“Canada will not send its refugees to Miskolc” says the Hungarian mayor

The city of Miskolc gets a lot of coverage nowadays in the Hungarian media. At the center of the often swirling controversy is the Fidesz mayor of the city, Ákos Kriza. With the 2010 municipal elections the political map of this industrial city changed radically. Until then the socialists had always been in the majority on the city council and the mayor was also a socialist. Today Fidesz councilmen are in the great  majority and they are reinforced by three Jobbik members.

How successful is the new mayor of Miskolc? I found an article from the summer of 2012 in which one of the MSZP councilmen claimed that Ákos Kriza is such a failure that Viktor Orbán himself decided that at the next election Kriza will be dropped as a mayoral candidate and instead will be promised a seat in parliament. Well, I thought, this was probably only wishful thinking on the part of the MSZP councilman. But just today I discovered in the print edition of Magyar Narancs (January 17,  pp.13-15) that the new mayor of Miskolc, imitating his party’s leader, decided not to continue projects that were already in progress and instead started everything from scratch. As a result, none of the promised projects has been completed. Moreover, Kriza seems to be promoting businesses that can be linked to Jobbik. At least this is what a local online paper (Északi Hirnök) claims.

Kriza is not exactly a common name, and I immediately began wondering whether our Kriza has anything to do with the famous János Kriza (1811-1875), the Unitarian bishop and folklorist who collected Transylvanian Hungarian folk tales. Indeed, Ákos Kriza claims to be a descendant of or at least related to János Kriza. Ákos Kriza was born in Oradea/Nagyvárad (1965) and became a physician after finishing medical school in Târgu Mureş/Marosvásárhely. He moved to Hungary shortly after graduation and has been living in Miskolc since 1990. According to his political opponents, since his election as mayor he has been favoring his old friends and acquaintances from Transylvania and from the Partium, the region around Oradea.

János Kriza was obviously not a stupid man. Among his skills, he spoke German, French, and English and had a reading knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, which he needed for his theological studies. So, I don’t know what he would think of his modern-day relative’s bungling. Ákos Kriza’s behavior shows him to be ignorant of the most basic rules of democracy and decency.

So, what happened that thrust Kriza into the limelight again? There is a new, controversial Canadian piece of legislation called “Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act” that became law on December 12, 2012. The law made immigration policies more stringent for political refugees. Up until now it took a fairly long time to decide on the eligibility of a political asylum seeker. The current Canadian government deemed this process too costly. Moreover, the Canadians consider Hungary a free country. No accounts of discrimination against the Hungarian Roma, their poverty, or even their systematic murder could move Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism. Canada will speedily expel hundreds if not thousands of Roma asylum seekers.

A few days ago the Canadian government decided to advertise the new immigration policies in the city of Miskolc because about 40% of the Hungarian Roma political asylum seekers came from there or from the city’s environs. According to the Christian Science Monitorthe Canadian government spent $13,000 on billboards as well as on television and radio ads warning about the changed immigration policies and about the likelihood of the speedy return of the asylum seekers. Kriza became enraged. He objected to the Canadian campaign in his city. Why Miskolc? The posters appeared on the streets on January 15, and Kriza immediately sent a letter to Tamara Guttman, Canada’s ambassador to Hungary. Kriza later admitted that “it was a bit strongly worded.”

kanadai plakat

Canadian poster informing Romas of the restrictions and mentioning the speedy return of those who are not eligible for political asylum

Kriza first objected to the fact that “the Canadian Embassy didn’t inform the city” of their impending campaign. Kriza also claimed that when Kenney visited Miskolc last October, the Canadian minister said nothing about “sending home [the Roma] more speedily.” Kriza claimed that “those who sought asylum have no right to return to Miskolc.” For good measure he told the ambassador that he “finds the steps taken by Canada offensive and undesirable. In addition, your course of action is unacceptable.” To the Hungarian media Kriza announced that “Canada will not send its refugees to Miskolc.” He considered the Canadian campaign “intimidation” of his city.

Immediately after Kriza’s outburst several national and local papers inquired on what basis Kriza wants to prevent the returning Roma from going back to their original houses and apartments. The next day Kriza received the Canadian ambassador’s letter, and the mercurial mayor calmed down somewhat and behaved in a  less objectionable way when he was interviewed on “Az Este,”  an evening program on MTV. However, he obviously didn’t give up his plan to get rid of the returning Roma. A couple of days after his appearance on national television Kriza announced that he will “keep the criminal elements out of Miskolc by checking whether any of the people who left for Canada also took advantage of social assistance from the city or the central government.” He claimed that he had already found five people who were ineligible and who thereby committed a crime. He got in touch with the police. He will do everything to prevent “these criminals from settling in the city. Moreover, criminals currently residing in Miskolc will be driven out by the authorities.” He even threatened returning Roma parents that the authorities would take their children away and place them under state supervision.

Today Népszava claimed that Kriza’s threats can be considered “harassment.”  The Hungarian Helsinki Commission also took notice and pointed out that Kriza’s threats and his intention to restrict the free movement of the returning Romas are in direct contravention of Hungarian and international law. In addition, NEKI (Nemzeti és Etnikai Kisebbségi Jogvédő Iroda) argued that “the words of the mayor of Miskolc actually support the merits of the requests for political asylum.”

I do hope that Kriza’s words get to Ottawa. But even if they do, the Canadians most likely will not have the “pleasure” of reading the comments from some of the peace-loving people from Miskolc. They would most likely be shocked. Perhaps then the Canadian officials would lend a more sympathetic ear to the plight of the Hungarian Roma.

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104 comments

  1. As a Canadian who has travelled with his Consular-wife for 13 years, I object to this. It’s way off base. If anything, Canadian immigration policies have been way too soft allowing a host of troublesome immigrants into
    the innocent, welcoming society of the country. Try accessing a Hamilton newspaper over the last year or so to get some eye-opening reports on Hungarian gypsies and their shenanigans.

  2. I don’t quite know what you object to. I did not say much about Canadian policy. I wrote about the mayor of Miskolc and his reactions. I already asked someone more familiar with the Canadian background to write an article about what has transpired in Ottawa concerning the issue.

  3. I know several people who know immigrated Transylvanian Hungarians from work. They find them strange, aggressive and boorish. This is a generalization, of course.

    But should we be surprised that an average Hungarian from Romania is different from an average Hungarian in Budapest?

    Hungarians in Transylvania grew up in Ceausescu’s oppressive Romania, a much more backward country under similar Communist slogans. Their experience (and add their feeling of being a member of a minority ethnic group) was vastly different from the Hungarian experience in Kadar’s enlightened absolutism.

    Their influx into the higher echelons of Orban’s Hungary has implanted some of the backwardness of Ceausescu’s Romania into Hungary.

  4. Someone who is very familiar with Canadian refugee issue, I would like to object petofi’s objections. I am sorry petofi, but in the past you have posted a lot of comments that were as anti-roma as Fidesz can get. You were actually made some comments about Orban’s possibly being Roma, so your “counslar-wife” excuse rubs me the wrong way. I certainly hope that as a Canadian diplomat or a diplomat of any country your wife is not as biased as you are.

    I also would like to point out that this blog is not about the Canadian policies, so we should not debate this here, as there are plenty of background information about that, and in order to provide a fair, unbiased “report” we should go back to Trudeau and finish with Harper, and that is easily three decades. I believe the point what Eva tried to make here is that although Fidesz loves to advertise its policies regarding “national unity” what it comes down to is racism and anti-semitsim to the core, and the mayor of Miskolc fully exhibited those points.

    I bet when Keney visited Miskolc, they were showing him around, and Fidesz was telling him how great Hungary is, and how it is not a racist country. Well, Kenney bought into that picture, and now Fidesz is feel burnt. Their “problem” would of gone away by simply telling Kenney, how they really feel about the Jews and Romas. Now, the phoney Fidesz has to swallow its own medicine, and welcome back the Romas who they chased away at the first place.

  5. Eva S. Balogh :
    I don’t quite know what you object to. I did not say much about Canadian policy. I wrote about the mayor of Miskolc and his reactions. I already asked someone more familiar with the Canadian background to write an article about what has transpired in Ottawa concerning the issue.

    I object to this:

    “Perhaps then the Canadian officials would lend a more sympathetic ear to the plight of the Hungarian Roma.”

    Perhaps I’ve been away from Canadian English for too long…but this sure sounds like criticism to me.

  6. “I am sorry petofi, but in the past you have posted a lot of comments that were as anti-roma as Fidesz can get”

    Hear, hear. There is no place for racism – of any kind – on HS.

  7. Mr Kriza is another quality Fidesz politician. This time from the Hungarian Detroit, Miskolc.

    The word Fidesz slowly becomes synonymous with the word stupid. This bozo can’t sit on two horses with one ass, as the Hungarian say it. You either want the Canucks to accept that you are not a racists and send the Roma back or you want them to think your are racists so they keep the Roma.

    This retard wanted the Roma to go and now he thinks the Canadian government double crossed him. It seems now he is trying to provide real reasons for the political asylum. Scary.

    In what way are the billboards intimidation? That beats me. We are threatening you with not taking in your enemies? Say what?

  8. This Canadian move has nothing to do with their opinion about the Roma. They just promise the decisions quickly to prevent asylum tourism – that is going on a 1 year pleasure cruise by some, Roma or not, courtesy of the slow bureaucracy and payed by the Canadian tax payers.

  9. Some1 :


    Someone who is very familiar with Canadian refugee issue, I would like to object petofi’s objections. I am sorry petofi, but in the past you have posted a lot of comments that were as anti-roma as Fidesz can get. You were actually made some comments about Orban’s possibly being Roma, so your “counslar-wife” excuse rubs me the wrong way. I certainly hope that as a Canadian diplomat or a diplomat of any country your wife is not as biased as you are.
    I also would like to point out that this blog is not about the Canadian policies, so we should not debate this here, as there are plenty of background information about that, and in order to provide a fair, unbiased “report” we should go back to Trudeau and finish with Harper, and that is easily three decades. I believe the point what Eva tried to make here is that although Fidesz loves to advertise its policies regarding “national unity” what it comes down to is racism and anti-semitsim to the core, and the mayor of Miskolc fully exhibited those points.
    I bet when Keney visited Miskolc, they were showing him around, and Fidesz was telling him how great Hungary is, and how it is not a racist country. Well, Kenney bought into that picture, and now Fidesz is feel burnt. Their “problem” would of gone away by simply telling Kenney, how they really feel about the Jews and Romas. Now, the phoney Fidesz has to swallow its own medicine, and welcome back the Romas who they chased away at the first place.

    Some1:

    Your political correctness is askew.

    I’m probably more conservative than liberal, but I generally make judgements on issues as they come.
    On the question of Roma I stand four square behind helping those families that try and get ahead; that send their children to school who work hard and achieve.
    Unfortunately, Roma culture, in the main, is anti-the-norm, say what you will. And that culture is thousands of years old so, generally, they won’t be changing anytime soon. Check out some of Kusturica’s great movies: the Roma are fun-loving, joyous, and great musical talents but not given to recognizing the beneficial effects of honesty and hard work. That’s a fact…so please, don’t accuse me of generalizations. It’s true in the main.

    A number of years past, Canada had instituted a visa requirement on Hungarians because of the Roma. Of course, they couldn’t say that–politically incorrect–but that was a fact. The Roma that had arrived in Canada were much too disruptive and troublesome. Sorry, I know that sounds ‘bad’ but do you want facts or not?

    As for accusing me of being racist and anti-Roma, allow me to ask you: have you worked with Roma?
    I’ve employed them. Now, a fact: you can’t trust them as far as you can throw them. Another fact: the more I did for them, the more they misbehaved: in fact, the greater the leniency or the helping-hand, the greater
    the Roma perception of the person as a ‘sucker’.

  10. @petofi

    I know someone who employed hundreds of Gypsies in a large state-owned factory in the Kadar era. The vast majority of those workers were decent and hard-working people.

    But what can you expect now when at least 70% of them unemployed? They want to survive.

    In Canada, the majority of them would become good citizens.

    It is nurture (or the lack of it), not nature.

  11. Paul :
    “I am sorry petofi, but in the past you have posted a lot of comments that were as anti-roma as Fidesz can get”
    Hear, hear. There is no place for racism – of any kind – on HS.

    God forbid that we should ever strongly criticize the roma! Spare me.

    But you guys have given me a laugh suggesting that I’m Fidesz-like. Yes, I voted for them–thanks to MSZP–but since then I’ve castigated them as consistently as anyone. (But typical honkeyish allusion, Some1..)

  12. tappanch :
    @petofi
    I know someone who employed hundreds of Gypsies in a large state-owned factory in the Kadar era. The vast majority of those workers were decent and hard-working people.
    But what can you expect now when at least 70% of them unemployed? They want to survive.
    In Canada, the majority of them would become good citizens.
    It is nurture (or the lack of it), not nature.

    Perhaps. But here’s a strange fact: of the roma that become successful, as lawyers, doctors or whatever…they almost always leave behind their fellow roma and don’t associate with them. Strange, isn’t it?

  13. Petofi: Don’t accuse you of generalizations? If you are basing your experience with Roma on Emir Kusturica’s films then I suppose you believe Gypsies are magical beings who can levitate objects and drink diesel fuel – or is Kusturica also wrong about these “facts.” Yes, the famed Hamilton “csicskazas” case you mention is shameful, but it is only one of a series of criminal acts carried out over many years by Hungarian immigrants to Canada (and typically, it concerned a crime committed Hungarians against other Hungarians based on their inability to communicate in any other language besides Hungarian.) The 1956 emigres to Canada included their share of hard core criminals as well – my uncle for one, who had no Roma blood at all (he specialized in bank robbery.) And the visa requirement you refer to was due to the fact that Hungarians in 2003 were judged the EU group most likely to overstay their tourist visa and work illegally (I was told that a whopping 80% attempted it before the visa restriction was enforced.)

    If you have experience with the Canadian Consular service I would much prefer to hear a true Canadian conservative’s opinion than another parroting of FIDESZ’ communication strategy.

  14. Kavé :
    Petofi: Don’t accuse you of generalizations? If you are basing your experience with Roma on Emir Kusturica’s films then I suppose you believe Gypsies are magical beings who can levitate objects and drink diesel fuel – or is Kusturica also wrong about these “facts.” Yes, the famed Hamilton “csicskazas” case you mention is shameful, but it is only one of a series of criminal acts carried out over many years by Hungarian immigrants to Canada (and typically, it concerned a crime committed Hungarians against other Hungarians based on their inability to communicate in any other language besides Hungarian.) The 1956 emigres to Canada included their share of hard core criminals as well – my uncle for one, who had no Roma blood at all (he specialized in bank robbery.) And the visa requirement you refer to was due to the fact that Hungarians in 2003 were judged the EU group most likely to overstay their tourist visa and work illegally (I was told that a whopping 80% attempted it before the visa restriction was enforced.)
    If you have experience with the Canadian Consular service I would much prefer to hear a true Canadian conservative’s opinion than another parroting of FIDESZ’ communication strategy.

    I never said I had experience with Canadian consular.

    I’m basing my experience on what I’ve seen of roma in Macedonia, Serbia, Slovaki and Hungary.
    Kusturica’s film is about roma culture and, as with most good artists, enjoys the poetic license of presenting myth and legend as part of his stories.

  15. tappanch :
    I know several people who know immigrated Transylvanian Hungarians from work. They find them strange, aggressive and boorish. This is a generalization, of course.
    But should we be surprised that an average Hungarian from Romania is different from an average Hungarian in Budapest?
    Hungarians in Transylvania grew up in Ceausescu’s oppressive Romania, a much more backward country under similar Communist slogans. Their experience (and add their feeling of being a member of a minority ethnic group) was vastly different from the Hungarian experience in Kadar’s enlightened absolutism.
    Their influx into the higher echelons of Orban’s Hungary has implanted some of the backwardness of Ceausescu’s Romania into Hungary.

    I used to live in Ceausescu’s Romania. I find that Orban has lots of things in common with Ceausescu. But I cannot believe that this is due to elements of his government with Transylvanian background.

    I am curious, what kind of backwardness introduced into Hungary by these immigrants you are referring to, concretely?

  16. petofi :
    I’m probably more conservative than liberal, but I generally make judgements on issues as they come.
    On the question of Roma I stand four square behind helping those families that try and get ahead; that send their children to school who work hard and achieve.
    Unfortunately, Roma culture, in the main, is anti-the-norm, say what you will. And that culture is thousands of years old so, generally, they won’t be changing anytime soon. Check out some of Kusturica’s great movies: the Roma are fun-loving, joyous, and great musical talents but not given to recognizing the beneficial effects of honesty and hard work. That’s a fact…so please, don’t accuse me of generalizations. It’s true in the main.
    A number of years past, Canada had instituted a visa requirement on Hungarians because of the Roma. Of course, they couldn’t say that–politically incorrect–but that was a fact. The Roma that had arrived in Canada were much too disruptive and troublesome. Sorry, I know that sounds ‘bad’ but do you want facts or not?
    As for accusing me of being racist and anti-Roma, allow me to ask you: have you worked with Roma?
    I’ve employed them. Now, a fact: you can’t trust them as far as you can throw them. Another fact: the more I did for them, the more they misbehaved: in fact, the greater the leniency or the helping-hand, the greater
    the Roma perception of the person as a ‘sucker’.

    According to the Wikipedia article on Roma in Hungary “experts and Romani organisations estimate that there are between 450,000 and 1,000,000 Roma living in Hungary”. How many of these people did you employ, meet or know, to make these general statements? How many of these people did Kusturica know or meet, to allow his viewers to assume that all Roma are like the ones shown? What was the number of Hungarian-Roma asylum seekers in Canada? Even if all of them were crooks (which I doubt), what percentage of the total Hungarian-Roma population do they form? Is it also possible, that some of these people were crooks, because the oppression they lived under did not give them any other way to survive?

  17. Arguing with someone who has a strong bias against a certain group of people is for the most part a waste of time and energy. Though I get the point that not giving counterarguments leaves them preaching and spreading their ideas uncontested.
    I’m not sure that we can aspire to a society -in any place- that won’t use one minority as a scape goat, as the example of what we don’t want to be, as a way to keep the evil outside of ourselves as a group. Maybe we could expect that discrimination to become less accepted, and not as strong, i.e. that there’s no so much blind hate involved, but if you look at other societies, there are probably very few cases where minorities would not feel any sort of discrimination.
    Hungary keeps getting worse, as far as I can feel it in all my time living here, actually much worse. But let’s not lose perspective, racism is everywhere.

  18. I just overheard a short conversation yesterday, among the support side/back office of our workplace. Nice, polite, consistently reliable people, educated, though not at the best places probably. But during all may years I never had any problems with them, ideal colleagues, never heard any racist or antismetic remarks ever.

    It was about the gipsies, a guy was stopped on the street and got into an argument why he does not give money to the beggar, although it lasted about 3 sentences and 20 seconds.

    Yet, the percieved threat and the occasion obvioulsy left in the colleague a huge scar and colleagues were agreeing. “Gipsies, you just cant live with them peacfully, they bother you and they are out to get you”.

    I was reminded again that we live in a space where we do not have any contact with romas, while these colleagues have much more (back office people make much less money, live in less affluent districts). Obviously there is a lot of tension, and the issue is real. Especially for Miskolc people, where 70% of all young people (who are more prone to commit crimes and more agressive, just by being young) are roma and the only characateristic they focus on is whether someone is roma or not. I agree with the more liberal approach, but there is an everday problem (justified or not) and it needs to be addressed in a practical way, because Jobbik takes over these voters soon.

  19. petofi :

    tappanch :
    @petofi
    I know someone who employed hundreds of Gypsies in a large state-owned factory in the Kadar era. The vast majority of those workers were decent and hard-working people.
    But what can you expect now when at least 70% of them unemployed? They want to survive.
    In Canada, the majority of them would become good citizens.
    It is nurture (or the lack of it), not nature.

    Perhaps. But here’s a strange fact: of the roma that become successful, as lawyers, doctors or whatever…they almost always leave behind their fellow roma and don’t associate with them. Strange, isn’t it?

    It is not unusual that persons belonging to a minority try to change identity. A great many successful Jewish Hungarians converted before WW 1.
    I have met some Hungarian sociologists during the Kadar regime, who had first hand knowledge about the situation of Roma in Hungary. The Hungarian Academy of Science published a brochure of István Kemény – I believe it was in 1973 – from which I learnt, that at the time about 100.000 Roma lived more than 100 m from a water tap and a WC. Usually they were getting the dirtiest jobs and were the firsts to be fired. Even the word “cigánybünözés” (Gypsy criminality) was used by György Moldova in his book published 1987 about the Hungarian police. So Jobbik is using a slogan first published by a leftwing Hungarian writer.
    I believe we should not make sweeping judgments about majorities or minorities but see nuances. There are problems when people of different cultures have to live together in one house. I know this very well, since I have Roma neighbors. It took time, but after a few years they learned to respect the rules and regulations.
    The truth is, not one Hungarian government after 1945 really cared to solve the problem. Éva has written about this subject matter an excellent article.

  20. tappanch :I know several people who know immigrated Transylvanian Hungarians from work. They find them strange, aggressive and boorish. This is a generalization, of course.
    But should we be surprised that an average Hungarian from Romania is different from an average Hungarian in Budapest?
    Hungarians in Transylvania grew up in Ceausescu’s oppressive Romania, a much more backward country under similar Communist slogans. Their experience (and add their feeling of being a member of a minority ethnic group) was vastly different from the Hungarian experience in Kadar’s enlightened absolutism.
    Their influx into the higher echelons of Orban’s Hungary has implanted some of the backwardness of Ceausescu’s Romania into Hungary.

    Yes, this is a generalisation. NGOs in Budapest, and places like CEU, are full of Transylvanians in high, well-educated positions. I’d suggest because they have intercultural and language skills that the average ‘normal’ Hungarian completely lacks.

    I’ve often heard, too, views from ‘normal’ Hungarians that the Transylvanians are a bit ‘weird’ and should be approached with caution. I’ve also heard from many Transylvanians that ‘normal’ Hungarians are aloof and snobbish, and are cold and unwelcoming.

    The truth is that Hungarians coming from Transylvania have (in the last 20 years) been treated as immigrants. They have been racialised and subject to exclusion. Not surprisingly, they often seek out other Transylvanians and stick together (at least at first) for support.

    Generally, I don’t find Transylvanians especially ‘strange, aggressive and boorish’ (I married one). Although I do find the attitude of ‘normal’ Hungarians towards them a little bit odd. Especially the ones who keep bleating about the suffering of Trianon and fantasing about some vision of national unity across the borders. Anyway, there are different types of ‘Transylvanians’. The ones from Cluj; the ones from the Szekelyfold. They aren’t all one homogenous group, and they all regard each other as ‘different’.

    My wife says that the ‘normal’ Hungarian is jealous of the Transylvanians for many reasons. The ‘normal’ Hungarians just did what they were told under Kadar, like obedient sheep. The Transylvanians started a revolution and fought back. The Transylvanians are more confident. They speak languages. They are not insular. They are hardworking and don’t spend their time figuring out how to cheat their neighbour. Transylvania is beautiful. Hungary is drab. They’ve achieved more.

    I’ll leave you all to debate that!

  21. @Bowen, @gdfxx

    Thank you for your good ripostes.

    I conveyed other people’s observations – I hate generalizations in any case.

    I agree that Transylvanians frequently have superior language skills, they speak Romanian, Hungarian and often speak good French to start with.

    I think it is very detrimental to foreign language learning in Hungary that almost every movie on television or cinemas is dubbed. In the neighboring countries most movies are subtitled.

  22. On the other hand, it was my own speculation that growing up in a less democratic country (Ceausescu’s Romania was less democratic than Kadar’s Hungary, although this was also far form a free society) makes it easier to accept Orban’s recidivism to tyranny.

    But most of Orban’s ministers and 200+ deputies in Parliament were growing up in this country and obey the most stupid orders from above, so my speculation must be false.

  23. tappanch :On the other hand, it was my own speculation that growing up in a less democratic country (Ceausescu’s Romania was less democratic than Kadar’s Hungary, although this was also far form a free society) makes it easier to accept Orban’s recidivism to tyranny.
    But most of Orban’s ministers and 200+ deputies in Parliament were growing up in this country and obey the most stupid orders from above, so my speculation must be false.

    Possibly. But you could equally argue that growing up in Ceausecu’s Romania would make one much more sensitive to (and critical of) the signs of a burgeoning dictatorship than the average Hungarian.

  24. Bowen, in theory, as an argument. Compared to Cau, the current Hungarian system is a a land of the free and will be so for a long times. So they don’t care, because it is still freedom. Plus just because you lived under Cau, does not mean that you are an anarchist, you can still like order and dicipline and condemn “too much freedom without responsibility and obligations”. Plus, as a coping mechanism what you learnt (even if you were born after Cau, you might have learnt it from your parents), you might simply not care about politics as power, you avoid to form an opinion and perhaps support nationalistic moverments because of the symbolism and ignore their power plays.

    I agree generally with you, however: living in a state of (ethnic) minority, without a real social safety net (the Romanian social trasfers are much smaller) and being completely billingual (which makes it easy to learn further languages, which tehey do speak) provides great coping skills, exactly the kind one would need intodays world (and what Hungarians liing in Hungary lack).

    Too bad, those who turn up and emerge at Fidesz and KDNP are exactly those messianistic, paranoid people (like Vidnyánszky), who have lot of unresolved personal issues. They are the ones that nationalistic Hungarians value, because they seem to represent the Transylvania which they would like to see (but which does not exist).

    Most of Transylvania is completely sealed off from ordinary Hungarians who go there, who don’t speak Romanian, whereas ethnic Hungarians mostly understand Romanian; so there are parallel realities even among Hungarians. But again, seeing Transylvani as it is (its Romanian sphere as well, even if one spoke the language) would necessitate a huge reevaluation. Perhaps it would turn out that Hungarians are not so much better than Romanians, after all, that we are very much alike in many ways or even that current Hungary is the better place and not the idealized, mtyhical Transylvania.

  25. I can’t really comment on Transylvanians generally – but the one family (several brothers and sisters and their partners) I know are really hard working, a bit conservative (actually very conservative …) but very nice …

    When I met them first, they were just refugees from Romania to me, speaking an old-fashioned kind of German and one of the women was just learning German on the side while working several low-class jobs – I found out that she’s of Hungarian descent.

    They visited me here in Hungary too after working for me and we talked a lot about those terrible Ceaucescu days, how difficult it was for them – but they escaped to Germany as soon as possible and made it there too.

    So whether they are Hungarians or “Schwab” – they are different!

  26. I totally agree with Bowen and Benno2 – all of the Transylavanians I know speak at least two languages fluently and often three or four – it seems it’s in a way a good thing to grow up in a small “border community” – similar to Benelux or to some parts of Switzerland …

  27. petofi :
    As a Canadian who has travelled with his Consular-wife for 13 years, I object to this. It’s way off base. If anything, Canadian immigration policies have been way too soft allowing a host of troublesome immigrants into
    the innocent, welcoming society of the country. Try accessing a Hamilton newspaper over the last year or so to get some eye-opening reports on Hungarian gypsies and their shenanigans.

    petofi, if your wife is a consular than you most likely know that there are certain technical conditions that result in visa restriction being applied to citizens of the offending country. I believe the threshold for visa over-stays is 5%. Once that threshold is exceeded you’ll need to acquire your visa prior to traveling. In this case visa restriction were put in place to stop what Canada considered to be an abuse of it’s refuge system. The Canadian position has been very clear. EU citizens should not need to claim refuge status. This is ostensibly an EU problem which unfortunately (and once again) the EU seems either unwilling or unable to deal with.

    That they then managed to convince the Hungarian government (MSzP at the time) not reciprocate sugest that MSzP knew they had a problem do deal with and yet… So the pre-travel visa authorization restriction is removed by both the US and Canada via political pressure from the EU but nothing is done to address the problem in the EU. Now the US is dealing with an over-stay problem and Canada once again got flooded with “bogus” refuge claimants. So, it’s not wonder that Canada takes steps to protect it’s self. Don’t forget, (as documented here by Eva) it’s not only Roma that are showing up at the border claiming refuge status. It’s time to fire people like the mayor of Miskolc

    My kids English tutor also tutored a Roma girl who’s family self-deported after more than 2 years in Canada. Too bad there wasn’t a legitimate road for her because she comes from a family that wasn’t trying to abuse a system, just trying to escape from intolerance. As an aside, our tutor is american and he’s black. Kids being kids have asked him all kinds of questions and he’s shared his experiences living here. They don’t understand how people can be so rude. I’ve had to tell them, it’s not rudeness, it’s something else.

  28. Generalization is a dangerous trap.
    The poor neighborhood is a bad trap.
    The leadership of those neighborhoods can be good and bad.
    The great Dorottya Karsay went to Gyongyospata to sort out some problems.
    All of us should go to the troubled areas to offer a gentle help to the suffering human beings.
    I know a Utah family that adopted a sick baby, and saved her life. The baby was from a Gipsy family in Erdely.
    She grow up. She is great. One case. One success.

  29. wolfi :I totally agree with Bowen and Benno2 – all of the Transylavanians I know speak at least two languages fluently and often three or four – it seems it’s in a way a good thing to grow up in a small “border community” – similar to Benelux or to some parts of Switzerland …

    I wouldn’t describe Transylvania as a border community. It’s regional identity pre-dates any modern notion of ‘nationalism’.

    Speak to any Transylvanian Hungarian, and they will quickly let you know how they realise their self-identity. Being Transylvanian includes Romanians, Hungarians and Germans in one mutually accommodating group, able to switch languages, and respect each other. This goes back to the middle-ages when there was still a German majority in many towns.

    Ceausescu’s era, of course, systematically set out to dismantle this and create a unified Romania which didn’t include minority groups. Hence, Romanians from the countryside were uprooted and encouraged to settle in towns like Cluj, with new factories and tower blocks built to house them – to increase the Romanian population. Saxon Germans were ‘sold’ to East Germany in return for cash payments to the Romanian state.

    Another thing you will quickly hear is that the Transylvanian Hungarians see themselves as very much different from the Hungarians in Hungary. No more the same than Americans and British.

    I have met Transylvanians who are enamoured of Orban Viktor. But these are few and tend to be elderly people – highly religious and in need of someone to ‘trust’. I believe that in 1998-2002, the Orban government established cheap housing in small villages in the middle of nowhere (Danyszentkiralyi, about 30km from Budapest being one) especially for Hungarians wishing to emigrate from Transylvania.These tend to be villages where Roma also live. As far as I’m aware, these villages tend to have elderly Transylvanian Hungarian populations who remain very grateful.

  30. petofi :

    Some1 :

    Someone who is very familiar with Canadian refugee issue, I would like to object petofi’s objections. I am sorry petofi, but in the past you have posted a lot of comments that were as anti-roma as Fidesz can get. You were actually made some comments about Orban’s possibly being Roma, so your “counslar-wife” excuse rubs me the wrong way. I certainly hope that as a Canadian diplomat or a diplomat of any country your wife is not as biased as you are.

    Some1:
    Your political correctness is askew.
    I’m probably more conservative than liberal, but I generally make judgements on issues as they come.
    On the question of Roma I stand four square behind helping those families that try and get ahead; that send their children to school who work hard and achieve.
    Unfortunately, Roma culture, in the main, is anti-the-norm, say what you will. And that culture is thousands of years old so, generally, they won’t be changing anytime soon. Check out some of Kusturica’s great movies: the Roma are fun-loving, joyous, and great musical talents but not given to recognizing the beneficial effects of honesty and hard work. That’s a fact…so please, don’t accuse me of generalizations. It’s true in the main.
    A number of years past, Canada had instituted a visa requirement on Hungarians because of the Roma. Of course, they couldn’t say that–politically incorrect–but that was a fact. The Roma that had arrived in Canada were much too disruptive and troublesome. Sorry, I know that sounds ‘bad’ but do you want facts or not?
    As for accusing me of being racist and anti-Roma, allow me to ask you: have you worked with Roma?
    I’ve employed them. Now, a fact: you can’t trust them as far as you can throw them. Another fact: the more I did for them, the more they misbehaved: in fact, the greater the leniency or the helping-hand, the greater
    the Roma perception of the person as a ‘sucker’.

    Shame on you Pertofi. You are no different from Fidesz and no different from those who draw up stereotype. You do not need to refer me to watch movies because I bet you anything I had seen more movies from more sources than you can even imagine. If there is one thing I know about, that is movies.
    Also, thank you but I do not take that politicly correct by-line to heart that accuses anyone who wants equality in society and helping hand to those who deserve it with “political correctness”. Bunch of cr*p, and an excuse to those who’s disposition requires some adjustments. You “petofi” were generalizing. No question, you did that way back, and you are doing it now. Your “fun-loving” Roma line is flawed. “That’s a fact…so please, don’t accuse me of generalizations.” THe fun loving Roma, who cannot change their lifestyle, because of the thousand years?…. Please. How about black people in the USA? THey sing and dance, jazz is routed from their songs. I seen many black people who work and who do not. Those who get the education from the “ghettos” did succeed. You employed gypsies. Oh my gush, that makes you a hero. My father did employ gypsies, and he got along with them just fine. I had an otologist who was a gypsy, and even a teacher. In my child’s school there were Roma kids (in Canada), and both sets of parents were working. I did help with workshops in an other part of town especially for Hungarian Roma kids, who arrived to Canada, and they did go to school. I know a teacher who is teaching in a school here in Toronto that has a few Roma kids, and found it challenging at first, as the families needed some “adjustment”. THey were suspicious of the school and the teachers at first but then they adjusted. Some of the parents now even volunteers in the school. So there you have it petofi. Maybe it is you who need some “adjustment” to interact with the Roma versus the other way. When I arrived to Canada in 1988, all the Hungarian immigrants I meet were non-Romas. They were stealing credit cards, they were selling drugs, they did not work, they were living on welfare. Many of them moved back to Hungary after a while. Non of them were Roma, so I guess it is the Hungarian thousand year history, the “above all” attitude that is a fact of Hungarian history what made them do it. Are you Hungarian? Yes, so that explains your attitude too. Maybe yo should befriend Orban. Oh, that will not happen, I forgot that you think that he is Roma.

  31. Eva: Ákos Kriza was born in Oradea/Nagyvárad (1965) and became a physician after finishing medical school in Târgu Mureş/Marosvásárhely. He moved to Hungary shortly after graduation and has been living in Miskolc since 1990.

    If I was a political opponent I would check out, what his role was during the 1990 riots in Marosvasarhelye (so-called Fekete Marcius). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaJe2fK6AZ4 (mostly in Romanian). There are some more youtube video’s on this topic.

    Furthermore, I would check out when he bought the RABA RT. share 80 pieces.Point 5 of his statement: http://miskolc.hu/sites/default/files/dokumentumok/csatolmanyok/vagyonnyilatkozat_dr_kriza_akos_2012.pdf

  32. @ Some1

    Couldn’t agree with you more on Hungarians in Canada–many a thief in the bunch.

    Plus, I see that you’ve had many more inter-actions with roma than I’ve had and will bow to your superior
    experience.

    There would be no one happier than I to see that roma can work their way into responsible members of different societies. I agree that Hungarians have rarely, if ever, had successful
    policies to help them. Here’s hoping that this changes.

    (I’m also pleased at your righteous indignation: let’s hope you can spread that to your neighbors and maybe Orban and Fidesz will be no more.)

  33. petofi :
    @ Some1
    Couldn’t agree with you more on Hungarians in Canada–many a thief in the bunch.
    Plus, I see that you’ve had many more inter-actions with roma than I’ve had and will bow to your superior
    experience.
    There would be no one happier than I to see that roma can work their way into responsible members of different societies. I agree that Hungarians have rarely, if ever, had successful
    policies to help them. Here’s hoping that this changes.
    (I’m also pleased at your righteous indignation: let’s hope you can spread that to your neighbors and maybe Orban and Fidesz will be no more.)

    Thanks. You and I have many common interests and many full agreements, more so than our disagreements. Peace!

  34. Some1 :
    When I arrived to Canada in 1988, all the Hungarian immigrants I meet were non-Romas. They were stealing credit cards, they were selling drugs, they did not work, they were living on welfare. Many of them moved back to Hungary after a while. Non of them were Roma, so I guess it is the Hungarian thousand year history, the “above all” attitude that is a fact of Hungarian history what made them do it. Are you Hungarian? Yes, so that explains your attitude too. Maybe yo should befriend Orban. Oh, that will not happen, I forgot that you think that he is Roma.

    Humm, I guess you got caught up in the wrong crowd because all the Hungarians I know in Canada are bright, hardworking and successful. I only know of one case involving a crooked Hungarian in Canada. He thought that all the tricks that might work here would protect him there. Fortunately he was wrong. I never attributed his mis-steps to being Hungarian, he’s just a crook plain and simple.

  35. Bowen :

    tappanch :On the other hand, it was my own speculation that growing up in a less democratic country (Ceausescu’s Romania was less democratic than Kadar’s Hungary, although this was also far form a free society) makes it easier to accept Orban’s recidivism to tyranny.
    But most of Orban’s ministers and 200+ deputies in Parliament were growing up in this country and obey the most stupid orders from above, so my speculation must be false.

    Possibly. But you could equally argue that growing up in Ceausecu’s Romania would make one much more sensitive to (and critical of) the signs of a burgeoning dictatorship than the average Hungarian.

    Exactly what I wanted to write.

  36. One issue, which is important. It is an issue also for teachers as well, not just for managers. When you are faced with an unknown group, people reacting, behaving differently than what you are used to, then there is still a way to deal with them and reach results — only you need to use different methods, incentives, feedback. But after many years of teaching and managing (many years in powers position), you assume that you know it best and they are the stupid by not reacting to you as expected. This is not so, but certainly you need to try harder and more creatively (which teachers, with all due respect, in many cases don’t want to do).

    Petőfi’s problem is that he thinks that just because he employed a number of “roma”, he knows what kind of people “they” are, regardless of the fact that romas in Hungary are at least three (!) distinct ethnic groups (as – we have just read above – majority and minority Hungarians could also be quite different), not mentioning social etc. differences.

    I worked with a lot of Americans, British, Germans and I am not sure I could give such generalisations as Petőfi did. Perhaps I could say that Germans as opposed to Italians are seemed more thorough and disciplined, but other than that, the variety of Germans etc. is just too big.

    Having said that, there is a huge problem that given the demography, a huge (disporoportonate) fraction of young (and in many cases very uneducated andppor) people are roma, whereas the older, relatively better off people are not.

    This is a recipe for disaster as young people are more often commit crimes, have a less developed value system, and since they are poorer have more incentive to ignore the law (the poverty of children/adolescents is much much worse than the poverty of pensionsers, even if the latter are not very affluen either) and commit against older (better off) and non-roma people who are anyway more irritated by disruptive behaviour.

    This gives the impression that criminals all look brown and they wage a war against order-loving “Hungarians” (i.e. non-roma Hungarians). So whatevere the truth, one has to take actions re the perceived truth.

  37. why won’t my comment post? I tried numerous times. Then I get a message that says “duplicate comment” but it still doesn’t appear. Yet others’s comments appear?

  38. well, I still don’t see my comment, I keep getting the message “it appears you’ve already said that”, but I don’t see it, so I will try another way:

  39. Mutt nailed it. Kriza should be ashamed and embarrassed that most refugee claimants to Canada from Hungary are from Miskolc. And shame on Hungary and the E.U. for not dealing with this issue. Why isn’t anyone asking why the Roma don’t go to any of the countries in the E.U., since they are E.U. citizens? Why Canada? If the answer is because you can’t claim refugee status in an E.U.country if you come from an E.U. country, well…..didn’t the E.U. win a Nobel Peace Prize?

  40. It is wrong to approach this issue as being black or white: “all Roma are (potential) criminals” / “all Roma are being persecuted in Hungary”. There is certainly an element of poverty driven petty crime that needs to be addressed, but this is not limited to the Roma, and also, those wanting to focus on the persecution and thus the right of some Roma to claim refugee status in Canada should not ignore the fact that there are those who, once in Canada, despite the generous government support given to refugees, turn to petty (shoplifting) or more serious crimes IN Canada, like human trafficking and fraudulent refugee claims in the first place, including birth tourism.

  41. The fact is the Hungarian government does not discriminate against the Roma, or if they do, it’s positive discrimination in the form of social benefits, housing, etc. That there is a large segment of the Hungarian population that is racist, especially towards Roma, is another thing entirely. But this racist attitude is present everywhere unfortunately (even in Canada….) For example, there are skinheads in Germany who every year attack/murder Turkish-Germans or immigrants from Africa, yet you don’t see waves of Turkish-Germans flocking to Canada claiming refugee status.

  42. I do believe in new beginnings, and many Roma families could start new lives in Canada, especially the children who would not be visible minorities in such a multi-cultural country, and the all-or-nothing approach to this issue from both sides does them a disservice.

    The Canadian officials HAVE lent very sympathetic ear to the plight of the Hungarian Roma and other refugees, but the country is now starting the crack under the cost of bogus claims (not just by the Roma).

    It is NOT Canada’s responsibility to solve the social issues of Hungary, and by extension of the E.U.

  43. Yul :
    The fact is the Hungarian government does not discriminate against the Roma, or if they do, it’s positive discrimination in the form of social benefits, housing, etc. That there is a large segment of the Hungarian population that is racist, especially towards Roma, is another thing entirely. But this racist attitude is present everywhere unfortunately (even in Canada….) For example, there are skinheads in Germany who every year attack/murder Turkish-Germans or immigrants from Africa, yet you don’t see waves of Turkish-Germans flocking to Canada claiming refugee status.

    When a leading member of the 2/3 governing party proposes the final solution for the Roma population, without any rebuff from the government, one has to conclude the positive discrimination is there because of the previous governments, who instituted it and it is just a matter of time before it will be dismantled by this government. I doubt that the skinhead movement in Germany can be compared in scope and size with the anti-Roma sentiment of the Hungarian population. Further, the German economy’s level of prosperity cannot be compared to that of Hungary. This leads to a much higher level of discrimination. I don’t know what the unemployment rate of Germans with Turkish origin is, but I am ready to bet that it is much lower than that of the Hungarian Roma.

  44. gdfxx :

    Yul :
    The fact is the Hungarian government does not discriminate against the Roma, or if they do, it’s positive discrimination in the form of social benefits, housing, etc. That there is a large segment of the Hungarian population that is racist, especially towards Roma, is another thing entirely. But this racist attitude is present everywhere unfortunately (even in Canada….) For example, there are skinheads in Germany who every year attack/murder Turkish-Germans or immigrants from Africa, yet you don’t see waves of Turkish-Germans flocking to Canada claiming refugee status.

    When a leading member of the 2/3 governing party proposes the final solution for the Roma population, without any rebuff from the government, one has to conclude the positive discrimination is there because of the previous governments, who instituted it and it is just a matter of time before it will be dismantled by this government. I doubt that the skinhead movement in Germany can be compared in scope and size with the anti-Roma sentiment of the Hungarian population. Further, the German economy’s level of prosperity cannot be compared to that of Hungary. This leads to a much higher level of discrimination. I don’t know what the unemployment rate of Germans with Turkish origin is, but I am ready to bet that it is much lower than that of the Hungarian Roma.

    Then according to you gdfxx, the Roma coming to Canada are actually economical and not political refugees and should try to enter Canada the same way other Hungarians do: immigrating the legal way.

  45. @Yul:

    Regarding attacks on Turkish people in Germany – there was a wave of murders which has been found to be the action of a Neo Nazi group. The two members killed themselves when police found them after several years. For a long time everybody in Germany was lead to believe that the murders were some kind of Mafia story …

    You can find the story here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Socialist_Underground

    Still the situation of the Turkish people in Germany can not be compared with the Gypsy “problem” in Hungary – the Turks are generally much better integrated though they’re just second generation immigrants. Why is that ? Obviously there’s something wrong in Hungary …
    BTW: I’m a German living part-time in Hungary.

  46. Yul :
    Yul :
    Then according to you gdfxx, the Roma coming to Canada are actually economical and not political refugees and should try to enter Canada the same way other Hungarians do: immigrating the legal way.

    I did not say that. What I said was that the economic misery of Hungary’s Roma population is mostly due to the discrimination they suffer.

  47. Yul :
    Then according to you gdfxx, the Roma coming to Canada are actually economical and not political refugees and should try to enter Canada the same way other Hungarians do: immigrating the legal way.

    This is exactly how they are regarded.. but it’s a bit worse, they are regarded as abusers of a system setup for true refugees.

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