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Commentary: The Mayor of Uhelná, Czech Republic, is lying

Prague, 10.6.2011 12:38, (ROMEA)
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The director of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion, Martin Šimáček, has sharply objected to statements made by Ludvík Juřík, Mayor of Uhelná, which were published by news server iDNES.cz in the context of its reporting on a dispute over the creation of a social counseling center there. News server Romea.cz publishes his reaction below in full:

I object to the statements made by the town councilors of Uhelná, led by Mayor Ludvík Juřík. From those statements it is evident that Mayor Juřík, who attended a meeting to which he had not been invited, did not completely understand what was being addressed there.

1) The meeting was not convened to discuss the activities of the Ester association in the municipality of Uhelná. It was a working meeting with those implementing a project in the Žulovsko and Javornicko micro-region, during which concrete steps were being negotiated in advance. Representatives of Uhelná municipality were not invited to the meeting because they do not intend to participate in the project's activities in any way.

2) It must be clarified in the strongest possible terms that the Agency does not commission the elaboration of subsidy projects, as the town council's statement suggests. The Agency provides support to municipalities in designing and implementing projects funded by the EU. Under no circumstances does the Agency initiate selection of municipalities or dictate what they are to do. On the contrary, it is the municipalities themselves that apply to collaborate with the Agency through a tender proceedings and who then draw on the assistance of the Agency for the following three years in designing various measures to support children's education, employment, etc. The Agency does not itself provide any subsidies and does not financially support individual residents, municipalities, or nonprofit organizations in any way. Both of the projects which were being discussed at the meeting concerned had been proposed by the municipalities of Jeseník and Vápenná and the Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry is the provider of the subsidies.

3) Mayor Juřík is displaying a deep ignorance of both of these projects, even though they were presented several times at meetings of the Jesenicko Local Partnership, to which representatives of the micro-regions were invited. Mr Juřík regularly attends those meetings and has the minutes from them. He was personally informed of the content of this project more than once. Unfortunately, the mayor's rejection is primarily harming the citizens of his municipality, because the services these projects offer are available to ALL CITIZENS OF THE MICRO-REGION. The mayor has done his best to repeatedly convince the public the services will be available to Roma people only, which is untrue. The services will include support for employment (which can be appreciated by all unemployed persons) and assistance with discharging debt (which concerns not only socially excluded Roma people, but all people who are unable to manage paying off their loans). The results of the project will be appreciated by the public at large, which will certainly notice that more unemployed people are actively making an effort to resolve their situations, are finding jobs, and are working for the municipality or nonprofits.

4) All of the other mayors who have been working for more than a year to design these demanding projects deserve enormous thanks. Their efforts can significantly aid the micro-region.

5) Mayor Juřík's repeated claim that the projects are intended to attract more poor people to the region, in particular more Roma people, is an absolute lie. On the contrary, these projects are focused on supporting local residents and addressing any problems arising in coexistence between neighbors or from unemployment.

Gwendolyn Albert, Martin Šimáček, Martin Šimáček, Director of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion in Roma Localities, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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