Challenges and Solutions
Edited by Martin Kahanec and Klaus F. Zimmermann
Chapter 7: Ethnic or Social Integration? The Roma in Hungary
Zoltán Kántor INTRODUCTION Approximately one to two years after the breakdown of the communist regimes, Central and Eastern Europe completely forgot the international setting of the communist world. The countries in this region continued the national politics in which they were engaged prior to the Second World War. One of the consequences of the breakdown of the communist regime in Hungary – which also applies to all Central Eastern European (CEE) countries – is that the new political regime had to find answers to the national and ethnic question. Hungary is one of the few countries in the early 1990s which remained ambiguous on the question of nation. Most CEE countries declared themselves national states (implementing a policy based on the principle of the political nation) and simultaneously supported their kin-minorities: the countries implemented policy based on the principle of the ethnocultural nation and established coherent “nation politics,” both internally and externally. Hungary however remained incoherent on the issue of the nation by recognizing and supporting both its internal and its external minorities.1 From this perspective Hungary faces two major problems, which are both separate but interlinked: Hungarians living in neighboring countries; and national and ethnic minorities in Hungary. Regarding the latter, the Roma minority deserves special attention. There is general agreement in Hungary that the Roma population is the loser in the transition, as Roma were the first to lose their jobs and, for several reasons discussed in this chapter, the majority of them have not managed to integrate...
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