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Hungary/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.7 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

As opposed to Western-European countries, in Hungary there have been no significant migrant communities; the number of migrants and their rate within the entire population has been very low: about 2% of the entire population is of foreign origin. Hungary has not been a popular or attractive destination of migrants.

Thus the only intercultural relationship that has been an issue in today's Hungary is the one between the Roma and the majority society. Due to the large number and the geographic spread of this minority group, occasions for interaction, opportunities for exclusion, inclusion and assimilation are numerous; however, it is difficult to quote proven good practices of conscientious intercultural dialogue on the state level.

Segregation within primary and secondary school is widespread: Roma children are mostly placed special needs classes regardless of their skills. In Hejőkeresztúr, however, a successful integration project of Romani and disadvantaged children has been implemented through various innovative programmes such as group work, board games and talent care. The methodology of teaching adopted by this school is recognised as a best practice for integration in Hungary.

As in most places, in Hungary the essential players have primarily been those smaller initiatives, cultural associations or international projects that try to reflect Roma experiences, problems, cultural richness and that fight against stereotypes. Since 1990, the Romaversitas Foundation has supported Roma young people with scholarships and grants; each year 50 students are awarded grants to study at different faculties all around the country and are supported until the end of their university years – to quote one example. Quite a few projects aimed at after-school education of youngsters, or supporting women to get into the labour market, have been carried out in the framework of the "Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015" ( The Decade Secretariat, established in 2006 in Budapest, serves as the main facilitation body of the Decade. The Roma Education Fund was created in the framework of the Decade. The DARE-Net project, financially supported by Lifelong Learning Programme – European Commission,succeeded in creating a trans-national network of Roma and non-Roma civil society and academic organisations to analyse practices and initiatives relating to Roma education and school desegregation of Roma children in Romania, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

Between July 2008 and August 2009, six Romani people, among them a 5 year-old child, were killed, and 55 others injured, in a string of racist attacks in rural Hungarian villages. The tragic events inspired important works of art. Just the Wind(Csak a szél) by Bence Fliegauf won the Jury Grand Prix at the Berlin Film Festival in 2012, and Eszter Hajdú's documentary Judgement in Hungary(Ítélet Magyarországon) won three prizes at the Sarajevo Film Festival in 2014.

An increasing number of Roma have lately made progress towards public visibility, recognition and celebrity: television announcers, survival show participants, winners of amateur singing competitions etc. Half a century's efforts by east-central European Roma intellectuals have succeeded in integrating Roma artists into the contemporary art scene. The 2004 exhibition Hidden Holocaust was the first to open the gates of the Budapest Műcsarnok (Kunsthalle) for Roma artists.

The public commemoration of the Roma Holocaust proved to be key in making the Roma an integral part of Hungarian history and the political nation. In 2014 on the international day of the Roma Holocaust in Csepel (Budapest), a new Roma Historical-Cultural-Educational Centre was opened: established and funded by the Roma Civil Union without public support. Historical exhibition has been on display as well as art works of Hungarian Roma artists.

The 26 minute weekly programme "Roma Magazine" on public television M1 has been broadcast since 1992. Radio-C (C standing for cigány/gipsy), especially its music programme, used to have large non-gypsy audiences while it was on the air until 2010. (For other minority language programmes on public broadcasting see chapter 4.2.4)

There is another relationship that is heavily laden with historic legacy and remains a latent source of tension: that of Jews who are estimated to represent around 1% of the population. In spite of recent phenomena of displaying or reconstructing Jewish art (there are Jewish festivals, cultural centres etc.), one cannot speak of a separate Jewish culture inside the Hungarian society, with which to pursue intercultural dialogue.

Additional Resources:

Government's overall approach to intercultural dialogue

Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue

Key Resources

Chapter published: 08-11-2016

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