We do not agree with several findings of the US State Department’s survey entitled 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices because there is no discrimination against the Roma in Hungary, however, we respect and appreciate the remarks, Zoltán Kovács, Minister of State for Government Communication told MTI on Thursday by telephone from New York.
The US State Department published its human rights report covering almost 200 countries on Thursday which identified discrimination against and the social exclusion of the Roma and violent right-wing extremism as the gravest human rights problems in Hungary.
According to Zoltán Kovács, the Hungarian Government is engaged in ongoing consultations with Washington on the issues raised in the report. “In our opinion, there is no discrimination against the Roma in Hungary”, the Minister of State said. He pointed out that the report makes mention of isolated negative examples, while the Hungarian Government supports the inclusion of the Roma with systematic and comprehensive programmes. The Minister of State specifically referred to the various employment programmes.
Zoltán Kovács recalled that Viviane Reding, the member of the European Commission responsible for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, who held a joint press conference in Brussels on Wednesday with Hungarian EP member Lívia Járóka, spoke in praise of the fact that Hungary initiated the coordination of the national Roma strategies of the EU Member States during its EU Presidency.
At the same time, the Minister of State welcomed that the wording of the report reflects in several parts that “there is increased understanding, the message is getting through”. He cited as an example that, in the case of the media law, a number of potential governmental measures were not mentioned as facts but merely as possibilities.
He stressed that the Hungarian Government protects the rights of minorities and takes the firmest possible action against extremists. He also pointed out that Hungary had amended the legal rules on hate speech and uniformed marches. At the same time, he voiced his belief that the parties had not yet succeeded in bridging their fundamental differences on the Klubrádió case.
The Minister of State said he firmly believes that the practical application of the new Fundamental Law will soon refute the criticisms that claim that the constitutional checks and balances do not work in Hungary.