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In a letter addressed to the editor of Brussels-based news outlet Politico in response to a recent op-ed concerning the school segregation of Roma children in Gyöngyöspata, Zoltán Kovács, the state secretary for international communications and relations, said the author “omits several important facts” in the article. In the Feb. 28 opinion piece, Željko Jovanović, director of the Roma Initiatives Office at the Open Society Foundations, wrote that by intending to challenge a court decision to award cash compensation to the Roma children, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was “taking his campaign for total control of Hungary to a new level”. In his letter, Kovács argued the court ruling ordering the school district to pay compensation of 100 million forints (EUR 297,000) to 62 children and their families for each year spent in segregation “offends the sense of justice of many in Hungary”.
Kovács also said that the students involved in the case had missed “a startling 500 classes and had to repeat an entire school year”, noting that only 16 had graduated. But the government and local council, he said, had offered instead “compensation that included both a financial award and education and training”. “But the so-called victims refused this opportunity offered to them for a better life,” the state secretary added. Kovács said the case had been pursued by lawyers against the wishes of the families involved, adding that the attorneys who had taken up the case were affiliated with the Chance for Children Foundation, “which — like the author of the opinion piece — receives funding from the Open Society Foundations” financed by US billionaire George Soros, a vocal critic of the Hungarian government.