The issue of national minorities is not a domestic issue but a European one, Katalin Szili, the prime minister’s commissioner in charge of minority protection and autonomy, said in Budapest on Saturday.
The European Union is prepared to address the issues of all kinds of minorities except that of the 50 million people belonging to national minorities making up 10 percent of the bloc’s population, Szili said in her address to the general assembly of the Western European Association of Hungarian Country Organizations (NYEOMSZSZ).
Szili cited as an example a resolution adopted by the European Parliament in 2019 on the fundamental rights of the people of African descent which included the recognition of their right to work and housing, adding that the EP had never passed a similar resolution on national minorities.
Hungary therefore represents its proposals in connection with this matter through the Council of Europe (CoE), Szili said. Hungary has organized a number of conferences on minority protection during its six-month CoE presidency, which had led to the drafting of the so-called Strasbourg Declaration stating that the issue of national minorities is not a domestic issue but a European one and that national identity and citizenship are distinct concepts, she added.
Other countries should follow Hungary in recognizing the role national minorities play in shaping their states, she said, adding that this was currently not the case in Romania, Slovakia, and France.
Szili proposed that the general assembly’s closing statement declare NYEOMSZSZ’s support for the Hungarian government’s “consistent policy for ethnic Hungarians abroad”, for the Strasbourg Declaration as well as for the Minority SafePack European citizens’ initiative and the initiative on protecting national minority regions.
Árpád János Potápi, the state secretary in charge of policies for Hungarian communities abroad, proposed transforming NYEOMSZSZ into a pan-European organization and including central European and Balkan countries in it, too.
As regards the Hungarian government’s minority policy, he said last year it had supported a total of 270 activities of 82 institutions dealing with national minorities.
Also, the government has provided grants totalling 132 million forints (EUR 365,900) to 208 applicants from the Hungarian diaspora this year to help with operational costs and development projects, he said. Further, some 43 million forints has been disbursed among 138 applicants in support of their events, he added.
Featured photo illustration by Márton Mónus/MTI