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Friday, 9 March, 2001, 20:06 GMT
Hungary plays down French gypsy move
Hungarian gypsies blame discrimination at home for their flight
Hungary: No reason for the gypsies to leave
Hungary has said denied that France's granting of refugee status to three Romanies on Thursday did not constitute criticism of its ethnic policy.

It also said it did not believe the decision could affect Hungary¿s prospects for joining the European Union.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath said the Hungarian Government did not know what had guided the French authorities in their decision but would respect it.

France had dealt with six applications on their individual merits, granting three and rejecting another three, so the decision was not a judgment on the Hungarian Government's treatment of the Romany minority, Mr Horvath said.

The fate of the gypsies, also known as Roma, has been one of the main stories in the Hungarian media for weeks.

Most from one village

The gypsies who were granted refugee status are part of a larger group of 39 who arrived in France last year from the village of Zamoly in western Hungary seeking asylum.
The gypsies are part of a larger group
The gypsies have complained of persecution

They have filed complaints with the European Court of Human Rights, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, saying they suffer persecution in Hungary and the authorities do nothing to stop it.

Budapest says that while there is prejudice against Romanies in Hungary there is no official discrimination and therefore no reason for them to leave.

Russians blamed

The BBC's Nick Thorpe says a political storm is brewing in Hungary over allegations that the Russian secret service encouraged the gypsies to leave in order to damage Hungary's human rights record and its chances of joining the EU.

The allegations were made in an article in the British periodical Janes Defence Digest and reprinted in the Hungarian media.

Opposition politicians have demanded that the minister responsible for the civilian national security service, Ervin Demeter, give an explanation.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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03 Mar 00 | Europe
Hungary tackles gypsies' problems
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