Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén and Minister for Human Resources Zoltán Balog received Hungary’s thirteen recently elected nationalities representatives in Parliament today on the occasion of their taking office.

This is the first time since the regime change in 1989 that Hungary’s minorities have been given the opportunity to represent themselves in the National Assembly. Starting this year, the thirteen nationalities representatives will be automatically entitled to play an active role and become directly involved in the work of the National Assembly.

Photo: Károly Árvai

At the event, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén stressed that preserving the values of cross-border Hungarian communities and of minorities living in Hungary is equally important to the Hungarian Government. The Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that “minorities represent a bridge in relations between Hungary and their countries of origin”. In accordance with the rightful demands of Hungary’s ethnic minorities, the Hungarian administration is a partner in the elimination of ethno-business opportunities.

Minister for Human Resources Zoltán Balog emphasised that “The issue of nationalities is not an issue for the relevant ministry, but an issue for the whole government. In Hungary’s new Fundamental Law, ethnic groups that have been living within the territory of Hungary for centuries are not called minorities, but nationalities”. In relation to this, the Minister pointed out that “this fact represents both a certain standing and a historical responsibility, and an opportunity to establish the character of the office of nationalities representative”.

The Nationalities Commission, which is made up of the nationalities representatives, will debate every piece of new legislation that affects the everyday lives of minorities, and accordingly the delegates will have a tangible say in developing their future. In view of its spheres of authority, the Nationalities Commission could play a significant role in the legislative process, because with relation to issues that affect minorities the Commission will have the power to propose new bills, just like any other parliamentary committee.