Mr Adam Kosa could stand for 50 Million persons

Mr Adam Kosa could stand for 50 Million persons

2009. 04. 28.

We have knowledge of 50 Million persons who live with disabilities in the member states of the EU, and their interests are represented by three MEPs at the moment – said Mr Kosa at the press event of Fidesz-KDNP on Tuesday. The deaf politician told the journalist of MNO that he would urge the EU to accredit the Hungarian sign language as an official language of the Union. Mr Kosa added that if elected, he would take the floor in the EP using the international sign language.

The 33-year-old lawyer has been the president of the Hungarian Alliance of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SINOSZ) since 2005 and the president of the Hungarian Council of the Alliance of persons living with disabilities (FESZT) since 2008. 

Fidesz-KDNP is the only party that assures a place on its list for a disabled candidate to have the chance to become an MEP – Mr Kosa stated during the interview.

Paradigm shift soon

The Hungarian political public life soon will process a paradigm shift, since the persons with disabilities will have the chance, in the spirit of the Madrid Declaration 2007 (“All actions should be undertaken in dialogue and co-operation with the relevant representative disability organisations”), to stand for their rights more actively.

The persons with disabilities are surprisingly under-represented; there are only three MEPs who live with disabilities, while the number of the European disabled persons is around 50 Million. In Hungary, the interests of the 600 000 persons with disabilities are represented by two deputies in the Parliament – Mr Kosa stated. He added that even in the other member states of the EU it is not usual to send an MEP with disability to the European Parliament.

Mr Kosa mentioned also that Fidesz-KDNP invited the disability organisations for a conference to accord the European programme. He added that a separate discussion on this social group to be arranged is rather extraordinary. Mr Kosa believes that these precedents may “open the doors” and perhaps more persons with disabilities would be candidate on the next parliamentarian elections. His dream is the representation of every disability group in the Parliament.

Government “blocks”, steals the money of persons with disabilities

“By the end of May we will have toured the whole country with Mr Soltesz” – Mr Kosa reported on their trip that has already covered five counties. “One of my main experiences is that there are grievous problems concerning the living conditions of disabled people. The effects of the global economical crises can be perceived: cutting costs always affects first those who are in need. A huge amount of money has been blocked that should serve as a tool to improve the living conditions of persons with disabilities, including a large part of the rehabilitation supplies, the aid for flat restructuration and for automobile purchase, and a large part of the 600 Million HUF that is to be paid for normative supply as well.

In Hungary it is prescript that if a company does not employ persons with disabilities, it has to pay a so-called rehabilitation contribution. This amount is so little that it is worth for the companies to pay, and so will be even if the amount will be quadruplicated. Mr Kosa added that the companies are wrong when believing that it is expensive to create workplaces, since the state encourages employment.

Mr Soltesz added that the Hungarian government, by having blocked the amount paid by those companies that does not employ persons with disabilities, has basically stolen the money from the disabled people instead of contributing to their employment by giving them back the amount. He also mentioned that the social department does not employ any person with disability at the moment.

Aid is not the solution

Kosa warned that the government blocks the money mentioned above in vain, since the “replacement” of the persons with disabilities in the social net (to pay the unemployment and social subsidies) will cost much more. The candidate-MEP urges an instant change in the attitude: “disability does not need to be compensated, but it is rather important to focus on the value a person with disability can provide the society”. Mr Kosa contrasted this “social” or “human rights” model with the so-called medical model, pointing out that the latter concentrates only on the compensation of the disability. Mr Kosa believes that the medical approach disregards the main objective, which is to assure that the people with disabilities should be able to live an autonomous life.

Mr Kosa also finds it important to pay attention to the real demand and “the surprisingly great initiatives (which are often expressed at local levels)” of the people concerned. A political compromise is needed that represents the interests of every disability group. He mentioned the British roundtable as an example, which could be useful for his future work as an MEP. Concerning his possible tasks in the EP Mr Kosa referred to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which has been signed by only 6 member states from 27 – this proportion shows that the extension of anti-discriminative practice of law is an up-to-date issue.

The church as a thousand-year-old support in Hungary

It is not an exaggeration to state that most disability institutions in Hungary are under Church maintenance. “Therefore it is important to have good relations with the churches” – said Mr Kosa, indicating that he would get in contact with them soon. He cited one of St. Stephan’s remonstrances to his son: “Do care for those who are miserable”. It is not provision what we need but the opportunity to be able to live a complete life.” The candidate-MEP pointed out: during the school year 2005-2006, 13 ecclesiastical institutions undertook the education of children with disabilities or with learning disorders. Moreover, the Church run 111 day-boarder institutions, 14 temporary homes for persons with disabilities, and nursed 16 100 persons in hosting institutions during 2005.

Misconception and misjudgement

Unemployment rate of people with disabilities in Hungary reaches 90%, whereas in Western Europe this proportion is around 60%. Though the Eastern European countries dispose high percents too, even their command are better than ours: 80%. The existing law based on EU-norms in Hungary are purposeless if they are not applied – went on Mr Kosa.

Mr Soltesz reported about their discussion with Mr Gabor Zombor, mayor of Kecskemet. Mr Zombor had promised that he would stand for the employment of persons with disabilities in the course of the negotiations with Mercedes.

The inadequate representation of interests of people with disabilities would improve by experiencing positive precedents from the side of their fellows. Mr Kosa added: “Hungary will soon be in need to employ the 540 000 employees with disabilities because of the aging tendency.” 

Foreigners have more rights

Mr Kosa stressed that there are many pointless barriers that complicate the life of people with disabilities. For example, when it comes to trials, a foreigner has more rights in Hungary than a deaf person, since the foreigner has the right to an interpreter automatically, while the invitation of a sign language interpreter is up to the judge. Another well-known example is the case of guide-dogs: the blind are not allowed to enter the shops with their dogs. Mr Kosa listed a lot of cases when huge amounts are spent in vain for making life more accessible for disabled people, while at the same time obvious solutions are not applied. If asked, the organisations that represent the interests of persons with disabilities can give practical advice that help to economize the costs of the authorities – this is what happened in the case of the local government of Gyor.