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Czech Human Rights Minister in talks to buy pig farm on Roma Holocaust site for two years now

6.9.2016 7:40
Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier at a press conference 5 September 2016.
Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier at a press conference 5 September 2016.

Responding to a request from Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier, the Czech Government has decided to no longer keep secret a "Restricted" resolution from 21 March 2016 regarding the future of the remembrance site at Lety u Písku. Olga Jeřábková, spokesperson for the minister, informed news server of the decision on 5 September.

"[Czech Vice Prime Minister] Andrej Babiš loves appropriating other people's work. In the case of the camp at Lety he has appropriated my work," Dienstbier said in a press release where he describes in detail the course of his negotiations with the owners of the pig farm located on the Roma Holocaust site.

In February 2015 Dienstiber submitted his Strategy for Roma Integration for 2015-2020 to the Government. "That strategic document formulates the task of adopting measures leading to the closure of operations for the industrial pig farm in the immediate vicinity of the remembrance site at Lety u Písku," Dienstbier said, describing negotiations held on the basis of that strategic material with the management of AGPI, a. s., which owns the farm.

Czech Culture Minister Herman is also participating in the negotiations and informing the Government about them. "From January 2015 until this August there have been five meetings of both ministers and their deputies with representatives of AGPI, a.s. Minister Dienstbier has met on this topic with representatives of international organizations and negotiations have been launched with the relevant authorities about the technical matters related to closing the operations of the industrial pig farm," the minister's press release reads.

Dienstbier said the negotiations around the future of the Lety site are sensitive, both from the side of the surviving relatives of the victims, for whom the current situation is insulting, and for the owners of the farm, who have justified economic interests connected with the production of livestock there. "That's why it is the case that it is only appropriate to inform the public about the course of the negotions with the management of AGPI, a.s. when an agreement exists. Any half-truths or imprecise information from the negotiations being published from time to time by the media or by a Government colleague of Minister Dienstbeir can only damage the eventual success of the negotiations," the press release reads.

"Mr Babiš has just announced that he will be traveling to Lety this week for the first time in his life. Minister Dienstbier will follow the Vice Premier's visit with the hope that the experience at the remembrance site and its commemoration of the victims of the Lety camp will fill the Vice PM with humility and that he will stop abusing the latent racism of part of the public here with his populist calls for rapid solutions to problems he is not oriented in," the press release reads.

"If Mr Babiš is now wondering why the state doesn't have more assistants to work with Romani youth, he should also stop blocking approval of the budget for social exclusion prevention, field work, and other work in socially excluded localities. On those three items alone Mr Babiš is reluctant to add CZK 9.9 million [EUR 366 000] to the budget of the Office of the Government, funds that might aid the situation in many places Mr Babiš has never visited and never will," Dienstbier said.  

Developments in the negotiations on how to address the future of the camp at Lety

8 January 2015 - First negotiations initiated by Czech Human Rights Minister Dienstbier with representatives of the AGPI company, attended by Czech Culture Minister
Daniel Herman.

26 February 2015 – Government adopts the Strategy for Roma Integration for 2015–2020, in which Minister Dienstbier proposed the task for his office and that of
Minister Herman of adopting measures leading to the closure of the operation of the industrial pig farm near the remembrance site at Lety u Písku.

21 March 2016 – The material on the future of the camp at Lety was discussed by the Government under a "Restricted" regime.

November 2015 - August 2016 - A total of five negotiations was held between Minister Dienstbier, Deputy Human Rights Minister Martina Štěpánková and Minister Herman with representatives of the AGPI company.

February 2015 - June 2016 - Minister Dienstbier met regarding these matters with representatives of international organizations (International Holocaust Remembrance
Association, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).

June 2016 – August 2016 – Specific negotiations began between the Deputy Human Rights Minister for Management of the Human Rights Section, representatives of that Section, and the Deputy Culture Minister with the relevant authorities about technical questions.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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