of them came over the Caucasus, along the northern shores of the Black Sea, via lands ruled by the Mongols. The two Romanian principalities arose in the century following the Mongol incursions, Wallachia at the beginning of the 14th century, Moldavia some half a century later. In both territories, from the very beginning of their existence, Roma were slaves and were bought, given, and sold, as property22 of the landowning boyars (ţigani boiereşti), of the prince himself (ţigani domneşti), and of the monasteries (ţigani mănăstireşti). This is why there are to this day significant numbers of Roma in the vicinity of the monasteries. The Roma in fact often live in the same place for centuries and many of them have spoken Romanian for generations. In Moldavia they were called “Tartars” in the 15th century, and “Gypsies” (“cigány”) thereafter.23 They were emancipated in the mid-19th century, in stages: first the prince’s Roma were liberated, then those of the boyars. In the territories of the Hungarian kingdom (Transylvania and the Partium) until the end of the Middle Ages only a small proportion of the Roma were ever “slaves”24, the majority being vassals of the king and paying taxes or providing services directly to the central fiscal authorities.25 During the golden age of Transylvania (from the 1560s to about 1700), and in the period of Habsburg rule that followed, they panned gold26 for the authorities throughout the principality, along dozens of streams then thought to contain gold-bearing sand.27 Many also worked in the mines of the Transylvanian Erzgebirge. Roma who were panhandlers or gold-miners came under the jurisdiction of the fiscal authority called the “kamara” or chancery; they were its vassals.

Achim, Viorel, “Rolul ţiganilor în economia ţărilor române în Evul Mediu” [The role of Gypsies in the economy of the Romanian principalities of the Middle Ages]. In: Romathan 1. 2. (1997), pp. 99104. 23 Gonţa, Alexandru I., Documente privind istroria Romaniei, A. Moldova, veacurile XIV-XVII (13841625), Indicele numelor de persoane. Bucureşti, 1995, pp. 753-754. Idem, “Robii ţigani şi tătari în satul moldovenesc din Evul Mediu” [Gypsy and Tatar prisoners in the villages of medieval Moldavia]. In: Romathan 1. 1. (1997), pp. 69-86. 24 Achim, Viorel, Ţiganii în istoria României [Roma in the history of Romania]. Bucureşti, 1998, p. 45. In early 16th century Beszterce (Romanian: Bistriţa) the Moldavian Prince Petru Rareş bought a Gypsy couple and their six children for 50 pieces of gold and a horse. 25 Achim, ibid., p. 27. 26 I. Tóth, Zoltán, Parasztmozgalmak az Erdélyi Érchegységben 1848-ig [Peasant movements in the Transylvanian Erzgebirge before 1848]. Budapest, 1951, p. 48: “gold-panning Gypsies…” (1692) 27 Zsupos, Zoltán, Az erdélyi sátoros taxás és aranymosó fiskális cigányok a 18. században [Nomadic and gold-panning Gypsies in the 18th century]. Cigány néprajzi tanulmányok 4-5. Budapest, 1996.


Before 1848 virtually every estate and village had its own Roma serfs or villeins.28 Apart from working on the land they often provided other services: the blacksmith was usually a Rom29 and so was the court minstrel.30 On the outskirts of Transylvanian towns or outside the walls, it was quite general for Roma settlements to arise. In 16 th century Brassó (Romanian: Braşov) it was Roma who maintained the city gates and bridges, worked in the gunfoundries, swept the market-place, and kept the public lavatories clean. They were the town’s dogcatchers, gravediggers, and executioners.31 Clearly, in Transylvania and the Partium there were, beside the nomadic Roma, some who had settled down and had begun to accommodate themselves to their environment. When the area was annexed to the Habsburg empire the administration made repeated attempts to settle the entire Roma population and change their way of life. A dramatic moment in the history of the Romanian Roma was the deportation of many of them after 1940 to Trans-Dniestria, an area taken from the Russians; they were accompanied by Jews from Bessarabia. The deportees were kept in inhuman conditions and the majority (some 36,000) perished.32 After 1990 the Roma of Romania attracted both domestic and overseas attention for two main reasons: in a few short years there were, in more than 30 localities, pogroms which led to the loss of property and life; and large numbers of Roma emigrated to western Europe, with some being sent back.33 Where do they live? There are Roma in every county and in every town and city of Romania, but in varying numbers and ethnic mixes. None the less, a striking and perhaps definitive feature is their high degree of mobility. As they live mostly in multiplydisadvantaged circumstances, they readily move in the hope of finding a better way of life. The most spectacular migration has occurred over the last 30 years,
Egyed, Ákos, A parasztság Erdélyben a századfordulón. Társadalom- és agrártörténeti áttekintés. [The peasantry in turn-of-the-century Transylvania. A social and agricultural overview.] Bucureşti, 1975, p. 22, 184; Tüdős, S. Kinga: Székely főnemesi életmód a XVII. század alkonyán. Bucureşti – Cluj, 1998 (p. 141. in Miklósvár [Romanian: Miclosoara] and Bölön [Belin]; 159-160 (in Középajta [Aita Medie]), and 168 (Szárazajta [Aita Seaca]). 29 For example, around 1789-1793 the “Gypsies worked chiefly with iron and as smiths” in the Toldalagi family’s villages in the Marosvásárhely (Romanian: Tîrgu Mureş) area. Cf. István Imreh, Erdélyi hétköznapok. Társadalom- és gazdaságtörténeti írások a bomló feudalizmus időszakáról. [Everyday life in Transylvania. Studies in society and economic history from the end of the feudal period.] Bucureşti, 1979, p. 142. 30 For example, István Mándoki, one of Sámuel Hegedüs Kálnoki’s “Gypsy iobagiones”, in Miklósvár [Miclosoara], at the heart of his lands, in 1691. Cf. Tüdős, op. cit., p. 141. 31 Achim, op. cit., p. 49. 32 Reyniers, Alain, Rromii şi migraţia lor din ţările Europei Centrale şi Orientale spre unele ţări ale Organizaţiei de Cooperare şi Dezvoltare Economică [Roma and their migration from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe into the countries of the OECD]. In: Romathan (1997) 1. 1. p. 16. 33 Reyniers, op. cit., pp. 17-18.


when the Transylvanian Saxons and Swabians34 of the villages, numbering between 200,000 and 300,000, have emigrated and their places have been taken mainly by Roma families; several hundred villages were affected. But the Roma also target other, disadvantaged villages if they are close to towns. By this we mean settlements condemned to extinction by the village systematisation programme (“sistematizare rurală”) notoriously associated with Ceauşescu.35 Analysis of the census figures for the Roma county by county is not all that helpful, because the percentages obtained refer to at most two-fifth of the estimated Roma population, but possibly to as little as one-quarter or one-fifth of it. As we saw the national average (on the basis of the census) is 1.8%. The average for the Transylvanian counties is some 2.5%, but in particular counties it may be significantly higher: in Szilágy [Romanian: Sălaj] and Bihar [Bihor] it is 3.4%, in Szeben [Sibiu] it is 4.14%, while in Maros [Mureş] it is 5.7%. 36 This might indicate a larger population, a stronger sense of identity, but equally it may be that before the census there was pressure from the authorities on the Roma, who tend to identify with the majority population where they live, not to swell the numbers of the Hungarians. Be that as it may, in Maros county there is no question that a sizeable proportion of the Roma have integrated and Roma self-awareness and selfidentification is quite strong. This is also reflected in the fact that the county has more than 30 settlements where the local council has a Roma member. How many kinds of Roma are there in Romania? It is generally thought that the Roma are divided into “clans” (Romanian: neam). The 1992 survey mentioned above suggests that these are declining in relevance or, rather, that the Roma today group themselves according to a variety of criteria. Among these are communities defined according to the traditional crafts and occupations (though this criterion has been rapidly declining in relevance since the 1950s), those defined by the name of some settlement (E.g. Tismana, Răcari, Bold, Budeşti, Teiş); those defined by the use of Romani as mother tongue; and not least those who gain their identity by reference to the nature (or intensity) of their assimilation to the majority ethnic group in their immediate environment.
In the 1970s the number of urban Transylvanian Saxons/Swabians (ethnic Germans) was approximately 150,000. 35 The scheme was not limited to Romania; similar plans were made in Hungary. What made the Romanian scheme stand out was the naive cynicism of Ceauşescu in proclaiming it from the housetops. In practice the condemned villages were not razed to the ground at once (Romania did not have this kind of economic efficiency); they were phased out, by the gradual withdrawal of medical provision, schooling and other public services, and the failure to grant planning permission. The villages emptied, particularly of younger families in employment and with children; and then Roma families moved in. 36 Vofkori, László, Erdély közigazgatási és etnikai földrajza [The administrative and ethnic map of Transylvania]. Vörösberény, 1996, p. 88.


In the second half of the 1960s the administration forced the majority of the Roma population to nominate a permanent place of residence. Since then interclan marriages have become quite general; in the past this often led to conflict. This process, too, has served to loosen the sense of identity traditionally linked to the microcommunity. The following chart summarises the results of the research in this area and gives an idea of the present-day situation: Group number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Romanian “clan” name claimed no “clan” member-ship claimed Vătraşi37 Căldărari38 Rudari39 Spoitori Mătăsari, “ţigani de 40 mătase” Ursari Cărămidari41 Gabori Florari43 Lăutari44 Ciubotari45

Approximate Number English gloss claiming membership 577 Settled Kettle-makers Beash Tinsmiths Traders in carpets and silk Bear-leaders Brick-makers The Gábors42 Flowersellers Musicmakers Cobblers 243 108 81 68 59 49 28 25 22 20 17

% 31,7 13,8 5,9 4,5 3,7 3,2 2,7 1,5 1,4 1,2 1,1 1,0

Including smiths and musicmakers. The descendants of the smiths largely assimilated, many of them taking leading roles in the community. Those listed under no. 26, as well as the Tisman group (no. 18), Romanianised some generations ago, giving up their language and wandering way of life; these also belong here. 38 The researchers included in this group smiths and farriers, two “settled” groups; this is an error, as the kettle-makers were traditionally nomadic and worked copper and brass. 39 Traditionally a Romanian-speaking clan, originally miners or gold-miners, who supplemented their income by gathering woodland fruit and woodworking. The Hungarian beás comes from the Romanian băias ‘miner’. 40 Settled Roma from Transylvania (chiefly from the Barcaság [Tara Birsei]) dealing in carpets and silk goods, even in Western Europe. 41 A sub-group of the Rudari clan. 42 Roma from Transylvania (chiefly from historic Szekler lands around Tîrgu Mureş), mostly with “Gábor” as their family name. They are tradespeople, working in metal, especially tin. 43 A sub-group of the Vătrasi clan. A new clan, which evolved between the wars; they are popular and well-respected in Bucharest, where they are prospering. 44 Of the Vătrasi, that is, a settled group


13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
45 46

Argintari46 Pieptănari47 Corturari48, nomazi Lăieşi Cocalari49 Tismănari50 Fulgari51 Zlătari Cositorari52 Răcari Bidineri53 Geambaşi54 Ciurari55 Declare themselves Romanian Declare themselves Hungarian Declare themselves Turkish No response

Silver-smiths 15 Comb-makers 13 Nomads 11 Bonewaremakers Those from the Tismana area Feathercollectors Gold-panners Tinsmiths Those from Răcari Limewashmakers Horse-dealers Sieve-makers 9 8 6 5 5 4 3 3 2 11 213 120 18 77

0,8 0,7 0,6 0,5 0,4 0,3 0,3 0,3 0,2 0,2 0,2 0,11 0,11 11,7 6,6 1,0 4,3

A sub-group of the Vătrasi. Originally a nomadic clan, now consisting of some 400-600 families in Bucharest and eastern Wallachia. Once highly skilled silver- and goldsmiths, but these crafts are now in decline. 47 A sub-group of the Cocălari. 48 Originally the smiths (Fierari) and the Lăiesi were also counted as nomadic. 49 Their successors make plastic objects, or work as street sweepers for the municipalities. 50 Originally prisoners (slaves) held in the medieval monastery at Tismana (Oltenia). Today used for the non-Romani speaking Roma of Oltenia. 51 These also split off from the Cocălari clan. 52 Another name for the Spoitori clan, particularly those from Bucharest and around Gyurgyevó [Giurgiu], who were one of the poorest clans. They turned into good agriculturists after settling and provide some of the leading figures of the Roma. 53 A sub-group of the Căldărari, who worked with horsehair. 54 A craft now extinct. They were settled Roma. 55 A craft and a group of nomadic Roma, using chiefly calf- and pigskin to manufacture sieves.





Other traditional “clan” or occupational sub-groups not listed include: Lingurari (wooden tub and spoon makers; cf. the Hungarian term kalányos; a branch of the Rudari; and Potcovari (farriers, now distinct from blacksmiths). Among the most traditional clans (the kettle-makers, the bearleaders, and the silversmiths) the Romani language is still alive, as is the dispensing of traditional justice, the tradition of the “kris” or “stabor”, and cohabitation by mutual agreement (rather than conventional marriage). New “clans” may be expected to emerge, for example that of traders.56 What are the Roma occupations today? The 1992 survey gives the following picture of the trades and occupations of 5,968 Roma: Couples Type of Men employment Modern 547 34,6 % occupations Traditional occupations Unqualified Total 116 7,3 % 916 58,0 % 1579 Women 187 10,6 % Men+Women 734 22,0 % Active Populatio n % 16,1

11 0,6 % 1564 88,8 % 1762

127 3,8 % 2480 74,2 % 3341

3,9 79,4 5968

By “couples” the researchers mean a woman and a man who are living together and jointly responsible for supporting (underage) children. The remaining 2,627 people are family members above the age of 16. The survey shows that 74% of those who are couples (and 89% of women in such a relationship) have no qualifications of any kind.57 The survey also showed that the least educated/qualified Roma are those pursuing traditional crafts, and those with Hungarian as their mother tongue.58
This section draws chiefly on Zamfir and Zamfir (1993a) and Burtea (1994). Zamfir and Zamfir (1993a), pp. 101-102. 58 Ibid., p. 105
56 57


The traditional Roma crafts These crafts required relatively little specialist training in craftsman-like skills (blacksmithing, repairing of pots and pans, tinsmithing, copper kettle-making, cowbell-casting in brass, making of silver jewellery, tub-making, furniture-making from planks, riddle- and sieve-making, working with bone and animal-horn), or involved entertainment (music-makers, bearleaders). There are still many fortunetellers and palm-reading Gypsy women in Bucharest; some are famed countrywide and advertise in the national press or even have their own website. Apart from the last, all these crafts and skills are in decline today, the needs they once met now being served by modern industrial technologies. In one or two cases a traditional craft has been transitionally modernised: for example, contemporary “căldărari” make their kettles from aluminium, and those who used to make devotional objects such as crucifixes out of bone and horn now produce plastic goods. A characteristic Roma occupation today is trading, particularly a street trade like flower-selling, which in Bucharest is the monopoly of Roma women. In the capital and many other towns and cities the streets are swept by Roma women, who also make up the majority of those employed in the city parks and gardens. Some contemporary cultural features Regarding female attire, it is primarily the traditional clans who observe the ageold “rules”, but men of the Gábor clan, who come, or originally came, from the eastern part of old Marosszék county also sport distinctive dress: black velvet suit, broad black hat, black leather waistcoat. A new feature caught on after 1990: pagoda-like, tin-roofed, single- or multi-storey blocks of flats, tiered at the corners, began to appear in Roma areas, especially in the former principalities, in Bucharest and on the fringes of the towns, but most recently in Transylvania, too, on the outskirts of Bánffyhunyad (Romanian: Huedin). In Sinteşti, a Roma-majority village near Bucharest, many such palatial buildings stand empty, with the families living in tents pitched behind them. The religious identity of the Roma The Roma tend to belong to the faith of the majority in their area: in Romanian environments they are mostly (Romanian) Orthodox, in Hungarian environments Roman Catholic or Protestant. This link is a dynamic one none the less; this is evident in the antipathy and often anti-Roma outbursts of the majority population, while, on the other hand, after 1990 many Roma families benefited substantially


from aid parcels from the West to the “recognised faiths” of Romania, and this must have strengthened the religious links in at least some areas. In this area a development that must be welcomed as largely positive is the advance of the neo-Protestant churches among the Roma, because the Seventh-day Adventists, Pentecostalists and other such groups have an appropriate strategy for accepting the Roma and raising their self-awareness and moral stature. The case of the Muslim Roma of the Dobrudja is special and unique. These represent at least 20 to 25% of the 50,000 indigenous Romanian Muslim citizens of the area; their first language is Turkish and they still cling to their “Turkish” identity. A few words about the present day After 1990, dozens of Roma organisations and “parties” came into existence, as did a few youth organisations. In parliament, however, the electoral legislation in force recognises only one representative organisation for each “national minority” and although this has by and large worked in the case of the other minorities, a single MP representing one Roma organisation is not enough to represent the Roma as a whole. Of special importance among Roma organisations in civil society is the Romani Criss. Based in Bucharest, this centre for research and documentation also administers programmes of economic support financed from abroad. Another important organisation is Astra-Satra, the union of Roma university students and therefore a much-needed seedbed for the emerging Roma elite. The Bucharestbased Aven Amentza Foundation has also promoted notable initiatives. The establishment of a cultural complex with a theatre and other activities has also been mooted; hopefully, as the economic situation improves, this too can be turned into reality. While the post-1989 governments’ Roma-policies are not considered in this essay, some of the initiatives of the Ministry of Education on behalf of the Roma must be mentioned: there are Roma officials working in its Minorities Directorate; teaching in Romani has begun in some schools; and the Textbook Publishing House has brought out some Roma schoolbooks. Three teacher training colleges have experimented with courses of training for Roma teachers. The Bucharest-based publishing house Kriterion has been publishing books in Romani (including dictionaries), as well as books about the Roma, since 1992; the series recently reached volume six. After 1990 there were also many attempts to launch Roma newspapers and periodicals, but so far these have proved short-lived. Rather more successful have been the regular Roma programmes on RTV (the public-service television station) and some regional radio broadcasts, such as those from Craiova. Romanian policies for the Roma have been, so far and in my view, overcentralised; too inflexible a view has been taken of a people so varied in


composition and situation. A comprehensive yet effective political framework and praxis for the Roma remains a major task for the future. Bibliography
Achim, Viorel Rolul ţiganilor în economia ţărilor române în Evul Mediu. [The role of Roma in the economy of the Romanian principalities of the Middle Ages.] In: Romathan (1997) 1. 2. pp. 99-104. –––––– Ţiganii în istoria României. [Roma in the history of Romania.] Bucureşti, 1998. Ernő, Albert, Sok szép cigányleány. Háromszéki cigányoktól gyűjtött népdalok és népballadák. [A great many lovely Gypsy girls. Folksongs and ballads collected from the Gypsies of Háromszék.] Sepsiszentgyörgy/Sfîntu Gheorghe, 1998. AVEN AMENTZA, periodical published in Bucharest. Băcanu, dr. M., Ţiganii-minoritate naţională sau majoritate infracţională? [Gypsies: national minority or criminal majority?] Bravo-Press, (n. p.), 1996. Burtea, Vasile, “La promotion sociale et solutions aux problemes d’emploi de la population Rom.” In: Claire Anzias, Les familles Roms d’Europe de l’Est. Paris, 1993 –––––– “Neamurile de romi şi modul lor de viaţă.” In: Sociologie Românească, 1994/2-3, pp. 257-274. Cherata, Lucian, Istoria ţiganilor. [History of the Roma.] Editura Z (n.p., n.d. [probably 1993]). Constantinescu, Barbu, Probe de limba şi literatura ţiganilor. Bucureşti, 1999. Copoiu, Petre Rromane paramica. Poveşti ţigăneşti. Bucureşti, 1996. DILEMA (Bucharest cultural periodical) special Roma issue Ei, ţiganii (no. 314: 12-18 February 1999). Fraser, Sir Angus, The Gypsies. Oxford, 1995 (Hungarian and Romanian translations, 1996 and 1997 respectively). KORUNK (Hungarian monthly published in Cluj) special Roma issue A mi niggerjeink? September 1999 Liegeois, Jean-Pierre and Nicolae Gheorghe, Roma/Gypsies: A European minority. Report of the Minority Rights Group 4/1995 (also in English and Romanian). Merfea, Mihai Ţiganii – integrarea socială a romilor. [Roma: their social integration.] Braşov, 1991. Nicolăescu-Plopşor, Dr. C. S.: Paramisă gilă rromane. Poveşti şi cântece rrome. Bucureşti, 1997. Pozsony, Ferenc-Anghel Romulus Gabriel (eds.), Modele de convieţuire în Ardeal: Zăbala. [Models of Transylvanian coexistence: Zabola/Zabala.] Cluj, 1999. ROMATHAN, studii despre romi, 1997, vol. I no. 1 and 2. Scholarly periodical published in Bucharest. Sarău, Gheorghe: Mic dicţionar rrom-român. Bucureşti, 1992. ––––– : Dicţionar rrom (spoitoresc)-român, Bucureşti, 1998. ––––– : Rromii, India şi limba rromani, Bucureşti, 1998. Sarău, Gheorghe – Colceriu, Corneliu: Dicţionar român-rrom (căldărăresc). Bucureşti, 1998. ––––– : Dicţionar rrom (căldărăresc)-român. Bucureşti, 1998. Tüdős, S. Kinga: Székely főnemesi életmód a XVII. század alkonyán. [The Szekler nobility at the end of the 17th century.] Bucureşti -Cluj, 1998. Wlislocki, Heinrich: Die Sprache der Transsilvanischen Zigeuner, (reprinted) Bucureşti, 1999. Zamfir, Elena – Cătălin Zamfir, Ţiganii între ignorare şi îngrijorare. [The Roma: between ignorance and anxiety.] Alternativa, Bucureşti, 1993. ––––– : “The Romany population. Socio-economic situation and co-ordinates of a support programme.” In: Romanian Journal of Sociology, vol. IV, no. 1 (1993), pp. 53-77. Zsupos, Zoltán, Az erdélyi sátoros taxás és aranymosó fiskális cigányok a 18. században [Nomadic and gold-panning Gypsies in the 18th century]. Cigány néprajzi tanulmányok 4-5. Budapest, 1996. A full bibliography of the Roma/Gypsy issue will be found in the works listed.


István Kemény Language and education: assimilation and segregation Linguistic assimilation My points of reference on the issue of linguistic assimilation are two major surveys of the Roma, those of 1971 and 1993-94. Linguistically, three groups of Roma are usually identified in Hungary. These are: Roma who speak only Hungarian, known as the music-making Roma; those who speak both Romani and Hungarian (the Vlach Roma); and those who speak both Romanian and Hungarian (known in Hungarian as the Beash Roma). In the case of the last two groups, the variety of bilingualism encountered involves one language being the means of communication within the family circle while the other language is used for communicating with non-Roma. This second language is used in school, in contacts with the authorities, at the surgery, healthcentre and with the district nurse, in dealing with various social security matters, in shops and at the market; and this language is also used in the home when the topics and areas mentioned need to be discussed. Between 1971 and 1994 a powerful process of linguistic assimilation was recorded among the Roma in Hungary. The 1971 survey suggested that 71% of Roma spoke only Hungarian, the Beash Roma accounted for 7.6% of the total, while 21.7% had Romani as (one) mother tongue (only 0.2% spoke any other language as their mother tongue). By the time of the 1993-4 survey these figures had altered radically. The proportion of Beash Roma among the 500,000 Roma population had gone down to 5.5%, while those with Romani as their mother-tongue were no more than 4.4%. These figures must, however, be supplemented by responses during the survey to the question: what language(s) do you speak? These figures gave the number of Beash Roma bilinguals as 11.3% and the number of Romani/Hungarian bilinguals as 11.1%. These last figures, for the spoken language, are the ones to bear in mind in discussing the linguistic diversity of the Roma: the number of Beash Roma and of Romani-speaking Roma in Hungary is some 55,000-56,000 in each case. The survey did not record the number of Hungarian-mother-tongue Hungarians who have learnt Romani, as they were not included in the study. The substantial degree of assimilation that took place among the Romanians of Hungary between 1960 and 1990 was similarly of a linguistic and not cultural kind: in 1960 the number of speakers with Romanian as their mother tongue was 16,000, a figure almost halved by 1990 to 8,700. The figures for Hungarian citizens with Slovak as their mother tongue show an even steeper decline: 31,000 in 1960 but only 13,000 in 1990. A brief commentary is, however, in order. In the case of all these groups – Romanians, Slovaks, and indeed others – the process of linguistic assimilation began not in 1960 but in the 19th century. Reasonably


reliable data exist from about 1880 to show wave after wave of decline in the numbers of those with Romanian and Slovak, whether as mother tongue or as second language. The 1990s seem to be the last wave of this process, the last minutes of the final hour, as a publication in the earlier part of the decade suggested… Certainly, language shift in the case of the Romanians, Slovaks and other similar groups in Hungary has reached the stage where we can predict that very soon it will be complete, and all the Romanians and Slovaks of Hungary will be Hungarian speaking. We do not know precisely when this process began among the Roma. All I can say about this is based on reading and my personal experience of the two surveys. My feeling is that the assimilatory process was not particularly powerful in earlier days. Research in this area dates only from 1961; linguistic assimilation seems to date from this time; at least, it is since then that it can be documented. One important reason for this is the relocation of the Roma from the Roma settlements. At the time of the 1971 survey, the proportion of the various groups of Roma living in Roma settlements was 65%, while in the case of Vlach Roma the figure was 75%, and that for Beash Roma 48%. On 1 January 1994 only 5% of Vlach Roma lived in Roma settlements, and only 1% of Beash Roma did so. Being moved out of the settlements obviously disrupted the internal cohesion of the communities and inevitably resulted in more, and more intensive, contact with non-Roma society. Another factor easing the Roma in the same direction was the workplace. By 1971 some 84% of Beash Roma men were employed in places where there were both Magyars and Beash Roma, while 75% of Vlach Roma had such workplaces. In the 1980s perhaps more than half of the Beash and Vlach Roma women in employment also worked in such ethnically mixed surroundings. By the term workplaces here I mean not only factories and mines, but rather the many jobs in service industry locations, such as flower-selling and hotel and catering, where numbers of Roma are now employed. In such workplaces the language of communication can only be Hungarian, since that is the only language known to the majority. An even more important factor is the kindergarten and the school, which in Hungary must have Hungarian as their linguistic medium. There are small numbers of minority institutions, of relatively little significance, where the medium of communication is German, Slovak, or another language, but there is as yet no school where the language of instruction is Romani. For those Roma adults who now live in the community it is school that has had the greatest influence, for they all went to Hungarian-speaking schools. There is a striking difference between them (I am speaking of Beash and Vlach Roma, not Hungarian Roma) and the generation of those over 60, who had perhaps a few years of schooling, or none at all: less than 10% of them, according to the statistics, completed eighth grade. For this ‘grandparents’ generation the language of communication was still Romani (for the Vlach Roma) or, in the case of the Beash Roma, the Beash varieties. As one generation brought up the next, it became more


common for parents to speak Hungarian to their children, and even amongst themselves they spoke a mixture of Hungarian and Romani or the Beash varieties. Part of the reason for this change was that for the generation that came after those who are 60-plus today the use of Romani in school was forbidden, not only in the actual classes but even in the playground or any school property. The bitter frustrations at school for this generation have been a defining experience, about which much has already been written. In turn, this has led many Roma parents to speak Hungarian to their children in the hope of improving their chances at school. Whether there is now, or whether there is ever likely to be, an opportunity to introduce at least some element of mother-tongue education in schools with a Roma majority is not an issue I wish to pursue here. Segregation It should be said at the outset that there are great discrepancies between Roma and non-Roma in respect of their areas of residence. In Hungary as a whole 38% of the population lives in villages, but the figure for the Roma population is 61%: this does not yet amount to segregation, but it is certainly a significant discrepancy. Pursuing the detail, it appears that 17% of the population as a whole lives in communities of less than 2,000 people, whereas for the Roma population this figure is 40%. At the level of communities of less than 1,000 we find 8% of the Hungarian population as a whole living in such communities, while for Roma this figure is 20%. The Roma are typically settled in very small villages, particularly in the southern parts of western Hungary, in Baranya and the surrounding counties, where 53% of the Roma population lives in villages with less than 1,000 people. At the time of the 1971 survey 65% of Roma were living in Roma settlements; that figure has declined to 13.7% This would appear to be a substantial step towards desegregation, but serious doubt is cast upon this by some figures from the 1993-94 survey, which showed that 30% of Roma lived in areas where their neighbours were all Roma, and a further 30% in areas where some 50% of their neighbours were Roma. This indicates that segregation in terms of residence continues to exist. Gábor Kertesi and Gábor Kézdi used the education statistics for 1992-93, when Hungarian schools still distinguished between Roma and non-Roma schoolchildren, to show that there were then 410 primary schools in Hungary where the proportion of Roma children exceeded 25%. Since the same sources show, for 1989, that the number of such schools was then 300, we can extrapolate from the figures to say that, today, more than 25% of over 500 (of the country’s 3,800) primary schools’ population is likely to be Roma. Breaking down the figures further we know that in 10 villages all the schoolchildren are Roma, and in a further 17 the proportion of Roma children is between 80% and 100%. Where every child is a Roma, they naturally attend Roma schools; but so do Roma children in many villages or settlements where their proportion is only 80% or even just 50%. There are thus villages where geographical separation does not


explain educational segregation, yet the latter persists. A national survey turned up the first Roma school in 1971, but it was a novel idea at the time. Before 1962 practically no Vlach Roma settlement children went to school; and only a very few from the Beash Roma areas. A Party directive in 1961 laid down (simplifying somewhat and without going into the details) that assimilation was thenceforth to be pursued, and Roma children were to be sent to school without fail. As a result, the Ministry of Education issued orders which were sometimes obeyed but were more often circumvented in the settlements. Vlach Roma children were certainly taken to school, but to separate buildings and in separate classes. There were 70 Roma classes in 1962, 74 in 1963, and 81 in 1974. We have no information on the number of Roma classes today, but regional surveys looked at figures from 840 schools. Of these 132 had a Roma class or a separate building where Roma children were taught. In 1971, apart from the existence of freely admitted Roma schools or classes, there was another means of segregating the Roma: the ‘auxiliary school’. In our report at the time we noted that many of the more populous Roma settlements had an auxiliary school, which was merely a variation on the Roma school. We have no up-to-date figures; as I mentioned the figure of 132 does not refer to the country as a whole. There are two settlements for which we have some detailed data, Tiszavasvári and Hajdúhadház; both have been in the spotlight, because they were the scenes of political scandal which reverberated nation-wide. The issue in Tiszavasvári was the commencement (school-leaving) ceremony: Roma and non-Roma held separate ceremonies, as it became known in the whole country thanks to the periodical Magyar Narancs. In the ensuing debate little attention was focussed on information which had regularly been collected before, namely that one of the two Roma settlements of Tiszavasvári is particularly important and its separate commencement ceremonies are traditional, dating back to the time several decades ago when the Roma school was an auxiliary school. This became a ‘catching up’ school in 1995, as this label made it possible to secure more government funding. The settlement local authority argued that if the Roma are indeed an ethnic group, it is natural for ethnic Roma children to attend a Roma school. In the Végső Ferenc Primary School, of the 500 children, 250 are Roma and 240 of these attend Roma classes. In practice this means that the non-Roma children use the main building, which would be regarded as wellequipped by Hungarian standards, while the Roma children use a less wellequipped annexe. The cafeteria was in the main building and out of bounds for the Roma; the sports hall was attached to the main building and equally out of bounds for the Roma. The teachers of the Roma were less well-qualified than those who taught the others. The situation in Hajdúhadház is similar. I personally visited this settlement in 1975 and saw with my own eyes that a building unsuitable for teaching purposes had been designated for use by Roma children. The outcome of such practices is evident in the figures from the 1993-94 national survey. 77% of Hungarian Roma completed eight grades of school, 23%


did not; 42% of the Beash Roma children, and 48% of the Vlach Roma children, failed to complete eight grades. Since we had no accurate information about segregation, Gábor Havas, Ilona Liskó and I decided to look into Roma ways of life. We sought answers to questions such as: how extensive is segregation in particular settlements, what forms does it take, what is the quality of education provided, how do the local authorities and the schools use state support, how effective is the form – whether segregated or non-segregated – taken by the structures that result, and what are the Roma’s own views on what goes on in their particular settlement. Since data from 1992-93 on the proportion of Roma children in the settlements are available, it is not difficult to create a representative sample. I hope that as a result of this research we shall be ale to provide answers to a number of still-unanswered questions.


Lajos Aáry-Tamás The education of Roma pupils in the light of research in the Office of the Commissioner for Minority Rights The Ombudsman’s office completed its nation-wide survey of minority education in 1998 and recently issued a study of the special school needs of Roma schoolchildren. These prompted a number of questions: 1. What prompted us to carry out such a comprehensive study of minority education? The education system in Hungary is in flux. The amendments to the Education Act came into force on 1 September 1996, and exactly two years later schools began to phase in the National Master Curriculum. Minority education is an organic part of the Hungarian education system and those who are members of national and ethnic minorities are far from indifferent to the nature of the education system that will provide for their children’s education and welfare for decades to come. Even early on in the process of transformation a number of inadequacies in legislation and the administration of justice have surfaced, which there is still time to remedy. As far as our methodology is concerned, it must be said that non-standard techniques had to be applied. The minorities in Hungary are widely scattered over its territory and virtually every county has its own minority educational institutions. It would thus have been impossible to look at every nursery and primary school where children belonging to a national or ethnic minority are taught. A continuous stream of complaints about inequities in the field of minority education reached the office of the Commissioner for Minority Rights and we supplemented the analysis of these by organising, in four counties, specialist forums and ‘open days’ for complainants. On the latter the Commissioner for Minority Rights himself heard the complainants, while the forums were attended by teachers, parents, and representatives of the local authorities and the Roma settlements. Our appeal for written comments was also successful. We also had at our disposal the outcome of a number of research projects in the field of minority education, and well-known experts produced further materials for use in our major project. We devoted a separate chapter to the teaching of those belonging to the Roma minority. The basis on which minority education takes place in Hungary is embedded in the constitution of the Hungarian Republic, which states that national and ethnic minorities are entitled to education in their mother tongue. The local government of the Roma settlements is obliged to provide a minority class or group, if at least eight parents belonging to that minority request it. While ‘minority education’ provides for the children from the national minorities (i.e. those with majority populations adjacent to Hungary) to study their mother tongue


and culture in the framework of a minority programme, in the case of Roma youngsters only a few take part in an organised minority programme, and even those that do, do so in the so-called ‘catching up’ programme. ‘Catching up’ programmes are not, however, what Roma parents want for their children. There is a disputed article in the law on minorities which permits the creation of nonstandard teaching contexts in the interests of diminishing the educational disadvantages of the Roma minority. The article concerned refers to the disadvantages of the Roma minority and not of the individual students, suggesting that the Roma minority has educational disadvantages qua a minority, which is undoubtedly untrue. In our view the ‘catching up’ programmes for Roma children should not be focused on hopes of diminishing disadvantage, but on the constitutional demand for equality of opportunity. Naturally, minority education as such does strive to create equality of opportunity, but in practice the degree to which minority education is successful differs widely between the nationalities and the Roma. It is worth discussing here the organisation of the Roma classes. A look at the relevant directives suggests that organising teaching into distinct classes is not in itself unconstitutional and minorities are typically taught is separate classes or groups. The key issue, however, is: who does the organising, for what purpose, and in what way, and whether all this combines to realise the constitutional goal it is meant to achieve. In the case of national minority children the goal of separate education is indeed achieved: they establish and preserve their identity through the preservation of the minority language and culture. In the case of Roma children the situation is quite different. There are very few Roma teaching programmes aimed at establishing and preserving their identity and at transmitting Roma culture. Of a number of reasons for this one might mention the lack of a nationally or internationally standardised variety of Romani, the low prestige of Roma culture and of the Roma in general, strong feelings from the majority about the need for the Roma to assimilate, and the substantial fragmentedness of Roma culture itself. These reasons, however, are not in themselves grounds for teaching Roma children in separate classes without a teaching programme and without parental consent. Though we have no precise figures for the number of such Roma classes in Hungary, a close study of the statutory instruments indicates that separate Roma classes, organised outside the minority programme and/or according to principles that do not accord with the statutes and/or without the knowledge and agreement of the children’s parents, are illegal, since they result in discrimination against Roma children. At the same time, it must be said that the Hungarian education system is unable to deal with the different cultural background of the Roma. Teaching of the ‘catching up’ educational programmes has not yet been standardised and their effectiveness has yet to be properly assessed. To cap it all, such programmes are being squeezed out in the increasingly competitive atmosphere of education in Hungary, as they need additional resources. In these circumstances the segregated teaching of Roma cannot realise the constitutional goal of eliminating inequality of


opportunity; indeed, the organisation of Roma classes leads to discrimination. We think that education, like the public services, must also consider the needs and interests of the consumer. Today it surely needs no stressing that parents must be much more involved in decisions about their children’s schooling; yet at present there is in many places no communication between parents and schools. This can be remedied by teachers on the one hand and, on the other, the minority authorities which are supposed to act as a bridge between the Roma communities and the schools. Though the legal framework exists, this mediating role can be carried out only if both the teachers and the minority authority representatives possess the necessary professional skills. 2. The results of our most recent research As we already indicated in our minority education survey, an approach to the segregation of Roma pupils in the education system that is not unknown in other countries of Central Europe is their relocation in special schools or classes for children who are somewhat mentally deficient. It is estimated that up to half of the children in such schools or classes are of Roma origin, which is to say that there are six or seven times as many of them here as in the education system as a whole. Repeated attempts to tighten up the rules governing relocation into special schools and classes has failed to prevent these being treated as a “dumping ground” for Roma schoolchildren. It runs counter to all the experience of research in the social sciences to find within a people any kind of deficiency in such proportions The following table summarises the data most relevant from the point of view of our survey. It shows the numbers and proportion of Roma schoolchildren attending auxiliary schools in the country as a whole. Roma schoolchildren in auxiliary schools in selected years SCHOOL YEAR 1974/75 1977/78 1981/82 1985/86 1992/93 TOTAL NUMBER OF SCHOOLCHILDREN 29,617 31,666 33,079 39,395 32,099 OF THESE THE NUMBER WHO WERE ROMA 7,730 9,753 12,107 15,640 13,662 NUMBER OF ROMA AS A PERCENTAGE 26.1% 30.8% 36.6% 39.7% 42.6%

Source: Cigány tanulók az alsó- és középfokú oktatásban [Roma schoolchildren in primary and secondary education], Budapest: TÁRKI, 1986 (first four lines); MKM Statisztikai Főosztály [Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Education and Culture] (fifth line).

The figure in the final column for Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county in 1998 was 94%!


A survey carried out in 1986 came to the following conclusions: - In primary schools there were, in addition to normal children, also children with some slight mental deficiency which the primary schools did not consider an impediment to their being integrated into the normal schools. - 00000000The primary schools relocated to the auxiliary schools not only those with a slight mental deficiency, but also those normal children whom the primary school teachers were unable or unwilling to integrate into classes in the normal primary school. - The heterogeneous composition of the auxiliary schools arises largely from teachers’ assessment of the children and from their family origins and background. - The 1998 survey in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county assessed the alternativecurriculum schools as follows: - Since the curriculum of the auxiliary schools differs from that of the general primary schools and does not offer certain subjects essential for further technical training (physics, chemistry, foreign languages), it may justly be claimed that this is a cul-de-sac for training, which produces, and reproduces, groups disadvantaged both socially and in their ability to secure work. - 00000000Because of their reduced curriculum children who spend a year or two in the auxiliary schools are virtually impossible to reintegrate into normal schooling and present both teacher and pupil with insurmountable practical problems. - The auxiliary schools and classes are most often filled by children whose parents lack the requisite information about the dead-end nature of such schools, about the background to auxiliary schooling, and the chances of reintegration. We think that these surveys demonstrate how the process that ends in the relocation of children in alternative-curriculum schools or special education institutions could well lead to discrimination against Roma children. This is an abuse of constitutional and minority rights which must be remedied. Allowing the existing system to continue unaltered can result in two fundamental errors. On the one hand, non-retarded, mainly Roma children find their way into the special educational network maintained for those who are retarded. This may well have a negative influence on their opportunities and their future: their career path, their position in the labour market, and indeed their whole way of life. On the other hand, the genuinely retarded are deprived of the special teaching they need. In fairness it should be added that the regulations have changed substantially in recent years, precisely in order to remedy the situation; but there is concern that without an intensive information campaign the pace of change will be far too slow. It is our view that those in charge of Hungary’s education policy must state unequivocally their position on how and when a wide-ranging policy of integrated


education can be introduced in Hungary, and on the means necessary for its implementation. Our other proposal to the Minister of Education is that he should exploit the entire arsenal of communicative means at his disposal to inform teachers, local authority representatives in the Roma settlements, those in the education departments of the local authorities, the minorities’ representatives, and (not least) parents about the contents and purpose of the rules and regulations governing the teaching of impaired children, so that those affected are fully aware of their rights, obligations and options, and of the consequences of the decisions they take.


Andrea Szalai Gypsy minority education: language use and educational linguistic rights In what follows I examine some issues of mother-tongue use, with special attention to education, among the linguistically heterogeneous groups of Gypsies in Hungary, Hungary’s largest minority. Within the framework of the legal regulation dealing with minority education and language use I outline some legal aspects of the use of the mother tongue in the Gypsy minority context. I am concerned primarily with present-day educational practice in Hungary as it affects the chances of the maintenance of minority languages spoken by those Gypsy children who are in varying degrees bilingual. In discussing Romani-Hungarian and Beash-Hungarian bilingualism, I touch upon Romani and Beash language planning and, finally, some educational problems related to language use faced by many Gypsy children whether or not they are bilingual. The legal framework One of the most important achievements of the Hungarian Act No. LXXVII of 1993 on the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities (henceforth: the “Minority Act”) is that it recognises the Gypsies as one of the thirteen minorities in Hungary and provides equal rights in terms of language use as well. If we examine Minority Act and the paragraphs on language use in Public Education Act (1993, no. LXXIX), we can say that these rights appear to be characterisable by position somewhere between overt permission and promotion on the grid proposed by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and Robert Phillipson (SkutnabbKangas and Phillipson 1989, Phillipson 1990, and Phillipson 1997:68) (cf. Kontra 1997a:1717). (The categories mentioned offer criteria for evaluating support for the languages of minorities in various instruments, such as documents on human rights.) In the case of the Gypsy minority (Rom and non-Rom Gypsies as well), however, the implementation of educational linguistic rights has taken a path that diverges from the practice usual in the education of other, “national” minorities. The possible reasons for this are explored below. If one interprets the education of Gypsy children within the context of minority education, the tasks ought to be considered in more than one paradigm. I shall discuss only two important paradigms that often come into conflict in the area of legal regulations governing Gypsy children’s education, as well as in everyday practice. Two models


One main approach of the classifying the educational problems faced by Gypsy children is a sociologically oriented approach. From this perspective the Gypsy minority can be described as a group with a marginal status, with economic, societal, regional and cultural disadvantages, suffering from an underclass position and from the effects of prejudice on the part of the majority society. In this paradigm the emphasis is on the inequalities suffered by the Gypsies, and the social and political practice based on this regards the creation of equality of opportunities and the compensation of disadvantages as its most important goal in relation to Gypsy minority, urging to grant more economic and social rights. In accordance with this, in the sociological paradigm those components of the cultures of different Gypsy ethnic groups seem to be primary which – partly because of the low economic and social status of the Gypsies – can be described in terms of deprivation, which is characteristic of the poor. The other pole is represented by culture-oriented approach, which considers the Gypsy minority groups primarily as autonomous ethnic communities with autonomous, organic cultures. The representatives of this approach concentrate on the maintenance and operations of these ethnic cultures and examine the language as an integral part of this process. This approach is more sensitive to the issues of cultural rights, which may perhaps be seen as including linguistic rights. These two paradigms or models naturally overlap in a number of areas and may highlight problems in social, economic, cultural and linguistic rights equally. The differences appear as irresolvable contradictions only if one or other of the two views is being considered of absolute, exclusive relevance. Deficit theories, typical of the sociological standpoint dominate both the legal rules and the everyday educational practice in the context of the Gypsy minority, though there are points where a culture-oriented ideology, representing more enrichment-oriented theories makes an appearance.59 In the sections of the Minority Act devoted to the education of the Gypsy minority, it is the sociological paradigm that dominates: “In order to reduce the educational disadvantages of the Gypsy minority, special educational conditions may be created” (Article 45, [2]). The influence of the deficit theories can also be clearly seen in the terminology and stance of other regulations in the minority education field. Both the 1997 Ministerial Directive on the Education of National and Ethnic Minorities (Directive, 1997), and the National Core Curriculum (NAT, 1995:19) deal with the education of the Gypsy minority exclusively in terms of remedial education. According to the ministerial Directive remedial education for Gypsy pupils “does not require the teaching of the Gypsy language, but if parents request it, the variety of Gypsy spoken by them is also taught in school.” (Directive, 1997:3628). Here the Directive and the National Core Curriculum (henceforth NAT) contradict each other. The NAT (cf. Kontra, 1997b:140-141) assumes that the majority of Gypsy children speak Hungarian as their first language. It allows the
On the consequences of the two kinds of theory and their influence in minority education policies, see: Skutnabb-Kangas, 1990.


study of their minority mother tongue only within the framework of the traditional teaching of the minority languages. This allows learners to study their minority language as a foreign (modern) language, for four hours per week. With this, a new self-contradiction is born, for on page 18 we read that “the language may be taught as a second language and may be used as a medium of instruction, as one of the thirteen minority first languages in Hungary” (NAT, 1995:18). The National Core Curriculum not only discriminates in language matters; it stipulates minimalist expectations regarding the education of those belong to the Gypsy minority, stating that the educational target is for “the learner to meet the requirements of his/her age group” (NAT, 1995:19). While allowing for exceptions, the statements described above involve a preconception that Gypsy children will not meet the minimum school requirements, and that they are socially, communicatively and educationally challenged, and therefore unable to achieve success in the school environment. This attitude is given absolution by requirements of the educational establishments which thereby construct certain groups of students – in this case, generally (!) Gypsy children as members of a given ethnic group – as being in need of remedial education. That is to say, the school’s concern is not the individual student’s problems at school, but the Gypsy students as a group, as those belonging to a minority, who are judged to be in need of remedial programmes. Nor surprisingly, proposals for improvement are almost exclusively directed at the children, rather than at the attitudes, educational methodologies, and contents of the teaching. It appears to be the case that the normative subsidy (which may be requested from the exchequer on the basis of the number of children participating in the various minority programmes) targeted to cover the financial needs of institutions of minority education is used, in the vast majority of cases, for different purposes in Gypsy minority programmes than in other “national minority” programmes.60 While the minority language and culture forms an integral part of non-Gypsy, national minority programmes emphasising the children’s linguistic and cultural identities, Gypsy minority programmes for the most part merely try to compensate for sociocultural disadvantage. I would not wish to question the necessity and importance of the remedial programmes, which often need to comprise social welfare support elements. The fact that supplementary normative subsidies may be available for these programmes can encourage schools and teachers and thus may contribute to the success of the programme. I do not see, however, what makes these teaching programmes, which hardly ever contain minority linguistic or cultural elements, specifically Gypsy programmes, if they fail in practice to offer anything more than standard coaching of the remedial type. If the goal of the programme is merely “catching up”, the children with learning problems that it is aimed at can hardly be helped on the
We do not consider here the financial problems of education that in practice, often result in having to spend this supplementary support on the maintenance of the school (see Forray, 1994).


basis of teaching organised on the basis of ethnic origin. Teaching Roma children with learning difficulties separately in the guise of “remedial” programmes may, instead of leading to integration, further exacerbate segregation. In their present form the remedial programmes for the Gypsy children can be regarded as social programmes rather than ethnic or minority programmes. The “minority” label in itself does not improve the situation. The concepts of “Gypsy” and “poor” often overlap in majority values, and thus become synonymous in their interpretation and in educational practice. Some improvements in the educational practice described could be achieved through revision of the regulatory mechanisms. The regulations neither prohibit nor prescribe the teaching of either the native languages used by the Gypsy communities, but they clearly require the integration of elements of the minority culture into the curricula (Directive, 1997). In this respect the ministerial Directive (Directive, 1997; Supplement, 1998) consolidating minimum standards and facilitating the planning and evaluation of minority teaching programmes can be seen as a positive step. This does not, however, of itself ensure that the level of the teaching programmes is necessarily raised. For the kindergartens and the schools have been left virtually to their own devices in developing a teaching programme containing Romani or Beash linguistic and/or cultural elements. Few, if any, sample curricula, textbooks, language books, or other teaching materials have been provided. Due to the inadequacy of teacher training, the majority of the teachers lack even basic cultural, linguistic and sociological knowledge concerning the different groups of the Gypsy minority. In this respect it is certainly the case that the regulatory mechanisms and the standards they prescribe are some considerable way ahead of the real existing options in everyday practice. Another problem is that there are only a small number of the qualified nursery school- or school teachers who use Romani or Beash as their mother tongue or as a second language, and hardly any trained teachers speak one of these languages as a foreign language, even at an elementary level. In order to improve the quality of minority education it is essential to incorporate up-to-date knowledge about the Gypsies into teacher training and further training, besides supporting and encouraging the development of syllabuses and teaching materials. This can be found among the recommendations of the Gypsy Educational Development Programme designed by the Ministry of Culture and Education (Gypsy Educational Development Programme, 1995:8-9). Consideration should also be given to employ native Romany or Beash teaching assistants, at least in the lower grades of institutions teaching large numbers of bilingual Gypsy children. We may summarise the above by saying that the pre-school and the school establishments are in most cases unable to contribute to the maintenance and development of linguistic competence of Romani -or Beash-speaking children; nor is there any encouragement for them to do so. The development of language and communicative skills is restricted to the Hungarian language, and this reinforces


the dominance of the majority language, which, because of an already diglossic, asymmetric bilingual situation might contribute to linguistic assimilation. Trends in Romani and Beash language planning and language policy When considering the task of modernising corpus planning, status planning and acquisition planning, one should take into consideration the predominantly oral nature and diglossic state of Romani-and Beash-medium cultures. In this process of modernisation an important step is the creation of literacy in Romani and Beash languages. For Beash the first materials, in the form of textbooks, grammars, dictionaries and other aids for teaching and presenting its culture (e.g. Kovalcsik, 1994; Kovalcsik-Orsós, 1994; Orsós, 1994; Orsós, 1997; Varga, 1997), have begun to appear only in the last few years, even more recently than those for Romani. In order to move from the diglossic situation it would be necessary to expand the range of use and functions of Romani and Beash languages, as well as the sets of linguistic tools for serving different communicative functions. The bilingual textbooks, dictionaries mentioned above may greatly contribute to the development of literacy in Romani and Beash, as well as to language acquisition within formal settings. Such publications must certainly be given greater publicity and more effective distribution. Here I would like to mention a very positive development for the status of the Romani and Beash languages. It has been possible to take state language exams in Romani since 1992 and in Beash since 1996. This should contribute to the rising in the prestige of these languages and in the longer term it may even reinforce the identity and self-esteem of the speech communities. State examinations could be one of the ways a long-awaited linguistic and social emancipation, though it still seems to fulfil functions that are mostly related to protocol. Emancipation is, however, hardly in evidence in the fact that the language on the certificate of those who are successful in the Romani and Beash examinations is in both cases referred to as “Gypsy language”. This reflects the undifferentiated, homogenising view of the majority society, which knows very little about the variations in languages and cultures of the Gypsy ethnic groups. There can be no other explanation for the curious error of providing identical, same certificates of competence in two quite different languages purely on the grounds that the speakers of both are regarded as Gypsies. Teaching problems and language use Studies of language use carried out in a number of Gypsy communities in Hungary over the last fifteen years by sociolinguists, cultural anthropologists and ethnomusicologists (for a survey, see Szalai, 1999b) have shown the inadequacy of


negative stereotyping which sees the socialisation of Gypsy children in the family and from the linguistic point of view as a flawed, negative process characterised by linguistic or generally cognitive deficits, and labels it as inadequate socialisation. None the less, the difficulties faced at school by most Gypsy children, whether monolingual or bilingual, are largely linguistic in nature and require exploration. Some of the problems of bilingual Gypsy children at school may be linked to the practice of schools which flout linguistic rights by treating them as monolingual and teaching them as if they were monolingual Hungarian children (cf. Réger 1974, 1978, Szalai 1999a). At the same time, we must recognise that much of Hungary’s Roma population is linguistically assimilated, 61 and has no difficulties stemming from bilingualism as far as the language of schooling in Hungarian language schools is concerned. In seeking an explanation for problems in school language use Zita Réger regards as a more important factor, even for bilingual Roma children, the absence of pre-school socialising strategies in reading and writing, i.e. of literacy events favoured in the social practice of middle-class, school-oriented families, which transmit the communicative models expected by schools (see e.g. Réger, 1995). The complexity of the issue in the case of both monolingual and bilingual Gypsy children almost certainly arises from differences in the modes of communication practised at home and expected in school. (cf. Derdák and Varga, 1996). These imply on the one hand differences in language use associated with those in social class, as shown in sociolinguistic studies of the correlation between social inequalities and language use , and, on the other, differences in models of language
Az alábbiakban sorra veszem a magyarországi cigányság nyelvi megoszlására vonatkozó legutóbbi adatokat. Az önminősítésen, mint az emberi jogi szempontból egyetlen releváns klasszifikációs rendszeren alapuló népszámlálási adatok szerint 1990-ben cigány nemzetiségűnek 142 684, cigány anyanyelvűnek pedig 48 072 személy vallotta magát (ld. Magyar statisztikai évkönyv, 1992:22-23.). (Az 1990-es népszámlálási adatok szerint 4 679 volt azoknak a száma, akik nemzetiség szerint nem vallották magukat cigánynak, de anyanyelvükként a cigányt nevezték meg, és további 17 044 fő azoknak a száma, akik beszélik a nyelvet, de sem anyanyelv, sem nemzetiség szerint nem sorolták magukat a cigány népességhez. Ld. Mészáros és Fóti, 1995:22). Itt kell megjegyeznünk, hogy az anyanyelvre és a nyelvismeretre vonatkozó népszámlálási adatok nem tartalmaznak információt arról, hogy mely idiómát (a romani valamely változatát, vagy a beások által beszélt román dialektusokat) kell értenünk a „cigány nyelv” terminuson. A cigányság nyelvi csoportjaira vonatkozóan egyedül az 1971-es és az 1993-94-es reprezentatív szociológiai felmérés közöl adatokat. (E vizsgálatok a mintavételi eljárás során azt tekintették cigánynak, akit a nem cigány környezete annak tart. Ld. pl. Beszámoló, én..:2) Az 1971-es reprezentatív cigányvizsgálat a magyarországi cigány népesség számát 320 000-re becsülte. Az 1971-es adatok szerint e népesség nagy része, 71%-a nyelvileg asszimilálódott, magyar egynyelvű, 21, 2% a romani valamely változatát beszéli anyanyelvként, és 7, 6% az anyanyelvként román dialektusokat beszélő, anyanyelvükön magukat és anyanyelvüket többnyire beásnak nevező cigányok aránya. Az 1993-94-es országos vizsgálat kerekítve 500 000-re teszi a cigány népesség lélekszámát (Havas-Kemény, 1995:4). Az anyanyelv szerinti megoszlásra vonatkozó adatok szerint e népesség 89, 5%-a magyar, 5, 5%-a beás és 4, 4%-a cigány (értsd: romani) anyanyelvű. A beszélt nyelvre vonatkozó adatok szerint a beásul beszélők aránya 11,3%, a romanit beszélők aránya pedig 11,1% (lásd: Kemény 1999:10-11). A fenti adatok ismeretében azt mondhatjuk, hogy a cigányság kétnyelvű csoportjai alkotják Magyarország egyik legnagyobb nyelvi kisebbségét.


use in an ethnic culture that differs in many respects from the culture of the majority. It is frequently pointed out in the literature (see e.g. Heath 1984, Chafe and Tannen 1987), and seen as the source of a variety of teaching problems, that modes of speech relevant to the social and/or ethnic group of the child from a nonmainstream, non-middle class family are often unknown to, or unacknowledged by, their school, which expects the children to follow a uniform, unilinear path of linguistic and social development (Heath, 1984:255). The school expects, in the majority of contexts, explicit and context-free modes of speech and “assumes, indeed demands, knowledge gained from books, and builds on this foundation from the very start.” (Réger 1987:85). As Réger has stressed, the resolution of difficulties stemming from differences in language use should be addressed by techniques that ensure smooth passage between the everyday use of language at home and the language of learning and of knowledge. This process, called by ethnographers of speech a “bridge-building strategy” (see Réger, 1990:121-159), can succeed only if the school pursues a supportive, additive approach, making efforts to get to know, and acknowledge, the language culture that the children bring to school, rather than trying to eliminate or “correct” it; it must strive to supplement and expand what is brought from the home. This undoubtedly requires further research into the use of language in social and cultural contexts to improve our knowledge and understanding of the various Gypsy linguistic and ethnic groups in Hungary. Bibliography:
BESZÁMOLÓ Beszámoló a magyarországi roma (cigány) népesség helyzetével foglalkozó 1993 októbere és 1994 februárja között végzett kutatásról. [Report on the research on the situation of the Roma (Gypsy) population living in Hungary.] Research led by István Kemény, Gábor Havas and Gábor Kertesi. Budapest: MTA Szociológiai Intézete. (manuscript) Cigány Oktatásfejlesztési Program. [Gypsy Educational Development Programme.] Budapest: Ministry of Culture and Education, 1995. Chafe, Wallace – Tannen, Deborah, “The Relation Between Written and Spoken Language”, Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 16 (1987) pp. 383-407. Derdák, Tibor – Varga Aranka, “Az iskola nyelvezete – idegen nyelv” [Language of the school – foreign language], Regio vol. 7 no. 2 (1996) pp. 150-175. Forray, R. Katalin, A nemzeti-etnikai oktatás kiegészítő állami támogatása. Szakértői jelentés. [State supplementary subsidy of the education of national and ethnic minorities.] Budapest: Oktatáskutató Intézet, 1994. Havas, Gábor – István Kemény, “A magyarországi romákról” [On the Roms of Hungary], Szociológiai Szemle no. 3 (1995) pp. 3-20. Heath, Shirley Brice, “Linguistics and education”, Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 13 (1984) pp. 251-274. IRÁNYELV A művelődési és közoktatási miniszter 32/1997. (XI. 5.) rendelete a Nemzeti, etnikai kisebbség óvodai nevelésének irányelve és a Nemzeti, etnikai kisebbség iskolai oktatásának irányelve kiadásáról. [Decree of the Minister of Culture and Education on the Directive regarding national and ethnic minority nursery-schools and the publication of the Directive on national and ethnic minority education.] Művelődési Közlöny, vol. XLI., no. 35. (December 16, 1997), pp. 3625-


3632. Kemény, István, “The structure of the Hungarian Roma groups in Light of Linguistic Changes”, Regio (special English edition) (2000), pp. 105-117. KISEBBSÉGI TÖRVÉNY 1993. évi LXXVII. törvény a nemzeti és etnikai kisebbségek jogairól. [Act on the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities, no. LXXVII. of 1993.] Magyar Közlöny no. 100. (1993. július 22.), pp. 5273-5286. Kontra, Miklós (1997a), “Hungary”. In Hans Goebl et al. (eds.): Kontaktlinguistik. Berlin-New York: Mouton de Gruyter. vol.2 (1997), pp. 1708-1723. –––––– (1997b), “Tannyelvi diszkrimináció és cigány munkanélküliség” [Language of instruction discrimination and Gypsy unemployment], Fundamentum vol. 1. no. 2 (1997), pp. 139-140. Kovalcsik, Katalin, Florilyé dă primăváră. Tavaszi virágok. I-II. Beás cigány iskolai énekeskönyv. [Flowers of the spring. Songbook of the Beash Gypsies.] Pécs: Gandhi Középiskola–Fii Cu Noi, 1994. Kovalcsik, Katalin – Anna Orsós, Fátá ku păru dă ar. Az aranyhajú lány. Beás cigány iskolai népmesegyűjtemény. [The girl with the golden hair. A collection of Beash folktales.] Pécs: Gandhi Középiskola, 1994. Magyar statisztikai évkönyv [Hungarian Statistical Yearbook], 1992. Budapest: Magyar Statisztikai Hivatal. MELLÉKLET A művelődési és közoktatási miniszter 32/1998. (VII.3.) MKM rendelete a Nemzeti, etnikai kisebbség óvodai nevelésének irányelve és a Nemzeti, etnikai kisebbség iskolai oktatásának irányelve kiadásáról szóló 32/1997. (XI.5.) MKM rendelet módosításáról. [Decree no. 32/1998. (VII.3.) of the minister for culture and education on the modification of Decree 32/1997 (XI.5.) on the Directive regarding national and ethnic minority nursery-schools and the publication of the Directive on national and ethnic minority education.] Magyar Közlöny no. 59. (July 3), pp. 48494860. Mészáros, Árpád – János Fóti, “Nemzetiségek, etnikai csoportok a 20. századi Magyarországon” [Nationalities, ethnic groups in Hungary], Regio Vol. 6. no. 3 (1995), pp. 3-33. NAT Nemzeti Alaptanterv. [Natioanl Core Curriculum.] Budapest: Ministry of Culture and Education, 1995. Orsós, Anna, Beás nyelvkönyv. Pă lyimbá băjásilor. [Beash language book.] Kaposvár: Csokonai Vitéz Mihály Tanítóképző Főiskola, 1994. ––––––, Beás-magyar kéziszótár. [Beash-Hungarian dictionary.] Kaposvár: Csokonai Vitéz Mihály Tanítóképző Főiskola, 1997. Réger, Zita, “Kétnyelvû cigánygyermekek az iskoláskor elején” [Bilingual Gypsy children at the beginning of school career], Valóság vol. 17. no. 1 (1974), pp. 50-62. ––––––, “Cigányosztály, ‘vegyes’ osztály – a tények tükrében” [Gypsy class, ‘mixed class’ – the facts], Valóság vol. 21. no. 8 (1978), pp. 77-89. ––––––, “Nyelvi szocializáció és nyelvhasználat magyarországi cigány nyelvi közösségekben.” [Linguistic socialization and language use in Hungarian Gypsy linguistic communities.] In: Műhelymunkák a nyelvészet és társtudományai köréből. Budapest: MTA Nyelvtudományi Intézete, 1987, pp. 31-89. ––––––, Utak a nyelvhez. Nyelvi szocializáció – nyelvi hátrány. [Approaches to language. Linguistic socialization – linguistic disadvantage.] Budapest: Akadémiai, 1990. ––––––, “Cigány gyerekek nyelvi problémái és iskolai esélyei” [Language problems and school prospects of Gypsy children], Iskolakultúra – Természettudomány vol. 5. no. 24. (December 1995), pp. 102-106. Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove, Language, Literacy and Minorities. London: Minority Rights Group, 1990. ––––––, Nyelv, oktatás és a kisebbségek. Budapest: Teleki László Alapítvány, 1997. Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove – Robert Phillipson, Wanted! Linguistic human rights. Rolig-papir 44. Roskilde: Roskilde University Centre, 1989. Szalai, Andrea (1999a), “Linguistic Human Rights Problems among Romani and Beash Speakers in Hungary with Special Attention to Education.” In Miklós Kontra, Robert Phillipson, Tove SkutnabbKangas and Tibor Várady (eds.): Language: A Right and a Resource. Approaching Linguistic Human Rights. Budapest: CEU Press, 1999. –––––– (1999b), “Szociolingvisztikai szempontok a magyarországi cigánykutatásokban” [Aspects of


sociolinguistics in the research of Hungarian Gypsies], Educatio vol. 8. no.2 (1999), pp. 269-285. Varga, Ilona, Beás-magyar, magyar-beás szótár. [Beash-Hungarian, Hungarian-Beash Dictionary.] Konsept-H, 1997.




Sándor Palásti Integration into society and the Hungarian Constitution In order to influence processes in society by state intervention it is essential that society is integrated in the sense that it must consist of participants with equal opportunities to join in the life of that society. The constitution regards the realisation of equality of opportunity as a goal that must be aimed at: it can be defined as the state’s political and moral duty to counter social processes of the disintegrative kind. Disintegrative processes endanger both the national minorities and the Roma, though because of the cultural differences between them the dangers are of differing kinds. 1. Disintegrative forces in society produce assimilation in the case of the national minorities and dissimilation in the case of the Roma: disintegration is accompanied by the disappearance of national characteristics and discrimination against the Roma. In this case assimilation amounts to the loss of unique community features, whereas dissimilation brings about their increased prominence: while turning a blind eye to the national minority community’s unique character results in discriminatory treatment of the community as a whole, the dismissal of the Roma community’s unique character as irrelevant results in discrimination at the level of the individual. It is the constitutional duty of the state to act against discriminatory practice at both community and individual level: it must take steps which ensure integration of both the national minorities and the Roma into society as a whole. However, while assimilation threatens the national minorities at the level of the community, dissimilation is the danger for Roma at the individual level. The steps taken by the state must be sensitive to these distinctions: they must aim to consolidate the values of the national minority communities, but in the case of the Roma they should reinforce the special values of the individual. Discrimination against both communities and individuals must be addressed by the state with equal vigour; it must guarantee equality before the law for the national minority communities as legal entities and for the Roma as individual citizens with fundamental rights. In this way the state can create the conditions for the national minority communities to join other communities in society, and also ensure that Roma citizens of Hungary have an equal opportunity to take part in social life, thus contributing to the realisation of a de facto integrated society. To achieve equality of opportunity different techniques are required depending on whether the goal is to be achieved at the level of the individual or the level of the community; the state must promote the social integration of both minority communities and of Roma citizens. Unless the state pays careful attention to these differences, measures against assimilation could backfire and result in


exacerbating processes of dissimilation. Dysfunctional measures jeopardise the integrity of society as a whole, while dysfunctional legal institutions threaten the rule of law and thus constitutionality itself. 2. At present the only state measures that can be regarded as acceptable from the constitutional point of view are those relating to the social integration of the minorities; through the system of minority local government, the state guarantees for the minority communities their fundamental constitutional right to their own identity. However, such steps as have been taken by the state to try to ensure the social integration of the Roma have given the communities of Roma society only a right to self-definition that is constitutionally devoid of substance, while at the same time failing to ensure the social integration of citizens who are Roma. The existence of Roma minority local authorities which lack executive powers could well reinforce the disintegrative tendencies in Roma society, and unless anti-discriminatory measures are allowed to permeate the entire legal system Roma citizens will not be able to exercise their constitutional rights on the same basis as other legal entities. It is therefore incumbent upon the state to fulfil its constitutional obligation to ensure the social integration of the Roma by restructuring the Roma minority local authorities and by taking appropriate steps against discriminatory practices. In those Roma settlements where there is demonstrable social demand, the state must make it possible for the minority local authorities to participate with enhanced legal powers in the work of the local authority (council) of the village or town as a whole. A variety of legal techniques are available to achieve this: for example, the chairman of the minority local authority can be made a full member of the village or town council, while other members of the minority authority can be made full members of the various subcommittees (education, social services, health, employment). There are a number of additional ways in which the state must strive to ensure that Roma citizens can exercise to the full the fundamental rights guaranteed them by the Hungarian constitution in the same way as other citizens: local government mechanisms of legal redress should be incorporated into the legal system; legislation and procedures should be appropriately amended; training should be given to civil servants and local authority staff as well as to both Roma and non-Roma citizens to give them an insight into these problems; and the executive, spending bodies should be exposed to the scrutiny of the public service media.


Róbert Veresegyházy Improving productivity: laying the foundations for prosperity Experience suggests that the chances of creating a peaceful society are much greater in a country with a high standard of living. An important step on the road to prosperity is the creation of value and an increase in productivity. Such steps cannot be preceded by the (re)distribution of material benefits, since in the absence of resources this leads to debt. The resolution of the problems of the disadvantaged demands the simultaneous and mutually supportive handling of several issues, of which the most important would seem to be employment, productivity, and training. Though recent years have seen a number of attempts to resolve the most pressing problems, the largely unilateral nature of the approaches has ensured that any outcomes have not been long-term. The purpose of this brief contribution is to call the attention of those concerned with the problems of the disadvantaged to the importance of increasing productivity as a vital stage on the long road to the solution of the Roma question. On productivity in general In its narrow, technical sense, productivity is the ratio showing the degree of efficiency with which output is generated from input, the resources available to management. A good measure of the outcome is the amount of additional (surplus) value created. At company level this amounts to all income deriving from sales, less the cost of materials, services, and so on necessary for production and obtained by the company from outside suppliers. The surplus value generated also pays inter alia for wages, depreciation, and tax payments. The amount remaining appears as the company’s profits. The surplus value generated by all the companies and businesses operating in a country over a year is known as the gross domestic product (GDP). Though its GDP is not the only measure of a country’s prosperity, it tends to be the case that those countries capable of producing a high GDP enjoy a higher standard of living and a better quality of life than those which are not. Taken more broadly, productivity is a socio-economic concept, since it subsumes the creation of circumstances conducive to, and necessary for, increasing the amount of surplus value. A vital element of this is the fair distribution of surplus value as promised in the social contract. As pointed out in the Memorandum published in early 1999 by the European Association of National Productivity Centers, a number of factors are involved in generating increased productivity, including economic growth, competition and quality, innovation and technology, labour issues, the work environment and issues of


health and safety at work, labour organisations, levels of training, environmental issues and the partnership between employer and employee. The Hungarian Productivity Center believes in a concept of productivity which strives for the continuous improvement of economic performance through the optimal exploitation of resources, and seeks to satisfy the needs of all those involved in the process of producing value (employers, employees, property owners, shoppers, hauliers, the social environment) in a balanced way. Productivity and rate of employment The link between per capita GDP and productivity is particularly strong, as the per capita GDP can also be calculated as the product of employer productivity (more accurately: surplus value productivity per employer) and the proportion of employees in the population as a whole. It is thus possible to increase per capita GDP both through productivity and by increasing the rate of employment. It follows that a country may have an even more serious problem than high unemployment if its employment rate is low, because this increases the numberper-employer (including entrepreneurs) of those without an income (assuming this is from legal employment). In Hungary we have unfortunately witnessed in recent years a substantial growth in productivity and some decrease in unemployment rates, with very little growth in GDP. The reason for this is the decrease in the number of those in employment, linked to the rise in the number of those who are inactive (those members of the labour force who are potentially employable but are permanently absent from the labour market). It is a widely-held misconception that attempts to improve productivity result in large-scale unemployment. The evidence is that in countries where jobretention has been attempted by artificially putting the brakes on improving productivity, the expansion and competitiveness of the economy has suffered as a result. In those countries, on the other hand, where there has been a sustained effort to increase productivity (partly centrally and partly via market mechanisms), the economy has expanded significantly, with increases in both productivity and the rate of employment. Compared with 1870, in the seven most highly developed industrialised countries productivity has increased tenfold and the rate of employment almost fourfold; and accordingly GDP has risen by a factor of 35. A number of approaches to issues of employment and employment rate may be imagined; these have preoccupied the European Commission a great deal in the last few years. The retention and creation of jobs with the help of state subsidies for the employer has at most a limited role, as it is hardly ever a long-term solution. A widely-promoted recipe for success is to increase the flexibility of the labour market and the adaptability and employability of employees. The way to increase employability is through training and the acquisition of skills, whether at school, outside school, through further/adult education, or by other means. An


employee who is better trained and has more skills is better able to do the job and his/her individual productivity is also greater. An alternative but no less demanding path is that of the entrepreneur. The present government is encouraging entrepreneurship even more than its predecessors; indeed, in the case of disadvantaged groups (the long-term unemployed, school leavers, Roma, the disabled, those returning to the labour market) it regards entrepreneurship as a major weapon in its fight against employment problems. A good example of a training programme for entrepreneurs is the International Labour Organization’s “Start and improve your business” scheme, running in more than 30 countries, including a number with high illiteracy rates. The scheme tries to overcome reluctance to set up and run a business by using a simple business game to show the various steps involved in becoming a successful entrepreneur. The success of such a scheme is of course also dependent on other initiatives, for example positive changes in regulations. A familiar problem is that unemployment or other benefits are lost on registering as an entrepreneur, even though it may take months for an appropriate level of income to be generated by the enterprise. It would be sensible to phase out any benefits gradually, or to convert them into tax credits, gradually but not necessarily phased over a long period.


Endre Miklóssy The socio-economic (re)integration of the Roma In planning there is a useful rule of thumb which says that in considering the future one must also look at the past – plus 50%. That is, however far ahead we are planning, we must look back twice that length of time into the past. Therefore, if we are considering a rolling programme of betterment for the Roma in the medium-term of 4 or 5 years, we must learn the lessons of the past decade. If, however, we are thinking in the long term, in generations of a quarter of a century or so, it is vital to (re)examine the last fifty years. The change in political system in 1990 was, for Hungary’s Roma, the second disaster in the twentieth century, yet the circumstances of the second were largely determined by the first. Before the coming of communism the Roma of Hungary made their living in the peasant economy. Apart from those playing in Gypsy bands, Roma had no way of surviving in the towns and cities, nor on the great estates. (This is why to this day there are fewer Roma in western Hungary than elsewhere, while in Szabolcs county, for example, they are present in large numbers). Their geographical spread thus more or less corresponds to the distribution of peasant holdings, since they made their living by carrying out various jobs and services for the peasant farmer: the supply of handicrafts, trading in livestock, day-labouring, or seasonal work. When therefore privately-owned farms were liquidated for political reasons and the peasant farmers were herded into co-operatives, it was the Roma who came out worst off, as the source of their income simply disappeared. (Sándor Sára’s well-known film graphically shows this situation). And although the government launched a long-term plan for the betterment of the Roma, this proved in the end to be as much a cul-de-sac as the whole system of “existing socialism”. It must, however, be granted that this contributed to the modernisation of the social framework of the Roma. Three factors may be identified as having contributed particularly to this process: - the Roma acquired elementary schooling: most of them completed six to eight grades and learnt to read and write; - the housing situation of the majority of Roma improved substantially; at least 75% of the Roma settlements were razed in 25 years, thus providing them with decent accommodation; - “full employment” was achieved; by the 1980s some 90% to 95% of Roma men fit for work were, in fact, in employment. Yet this last achievement is rather double-edged. For one thing, the Roma certainly had jobs before (with, incidentally, fewer restrictions); for another, the “socialist division of labour” offered them overwhelmingly work of a low status: navvying, labouring, and unskilled work. Those who had previously worked in the


industrial sphere, producing sieves, copper pans, wooden tubs, woven baskets, sun-dried bricks and the like, were reduced to carrying lumps of iron across factory yards. In fact, they were often treated as just “padding”, so that in the average-wage system then in use their presence on the books would help the employer afford higher than average wages for others. Indeed, this was the major deficiency of the Hungarian economy as a whole: overemployment resulting from the lack of any linkage to production capacity. Now that Hungary has taken a different economic path and international capital finances most of Hungary’s industrial production, the industrial output of 300,000 people is the same as that of 1,700,000 ten years ago. In the new economy, therefore, unemployment results largely from the need to improve economic efficiency. Factories and businesses capable only of lowvalue production went bankrupt overnight, and the “padding” phenomenon also disappeared. In just a few years, more than 1,500,000 jobs disappeared, those most affected being village commuters (villagers with a factory job and also their own small farm or garden), and the Roma, who again faced mass unemployment after a generation. The other fundamental economic problem facing us is the critical situation of our markets. With the collapse of the Soviet Union Hungary lost its main market for engineering products, light industrial goods, and large-scale agricultural production. The multinationals that have in recent years established a base in Hungary have made up for this to some extent, but by no means entirely. The bulk of our economic problems are still unsolved since they fall outside the sphere of interest of the international world of finance and investment. We have also seen something of a collapse in the internal market, since purchasing power has dropped by 25%-30% as a result of increased unemployment and a general decline in income; it has now fallen back to where it was in the mid-1970s. But for most of society the situation is even worse, as income differentials have widened and the current difference in Hungary between the highest and lowest deciles of the earning population – the former higher than the latter by a factor of ten – is unparalleled in Europe. The economic path Hungary has taken since 1990 is sometimes known as the supply economy. The multinationals, for example, have set up in Hungary precisely because of abundant supplies. If, however, we really want to see this economic model help a lame Hungary over the stile we must make the supply market available to a far more of society, as this is the precondition of long-term prosperity. Stability and growth can be achieved only by strengthening the internal market. Yet this must be achieved not through state redistribution and increasing demand, but on the contrary by cutting back both the direct and indirect role of the state in the economy. In this narrowly economic perspective the Roma thus represent potential purchasing power, whose opportunities should be enhanced in order to strengthen


further the internal market. But the only way to enhance these opportunities is by increasing their income-earning capacity. The only solution to our economic problems is to revive local markets where those active in the local economy can provide each other with work. When we speak of “becoming entrepreneurs” we must have in mind, above all, increasing our share of the local market; and this presupposes that there is, indeed, a local market. Yet this is difficult: the local market was lost not in 1990, but decades ago, when the communists nationalised and bureaucratised the entire economy. The task then amounts to reorganising society and the economy. Adoption of the European Union’s development techniques could help us considerably to do this. The fact that this may come with financial support is only of secondary importance. I hope it is now clear why it is not possible to set up a separate “Roma programme”, and why opportunities for the Roma can be improved only within the framework of a far-reaching programme of regional and local development. Within this context, the deployment of positive discrimination is, of course, both necessary and feasible. The resolution of the problems of the Roma community is thus a long-term task embraced by the developmental process as a whole. This should be realised through medium-term government programmes of action. The first such was established in 1997 and the one currently in effect was set up by government decree no. 1047/1999 (V.5). Though it is not appropriate to deal with this here in detail, I will say something about the interplay between regional and agricultural developments. The key to the situation lies in the preparation and implementation of the regional development plans. Because of their unusual nature and the complex ways in which they run counter to vested interests, such plans have not so far been produced. Now, however, this may change, thanks particularly to the European Union’s new SAPARD support system and the planning methodology and partnership funding associated with it. These are medium-term programmes, mainly for smaller regions and based on co-operation between local communities. The true goal of these regional programmes is precisely the strengthening of the “local market”. In areas where the numbers and the problems of the Roma are substantial, this context would ensure that appropriate developmental elements can be built into the local programmes to deal with the special conditions needed to bolster the Roma (material, organisational, educational, etc.). To achieve this two conditions must first be met. First, the preparation and assessment of the various elements of the programme must be carried out professionally and rigorously; second, legitimation is essential: those affected by the plans must approve and accept them. In a system built on the equal rights of local authorities the promise of a de facto guarantee of legitimacy is held out by


the system of national minority (local) authorities established in Hungary since 1995. The ideal of local people participating in the local market as independent entities must remain as something for the longer term. In the interim it is still desirable that they obtain more of their income through work and less of it through handouts. This is the purpose served by community work programmes, which the local authorities in the settlements organise in the interests of solving both their own infrastructure problems and to provide employment for the locals, helped by the state with funds from the regional development and the social security budgets. A scheme in some ways similar to this is the social land programme. It offers a cost-free leasehold as well as setting-up stock and equipment (young cattle, seed-grain, etc.), primarily for those wishing to be self-supporting. The land programme of itself is not self-supporting and needs continuous support year by year, but even so it is much more beneficial and human than unemployment benefit. None the less, the aim is to enable suitable beneficiaries of the scheme to become, in due course, independent entrepreneurs in the agrarian market. These are issues intimately linked to the government’s overall agrarian strategy and the legal aspects of the land question (the future of the estates, freehold purchase, a social land fund, etc.). An inherited problem for the Roma is that the programme of demolishing the Roma settlements is not yet complete and some 10,000 technically and socially inadequate dwellings remain. An accurate picture of these must be obtained and an action programme should be initiated to ensure that all these settlements are razed to the ground. If possible, this action programme should be formulated in such a way as to address several problems simultaneously (housing, infrastructure, employment, environmental protection). It follows from the logic of regional development that such programmes should be carried out by the local councils with financial and technical support from central government. Since 1990 the settlements have been able to seek supplementary financial aid for restructuring from central government. Since the Roma often live in the most neglected and underdeveloped parts of settlements, the need to redevelop areas they inhabit arises quite often. There is, however, a difficulty at this point. Since the Roma live mostly in parts that are in any case extraordinarily poor, their own Roma self-governments have often been unable to fund even the Roma’s share of the redevelopment costs. It is now possible to apply for top-up funding for the Roma’s share of such redevelopment costs to the National Roma SelfGovernment, which has a contract with the ministry for the supply of such funds. In the days before communism the Roma made their living in and through the local market, by providing services for peasant farmers. It is certainly not possible to restore this state of affairs as such, since so much has changed so radically since. But what has remained unchanged is the understanding that the majority of Roma must seek to earn their living not in the global labour market but in a local market with an up-to-date structure. This of course applies not just to the


Roma, but equally to a substantial part – perhaps as much as a quarter or a third – of the Hungarian population living outside the capital.


Authors Aáry-Tamás, Lajos, legal adviser, Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities, Hungary Bauer, Edit, secretary of state, Ministry of Social Affairs, Slovakia Burtea, Vasile, sociologist, Office of the Ombudsman, Romania Csepeli, György, professor of social psychology, Institute of Sociology, Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary Csortán, Ferenc, head of department, Ministry of Culture, Romania Daróczi, Ágnes, journalist, minority researcher, Hungary Doncsev, Toso, president, Office for National and Ethnic Minorities, Hungary Eckstein Kovács, Péter, minister for minority affairs, Romania Furman, Imre, director, Hungary, ??? Haller, István, programme director, Babeş-Bolyai University, Romania Kaltenbach, Jenő, lawyer, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities, Hungary Kállai, Ernő, historian, Minority Research Group, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary Kemény, István, sociologist, Institute of Sociology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary Korver, Ron, public policy adviser, Phare programme manager, Roma contact person, Delegation of the European Commission in Hungary Kovács, Péter, professor of international law, University of Miskolc, head of department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Slovakia Krémer, Balázs, Institute of Social Policy, Ministry of Social and Family Affairs, Slovakia Kusỳ, Miroslav, professor of political science, University Komenského, Slovakia Mikóssy, Endre, chief adviser, Ministry of Agriculture and Regional Development, Hungary Palásti, Sándor, Hungary, ??? Szalai, Andrea, Janus Pannonius University, Hungary, ??? Szelényi, Iván, professor of sociology, Yale University, USA Törzsök, Erika, director, Bureau for European Comparative Minority Research, Hungary Varjú, Gabriella, vice-president, Office for National and Ethnic Minorities, Hungary Veresegyházy, Róbert, director, Hungarian Productivity Center, Hungary