Hungary has done much for the integration of the Roma and the poor, Fidesz MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament Lívia Járóka said in an interview with pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet on Thursday.
She criticised NGOs that travel to Gyöngyöspata “just to make a show of complaining there” whereas the same NGOs were silent during the left-wing governments of the past. An NGO should only interfere in Roma interest representation if it can effectively contribute, she added.
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Járóka, the first Roma vice-president of the EP, said that Hungary’s Fidesz-led government had recognised the problems linked to segregation and had been “successfully seeking answers since 2010”.
It started the reforms ten years ago by introducing mandatory creche and kindergarten, opening family day-care units, launching programmes for integration, and offering free meals and free textbooks to children, she said. The Fidesz government has made family allowance dependent on holding a job and practically eliminated school-skipping, she added.
Over ten years we have built something that they now want to destroy,”
Járóka said, adding that it is “unethical” to paint the situation in dark colours on the basis of affairs like the one in Gyöngyöspata. Insisting that she always represented all Roma, not only those who support Fidesz, she said that even if the situation is not perfect, the Fidesz government has made major progress in the reintegration of Roma children through assistance by Roma teachers and helpers, through cooperation.
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Járóka said she saw the potential in Gyöngyöspata and its region to set up a pilot project, possibly with EU help. She added that she had invited several EU commissioners to visit the Roma slums there and work has started in parliament to review national Roma strategies. There are significant delays in Hungary’s neighbouring countries and the Western Balkans, too, which need to be addressed by packages of law, she said.
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The case of the Roma has been introduced in EU discourse by Hungary, which has remained the best-performing country in this respect, she said.
Featured photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI