Monday, May 02, 2005

OSCE envoy discusses Vojvodina ethnic issues in Hungary

Text of report by Hungarian Duna TV on 2 May

[Presenter] Rolf Ekeus, the minority commissioner of the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] has said in Budapest that attention should be paid to Vojvodina. Rolf Ekeus was received by Foreign Minister Ferenc Somogyi. He also met the chairman of parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Zsolt Nemeth from the [opposition] Fidesz - Hungarian Civic Alliance. The commissioner will leave Hungary for Kosovo.

[Reporter] Zsolt Nemeth said the most important topic of their talks was incidents in Vojvodina because, in his opinion, these incidents continue to cause concern among Hungarians. He was critical of the fact that young Hungarians who committed a crime in Temelin [in Vojvodina] last year were given 10-15 year prison sentences.

[Nemeth] We find this sentence disproportionate, particularly in the light of the fact that no similar sentences were passed when Hungarians were beaten up.

[Reporter] He asked the OSCE envoy to pay attention not only the programmes launched to reduce tension.

Ethnic problems in Vojvodina were discussed at Rolf Ekeus's meeting with Foreign Minister Ferenc Somogyi, too.

[Somogyi] The negative developments we have seen recently are unacceptable. At the same time, we appreciate statements made by the OSCE, the EU and other responsible politicians on the issue.

[Reporter] Owing to a large-scale influx of Serbs, the ethnic composition of Vojvodina has changed, the OSCE minority commissioner said. He said minority rights in the EU were unresolved.

[Ekeus in English, superimposed by Hungarian translation] The Hungarian government has done a lot to include minority rights in the EU constitution. Now the establishment of a human rights agency in the EU could bring about an institutional step forward.

[Reporter] It was also said at the meeting that talks on Kosovo's status, which would guarantee as wide autonomy for the Serb community as possible, must start as early as this year. The commissioner admitted that this process had been slow to date, and that he was not pleased with the attitude of the national communities either.

Source: Duna TV satellite service, Budapest, in Hungarian 1600 gmt 2 May 05

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