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Govt’s Roma Commissioner Claims Controversial Meeting Was Only about Offering Help amid Difficulties

Ábrahám Vass 2022.01.08.

In reaction to his controversial speech, the office of government commissioner for Roma relations, Attila Sztojka, claims they only spoke of the potential bankruptcy of the National Roma Self-Government (ORÖ) and the foundation of the Roma Public Academy. However, he did not address the political overtones of the leaked recording and the notes that many interpreted as a bribe in exchange for the participants’ “political and professional performance.”

On Wednesday, it made headlines in media outlets not under the government’s influence that in a leaked voice recording,  Sztojka can be heard offering working contracts for Roma representatives who “are in the circle” in exchange for political and professional performance. He also says that as an official of the Interior Ministry, he “knows a lot of things about everyone.” At the beginning, he also criticizes ORÖ’s current president, János Agócs. Briefly, unlike the ORÖ politician supported by ruling Fidesz, Agócs earlier said that he wouldn’t be satisfied with an advocate role in the future parliament, but that he would like to become an MP with the right to vote, which is an important question before the elections, as the fate of a mandate may eventually be crucial in terms of the final outcome.

Opposition Suspects Bribery in Roma Relations Commissioner's Leaked Recording
Opposition Suspects Bribery in Roma Relations Commissioner's Leaked Recording

Gov't commissioner for Roma relations Attila Sztojka can be heard offering working contracts for Roma representatives who "are in the circle" in exchange for political and professional performance.Continue reading

According to the response sent by the Interior Ministry’s Directorate-General for the Creation of Societal Opportunities (TEF):

  • Sztojka was invited to engage in dialogue with members of the Assembly of the National Roma Self-Government.
  • The conference was organized in response to the bankruptcy dangers of the National Roma Self-Government, in order to “resolve the situation caused by the incompetent management of the municipality.”
  • At the meeting, the government commissioner gave information, among other things, on the creation of the Roma Public Academy. The government commissioner’s task will be to liaise and coordinate with the national and regional Roma nationalities.
  • The government commissioner has been working for 20 years on Roma issues and social inclusion, both in the field and in politics. He knows everyone who works on Roma issues (…) He will continue to offer cooperation to those Roma national minority self-governments ready to regard opportunity programs as their own and to contribute to their implementation.
  • The government commissioner condemns all activities that hinder the efforts of Roma national minority municipalities to build cohesion within or outside their borders as malicious incitement.

The statement did not address what opposition politicians labeled as the government politician’s attempt to bribe those present at the meeting.

ORÖ president János Agócs previously claimed that there had been several meetings between Sztojka and ORÖ’s certain representatives beforehand, and that in his view, there is reasonable suspicion of criminal offense committed.

featured image: Attila Sztojka; via Facebook