I was shocked to hear in the debate this week on the situation in Hungary that some of my colleagues used the situation of Roma in a manipulative way stating that Roma live in fear in Hungary and that they blame the Fidesz government for that.
As the only Roma Member of the European Parliament I firmly reject such false allegations and I would like to remind everyone that the current Hungarian government has taken more steps for the equal opportunities of Roma than most governments in the past 20 years.
First of all, out of the 140 parties of the 27 Member States represented in the EP, Fidesz was the only one – and in 2009 for a second time – to delegate a Roma deputy to the European Parliament and three Roma representatives to the Hungarian Parliament.
I would also like to remind you that it was the Fidesz government that – fulfilling the demand and following the recommendations of my EP Report – prioritised developing an EU-level strategy for Roma inclusion, the successful adoption of which was welcomed and appreciated by the vast majority of this House.
There is a unique network of more than 6000 Roma representatives within the minority representation system in Hungary and it was Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who initiated and signed an unprecedented huge-scale cooperation agreement focusing on job-creation and education and presenting quantified and clear targets.
Additionally, it was Hungary who first submitted its comprehensive national strategy for Roma inclusion to the Commission, based on a broad public consultation and it was the Fidesz government that penalised and dissolved radical paramilitary groups.
In view of all this, I was astonished that some of my fellow MEPs irresponsibly stated in connection with the recent political development in Hungary, that Hungarian Roma are afraid, thus contributing to the escalation of ethnic tensions. As the reports of the Fundamental Rights Agency prove, there is significant and growing anti-Roma sentiment throughout Europe, but to blame it on a single government, is another example of the political misuse and abuse of the Roma issue, which I firmly reject.