Learning from Roma Integration Initiatives in Hungary and Serbia

2013. október 03., csütörtök

Migration within Europe is a complex issue that is affecting a number of countries in the EU. As the EU continues to expand toward the East, large numbers of Roma are arriving in Germany, especially Northrhine-Westphalia for asylum and poverty-related reasons. Several cities are facing major integration challenges, in spite of the European decade of Roma Integration initiative, which began in 2005.

Hungary began focusing on Roma integration policy again on 2011 during the EU Presidency of Hungary with the creation of a new framework for integration, developed from the sponsorship of former state secretary and Reformed pastor Zoltán Balog. In addition, Hungarian churches decided to participate in the strategy as well because of their years of experience in the field of Roma inclusion. The Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH) hosted a conference and helped formulate the church recommendations for the Roma Integration Framework, which was one of the main focuses of the Hungarian EU Presidency.

Two years have passed since Hungary's re-focusing, and as a result political and religious leaders from Northrhine-Westphalia have come to Hungary to participate in discussions with policymakers and experience programs firsthand. These meetings allow time to experience concrete examples and steps taken in integration.

The Church of Westphalia, a partner of the RCH, initially suggested the trip to its local parliamentary representatives as an opportunity to learn from current practices in Hungary after extended dialogue with the RCH regarding Roma relations within the country and church. The visiting politicians represent different German political parties and are involved with the committee for social inclusion.

The delegation will meet with Dr. Zoltan Kovács, secretary for social inclusion, and the German ambassador in Hungary, Matei Hoffmann, and will also take two excursions in Hungary and another to Novi Sad, Serbia in order to discover more about church initiatives and practices, while becoming more acquainted with each country’s unique situations.  The RCH has planned two short trips to Villmany/Göncruszka and Sarospatak where the visitors can see programs predominantly focused on Roma integration in local schools and community development.


Amy Lester

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We encourage you to read our  former GM intern Kearstin Bailey's blog about her time, spent in Hungary.