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Roma affairs influence Hungary's reputation in US

February 16, 2011

Hungary's handling of Roma affairs strongly influences the country's reputation in the United States, which is looking at the Hungarian government's Roma program with great anticipation, a Hungarian government official said in Washington, D. C.


Roma affairs is more than a human rights issue, it also poses an economic challenge that has a strategic importance for the future of Europe, said state secretary Zoltán Balog after meeting US government officials and representatives of civil organisations.

Some 85 percent of Europe's 12 million Roma live in former Soviet bloc countries and those of them who do not have jobs represent a great pressure on social care services, he added.

The Roma program was in the focus of talks with officials of the State Department, Balog said. He added that he had watched a presentation at the Department of Education on federal equal opportunities programmes and the integration of socially disadvantaged families.

Balog said he had held talks with representatives of the National Democratic Council, a US non-profit organisation which plans to launch a Roma programme in northern Hungary.



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