Six years of work together

 

Closing thoughts of the Ombudsman for the Rights of National Minorities

Exactly six years ago, on October 21, 2013, with the unanimous support of the leaders of thirteen nationalities, upon the nomination of the Ombudsman, the National Assembly entrusted me for six years with the protection of the rights of national minorities in Hungary. This assignment comes to an end today: the time for summary and thanks has come.

I have never been in doubt, but my work as a deputy commissioner for minority communities has taught me that there are human lives behind the law: the lives of people and communities who sometimes have to suffer discrimination and want to live and strengthen their national identity. It was an honor to work for them – and even if my colleagues could not resolve the individual or community concerns of our complainants in all cases, we tried to provide independent and impartial professional cooperation to show the way towards the solutions and also to guide the authorities into this direction.

I am thankful for always being able to find partners in this: the leaders of nationality communities, nationality professionals, politicians with an affinity for nationalities, and members of independent professional organizations have helped me a lot in solving individual cases effectively and humanely.

During my mandate, I received almost 2,000 individual complaints, as well as requests and submissions from a wide range of actors in society, which form the basis of major reports and policy statements requiring systematic scrutiny. For me, these inputs and feedbacks verify the trust in the institution of the Ombudsman for the Rights of National Minorities and in the work we are engaged in with my staff members. It is also an evidence that the field of nationality law is a living, dynamic framework of the life of nationality communities, in which the enforcement of rights, the realization of cultural identity and autonomy, and the modern and fundamental interpretation and application of equal treatment often require our independent and impartial legal protection. I also thank my colleagues for their tireless and dedicated work and enthusiasm: their support meant a lot to me.

By meeting the invitations to the cultural, artistic programs and identity-fostering events of nationality communities, we were able to experience the diversity of nationality existence: the events, in addition to the well-known diversity of nationality cultures, are clear evidence of the self-organizing and self-developing ability of nationality communities.

Thank you for the past six years and hope to continue working together!

Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay