Minority Protection and Ethnic Group Rights in Central and Central Eastern Europe

On March 25, 2021, the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) and the Cultural Foundation of German Expellees continued their online conference format “Minority Protection and Ethnic Group Rights in Central and Central Eastern Europe,” which was launched in October 2020 and expanded in February 2021. The focus this time was on Hungary, Croatia and Slovakia. In ten-minute presentations, experts described the legal framework in the respective countries as well as practical experiences with its implementation. Questions from the audience also provided the opportunity to go into more detail on individual points.

The first speaker was Prof. Dr. Balázs Vizi, who spoke about the legal situation in Hungary. The Carpathian Basin is currently home to 13 recognized national and ethnic minorities, he said. Recognition requires the fulfillment of certain criteria, such as the presence of the minority in the country for at least 100 years and the approval of parliament. From this recognition come some rights such as preferential seats in parliament and organization in national self-governments in the country. This has been achieved through the open discussion on inclusion since 1989. However, integration remains a problem, especially for the Roma minority.

Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay, Ombudswoman for Minority Rights in Hungary, described the practical implementation. Her office is not only a contact point for problems, but also has the task of conveying knowledge and disseminating information. Without regional offices, she said, this has only been widely addressed by the central office in Budapest in recent years. Among the most important problems brought to Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay’s attention as ombudswoman are questions of financing and education, especially during the Corona crisis. In percentage terms, most of the submissions came from the Roma minority, followed by the German minority in Hungary.

You can rewatch the conference here.

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