Majority, Roma must cooperate to resolve issues, says state secy

Budapest, September 25 (MTI) – The problems of Hungary’s Roma can only be resolved through a “long pilgrimage” along which that minority and majority society “proceed hand in hand”, Zoltan Balog, state secretary in charge of Roma inclusion, told a Budapest conference on Saturday.

The existing issues should be considered as the paving stones to a common path, Balog said, adding that the churches should also be involved in the construction process.

    The centre-right Fidesz government handles the Roma issue as a priority, and wants to set a European example in providing solutions; resolving the situation is a common cause, which involves removing walls many of which “the state itself erected,” the official said.

    Janos Szekely, Catholic coadjutor of Budapest-Esztergom, said at the conference that the high unemployment of the Roma was a dominant factor in the current situation. He said that only about 28 percent of them were employed in 1993, and that ratio had not improved since then.

    Concerning education for Roma youth, Szekely said that about 80 percent of them completed primary school, but only 10 percent could manage finishing secondary school. Poor education results in extreme poverty, he added, noting in 2004 the per capita income for the Roma had only been one third of the national average.








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