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February 23, 2019
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Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs has five new members

17.1.2019 11:05
Edita Stejskalová (right) and Petr Torák (center), Romani civil society members of the Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs (PHOTO:  František Bikár, Romea.cz)
Edita Stejskalová (right) and Petr Torák (center), Romani civil society members of the Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs (PHOTO: František Bikár, Romea.cz)

On Friday, 11 January 2019 the Czech Government approved the appointment of five new members to the Council for Romani Minority Affairs. The new members are former professional soldier Zdeněk Guži; the head of the Conceptual Development Department at the Ústí nad Labem City Hall, Jan Husák; Simon Slanina, who works as an assistant to Czech MP Petr Pávek (Mayors and Independents - STAN); Tomáš Ščuka, a facilitator for the Council of Europe on inclusion; and Iveta Theuserová, head of the Anti-Drug Counseling and Social Center in Most.

The call to nominate new members was published by the Council on 3 August 2018 because three of the Council's civil society members were ending their four-year terms. There were 24 candidates by the deadline, with each applicant completing a form, sending a motivational letter and two recommendations.

Selected applicants were then invited for in-person interviews. Martina Horváthová, vice-chair of the Council, explained to Romea.cz why there are now five new members: "At the time of the nomination process, Mr Jan Kudry also resigned. The Council therefore submitted to the Government two more candidates for nomination. The Government approved both of them, which is why there are five new members in the end."

According to the statutes of the Council, the civil society members are persons who actively work to improve the position of Romani people in society and significantly contribute to their integration, as well as representatives of the academic community. The candidates should have a good overview of the current legislation, of the implementation of policies in the Roma integration field, and of emancipatory projects for ethnic Romani people.

Members of the Council, according to its statutes, area obligated to attend its meetings and should also be willing to conscientiously contribute, within the realm of possibility, to the activities of the Council's advisory bodies. Membership on the Council is not compensated, but members are entitled to have their travel costs reimbursed.

"Membership on the Council is an opportunity to present the actual, current needs of the people in our community at the level of the Government. The situation has not been improving for a very long time, and we must speak up about this in a serious way. Through my work experience, whether at the international or the local level, I will do my best to contribute to improving this social problem," incoming member Tomáš Ščuka told Romea.cz.

As for the influence the Council has, Ščuka said: "Naturally we are not legislators. Membership on an advisory body has its limits. I comprehend the fact that our people have a certain amount of skepticism about this body. However, this is the only Government platform with any Romani participation whatsoever. It is also necessary to realize that the necessary changes are not something that anybody else is going to do for us. Let's not be critical immediately, negativism will not aid us. On the contrary, let's take advantage of these actual opportunities to advocate for the necessary changes."

Iveta Theuserová sees her membership on the Council as a chance to open up a discussion about several subjects - she was invited there as a guest once and had the opportunity to see how it functions up close. "The strength of the Council is that it can point out subjects, and it then depends on the other bodies to deal with them in practice. Given that I work as a head social worker for a drug counseling center, the drug issue is a priority subject for me," she told news server Romea.cz.

One of the crucial tasks the Council will dedicate itself to is the preparation of the Roma Integration Strategy 2021-2027, which is one of the conditions for the country to draw on EU funds during the next programming period. The appointment decrees should be given to the new members by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš at the next session of the Council, which is planned for 21 February 2019.

CURRENT CIVIL SOCIETY MEMBERS

Bc. Martina Horváthová, Vice-Chair of the Council, appointed by Government resolution No. 352 (11 January 2019)

Mgr. Alica Sigmund Heráková, civil society member, appointed by Government resolution No. 147 (8 March 2018)

Ján Balog, civil society member, appointed by Government resolution No. 352 (12 May 2014)

Petr Torák, MBE, civil society member, appointed by Government resolution No. 147 (8 March 2018)

František Bikár, civil society member, appointed by Government resolution No. 352 (12 May 2014)

Mgr. Lucie Fuková, civil society member, appointed by Government resolution No. 352 (12 May 2014)

Doc. PhDr. et PhDr. Martin Kaleja, Ph.D., civil society member, appointed by Government resolution No. 352 (12 May 2014)

Nikola Taragoš, občanský člen Rady, civil society member, appointed by Government resolution No. 147 (8 March 2018)

PhDr. Renata Köttnerová, civil society member, appointed by Government resolution No. 352 (12 May 2014)

Čeněk Růžička, civil society member, appointed by Government resolution No. 352 (12 May 2014)

Bc. Edita Stejskalová, civil society member, appointed by Government resolution No. 352 (12 May 2014)

Josef Stojka, civil society member, appointed by Government resolution No. 147 (8 March 2018)

Štefan Oláh, civil society member, appointed by Government resolution No. 147 (8 March 2018)

NEW CIVIL SOCIETY MEMBERS

Zdeněk Guži

Jan Husák

Simon Slanina

Tomáš Ščuka

Iveta Theuserová

GOVERNMENT MEMBERS

Andrej Babiš, Council Chair, Prime Minister of the Government of the Czech Republic

PhDr. Jana Horváthová, Director, Museum of Romani Culture in Brno

Ing. Ivo Šrámek, Deputy Minister for Management of the Multilateral Security Section, Foreign Affairs Ministry, and Deputy Minister of Section 06 - public budgets, Finance Ministry

doc. Mgr. Antonín Staněk, Ph.D., Culture Minister

Ing. Klára Dostálová, Regional Development Minister

Ing. Robert Plaga, PhD., Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport

Jan Hamáček, Interior Minister

Dipl.-Pol. Jana Maláčová, MSc., Labor and Social Affairs Minister

prof. MUDr. Roman Prymula, CSc., Ph.D., Deputy Minister for Health Insurance, Health Ministry

RNDr. Petr Pospíšil, Union of Towns and Municipalities of the Czech Republic

Jiří Navrátil, Association of the Regional Authorities of the Czech Republic

zda, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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