The Miskolc dilemma: The left’s tainted candidate for mayor

The work of a politician is anything but easy. Pitfalls at every turn. A good example is what happened in Miskolc where the democratic opposition was looking for a promising candidate they could support to be the next mayor of the city. The local leaders of the three parties–MSZP, DK, Együtt-PM– found their man: Albert Pásztor, former police chief of the city. The central leadership of  MSZP had originally supported Gábor Simon, an MSZP member of the city council, but the locals eventually settled for Pásztor.

It was clear from the beginning that the left has to support common candidates if it is to stand a chance in the upcoming municipal elections. In Miskolc both Gábor Simon and Albert Pásztor looked like promising candidates. In order to be sure, the local democrats hired a nationally known polling firm. On the basis of a representative sample of 1,000 people it was determined that both candidates are equally popular in every voting district, including districts heavily populated by Roma. Since the Roma of Miskolc seemed to have nothing against the former police chief and since the Együtt-PM leadership made it clear that Simon was not acceptable as far as they were concerned, the locals opted for Pásztor.

Albert Pásztor announces his candidacy to be mayor of Miskolc

Albert Pásztor announces his candidacy for mayor of Miskolc

The politicians of both MSZP and DK emphasize that candidates for political office, whether in parliamentary or local elections, should be nominated by the local party leaders. They are the ones who know the mood of the electorate, the popularity of the candidates, and the local problems. MSZP in fact rarely if ever vetoes local decisions. And it did not interfere this time either, although immediately after the news of Pásztor’s nomination became known on July 1 the liberal camp raised serious objections. In fact, József Tóbiás, who is running the show in MSZP as interim chairman, told Népszabadság that even if the leadership wanted to veto Pásztor’s nomination, it couldn’t.

As far as DK is concerned, Pásztor’s candidacy was discussed at a meeting of the leadership on June 27 when there were some opposing voices, but apparently there was no formal vote on the issue. Since then both Ferenc Gyurcsány and József Debreczeni, one of the deputy chairmen of the party, have decided to stand by Pásztor. The latter’s weight is considerable in this case because he is a Miskolc resident and trusts Pásztor.

So, what is wrong with Pásztor? In order to understand the story we have to go back to the last months of the Gyurcsány administration when Albert Pásztor on January 29 held a press conference. Let me quote my own translation of what transpired:

The press conference was held in order to inform the public of the activities of the police force in the city. They investigated x number of murders, y number of thefts, z number of bank robberies, and so on. Why the police chief felt compelled to deliver a tirade against the Gypsy population of the city is a mystery to me, but he explained that one ought to tell the “truth.” And the truth is that Gypsy children were responsible for eight attacks against elderly people (purse snatchings) and against youngsters with cell phones. He wanted to warn these people to look out for those Gypsies who might attack them the next time they step out on the street. “Many of those darling little Gypsy kids become ruthless criminals.” But that wasn’t enough. He continued: “We can state with certain assurance that all the robberies committed in public places are done by Gypsies. The truth is that Hungarians [meaning non-Gypsies] will perhaps rob a bank or a gas station, but all others are committed by them [the Gypsies].”

Well, even that would have been more than American public opinion would tolerate but what followed was off the charts. In Miskolc there is a hilly area (Avas) in which there are many large apartment buildings erected during the Kádár regime. From the police chief’s speech it is clear that some Gypsy families purchased apartments in these complexes. In the police chief’s opinion “these people don’t even want to live in a place like that. They don’t have any need for such apartments. It doesn’t even occur to them that eventually the mortgage must be paid or that they will have to share with their neighbors the common expenses. It doesn’t occur to them that here they have to conduct themselves in conformity with their surroundings…. Living together with them simply doesn’t work. That’s all.” These were the closing sentences of his so-called press conference.

Without going into the details of the case, for a while it looked as if  these remarks would cost Pásztor his job, but both the MSZP mayor and all the other parties in town organized a demonstration on his behalf. In the end Tibor Draskovics, minister of justice, reinstated Pásztor. At that time Ferenc Gyurcsány said that he found Pásztor’s words “unacceptable,” but now he is much more forgiving when he stresses that “often complicated questions give birth to antithetical answers. This is the situation now in Miskolc.” To translate that into ordinary Hungarian or English, it means that in his opinion Pásztor is the only candidate who has a chance of defeating Fidesz or Jobbik. In an article published in Galamus today he stressed that he himself made mistakes and therefore one ought to be forgiving. After all, Pásztor with the exception of this one “mistake” never showed any signs of prejudice.

The problem with Gyurcsány’s position is that it stands in stark contrast not only to his attitude on the matter in 2009 but also to his usual insistence on principle. He stresses the consistency of his party. DK politicians don’t waver; they always stand by their beliefs. That is, Gyurcsány says, their strength. That’s why their followers are so loyal to the party. If the party is against giving the vote to Hungarians whose permanent address is outside of the country, then he will vote against it in parliament even if public sentiment might be for it. He is not like the socialists who make too many compromises. The problem with such consistency and such unequivocal political attitudes is that they do not allow for the flexibility that is essential in politics.

DK’s support of Pásztor will cost it dearly, I’m afraid, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the party will have to abandon its support for Pásztor. But even if they do, the damage has already been done.

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28 comments

  1. So is Pásztor the problem or Gyurcsány?

    Even if I risk a shitstorm: What Pásztor said was probably true to his experience as there are thousands of similar cases involving “gypsies” in Italy, in the border regions of Switzerland, etc.

    The really interesting question is always: Why doesn’t the “hosting” society or the majority do anything to integrate the Roma in the first place? Here, or in another blog I have sketched briefly what the major steps should be and in what sequence. I also mentioned examples where this approach has already worked successfully.

    In addition, there are endless EU funds available for such integration efforts. But we all remember that Orbán during his EU presidency proclaimed this a European problem (which it basically isn’t according to the principle of subsidiarity). From then on he didn’t do a thing to deal with what is a real problem only addressed by a few NGOs (as long as they are allowed to continue their work in Hungary).

    As it is, the Roma are marginalised, kept out of schools and hindered to learn a trade. As they don’t want to starve more than we do, they steal and pick pockets. Mostly they send their children because they cannot be kept in jail for long. However, they are not known for such brutal crimes associated with former securidade members from Romania.

    So let´s not punish someone who calls a spade a spade and let’s not mix up cause and effect.

  2. Support against the nomination of the racist Albert Pásztor for Miskolc mayor is mounting. Soon the situation will become untenable and the despicable racist Pásztor will be withdrawn, at least that is my suspicion. The signs that point in that direction are all over the press:

    The issue was deemed significant enough for a DK member to quit over it
    http://nol.hu/belfold/hell-istvan-pasztor-miatt-lepett-ki-a-dk-bol-1472533

    while it is just one politician this shows that it might be a breaking issue. Even if Gyurcsany and Debreczeni stand behind Pasztor it will not be enough to save him, if the membership of the party revolts. Bloggers and some media figures have already condemned Pasztor and the support for him quite heavily such as:

    http://magyarinfo.blog.hu/2014/07/05/tisztesseges_baloldali_vagy_ellenzeki_part_nem_tamogatja_pasztor_albertet

    http://piroslapok.blog.hu/2014/07/05/gyurcsany_megalkuvasa_nem_egyszeruen_felhaborito_hanem_hanyingerkelto

  3. Again, Gyurcsany has chosen an unpopular route. This so rare in the self-serving atmosphere of Hungarian politics that, without having any knowledge of the person in question, I would tend to trust that Gyurcsany’s support is based on good reason…

  4. Shame on Gyurcsany. I usually defend his actions, but at this time he should be ashamed of himself. We always accuse Fidesz puppets with defending themselves with “the other is worst” or with “others did it”, and now, here, the democrats an liberals stand behind a lowlife. THat is what Pasztor is, a lowlife.
    Pasztor not only said the sentences what Eva quoted (or I missed it, and then my apologies). Here is a gem „kisebbségi nemzettársainkkal nem megy az együttélés, ennyi”. “We just cannot live together with our fellow minority nationals. That’s it.”

    I can only congratulate Istvan Hell who decided to leave the DK after its decision to support lowlife Pasztor! Let me quote Mr. Hell here from hvg.hu.
    It looks like there will be three “order supporting” mayoral candidates compete in Miskolc for who will be authorized to -according to their taste- regulate, evacuate, punish, and humiliate the gypsies who already live in the gutters of the town’s 19 already ​​officially recognized segregated Roma settlements – because the past decades tossed them in misery, hopelessness, and crime.
    If you understand Hungarian, please read the HVG opinion. It is an eyeopener.
    http://hvg.hu/velemeny/20140705_Viszlat_DK

  5. This racist candidate must be withdrawn ASAP, this is the most important link which explains why:

    https://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2009/01/31/political-correctness-in-hungary/

    “Tibor Draskovics, minister of justice also in charge of the police force, instructed József Bencze, chief of police of the country, to relieve Pásztor of his duties.”

    In 2009 the then ruling Gyurcsany government wanted him fired already because of his racism. Now to nominate the same person is unexplainable.

    even more damning is the other part of the same link:

    “This is apparently not the first racist statement of the Miskolc police chief. Last September he talked about the impossibility of integrating Gypsies into the mainstream. At another discussion he claimed that Gypsies are forcing out Hungarians from certain parts of Miskolc and that should not be permitted. ”

    It was not just one isolated incident it was a stream of racism coming from Pasztor.

  6. It is unthinkable that someone such as Pásztor would even be considered a candidate for public office. Hypocrites is a word that comes to mind!

  7. I really wonder: Who are here the hypocrites? I would only exclude those who worked for the integration of Roma themselves or at least donated to the cause.

  8. The LBGT community is a different type of minority but a minority nonetheless, same as the Roma. it is astounding that these parties pretend to support minority rights in Budapest (LGBT Pride parade), during the same days they make anti-minority moves in Miskolc, and then defend an try to explain them. If you are a member of a minority you have to learn: only expect any support if it is politically convenient. Huge hypocrites.

  9. The scandal reminds one of the Oszod speech of Gyurcsany.
    It was recycled in a distorted version, and turned into a weapon against Gyurcsany.
    Pasztor can be the victim of the same distorting and aggressive campaign.
    As civil servant, he had given an honest report on the trouble within the Roma community.
    The truth can be painful, but he should not evade his responsibility for political correctness.
    The decent members of the Roma community must embrace Pasztor and work with him.
    Which honest Roma leaders can deny that a large number of the youth is involved in criminal activities. The abuse that leads to this path, has to be rectified, and Pasztor or Gyurcsany can the right people to do the job.
    The rest is just mimicking goodness and failing in their jobs.
    President Johnson was a good example. He was a strong man, and did what he had to do to ensure the civil rights for the African – Americans.

    The famous US African – American community leaders have failed in their long activities. Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, Farrakhan were the wong people for leadership.

    So were the scholar, Gates, West etc.

    Things would be different in the Roma, and African – American matters, with leaders like Gandhi, Deak, Mandela.

  10. Hungary has many social problems and the Roma question is just one of many. On my recent visit I learned that one of my relatives had been placed in a social care home in Balassagyarmat due to long term mental illness. Effectively what took place was that the family had with the help of medications managed to keep him at home even though he had a form of bipolar disease. But their aging and the fact that Hungary has no budget to provide personal assistants in home to people with mental illness, along with the fact that numerous younger members of the family were working abroad and sending back critically needed money created the need for the placement.

    I asked if my relative had been visited often in the social care home and I was faced with silence , finally one niece said nem érted. She went on to say visiting only would make it harder, you don’t come back from Balassagyarmat. The social stigma was massive, I thought to myself am I really hearing this, in the year 2014?

  11. Petofi, Minusio and I understand subtle differences. We seek solution.

    The opposition to Pasztor is just shedding crocodile tears and extend the misery of the Roma and all other people.

  12. As with everything else, corruption skews attempts to help the Roma; and I mean the corruption of government personnel as well as Roma representatives. By all means, extend help but make sure that it gets to the Roma in the form intended. This might be why certain ngos do a much better job at helping.

  13. The more info comes in about Pásztor the worse it looks. I was not sure before, but now I say it was a mistake to nominate him. A lot of things point to him being a racist. Even if he is not one, his candidacy is still problematic. like the saying goes “nem elég ha valaki a szíve mélyén tisztességes, annak is kell látszani.”

  14. “Civility “Petofi, Minusio and I understand subtle differences. We seek solution.

    The opposition to Pasztor is just shedding crocodile tears and extend the misery of the Roma and all other people.”

    What a full of bull poop you are talking here. What blog are you reading? Petofi and the acceptance of Roma? He hates the Roma and never offered any solutions but told us what a trouble the Roma population is. Also, what is the “solution” you so kindly offer?

    Solutions by many were suggested before , examples were posted, links were provided by so many on this blog BUT you and Petofi. Quote an example for solutions by Petofi or by you. As I recall Petofi pretends not to know about the success stories, or not to comment on the success stories. It was also pointed out before that with his track record of comments about the Roma he should avoid this issue.

  15. @Real Civility

    First off: “civility” does not need an adjective–either someone is ‘civil’ or he is not.

    Now, let’s clear up one thing: just because I criticize something or someone, it does not mean I hate them–get that through your simplistic mind. The Roma, as a group, have presented
    seemingly insoluble problems in many countries over hundreds of years. Surely part of that is because they have a culture and a lifestyle they defend against reform. It’s the same in Italy, France, Hungary, Serbia etc. And certainly in Canada where the immigration officials were so overwhelmed by the gypsy problem some years back that they had to re-institute the visa programme on Hungary.

    Can gypsies/Roma reform? Surely. Some do all the time. But it’s the exception to the rule. Those many stories of Roma junking the brand new apartment buildings they were given are true.
    What’s more, I don’t think that the age-old system of society organization–by that I mean the Vajda and his group controlling from the top down–has changed.

    If you want to reform the Roma, it has to be attempted piecemeal: give help to those families who want to educate their young and who strive to hold jobs and keep their living quarters clean and tidy. Take a look at most Roma villages. Are there small vegetable gardens? Are there flowers?
    Are the insides of their houses/hovels clean and tidy?

  16. Pasztor might have been a good candidate without the racism. He might even still win in Miskolc which is a big city. But even that does not worth breaking the alliance with E14.

    E14 already said many times they do not want Pasztor they do not support pasztor. If Pasztor is dropped as candidate things may go back to normal regarding cooperation with E14. It also doesn’t help Pasztor’s case that Gyurcsany called Pasztor’s comments “not only unacceptable but they induce vomiting”, when he was still prime minister in 2009.

  17. all my support goes to petofi, minusio, Karl Pfeifer etc.

    the opposition of pasztor has to reconsider the matter.

    all those upright civil fellow hungarians have to ask themselves if they have done all in their power, to end the corrupted oppressive rule of hungary by the orban regime?

    when they have won their well organized campaign against orban, they may come out with their critiques on pasztor.

    have they objected the divisive policies of the orban appointed art, culture, finance czars?

    have they objected the history essays of szakaly and schmidt?

    have they objected the cozy cooperation of orban with his friend vona?

    have they objected the anti-EU policies of orban?

    let us build up some decency on magyar soil.

  18. @petofi First of all, someone used the user name “Civilty”. Since that person in my opinion is not Civil, the name Civility does not fit. I think my opinion represents, not a “so called” civility, but the true meaning of civility, so I called myself “Real”. Touché!
    As far as your post, I would say you are repeating the same BS as you did before. I had to do some searching, the task you never bother with, proving my point above “Solutions by many were suggested before , examples were posted, links were provided by so many on this blog BUT you and Petofi”.

    Now, the reason Canada wanted to stop Roma immigration had nothing to do with the refugees abusing the system (some of course did). It is very hard for Canada to accept that citizens of a EU member country are in need to apply for refugee status. If a member country of the EU treats its own citizens such way that it does not correspond with the EU norms, it should be the responsibility of the EU to deal with it, and not push it on to an other country.

    How did Canada deal with its Roma refugees (or with any refugees for that matter)? They provided them a new life. They provided them with work, education, and equal opportunities.
    Any member of the public sector who would speak about these refugees as Pasztor spoke about them in their own country, would be dismissed or forced o resign. Not in Hungary of course, where it seems that such elements share the support of many.
    Here some links you dismissed https://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/the-roma-of-hungary-a-canadian-view-by-judy-young-drach/
    http://romacommunitytoronto.wordpress.com
    https://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/outrageous-police-reaction-to-crimes-against-the-hungarian-roma/

  19. @pro-democro For goodness sake, can you stop switching your username every time! It is getting so tiresome.

    All support goes to those who are not only support themselves and their vision but mean democracy. In a decent country and infront of decent people, someone like Pasztor would have no carrier. Not because what he said has or does not have merit. The reason is that when someone in a position like his says something like what he did, the crazy ones like Orban, Jobbik, and some visitors of this blog feel empowered. Their hate is empowered by a “decent man” thinking just like them. Pasztor is not decent, and anyone who supports to empower any movement and ideas that decline any rights of others based on visions, predictions, stereotyping should deserve the same fate as they wish on others.

    Congrats to Some1, KGD, LwiiH, thomas, kommentelo. Theydo understand that equality is not a privilege, it is a right!

  20. It is advisable to read this letter in Galamus:

    http://www.galamuscsoport.hu/tartalom/cikk/393082_nyilt_level_az_egyutt_pm_politikusaihoz_es_a

    “Most mégis azt mondom, a baloldal bölcs döntést hozott, amikor Pásztor Albert független polgármester-jelöltet támogatja. Bölcsen döntött 2014-ben Miskolcon! Bölcsen döntött, mert ismeri a várost, a helyi viszonyokat, és mert a lehető legjobb megoldást találta meg.”

    Esteemed inflated anti-racists, take notice!

    I am still supporting my genius partners in this blog: petofi, pfeifer, minusio, wolfi…

    The confused others can take Korepetacio from these advance thinkers.

  21. It’s possible that Pásztor was right, and that “all” robberies committed in public places in Miskolc are committed by Roma, or at least all the ones that were reported/investigated. Even then, to come out and state that people should be afraid of and shun Roma because of that is highly irresponsible. Also, he should have made a point of saying that the crimes are not committed by the majority of Roma, only a small minority, and that circumstances that likely contributed to the criminal activity of Roma included extreme poverty, lack of availability of decent educational opportunities, and pervasive and intense racism and segregation. For those reasons, it seems to me that Pásztor ought to at a minimum apologise for what he said and explain how he has changed his mind and his attitude, if he wants to be a candidate for the left in Hungary. If Gyurcsány and the other leaders of the parties that back Pásztor don’t insist on this minimum condition, they should definitely give up on Pásztor, even if it means giving up on winning Miskolc.

    I’m no expert on the Roma, and I certainly can’t speak authoritatively on crime statistics, but I do know Roma who are good, law-abiding people, and I also see that when the time comes for lomtalanítás (twice-yearly public bulk trash pickup here in Budapest), the people who make a living out of picking through the trash and, presumably, recycling or repairing and selling what pieces of trash they can are Roma. I’ve heard plenty of stories from leftist people about how they were victims of crimes committed by Roma, and I’ve been surprised at how otherwise tolerant, educated Hungarians can accept the stereotypes about Roma. I’ve also seen and heard about violent crimes committed by non-Roma, so it’s dishonest to say that only Roma commit such crimes. I’m still not convinced that just because there are ghettos and villages full of Roma who live in squalor, we should condemn them all as somehow less than human, and, therefore, deprive them of their human rights, whatever the statistics really say.

    That is really what is at issue here, and for Gyurcsány to back this man says a lot to me about his principles. I am greatly disappointed in him (MSZP would have to try very hard to disappoint me, since I have such low expectations for them), and I wonder now what his real motivations are. Does he really think that it makes sense to win at any cost, even though there’s no chance that Fidesz will not, once again, win the great majority of races in the next election? What is going on there? Is this just another one of his major blunders, or is it a sign of greater malfeasance? Does he owe someone a favor, or does someone have some blackmail material on him? Or is he just doing an excellent job of pretending that he is honest and cares about Hungary, when in reality he is just another con artist hoping to cash in on his position of power sometime in the future?

    As for the squalor: since when does it really matter how messy your home is or how well you maintain it (assuming you own your home), except when it comes to property values? Are we going to condemn people for not caring about their physical environment when almost no one seems to care about their well-being and how fairly they are treated? I’m not sure I wouldn’t let my yard go to hell if I had no prospects for a decent life outside of crime. Even supposedly tolerant, left-wing people casually use derogatory language in everyday speech, such as when food goes down the wrong “pipe” – in Hungary, it takes the “cigány út”, or “gypsy way”. Racism is so ingrained in the national consciousness that people usually don’t notice it, then they wonder why there is a group of people that chooses to stay apart and not “integrate” properly.

    There’s no easy answer, but the first thing to do is to stop blaming the Roma community for all the problems of society and start admitting that they are people who have the right to be treated with dignity.

  22. This isn’t about the DK or Gyurcsany … The question is whether you want a better Hungary or just power. More well trained, fair law enforcement, fair and swift justice system, changes in the penitentiary system if needed, vastly augmented and reformed social services … these are all money and sacrifice. Try to sell this to the Hungarian electorate. Nah. Racism is cheaper.

    I’m wondering if this is the only thing the DK is willing to compromise about. Will there be other gestures in the future to the “conservative right” … how much is the power worth, Fleto? Poor Bajnai got dinged big time during the elections, even on this blog, when he brought up the possibility of compromise … oh well, that was before the shock of April 2014.

  23. @googly, Matt Damon

    We should assume that Éva had her reasons to call this post “The Miskolc dilemma”. The Greek word, correctly rendered in Wikipedia, is a “problem offering two possibilities, neither of which is practically acceptable”.

    Although there are courageous mayors known (for example in Italy and Spain) who wanted to tackle the problem of people difficult to integrate and rallied the whole community behind them, in Hungary it is even difficult to even begin with what googly wrote:”… the first thing to do is to stop blaming the Roma community for all the problems of society and start admitting that they are people who have the right to be treated with dignity.”

    Fish begins to stink from the head, and as long as Hungary is Orbanistan, you have to expect miracles to take a little longer…

  24. In many commentaries Pásztor was accused of racism. Sadly, that is mainstream thinking in Hungary. However, as much as racist speech is shunned in the US – in public – nobody should believe that most of the southern states in the US are no longer racist at heart (and in private).

    As things are, I regard these sentences of Éva’s post relevant and important: “On the basis of a representative sample of 1,000 people it was determined that both candidates are equally popular in every voting district, including districts heavily populated by Roma. Since the Roma of Miskolc seemed to have nothing against the former police chief and since the Együtt-PM leadership made it clear that Simon was not acceptable as far as they were concerned, the locals opted for Pásztor.”

    So if they want him, let them have him. Ceteris paribus, he won’t probably be worse than a Fidesz or Jobbik candidate.

  25. @Minusio “Fish begins to stink from the head” True. Unfortunately it trickled down to the bottom. In the name of popularity and power more things were sold out in the past than the Roma.

    Let’s put it this way to our “smart thinkers”: in certain circles of Hungary the word Roma can be easily exchanged for Jew. Would the great support for Pasztor still exist if he would of referred to the Jews when he said “We just cannot live together with our fellow minority nationals. That’s it.” Maybe it is news to many like “adv-soc” with his ever changing name, but percentage wise probably the same amount of Roma were sent to concentration camps as Jews. How about gathering up all the Jews of Hungary and put them into their own little settlements? Why not ship them out of Budapest? That would bring peace and harmony for the city. If we solve the Jewish question of Hungary…. Oh, not to worry there would be thousands who would justify the action by telling stories about Jewish stereotypes. Why not make universities not take Jews any longer? Oh, it was done in the past, I forgot.

    I agree with “REal Civility” “anyone who supports to empower any movement and ideas that decline any rights of others based on visions, predictions, stereotyping should deserve the same fate as they wish on others.” I could not care who tries to justify such actions Gyurcsany, someone on Galamus, Eva or anyone. I simply think it is wrong to generalize, and say such things. I think what he should of said is very different what he really said, and if he cannot control himself or think as a politician than he should not become one.
    Hungary is full of politicians and diplomats who are unfit for their jobs. DK now got in line after Fidesz to elect a politician like Matolcsy, Deutsch, Lazar, etc.

  26. adv-soc
    July 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm
    It is advisable to read this letter in Galamus:

    As far as Galamus goes maybe you should quote from Mihancsik, Herenyi? I guess that would not serve your PR. Are you any different from Orban or from the Fidesz PR that loves to misquote or take quotes only that supported their point of view and call everyone else stupid? Are you an anti-semite also or only anti-Roma? Just asking.

  27. Where I live we are surrounded by Roma. Crime? Don’t see it.. ever.. unless you count the non-stop noise of the 3 day Gypsy wedding that one of our neighbors inflicted on everyone over the weekend ;-).. they have a way of coping with life which is shaped by by traditions, poor education, and minimal access to opportunities and large doses of discrimination/hatred. Just about all in our neighborhood have gardens and some try to sell stuff from their gardens. One of my daughters good friends (gosh this sounds like a bad cliche) is Roma. The poor girl is horribly scared by the racism she’s faced. You can see it in her decision making, in her lack of trust. It took a long time before she was willing to interact with anyone in our family aside from my daughter. The girl is very motivated but unfortunately is badly held back by her social/financial situation. Even my daughter has noticed how people stare at them if they happen to be in town together. It’s sad.

    As for the Canadian situation… it is shameful how the Harper government and Jason Kenny have handled the Roma issue. It is shameful that Jason Kenny sanctioned the billboards in Miskolc saying, don’t bother coming to Canada. The Harper government has also used racism, crime and fear in an attempt to appeal to the electorate in much the same way Orban’s government has behaved. Fortunately Harper has more controls on him than Orban has.

    Dr. Vincent Lam (http://www.doctorsforrefugeecare.ca) was just interviewed on CBC radio after the recent supreme court against government cuts to medical care for refugee claimants. He was a part of the group that brought the suit forward. He slammed the manner in which the government handled the Roma situation given that these people are being persecuted in Hungary. IOWs as poltically unsavory as this all sounds, there are legitimate refuges originating from Hungary and shame on the EU government for failing to condemn the lack of action on the part of the Hungarian government and instead pressuring Canada to lift visa restrictions. As for letting local officials solve the problem… I fear that left to their own devices, local officials (just as the case was in the US), will not doing anything.

    Further more there are other interviews with social works and representatives from schools in and around Toronto that received a lot of Roma. The general comment was it took them quite some time to gain the trust of the Roma but once they gained that trust there were able to make real progress. They were all disappointed that the government decided to sent these people back.. (which resulted in many Roma self deporting). Unintended side effect is that there are now a number of Roma children running about with unusually high levels of English (compared to their piers and Hungarian counter parts). However since they are back in or new Miskolc they have pretty much zero opportunity to do anything with their new found skills.. and all that trust that was built between teachers, students and parents is all gone…

    As for the point on integration…. No one will move to any of the villages where the population is predominately Roma. It’s not just that Roma dominate population in these villages, these villages are economic wastelands…..

    Anyways, the picture is very complex and it will take much more than than what can be put in a simple reply to a blog posting.

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