Home > Uncategorized > Fidesz Roma strategy, from Balog to Bayer

Fidesz Roma strategy, from Balog to Bayer

January 7, 2013

The country is again full of stories about “gypsy terror,” spread with gusto by Jobbik. The cause this time is a New Year’s Eve party in a bar in Szigethalom, today part of Budapest, situated on the northern end of Csepel Island. A group of boys, members of the MTK (Magyar Testgyakorlók Köre [Circle of Hungarian Fitness Activists]) was having a party when two of them, a  under-age boxer and a wrestler, were severely wounded in the men’s room of the establishment. There were two assailants, one a Gypsy. The other assailant is still on the loose.

Whatever the cause of the brawl, it was unlikely a hate crime. One of the victims, we know, had many Roma friends. In fact, a large number of the youngsters training to become boxers or wrestlers are Gypsies. At the same time it also became clear that this particular victim wasn’t exactly an innocent lamb. Last July he was arrested after attacking a young man in the men’s room of a Budapest bar, hitting him in the face and taking his money. Because the recent incident also happened in a men’s room, the police are rightfully investigating the possible role of this victim himself.

Jobbik is organizing a demonstration in Szigethalom, Magyar Nemzet wrote an article that practically accused the Roma community of collective guilt, and Zsolt Bayer wrote an opinion piece in Magyar Hírlap that can be construed as an “incitement against a community.” I wrote about Bayer a couple of times and I tried to translate his practically untranslatable prose. Then he was venting against Jews, now against the Roma.

This latest upheaval gave Attila Ara-Kovács, a member of the democratic opposition of the 1980s and an astute commentator on the pages of Magyar Narancs, the opportunity to write a very important article about the government’s so-called “Roma strategy,” entitled “From Balog to Bayer.”

A bold Roma strategy was supposed to be a key contribution of the Hungarian presidency of the European Union (January-July 2011). It was supposed to be a strategy aimed at eventually solving the terrible situation of the Roma in Europe, especially at its eastern fringes. By the end of 2011 all European countries were expected to develop their own strategies, taking their cue from the great Hungarian model.

Zoltán Balog, today minister of the mega-ministry in charge of health, education, and culture, was put in charge. His only responsibility was to work out a Roma strategy and head the effort toward Roma integration. Once he moved to a higher position, he took his old staff with him to the Ministry of Human Resources. He proudly announced only a few months ago that the Orbán government was the first in Hungary to pay attention to the Roma question.

The problem is, says Ara-Kovács, that this is simply not true. Are we surprised? It was in 2002, after the formation of an MSZP-SZDSZ coalition, that Bálint Magyar, the liberal minister of education between 1996 and 1998 and again between 2002 and 2006, began serious work in this field.

Here are few of his achievements. In 2002 an article forbidding discrimination was incorporated into the law on education. Magyar appointed a ministerial commissioner in charge of disadvantaged and Roma children whose function was to check every proposed bill and to make sure that they in no way infringed upon the rights of the disadvantaged and the poor.

In 2003 a law on equal treatment was enacted, and subsequently an Office of Equal Treatment was established.

In 2004 the government established a National Integration Network whose task was to promote integrated classrooms to assist disadvantaged children and their teachers. This same year they set up a system by which for each disadvantaged and Roma child the schools received extra financial assistance (50,000 ft more than the norm). That was a sizable amount; it constituted one-fifth of the total that the government paid out for schools.

In the same year they began a new program called “From the last row” that was supposed to move Roma children from classes designed for the “moderately retarded” back to the mainstream educational system. I should mention here that teachers liked to declare Gypsy children retarded and thus get rid of them since they needed more care and work. Magyar’s ministry also in 2004 introduced another program called “Útravaló” (Provisions for the journey) that provided scholarships for 18,000 disadvantaged children and 3,000 mentors per year.

In 2005 another law made it compulsory for schools to give preference to disadvantaged children who live outside the school districts when deciding on acceptance.

Thus by 2006 there was a noticeable decrease in the degree of segregation.

So, let’s see what the present government has done in the last two and a half years. The Orbán government’s Roma strategy was based on an agreement between Viktor Orbán and Flórián Farkas, the leader of the Roma community at the moment, who is a Fidesz puppet. In this agreement, the Hungarian government accepted responsibility for training 1,000 Roma women. It’s going very slowly. Up until last fall about 300 had received training. Viktor Orbán also promised medical screening for 5,000 women. The program hasn’t started yet. The most important part of the agreement was the promise of 20,000 new jobs for the Roma community. That promise was to be fulfilled by establishing an extensive public works program for about half of the minimum wage. The numbers currently employed are nowhere close to 20,000.

The Útravaló (Provisions for the Journey) program has continued, but while in the 2004-2005 school year the government spent 2 billion forints on it, now that amount is 1 billion.  That means 5-8,000 forints a month, but something went wrong here too and the sums that should have been distributed last year never were. One of the more important programs of Balog’s ministry is the Roma Special College (szakkollégium). This program seems to have been given over to the churches.

Finally, Ara-Kovács summarizes other Fidesz “achievements” that run counter to any grand Roma strategy. (1) Compulsory education is no longer 18 years but only 16. (2) In the first four grades grading was reintroduced. (3) If a child doesn’t finish eight grades by the age of  15 he must be discharged. (4) Secondary technical schools are no longer obliged to admit students who didn’t get into a gymnasium. (5) The government practically eliminated the extra year for foreign language competence. (6) In technical schools the number of courses in languages, literature, and history was reduced so dramatically that students will come out of these schools practically illiterate.  (7) In general, the number of students reaching matriculation will be greatly reduced, thus also the numbers who can enter college or university.

Marabu / Népszabadság

Marabu / Népszabadság

While Balog in Berlin only a few months ago proudly outlined the accomplishments of the Orbán government as far as its Roma strategy is concerned, one of the organizers of the Peace March and a man who holds the #5 membership card in Fidesz, Zsolt Bayer, announced that “a significant portion of the Gypsies are unfit for coexistence. Not fit to live among human beings. These people are animals and behave like animals. Like a bitch in heat she wants to copulate with whomever and wherever. If he finds resistance, he kills. He voids where and when it occurs to him.  … He wants what he sees. If he doesn’t get it, he takes it and he kills…. From his animal skull only inarticulate sounds come out and the only thing he understands is brute force… There shouldn’t be animals. No way. This must be solved, immediately and in any way.” In Hungarian: “Ezt meg kell oldani–de azonnal és bárhogyan.” It sounds ominous. What can he have in mind?

“This is the real Roma strategy of Fidesz. It would be worth making that clear to Europe,” adds Ara-Kovács at the end of his article.

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  1. Bowen
    January 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm | #1

    Zsolt Bayer isn’t just an organiser of the ‘Peace Marches’ is he? He’s practically the face of it. And of course the ‘Peace March’ is simply a political rally on behalf of Orban Viktor’s struggle against the oppressive EU.

    You know sometimes I look at all this and can’t believe how wretched it has all become. Zsolt Bayer is a major public figure. Magyar Hirlap is an incredibly widely disseminated newspaper and highly publicised online news portal. You will find it everywhere.

    But what gets me most is that if someone said what Bayer said in the UK or the US, his career would be in the dust by now. He’d have rocks thrown at him if ever he dared step out into the street. He’d be ridiculed. He’d be a pathetic laughing stock.

    In today’s Hungary? He thrives.

  2. January 7, 2013 at 5:09 pm | #2

    How is it that an international consultancy firm such as KPMG manages to spew out both Gyöngyösi Márton and Hegedűs Tamás – both key Jobbik members – and secure the Fidesz contract to produce the consultancy work in preparation for the EU back in 2011?

    Seems a great way to continuously generate EU funded consultancy revenue to me.

  3. January 7, 2013 at 5:21 pm | #3

    Reblogged this on marikaschmiedt.

  4. jpgoldberg
    January 7, 2013 at 6:24 pm | #4

    There is a petition calling on Fidesz to denounce Bayer and expel him from the Party.

    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/zárják-ki-bayer-zsoltot.html

  5. January 7, 2013 at 6:28 pm | #5

    I guess one can petition and Tibor Navracsics if it depended on him would expel him. But, I’m not sure that Viktor Orbán will consent to such a step. Don’t forget, it was only a few weeks ago that he expressed his gratitude to the organizers of the Peace March which, according to him, saved him from being removed from the head of the government.

  6. jpgoldberg
    January 7, 2013 at 6:39 pm | #6

    Eva S. Balogh :
    Don’t forget, it was only a few weeks ago that [Orbán] expressed his gratitude to the organizers of the Peace March which, according to him, saved him from being removed from the head of the government.

    Thanks, Eva. I’ve been out of the country for a while (18 years) and so these reminders are helpful to me.

    I suppose that if foreigners and foreign governments put pressure on Fidesz to denounce Bayer, it would only play into the hands of the kinds of narrative that Bayer and his ilk like to spin.

  7. nyaripal
    January 7, 2013 at 7:29 pm | #7

    Entirely OT (sorry), but it might help any Hungarian educators reading this to know that theirs is not the only country where the government is trying to destroy the education system:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/jan/07/education-proposals-for-michael-gove

    Oh, and while you’re digesting that, try this:

  8. gdfxx
    January 7, 2013 at 8:11 pm | #8

    “There shouldn’t be animals. No way. This must be solved, immediately and in any way.” In Hungarian: “Ezt meg kell oldani–de azonnal és bárhogyan.” It sounds ominous. What can he have in mind?”

    It sounds very much like the “final solution”, used by those whose example apparently Bayer (and FIDESZ?) are proposing to follow. Even the phraseology is almost the same.

  9. gdfxx
    January 7, 2013 at 8:25 pm | #9

    nyaripal: “Oh, and while you’re digesting that, try this”

    I hope this is from Monty Python’s Flying Circus…

  10. Some1
    January 7, 2013 at 8:59 pm | #10

    jpgoldberg :
    There is a petition calling on Fidesz to denounce Bayer and expel him from the Party.
    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/zárják-ki-bayer-zsoltot.html

    Why should they expel him from Fidesz? He is the poster boy of Fidesz, the true direction.
    At the same time I thought Bayer would be busy by now protesting against the government for cancelling the pre-registartion for voting. Just a few days ago they were ready to occupy Kossuth Square in order to support the Bill. I guess it is warmer inside to type away about easy targets like gypsies, that stick with one strong belief and go protest against the government. Bayer, where is your poster about “We want preregistration?” Where are you articles against your buddies who took it of the table?

  11. January 7, 2013 at 9:05 pm | #11

    We should emphasize the responsibility of Gabor Szeles who is the majority owner of the Magyar Hirlap where Bayer publishes. Bayer would be only a garden variety little fascist maggot, like Bela Varga, if these people, like Szeles would not stand behind him. Szeles regularly defended Bayer time after time. He is his handler.

    If there will be lynchings in Hungary the blood will be on Szeles’ hands. He will be equally responsible.

  12. Turkmenbasi
    January 8, 2013 at 2:30 am | #12

    Mutt: “Szeles regularly defended Bayer time after time. He is his handler. ”

    Yes, and and the Russians are the handlers of Széles…

  13. ffwrwtwvv
    January 8, 2013 at 4:37 am | #13

    One of the interesting questions is Szeles’ considerations. He is an oligarch, but he spends huge amounts of money from a seemingly market based enterprise, that is Videoton which is now a contract manufacturer like Flextronics, and does not get openly anything back from the government, so he is not like Simicska, Demján or Csányi, who get government contracts, state subsidies and other advantages. This has not always been so, Széles once owned the Ikarus bus plant and lobbied heavily at the government to help the company, that is Széles with export loans and otherwise. He seems to have a lot of money and is pouring it in MagyarHirlap, a loss making extreme-right wing paper and Echo TV, another extreme-right wing outlet. These are of course part of Fidesz’s marketing strategy, segmentation, as they control a nice portion of the extreme right wing media as well, such as the weekly Demokrata, catering to a sizeable constituency. Széles is a reliable part of a wider Fidesz-controlled (shall I say handled?) network, who set up a private computer company back in the early 80′s when Hungary was responsible, as a kind of speciality, within the former Eastern block for the industrial “espionage”, that is getting around restrictive international trade laws and obtaining high-tech. It is almost inconcievable that his private enterprise in the early 80′s was not part of these efforts, which efforts of course were always coordinated with “sibling-organisatins”. Anyway, it seems a good professional may be used in many ways.

  14. Jano
    January 8, 2013 at 6:11 am | #14

    Bayer is a symptom and a fist. He’s the type of public figures who are there to “talk on the language” of the street folk. This is not journalism, this is the kind of opinion you can get in the local pub. He doesn’t propose any sort of Endlösung, no need to go ridiculous lengths, he just picks up the usual rhetorical panel about a mystical legendary notion called “a solution”. To me this doesn’t seem like a hate crime, more like a simple who bumped into who first style barfight. Having said that, I don’t think it’s a wise thing Eva to prematurely suggest the responsibility of the victim in his own demise. I doubt he attacked two people in a bathroom. Even if he did attack someone else earlier in life, he certainly didn’t deserve to be stabbed in the heart four times. Let’s wait till the investigation uncovers more.

    Is it just me, or is this really the same story over and over with minor modifications? Some violent crime with unclear details. Hard right outrage, Bayer coughs up some crap, we get outraged, 10000 copycat blogposts are created and a few weeks later life goes back to normal.

  15. Jano
    January 8, 2013 at 6:12 am | #15

    “Thus by 2006 there was a noticeable decrease in the degree of segregation.” – Many would beg to differ. I know that you have a rosy picture of the Bálint Magyar era, but what you listed were measures that sounds good on paper, but some of them were mere propaganda for the liberal voter base (including me for a while) and others were badly implemented and mostly ineffective.

    The main reason in my humble opinion is that many liberals deny the fact that there is a cultural difference between children coming from the poor gypsy communities where they didn’t even see their grandparents working and who were raised under better circumstances (and probably by better parents) and socialized along much better behavioral patterns like the most of us. It’s unreasonable and inhumane to expect these little gipsy kids taught by their parents and life to be violent, and take something if they need it to excel under the same requirements as their better situated mates who are cared for.

    It was also inhumane and unreasonable to expect underqualified and underpaid teachers to deal with this much pressure and aggressive behavioral patterns on their own. I know of many examples who were scared to death by their students and their parents. I kindly ask the question what would happen to me if I ever physically insulted or threatened my kid’s teacher in the US or in the UK? I would also like to remind you that Hungarian teachers are greatly counter selected due to the not so lucrative prospects of this career. So no, enacting legistlation that merely forces very different cultures to stay in the same classroom together without any real means to remedy these differences is – as Hungarian say – just giving the feces a slap. Specially trained well paid teachers backed by a policeman or security guards in problematic schools, a functional child protection and family aid system, smaller classes, just to begin with would be a start.

    (Having said that, I’m willing to give SZDSZ that some of them had good intentions, but the Roma issue was and has been always just a verbal exercise for MSZP (and just as well for Fidesz) and therefore I’m not very optimistic even if they make it back to power.

  16. Pektin
    January 8, 2013 at 6:37 am | #16

    It is ridiculous that during teacher training Hungarian teachers train in elite schools, when in reality in many school kids are poor and roma, with cultures significantly different from the mainstream and the ideal as defined during training.

    Poor kids, with difficult and complicated family backgounds (and this is not a roma issue, and not even a poor issue, it is getting more general) need a different education than what is in the textbooks.

    In addition, teachers need to be able to accept difference. Non-roma Hungarians unfortunately – it seems – cannot really relate naturally to roma kids, they will always see them as the Other, however well-meaning and conscietous they are. The feeling of difference is visceral even if the teachers just love the kids. The kids intuitively feel if the teacher treats them differently in subtle ways compared to their treatment in a more natural home setting, and this affactes kids. At the same time, setting low standards, in the name of dealing with differences, is a sure way of getting nowhere.

    It was interesting to read an interview in HVG’s last issue with a roma carpenter. He mentioned that he was talking to roma kids in a school once about carpentry, also showing the work and the teacher asked him afterword what he had done to them? He taught he had done something wrong but instead the teacher asked how could the kids be so diligent and well-behaved with him? This is also an example that kids, even the supposedly worst, can be taught and motivated and perhaps the fault is in the teacher, who may be a nice person otherwise. Since she/he is such a nice person peopel will think that it is the kids, but in fact she simply should need different methods, be more charismatic and better engage the kids.

    That said, during adolecence behavioural issues could result in more, often physical conflicts and this in short time could affect the teachers. It is a funny sying that previously if the kid got a bad grade the father beat the kid, these days the parents beat the teacher.

    Kids can be forced to be in the same classroom, but for that better and differently trained teachers are needed. But after a couple years, a teacher has difficulty to learn new methods, especially if she/he was selected anyway from the less intellectually rigorous minds.

  17. January 8, 2013 at 6:56 am | #17

    Jano: “I know that you have a rosy picture of the Bálint Magyar era, but what you listed were measures that sounds good on paper, but some of them were mere propaganda for the liberal voter base (including me for a while) and others were badly implemented and mostly ineffective.”

    May I call your attention to the fact that yesterday’s post was a summary of Attila Ara-Kovács’s article. So, if you have any problem with the contents of his article, please, turn to him.

  18. Tyrker
    January 8, 2013 at 7:23 am | #18

    Eva S. Balogh :
    yesterday’s post was a summary of Attila Ara-Kovács’s article

    Sure. But when reviewing/summarising an article it’s always worth adding your own comments and critical remarks, if you have any. Otherwise your readers might take your republication of the original author’s thoughts as an endorsement. Jano’s comment is spot on, by the way: the measures implemented in the Magyar era have been utterly ineffective in improving the situation, and it’s probably also true that “some of them were mere propaganda for the liberal voter base,” i.e. not really meant to improve anything anyway.

  19. Karl Pfeifer
    January 8, 2013 at 7:35 am | #19

    Will Orbán let his friend Bayer fall? If he is still capable of rational thinking, then the answer is yes. This would be of course a sign, that Fidesz strives to be a normal conservative party.
    However reading today Bayer’s pathetic concoction I doubt it.
    “Most, hogy itt van az aktuális botrány, lássuk a dolgok lényegét. Először is, tényleg azt gondoljátok, hogy nem tudnék olyan cikket írni a magyarországi cigánykérdésről, amibe semmiképpen sem tudnátok belekötni? Ne legyetek már ennyire kishitűek. Tudnék. Másodszor: Akkor miért írok olyat, amiből garantáltan balhé lesz? Hogy történjen valami, azért. Hogy ne lehessen tovább hajókázni a politikai korrektség és a semmittevés langyos és büdös tavacskáján. Azért, hogy ne a Jobbik tematizálja ezt az egész kérdéskört a maga bornírtságával.
    Hát ezért írok úgy, ahogy írok.”
    Meaning shortly: Bayer claims to have written it so that Jobbik will not take it as it’s theme

    And Magyar Hirlap has published also a pathetic declaration, that the text of Bayer was “misinterpreted” and that they are against racism and antisemitism. And of course they are victims of leftliberal attacks who do not want to have a rightwing majority.

  20. pstjmack
    January 8, 2013 at 7:53 am | #20

    I hope that, instead of confining this discussion to domestic Hungarian circles, people are bringing this to the attention of European Roma support groups, NGOs and other EU-level and international bodies. Regardless of whether this plays into Fidesz’s myth of foreign anti-Hungarian conspiracies, this kind of hate speech is a prosecutable offence in most of the EU, and should be correspondingly exposed and condemned.

  21. Pibroch
    January 8, 2013 at 7:59 am | #21

    In follow-up to my previous comment on the placement of the National Theater: Szigethalom is not a part of Budapest.

  22. Bowen
    January 8, 2013 at 8:20 am | #22

    pstjmack :
    I hope that, instead of confining this discussion to domestic Hungarian circles, people are bringing this to the attention of European Roma support groups, NGOs and other EU-level and international bodies. Regardless of whether this plays into Fidesz’s myth of foreign anti-Hungarian conspiracies, this kind of hate speech is a prosecutable offence in most of the EU, and should be correspondingly exposed and condemned.

    This kind of hate speech (and that’s clearly what it is, even if Magyar Hirlap tries to squirm out of it) is also against the new Hungarian Constitution, Article XV:

    (“Hungary shall ensure fundamental rights to every person without any discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, gender, disability, language, religion, political or other views, national or social origin, financial, birth or other circumstances whatsoever.”)

    Not that this will stop Orban and his gang saying/doing whatever it takes to snap up a few more right-wing voters.

  23. January 8, 2013 at 8:37 am | #23

    To pstjmack, Jano, and Kingfisher.

    Hungarian Spectrum is widely read and that’s why I asked Attila Ara-Kovács whether I could summarize his article in English. I was myself surprised at the readership of Spectrum when I put StatCounter to work. Several foreign ministries are daily visitors of the site. Also many foreign newspapers. Brussels is also listening. So, I’m sure that this case will be noticed.

    As for my views on Bálint Magyar’s achievements in the field of education. I’m sure that there were many critics outside and inside of the teaching profession of his ideas and reforms. As far as I remember, a portion of the teachers didn’t like them at all because the new reforms made them to be creative. And they were not accustomed to independent thinking. For at least a century teachers were told what to teach on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. There was one textbook and whatever it said was the gospel truth. Even today supporters of the reforms admit that perhaps the majority of the teachers are relieved that thanks to Rózsa Hoffmann they can go back to their old and comfortable ways.

    I’m sure that not all the reforms were effective, but according to the latest international comparisons Hungarian children’s scores went up considerably a few years after the reforms had been introduced. So, Magyar had to do something right. Especially in comparison to what Rózsa Hoffmann with the assistance of Viktor Orbán is doing which is a travesty. Whatever mistakes might have been made during the Magyar period pale in comparison to what this narrow-minded and ignorant bunch is doing to future generations.

    As for segregation. Jano claims that it is not true that segregation decreased as a result of the efforts made between 2002 and 2006. If you read the original article, there Ara-Kovács refers to yearly data available from 2006 on that supports his contention. It is a good idea to rely on statistics to guide us because impressions or hearsay are not enough.

    And that leads me to Kingfisher’s post on his visit to Hungary. He found that all his friends and acquaintances dislike the present government but at the same time they all despise MSZP. And this is the tragedy, he added, But the opinion polls don’t support this impression. In the population as a whole MSZP is getting closer and closer to Fidesz. If you add those who sympathize with E14, DK, Solidarity, etc. they outnumber Fidesz supporters. And I have the feeling that this is actually an underestimation of the strength of the opposition. They are many and many people who are simply afraid to admit their true political colors.

  24. Tyrker
    January 8, 2013 at 8:41 am | #24

    Yesterday one of hvg’s blogs published an unusually brave, intelligent and enlightened piece on the Gypsy question – well worth a read if you speak Hungarian:
    http://kapitalizmus.hvg.hu/2013/01/07/ciganykerdes-ez-hosszu-menet-lesz/

    It would be immensely useful if someone found the time to prepare a quality translation…

  25. Some1
    January 8, 2013 at 9:14 am | #25

    ffwrwtwvv :
    One of the interesting questions is Szeles’ considerations. He is an oligarch, but he spends huge amounts of money from a seemingly market based enterprise, that is Videoton

    WOuld you happen to know if Videoton is still owns or has anything to do with the sport club Videoton? I am just wondering as that is one of the club that gets most government support in Hungary and coincidentally “little Orban” is one of their players.

    Turkmenbasi :
    Yes, and and the Russians are the handlers of Széles…

    Orban is the Prime Minister, Janos Ader is the President, both speak and write Hungarian fluently while the “Russians” hardly do so or care for that matter. I understand that you are talking economical gains here but that is highly irrelevant here.

    Jano :
    Bayer is a symptom and a fist. He’s the type of public figures who are there to “talk on the language” of the street folk. ……
    Bayer coughs up some crap, we get outraged, 10000 copycat blogposts are created and a few weeks later life goes back to normal.

    Hungary currently exist not only from 10000 copycat blogposters, but it seems it exist with 100000 “talk on the language” of street folk”. THere is Deutsch who comes to mind, closely followed by Vona and not far behind some other prime species. Your suggestion is to be quite about it? You think Hungary is so low that it does not deserve any more outrage?
    I beg to differ. I am tankful for Eva for bringing up over and over the Bayer issue, so people do not forget that he is not exist in a vacuum, but in a well padded, cushy box. He exist, because he co-exists, because the “talk on the language” of street folk” is the language Orban likes, Fidesz utters, and Jobbik encourages. We do not speak enough about this problem, and there are not enough blogging about it if it still exist.

  26. Jano
    January 8, 2013 at 9:57 am | #26

    “May I call your attention to the fact that yesterday’s post was a summary of Attila Ara-Kovács’s article. So, if you have any problem with the contents of his article, please, turn to him.”

    I know that but in earlier posts you usually have been talking of Bálint Magyar appreciatively (not that it’d be a sin or anything) so I automatically assumed that Ara-Kovács’s opinion were close to yours. I was gonna apologize if that was not the case but your last comment confirmed that my assumption wasn’t unfounded.

    “As far as I remember, a portion of the teachers didn’t like them at all because the new reforms made them to be creative. And they were not accustomed to independent thinking.”

    “I’m sure that not all the reforms were effective, but according to the latest international comparisons Hungarian children’s scores went up considerably a few years after the reforms had been introduced.”

    ” Especially in comparison to what Rózsa Hoffmann with the assistance of Viktor Orbán is doing which is a travesty. Whatever mistakes might have been made during the Magyar period pale in comparison to what this narrow-minded and ignorant bunch is doing to future generations.”

    You have no idea how much I agree with you on these, my stepfather was e.g. one of those who tried to train teachers during that era and he could tell you a lot of stories… On the other hand, the discussion hasn’t been about education in general, but on the situation of Roma youngsters, segregation.and inequal opportunities.

    “As for segregation. Jano claims that it is not true that segregation decreased as a result of the efforts made between 2002 and 2006. If you read the original article, there Ara-Kovács refers to yearly data available from 2006 on that supports his contention. It is a good idea to rely on statistics to guide us because impressions or hearsay are not enough.”

    First of all I argued against the word “noticeably”. Secondly, statistical data is a dangerous thing. You have to know what exactly were the methodology, and what exactly the results are to be able to draw appropriate conclusions from it. In this case, e.g., how do you define segregation? I’m more than happy to believe that as a result of B.M.-s legistlative efforts, there are less physical segregation in the sense that there are less gipsy and non-gipsy schools. On the other hand I am yet to see any credible data suggesting that this situation is any different than the “in the house unemployment” during communism (For readers not familiar with this term, during the Kadar era factories hired almost everybody the wind blew near them to render unemployment data close to zero. Of course their work was not needed and they mostly ended up just hanging around during work hours.). Stats look great from the outside, while functionally nothing has improved.

    My comment wasn’t at all meant to be a scientific analysis on the situation to appear in a Journal but more just my opinion, take it or leave it. If I have the time I’ll dwell into the data Ara-Kovács is using as I really don’t want to say anything about it without examining it thoroughly.

  27. Jano
    January 8, 2013 at 10:01 am | #27

    Some1: “Hungary currently exist not only from 10000 copycat blogposters, but it seems it exist with 100000 “talk on the language” of street folk”. THere is Deutsch who comes to mind, closely followed by Vona and not far behind some other prime species. Your suggestion is to be quite about it? You think Hungary is so low that it does not deserve any more outrage?”

    Oh no, that was not at all my point. What I was referring to is that all this fuss happens (and you have to admit that some of the bloggers – not all of them of course – are writing the same over and over and over Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V style from the previous affair) and then it lasts for a week or two after which life goes back to normal and nothing ever changes. And this makes me sad. Of course there should be an outrage.

  28. January 8, 2013 at 10:40 am | #28

    Tyrker :
    Yesterday one of hvg’s blogs published an unusually brave, intelligent and enlightened piece on the Gypsy question – well worth a read if you speak Hungarian

    It is worth to read but IMHO it is a pretty lame article. Very lightweight.

    The usual bravery (i.e. “yes, there is Gipsy crime”) from the article:

    “Thousands of Hungarians suffer from crime (financially and physically) committed by Roma perpetrators (among the victims many Roma as well). …. They have no prejudices, they have experiences.”

    Then the wisdom follows:

    “From liberals it was the dumbest mistake to call these people racists. These people being left alone and vulnerable, turned to the ones they listened. Among other things, it also opened the door for the strengthening of the JOBBIK.”

    According to the article another bad approach (also by left wing liberals) looking at the issue as a social problem, expecting the Roma to solve their own problems with financial help from the non-Roma society.

    Since the blog is about capitalism after all here goes their conclusion:

    “We don’t know the solution yet. Obviously the Roma program has to be constructed from pro-market principles: there cannot be a conflict between the human life and the respect and protection of the private property.”

    Say what??

  29. DevJoeHa
    January 8, 2013 at 10:44 am | #29

    Some1: Ha, ha, I guess you succeeded in misundersting the very clear statements of both Turkmenbasi and ffw whatever. To any thinking Hungarian G. Sz. is most probably a former professional cooperator of the Hungarian security services and as such almost surely he had to have direct contacts to similar organisations ran by our Eastern brothers (insert well-known name). Moreover, as a separate but connected matter, it has been openly suspected by many that Jobbik is financed by foreign supporters who originate from such other Eastern-European country as there had been a strong and long opposition towards such other country and for whatever reason at one point they became and are still very friendly to them on all relevant policy points. One wonders why. As to Sz., I dont think he is handled by foreigners, he is probably a puppet of certain people around Orbán.

  30. Turkmenbasi
    January 8, 2013 at 11:22 am | #30

    Some1: “Orban is the Prime Minister, Janos Ader is the President, both speak and write Hungarian fluently while the “Russians” hardly do so or care for that matter. I understand that you are talking economical gains here but that is highly irrelevant here.”

    No, I did not even think of ‘economic gains’. I am talking about political gains. Quite similarly to their investment in Jobbik. Just think, if possible, in a European context. Thanks.

  31. Jano
    January 8, 2013 at 12:52 pm | #31

    Mutt: I don’t think it was lame, it contained vague statements and half-truths, but it’s definitely thought provoking.

    “According to the article another bad approach (also by left wing liberals) looking at the issue as a social problem, expecting the Roma to solve their own problems with financial help from the non-Roma society.”

    This is only partially true. We must make sure that that money is spent well. Directly giving them a few thousand forints will a lot of times land either in some usurers pockets or in the cash machine of the nearest local thirst quenching venue. On the other hand financial help is absolutely crucial pure goodwill won’t get us anywhere.

    “They have no prejudices, they have experiences.”

    They have experiences from a certain group of Romas and then develop prejudices against the whole Roma community and most of them go to whoever offers the seemingly simplest solution (Jobbik). Understandable? Maybe. Acceptable? No way.

    “These people being left alone and vulnerable, turned to the ones they listened. Among other things, it also opened the door for the strengthening of the JOBBIK.””

    ” there cannot be a conflict between the human life and the respect and protection of the private property”

    I have no idea what this suppose to mean but respect of private property is indeed the most basic foundation of the rule of law in a democracy and therefore it’s one of the first obligation of the state to protect it. If law enforcement fails on this, fear takes over in the population and fear further leads to hatred and makes the ones in fear to turn to unjustifiable forces (simply because they feel no one else gives a flying frisbee about their problem or worse, they dismiss them as racists) and unjustifiable methods.

    Bottom line is, it’s a complex, socio-cultural, social, law-enforcement, financial and educational issue. Any attempt that ignores any of these aspects is doomed to fail IMHO.

  32. Jano
    January 8, 2013 at 1:04 pm | #32

    Btw, have you guys read Bayer’s “defense”?

    “If I wanted to kill gypsies, I’d never talk about that in public…”

    No comment…

  33. January 8, 2013 at 1:22 pm | #33

    Jano :
    Btw, have you guys read Bayer’s “defense”?
    “If I wanted to kill gypsies, I’d never talk about that in public…”

    Makes sense … If I planned to beat him up, I’d never bandy it around on a blog.

    Ooops.

  34. January 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm | #34

    Jano :
    If law enforcement fails on this, fear takes over in the population and fear further leads to hatred and makes the ones in fear to turn to unjustifiable forces (simply because they feel no one else gives a flying frisbee about their problem or worse, they dismiss them as racists) and unjustifiable methods.

    I’m very glad you wrote this! I’m 100% with you. Crime should be dealt with by law enforcement and courts. The impotence of the law enforcement and the resulting frustration that fuels hatred. Sándor Pintér should consider resigning if public safety cannot be guaranteed.

    I may have been too harsh on the capitalist blog article, but I don’t find it bravery when somebody talks about gipsy crime, not even in a subtle way. A good, similar example is Schiffer’s (LMP) recent statement on this. Basically he said “Unacceptable, *but* there are places in the country, where …” No buts. This is Orban style double talk.

  35. petofi
    January 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm | #35

    Schiffer is an Orbanista: they got something on him and playing him like a good thing.

    But ‘law enforcement’ in Hungary is a laughable topic when you consider that the powers that be use methods ‘legal’ and not, to keep a creature like Csatary
    on the loose and under their protection.

    “All hail!….” (Click your heels and salute.)

  36. CharlieH
    January 8, 2013 at 2:56 pm | #36

    London Calling!

    Expect more ‘Global Clamour’ – the World Service of the BBC carried the Bayer ‘Animal speech’ event on the 19:00 news this evening.

    Regards

    Charlie

  37. January 8, 2013 at 3:35 pm | #37

    Birds of a feather flock together. Recently on the FIFA gala: http://on.fb.me/TJktqI

  38. Some1
    January 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm | #38

    Turkmenbasi :
    Some1: “Orban is the Prime Minister, Janos Ader is the President, both speak and write Hungarian fluently while the “Russians” hardly do so or care for that matter. I understand that you are talking economical gains here but that is highly irrelevant here.”
    No, I did not even think of ‘economic gains’. I am talking about political gains. Quite similarly to their investment in Jobbik. Just think, if possible, in a European context. Thanks.

    I am simply referring to the fact that this article tries to focus on the “Roma strategy”. Allowing Bayer or anyone else for that matter to continually go into anti-Roma rage (next to many other things) has nothing to do with the Russians. Orban simply could step up to plate and stop it. He choose to allow it. Ader as the President of the country also allows this to happen. Let’s focus not on the other disgraceful operandi of Fidesz but what this is about.
    Yes, I do agree with the the various connections with Russians but that has very little to do wit the anti-Roma sentiments, except if you suggest that the Russians would not to business with Hungarians who not anti-Roma.

  39. Some1
    January 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm | #39

    DevJoeHa :
    Some1: Ha, ha, I guess you succeeded in misundersting the very clear statements of both Turkmenbasi and ffw whatever. To any thinking Hungarian G. Sz. is most probably a former professional cooperator of the Hungarian security services and as such almost surely he had to have direct contacts to similar organisations ran by our Eastern brothers (insert well-known name). Moreover, as a separate but connected matter, it has been openly suspected by many that Jobbik is financed by foreign supporters who originate from such other Eastern-European country as there had been a strong and long opposition towards such other country and for whatever reason at one point they became and are still very friendly to them on all relevant policy points. One wonders why. As to Sz., I dont think he is handled by foreigners, he is probably a puppet of certain people around Orbán.

    Haha I think it is you who is misunderstood what the subject of this thread is. a-n-t-i R-o-m-a sentiments. What does that have to do with the secret service and the Jobbik being financed from wherever is beyond me. What does that have to do with Orban not stopping anti-semitism? I think you are stretching the truth a little to far or maybe “the thinking Hungarian” is not there.
    I was simply referring to the fact that this article tries to focus on the “Roma strategy”. Allowing Bayer or anyone else for that matter to continually go into anti-Roma rage (next to many other things) has nothing to do with the Russians. Orban simply could step up to plate and stop it. He choose to allow it. Ader as the President of the country also allows this to happen. Let’s focus not on the other disgraceful operandi of Fidesz but what this is about.
    Yes, I do agree with the the various connections with Russians but that has very little to do with the anti-Roma sentiments, except if you suggest that the Russians would not do business with Hungarians who not anti-Roma.

    At the end you are saying “One wonders why. As to Sz., I dont think he is handled by foreigners, he is probably a puppet of certain people around Orbán”. So after all you agree that it is Orban who allows the “anti” sentiments to go on. Are you a thinking Hungarian? I think, not.

  40. Bowen
    January 8, 2013 at 4:58 pm | #40

    The international news is not kind to Hungary (or its government) today. Anyone reading about Hungary would think it’s nothing but anti-semitism and racism running rampant.

    And in football news, FIFA have fined Hungary and banned any spectators from watching Hungary play World Cup qualifying games, after anti-semitic chanting against Israel in 2012.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/20951156

  41. Jano
    January 8, 2013 at 6:06 pm | #41

    Mutt: “Sándor Pintér should consider resigning if public safety cannot be guaranteed.”

    What, wasn’t there order in 2 weeks?? lol…

  42. January 8, 2013 at 7:17 pm | #42

    FIDESZ SEEMS TO BE IMPLODING

    Or would be, in any sensible society…

  43. Some1
    January 8, 2013 at 8:17 pm | #43

    Bowen :
    The international news is not kind to Hungary (or its government) today. Anyone reading about Hungary would think it’s nothing but anti-semitism and racism running rampant.
    And in football news, FIFA have fined Hungary and banned any spectators from watching Hungary play World Cup qualifying games, after anti-semitic chanting against Israel in 2012.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/20951156

    Thanks goodness!!!! If Orban and his buddies are not willing to do something about (and this has nothing to do with the “Eastern connections”), civilized organizations and the civilized International community will do something.

  44. plus plus
  45. Paul Wal
    January 9, 2013 at 2:56 am | #45

    “Several foreign ministries are daily visitors of the site. Also many foreign newspapers. Brussels is also listening. So, I’m sure that this case will be noticed”.

    Dear Eva,
    Bayers speech literally made me feel like throwing up.
    So….thanks for this info…made me feel better. I am still rather disappointed with the lack of response from the EU.
    Mrs. Kroes:
    “In particular, I want to see immediate action ensuring the real independence of the Media Council; measures to reduce the excessive concentration of powers in the hand of the Media Council and better measures to ensure the effective independent functioning of publicly-funded media. Solutions can be found in co-operation with the Council of Europe – so let’s see them”.

    She talked about immediate action. This was posted in november. As far as I know it was completely ignored by the Hungarian government. But….well….no response, no next step from the EU either.

  46. Sabi33
    January 9, 2013 at 4:50 am | #46

    Dear Some1, with all due respect and without taking away DevJoeHa’s arguments, there is one important issue. The extreme right-wing voters do not just exist in an ether. People hold extreme-right wing ideas, hate romas, but if these individual persons do not act together or think that there are many of them out there and there are institutions who support them, such as Magyar Hírlap and buddies of Orbán, such as Bayer, then they will not be able to have much influence on politics. Conversely, politicians could not make much advantage of them, even if there are many of those people. In order to somehow take advantage of these voters spread round the country you need to organize them. Same problem with any political movement or ideology. How to make their voice heard in practice? If I was from the Fidesz I would be competing with Jobbik. Sure we could cooperate with Jobbik as well, but only based on our respective power positions. So first I need to take advantage of the extreme right voters and based on that result, I could talk to Jobbik. This is what Orbán does. Now, how do I compete for the extreme-right wing voters? Among others, I also set up, purchase and operate media, even at a loss, even if it does not make any economic sense whatsoever, even if people think I am crazy to do it. We are certainly not talking Fox news here which is a money making machine. How can I make sure that the such extreme right wing media outlet remains completely loyal to Orbán (although sometimes just to pretend independence they may criticize Orbán) and not, what would be logical, the pure right extreme right winger Jobbik? Well, as is Orbán’s wont, I would also make use of a network of people who already showed they can contribute and are completely reliable. I am not saying I condemn Sz. for what he probably did decades ago, after all he helped Hungary to survive unfairly restrictive trade rules, although it is a very interesting point which could not be studied until so far, how a group/well organized network of people with the right connections could transform these connections to economic, and based on that, later political power and influence. András Schiffer and the LMP would like to shed light on these connections and I believe they have a point. I also think that if most of these connections would be made public, people would learn and gain a lot, while the losses, if any, would be minimal.

  47. wake up wake up
    January 9, 2013 at 8:05 am | #47

    Mutt January 7, 2013 at 9:05 pm | #11 Quote
    We should emphasize the responsibility of Gabor Szeles who is the majority owner of the Magyar Hirlap where Bayer publishes. Bayer would be only a garden variety little fascist maggot, like Bela Varga, if these people, like Szeles would not stand behind him. Szeles regularly defended Bayer time after time. He is his handler.
    If there will be lynchings in Hungary the blood will be on Szeles’ hands. He will be equally responsible.

    Turkmenbasi
    January 8, 2013 at 2:30 am | #12 Quote
    Mutt: “Szeles regularly defended Bayer time after time. He is his handler. ”
    Yes, and and the Russians are the handlers of Széles…
    ========================================================

    These analysis may proof that Orban is only a puppet. Some crooked oligarchs as well as theiir few foreign handlers will decide, and Orban is serving them loyally, or he is finished. This circus is hazardous to the well-being of Hungary,

    Nobody likes to be hostage. Many-many Hungarians are in self-denial, and will not admit being a hostage.

  48. tappanch
    January 9, 2013 at 8:49 am | #48

    On January 9, 2013 the owner & chief editor of Magyar Hirlap (Mr Szeles & Mr Stefka)
    declared that condemnation of Bayer’s anti-gypsy article is a “post-communist witch-hunt”.

    http://www.magyarhirlap.hu/valasz-a-tamadasokra-frissitve

  49. TG2
    January 9, 2013 at 10:14 am | #49

    To Tappanch. And using Gábor Török’s logic.

    Why would Stefka backtrack? MH’s home page is sizzling hot and controversy only feeds exposure and new interest, and hopefully some of the new readers will stick.

    Plus, most importantly, the readers of Magyar Hirlap totally agree with Bayer, so there is no risk of losing readers. These readers want to fight, they are always in the mood to fight and and want to see resistence against “liberals and communists”, they would hate to see MH give in.

    In fact, MH may attract readers from kuruc.info. The defense of Bayer is simply a Pareto superior state.

  50. Some1
    January 9, 2013 at 11:20 am | #50

    Sabi33 :
    Dear Some1, with all due respect and without taking away DevJoeHa’s arguments, there is one important issue. The extreme right-wing voters do not just exist in an ether.

    Yes, I agree, but this discussion about how the anti-semitism, anti-gypsy sentiments could be stopped by Orban. THat is it. THe International community is not in the business to follow all of our private theories (and some facts) about how Orban gets his money, and why is he supporting trash, like Bayer.
    When we will the pages with our “why he does it” it takes away from the immediate message, which is the International community needs to act because Orban allows this environment to exist.
    THere were (and will be) plenty of threads on Orban’s and Fidesz finances. THere were posts about the paid extras on the MArch 15 celebration, and on the free trip to Budapest to participate in the Peace March. Everything has its place.
    WHat is happening here right now is like a murder trial when the everyone throws their opinion in about why the murder took place, and it goes on for 1000 pages. WHat I am suggesting is let’s concentrate on the crime that Orban allows to happen on this thread. I am not sure why is this to hard to understand. We had so many threads that were hijacked or sidetracked by small details that somehow had some connection to the original subject.
    I think Bayer comments and the support he gets from Orban, deserves to be focused on and not to be sidetracked with how the Jobbik, and such organizations get their financing.

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