International Roma Day: Aladár Horváth on reality TV in Hungary
by Danielle Tyree
Sitting down to seltzer water in Aladár Horváth’s dimly lit office by the ‘Keleti Pályaudvar’ metro station in Budapest, I have to rely on a professor to translate what the chair of the Roma Civil Rights Foundation and the Gandhi Public Foundation is saying. His fight is demanding and intense, yet his air is tempered with hospitality and humility. The broad-shouldered activist gives detailed, thoughtful answers, making it easy to see why he was once an advisor to prime minister Peter Medgyessy.
Happy fourth birthday to central and eastern Europe
by Krisztina Fogas
On May 1 2004, eight former Soviet bloc countries and two Mediterranean islands joined the club, effecting the European Union’s enlargement from fifteen to twenty-five members.
The euphoria of the accession cooled down quickly as it turned out that Britain was the only country to open its labour market to workers from the eight new member states. Together with Ireland and Sweden, it gave up the right to impose restrictions lasting up to seven years.
Unpopular Bologna process for Budapest’s class of 2009
by Csilla Major
‘It’s a pity the Hungarian education system was replaced,’ Szidónia says. ‘The old system wasn’t rated one of the best for nothing.’ Up until 2005, Hungarian students spent four years at secondary school, 5-6 years at university or 3-4 at college. The Bologna Process, which aims to establish the foundations of the European Higher Education Area by 2010 and is in place in 46 countries, cut university entrance exams. It implemented a two-level high school graduation, similar to the British GCSE and ‘A’ level exams. It abolished a point calculating method which had become a nightmare for high school leavers who finished their finals in June and calculated their own points, but could not receive official results until the annual ‘night of the entrance points crisis’ (Ponthatárok Éjszakája) in July. Many joked that the Chinese curse Live your life in changing times was cast upon them.
Housing in Hungary: no Chinese or blacks
by Judit Schvéger and Nóra Farkas
'To let in the green belt city of Óbuda, Hungary: 50 squared metre flat, two rooms. Built in 2002, the flat is situated in a 30 squared metre patch. Garden access, unfurnished. Disqualification: no animal and coloured skin'.
Two estate agencies have highlighted discrimination in Hungary after advertising against 'coloured skin' tenants.
Touring my city - the real Budapest
by Judit Járadi and Judit Schvéger
Armed with bottles of water, about a dozen people gather on the stairs of the national museum, one of the most romantic meeting points of Budapest. As I approach, I realise that like me, they are participants of Beyond Budapest, a special guided tour that departs from here every Saturday morning.
Testimony: being young, Hungarian and a football-loving minority in Slovakia
by Judit Schvéger
On 15 November, Slovakian and Hungarian prime ministers Robert Fico and Ferenc Gyurcsány failed to resolve tensions when they met in the border town of Komárno (Révkomárom) . ‘But the mutual apology from both Hungarian and Slovakian political leaders could be a first step towards the peaceful co-existence of the two in Slovakia,’ says Szabolcs. We are having a Sunday afternoon drink in a small café in Budapest, where he is at university. Magyars, 9.7% of the total population of Slovakia, are mostly concentrated on the southern border.
Perspective: Hungarian-Slovak relations reach their nadir
by Linda lu
On 10 December, Hungarian prime minister Ferenc Gyurscany said he was disappointed with Slovak prime minister Robert Fico's decision to reject a November agreement to improve relations between the neighbours. A look back at the events running up to the baby step that was.