Central Europe Activ

The late Mr. CozmaA tragic act of crime, the killing of Marian Cozma, a great Romanian handball player, has sparkled ethnic tension in the region to an all-high point. The scene is Hungary, the victims are Romanian and Serbian sportsmen, and the public accuses the ‘Gypsy’.

A little bit of contextualization: The citizens of Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Serbia did not get on very well with each other. All relatively new nation states with a strong nationalistic sentiment that has been surpassed by Communist ‘internationalism’: the past decades have seen a lot of verbal assaults against each other. When the otherwise marginalized Hungarian far-right has set up a uniformed group under the name of ‘Hungarian Guard’ Slovakia cried fool and even accused Hungary for not fulfilling her obligations under the Paris Peace Treaty to wipe out fascist paramilitary groups. But these were just provocations. The Hungarian Guard, now banned by Hungarian law after a proper process in court, was not a paramilitary group, and certainly it had no intention to harass Slovaks or Romanians. It is a new manifestation of racism. The Hungarian Guard has one single activity: to threaten Roma communities within Hungary. The violent provocations, also some violent Molotov-cocktail attacks made some Gypsy leaders think that it is high time to set up a Gypsy Guard in Hungary.

Earlier I noticed that things have changed a lot with the EU accession of the group. Romanian-Hungarian relations are on a historical all-time high. Hungary with Austria are the most firm supporters of Serbia’s and Croatia’s European integration. Slovakia has some extremists in the government coalitions, whose provocations are sometimes verbally met by Hungarian politicians out of mere pride, but I think the people are getting well with each other. Unfortunately, all these nations have found a common enemy: their shared Gypsy minorities, which belong to a number of groups, mostly including the Roma.

The killing of the late Marion Cozma has shown this new fact. Mr. Cozma, who played professional handball in the club of Veszprém, had been a Romanian citizen without Hungarian roots, a favorite of the town sportsclub, and also considering to apply for Hungarian citizenship because of professional reasons. He played in the national team of Romania, and fascinatingly, with two different teams, he has became a Romanian than a Hungarian champion in 2005 and 2007 respectively. He had a fan base across Central Europe. In fact, he was one of the first Central European stars after a poisonous 20th century when the nations of the region had a strong dislike for each other.

After his stabbing Saturday night, thousands stood in vigil, and the town declared the Romanian player an honorary citizen. His team-mates, who tried to help him in the group violence that broke out in the discotheque were Serbs. Many Serbs living in Hungary joined the Veszprém Hungarians in their grief. According to Serbia Insajd, many Serb nationalst tried to enter Hungary accross the border to take revenge on… the Gypsies.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/p6aABW8ioh8" width="320" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
The comments in the YouTube page (and similar pages) are in Hungarian, Romanian, English, Croatians and Serb. They show grief, solidarity and every second calls for revenge on Gypsies.

The different Gypsy groups in all these countries are segregated, discriminated in schools and on the workplace and mainly live on the black market, social benefits and crime. As a visibly different native minority, their chances of assimilation is minimal. It is very ironic, that 20 years ago it could have been impossible that a Romanian sportsman is making a successful career in Hungary and becomes a favorite of his township, or a leading Hungarian professional sports club is a mix of Hungarian, Serb and Romanian players. It is a very sad irony that part of this new-found friendliness lies on a commonly shared racist attitude towards to Roma.

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Comments

  1. Ok, I’ll try to be polite. You say that the poor gypsy are discriminated in these countries. You don’t even live around here, for God’s sake! You don’t live in Bucharest, nor in Romania! DISCRIMINATED! Romanians are discriminated everyday. Walking down a street is no longer safe. I get attacked everyday by Gypsy gangs (NOT Romanian ones). In Italy they steal and rape and they are still called Romanians! You will never see a white Romanian beggar in Rome or Milano. Do you think that they are discriminated? Come and live with me for an year and think again. You just sit in your chair, writing on this blog, acusing Serbian, Hungarian and Romanian people of being racist. Go freakin’ die.

  2. Wow, Daniel, it looks like you just got a new Romanian fan :)

    I couldn’t agree more on what you say – I’ve never told you, but I did some work with Roma communities and met plenty of young Roma activists. The fate of these people is really sad and they are indeed marginalized everywhere. It seems to be like a neverending vicious circle of misinformation (few know, for instance, that statistics indicate the rate of crime among Romanians is higher than among Roma living in Romania), discrimination, poor organization on behalf of Roma groups, marginalization and mutual hatred.

    The interesting point I would take forward from your entry is the idea that the Roma issue calls for a common European approach. Last summer I met one of the best known Roma activists, Valeriu Nicolau, who worked as a consultant for the Commission and also for organizations like the Hungary-based European Roma Rights Center. He was speaking about a European directive on Roma – which I believe would lay the ground for a more sustainable approach to this problematic. I second this view and actually did a research on this topic when I studying in NY. I only hope the idea of a common policy and legislation will be enacted…

  3. @ Mr Tudor, I actually live in the country where the murder took place, and I happen to live in a Budapest district which has the highest Roma population among the 23. I think your language and prejudice is unacceptable. All apologies are welcome.

    @ Corina, as far as I tried to follow, the European legislation did not get very far. We have two bright young Roma women among our MEPs, Ms Jaroka in the People’s Party and Ms Mohácsi in ALDE, and they did some parliamentary work but did not get very far as I saw. Otherwise I am very passionate about the issue, I wrote my BSc thesis more than 10 years ago about the economics of discrimination against Roma in the labor market.

  4. I completely agree with your expert analysis, Antal. I am writing from Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The EU should do more to help the central european countries deal with the racial tensions over the Roma.

  5. Very well said Antal Daniel. Just you are soft with those racists asking them to applogize. I learned something growing up as a jew not so far from your country, you have to push yourself right to their faces. Racists usuualyy are covards. Those Romas who did the killing were criminals, same like german, hungarian, italian, ethinicity should not have to come into it. There are thousands of Romas academics, movie stars, scientists and also ordinary plumbers, electricians, teachers. (Even memeber of Rolling Stones) but we don’t hear about them. Only about criminals.

  6. Thank you for the comments. I removed one not only for being racist, but also very personally insulting (although I do not know the person) and destructive. This is the first time I delete a comment but not everything is fit for print.

    Actually I changed my screen name to Dániel Antal. Hungarians put their family names (Antal) first and given name (Dániel) second. We sometimes try to show this with Antal, Dániel etc put it confuses all and also the blog engine so I’ve given up :)

  7. I got an extremely long, almost 3000-word comment. It took me some time to find out what to do with it, because I would like to just delete it. 3000 words is two newspaper columns, so if somebody wants to publish, please start a new blog. However, I also see that the events of winter 2009 are extraordinarily in Hungary and a hidden ethnic tension is just about exploding. So I think this comment is symptomatic and needs to be shown. I mean it really takes passion to write a 16627 characters anonymously and it starts with begging not to delete it. (At least the author knows that it should be deleted). I deleted the actual name of a person named in it put it over here to Google Docs.

  8. this is totally shocking… i am referring to the anonymous comment. i can’t believe a person can invest so much time in jumping to conclusions based on a dubious knitting of facts and legends. i’m totally shocked how anybody can show so much disregards for logic and basic analytic tools…

  9. Thanks for your excellent post. I fear your analysis is depressingly accurate. Also thanks for making the lengthy comment available on google documents. The belief that crime statistics regarding Roma must be false reminds me of a phenomenon we witness here in America where local news is always playing up this or that potential danger, including crime. As a result people regularly assume that those dangers are much greater than they are, and they too would doubt the official statistics were they confronted with them. If the Hungarian media is so one-sided in its reporting of the Roma, how is it that the author of that document is able to real off so many instances where Roma were the aggressors. Keep telling the truth. It may not reach everyone, but it will eventually have a real and lasting effect.

  10. This ethnic or racial tension is manifest in Central Europe. It reminds me a little bit to the late Yugoslavia. After the war, there were some reconciliation efforts, and usually Serbs, Croatians and other minorities around come up with a story that it was actually the Albanians who poisoned the well and made everybody blood-thirsty. I have a similar feeling: two decades ago Romanians and Hungarians had fights, now Romanians, Serbs and Hungarian are uniting against the Roma. I actually had a very similarly spirited comment than the long one from Hungary from Romania (the one I deleted). In Hungary, the forum and blog commenting in the largest portal had to suspended for a day so many racist and revenge thirsty comments appeared in the system.

    These was already coming in the past few month in Hungary, and as far as I know, separately in Slovakia and Romania, too. What is striking now is unity. If you see the comments of the Cozma video on YouTube, it is mixed Hungarian, Romanian, Serb, Croat and Italian.

  11. I think that your analysis is very one sided and from your own personal bias point of view and the fact that you are defending an entire enthinic group based soley on the fact they there already exists a racial descrepency against them is ignorant. Racism does not exist only from hearsay and word to mouth story telling to create discrimination against a ethnical group. The racism that exists against ??Gypsies??is fueled priorly by the fact that the vast majority of these people are invloved in crime regularly or are already in the criminal justice system in some form or another. This surely does not mean that 100% of the Roma population is guilty however, when the statistics speak for themself it is fair to judge in favour that there exists a problem with Gypsy people. I think if you did somemore homework Daniel then you would find your arguement debatable. When in every country that they live they become criminal elements thriving(most of them) on crime and financial assistance from governing states without paying taxes and completedly exploiting and not embracing that country, then they have created the racism themselves that stands against them. I have lived mostly in Hungary for the last 8 years and I am a Canadian Citizen born and raised and also spent 3 years in London England , I am consider myself to be very neutral minded when it comes to other cultures and I beleive in Freedom and fairness for all who desire and strive to be a better person, howeve maybe you should understand the saying?reap what you sow” Are you in fact yourself Roma Daniel? Just curious! Blacks and Asians have faced hundred of years of persecution and racism but yet still thrive and survive despite these circumstances all over Europe Especially Eastern Europe …How long does it take Gypsy people to get their act together? I think you are defending a very small percentage of law abiding patriotic Roma people but for them I am sorry but its time the bad ones (the majority) claimed responsibility for their actions instead of hinding behind racial claims and protection of Democratic freedoms that we strongly embrace for those who deserve it. Why are Gypsies one of the most often deported groups from North America when most all other people from any race or religion can manage to survive by legal means? Your blog is well written but however it is not without bias and actual statistical or realistic substance……..Maybe CNN will hire you they like one sided stories.

  12. Hey Not Important, I do hope that there are CNN agents reading my blog and hiring me… :) Anyway, I do not think that you are right. I do not believe that the criminal system has a solution for segregation, discrimination and poverty. I do not know which Central European country collects data about the racial profile of criminals. Hungary is certainly not one of them, so it is impossible to verify if your claims are valid.

    The fact that Romas are the mostly deported people from North America, if true, reflects only one thing: that the Canadian and US authorities do not want to embarrass their EU allies with giving political refugee status for an EU citizen, who is supposed to have the most benevolent social and human rights protection in the world. They treat Roma migrants as “economic migrants” and thus reject their application for asylum. But the fact is that these people are fleeing both complete economic discrimination, poverty, and also lack of personal safety. They are subject to violent racism and the authorities do not always protect them in Eastern Europe. So what you cite is actually underpinning a counterargument.

  13. Apparently you are miss informed about the collection of neccesary data required to submit upon entering a country for the purpose of employement. England is a EU member No? Well if you have ever applied for a job there you will see that they do racial profiling for there jobs regardless of your country of citizenship. I highly dissbelieve that this is for the sole purpose to generate work force equality. So why do they still refer to blacks in the USA from a politically correct point of view as Afro-Americans still making reference to the fact they are decendent of their mother continent of africa and this is well accepted by blacks and whites alike. So if Gypsy Roma people which I believe are genetic blood line decent of present day Bangladesh, India and regions of Pakistan, thus it is some what able to assert that they are not truely of a European decent line? the majority of people that immigrate in present years to foreign countries North America and Euro- Scandanavian countries alike are immigrating from the countries with the most dense population of Gypsy people. Do you see blacks, asians, arab or many others that are also very persecuted againgst all over the world especially in present times sleeping and making refuge on the side of rural highways in Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Wales, England etc….these are facts my friend. Now if you say that the EU is the safest and most well developed human rights protection acts “supposedly” then why might I ask are these people choosing to live in such a fashion and segregate themselves from society and then have the nerve to hide behind excuses of that they are not being treated fairly and are not givin opportunity…Maybe this slightly differs in Hungary , however it makes no valid point or reason as to why these people cannot floorish and become independent by all means in any 1st world country. You still have not answered any of my direct questions from my previous blog just utilizing what minisquel information you may have comprised from Lord only knows what sources to further yourself from acceptance of the truth. Some of what you have described indeed has truth and perspective on the social seperation of these people from Hungarians but ..still once again remains bias and without substance to absolve them from the present facts that they infact have chose their own path and deliberately seperate themselves as a way to excuse them from crime and living on social assistance. How long does it take a race to get their act together ….Blacks were inslaved for hundreds of years and have overcome great odds to become powerful and independent. for goodness sake even the president is black! Gypsies have been all over Europe for well into the area of a thousand years ” How long must we wait? I am not calling for action against Roma people but I do believe that the problem does need to be adressed in countries such as Hungary Romania Serbia UK Canada USA and many others.

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