An open letter to Jean-Claude Juncker and Members of the European Parliament regarding the designation of Mr Tibor Navracsics as EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth, and Citizenship
Dear Mr Juncker, Dear Members of the European Parliament,
We, the undersigned professional and representative association of independent performing artists with culture, education, civic initiatives, and human rights in our focus, would normally consider it a very positive step and a great honour that a representative of our country may fulfill the post of EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth, and Citizenship.
Under the conditions prevailing in Hungary, however, and with hearings just around the corner for your Commissioners-designate, we, concerned European citizens and independent Hungarian artists, would like to ask you a few questions regarding the role of the EU Commissioner for Culture, Education, Youth, and Citizenship.
1. What kind of citizenship policy do you expect from the representative of a member state, whose government has in the past four years
➢ removed the word „republic” from our country’s name in order to pave the way for its illiberal democracy;
➢ curtailed the rights of its citizens significantly: seized their private pensions, deprived them of legal certainty, erased their constitution and replaced it with a Basic Law open to interpretation;
➢ turned most of the Fourth Estate, the public media, into its own bullhorn; – expelled women from its own ranks, and reduced their number in Parliament to an unacceptable level;
➢ – considered the elderly, the gay, and most markedly the Roma, second-rate citizens, while in many citizenship issues allies itself – to the point of falsifying history – with the extreme right, who regularly communicated in an anti-Semitic, and homophobic tone in Parliament, and terrorizes the Roma all around the country;
➢ dispassionately tolerated more than 40% of families with children going hungry, or living lives unworthy of human beings, while spending hundreds of thousands of euro on pushing and marketing their own political and private agendas;
➢ terrorised NGOs working for the most vulnerable, most disenfranchised citizens through public slander and unexpected police raids designed to intimidate, and by suspending their VAT numbers, thereby rendering their much-needed work very difficult, if not impossible;
➢ redesigned the election system to favour the ruling party in such a manner that the upcoming municipal elections are hardly worthy of that name?
2. What kind of youth and education policy do you expect from the representative of a member state, whose government has in the past four years
➢ nationalised education, took away school autonomy, and forced centralised lowbrow, populist school books on all schools;
➢ lowered the compulsory school-leaving age from 18 to 16 years and dramatically reduced tuition-free places at universities, making them even harder to get by setting the condition that subsidised students must stay in the country for 3-6 years after graduation;
➢ replaced authentic unions, organised from the bottom up, with the National Teachers Corps – reminiscent of Mussolini’s authoritarian corporatism – making all teachers automatic members without their permission?
3. What kind of cultural policy do you expect from the representative of a member state, whose government has in the past four years
➢ suspended Hungarian film production, and then placed all of the resources and all decision-making in this field in the hands of a single person;
➢ placed the management of almost all provincial theatres into the hands of its carefully contra-selected political appointees (all men), leaving devastation behind in the some of the formerly most prestigious houses, and then extended the same method to most Budapest theatres;
➢ stifled the entire independent theatre sector, while throwing money at its cronies (including a theatre director who won his position with an application containing elements of neo-Nazi ideology), and chooses to support a sausage festival rather than the work of internationally acclaimed independent companies;
➢ illegally set up a so-called Arts Academy, which it includes in its Basic Law, appointing as its president a man who admits to subsidising artists based on their national sentiment and loyalty rather than the artistic quality of their work, and who it then rewards by giving him control over the entire Hungarian cultural policy, along with a practically unlimited budget;
➢ appointed a director to the Kunsthalle of Contemporary Fine Arts, whose creed includes thoughts like „art should not criticise”, and who dismisses all contemporary fine art trends in Western Europe as a „bubble about to burst”, and banishes them from his museum;
➢ appointed, and despite heavy protests kept in his post „the Prime Minister’s special emissary for raising national awareness of the rule of the law, and for preserving and developing Hungarian cultural values” – a man, who draws attention to himself with his dilettantism, bad taste, frivolous products, and his cheap, recurring anti-Semitic and homophobic rants and discriminatory ideologies?
Perhaps you have heard that in the Hungarian Parliament an MP of the extreme right party Jobbik was appointed Commissioner for Culture and Education. The clear message this decision sent was that Hungarian Members of Parliament regard this portfolio as the least important of all. Does your Commissioner-designate not reflect the same philosophy? In the context of current Hungarian politics, would the appointment of any Hungarian MEP to this post not reflect the same? Please, consider our questions thoroughly, and pass your vote accordingly, as to who should fill the post of Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth, and Citizenship of the European Union.
The Hungarian Association of Independent Performing Artists