Czech politician misquotes meeting with Romani residents of at-risk housing estate, they correct the record
"I spoke with a couple of guys who work and who lead a football club for children there. Mr Bažo shocked me by saying: 'The nonprofits are the worst for us, the ones in 'romo-business'.' That's how it is," Czech MP Václav Klaus Jr, chair of the Tricolor (Trikolóra) movement, posted to Facebook after visiting the Chanov housing estate on Tuesday, 7 October.
The MP said the infamous housing estate was one of 14 stops on his tour of the Most region. He also posted photographs and the information that one of those present at the Chanov meeting, Štefan Cicko, will coordinate the Tricolor movement locally.
František Nistor, who also attended the meeting, told news server Romea.cz on 9 October that it was he who had discussed "romo-business" with the MP. "When Mr Klaus started saying that enormous millions are being spent on Romani nonprofit organizations, I stopped him and said that the subsidies and grants are not just drawn by Romani organizations, but also by non-Romani ones, and I gave him an example here from Chanov. The organization that has been here for 17 years does not employ any Roma - or maybe just one - and the projects they do are teaching Romani children about hygiene, or Romani women how to cook. That is, for me, 'romo-business'," Nistor said, emphasizing that he had not been talking about all organizations in general.
"I'm not saying Romani nonprofits are bad, or that they shouldn't exist - if they do their work well, I'm glad of it. However, this cannot be abused. I had the impression Mr Klaus was speaking just about Romani organizations, so I just wanted to tell him that in cases where such abuse happens - 'romo-business' - some non-Romani organizations make their living that way as well," Nistor said.
Bažo, who was named by Klaus Jr on his Facebook profile, first shared the MP's post. After a wave of negative reactions, he then deleted it.
Beneath the original post by the MP, Bažo then wrote the following: "Good evening, I'm rather angry that Mr Klaus Jr has used my 'two cents' so that a discussion could be held about what is being written here. I am not interested in politics. If I told him what bothers me, it was purely between us, I did not suspect it would immediately become a subject for this evening, I don't want to be associated with any political party. I'm just a polite person who wanted to be polite to the person who asked for this meeting."
As for the post of a coordinator for Tricolor, Nistor said the Romani people present at the meeting had not chosen anybody for that role. "There was no choice made, we made them no promises. We have not established a local organization for the party. Maybe they chose Mr Cicko themselves to be a contact person, but we certainly did not choose him to be anything. I believe Mr Klaus wanted to improve his media image and this has begun to live its own life on Facebook," he said.
According to Nistor, the Romani residents of Chanov were invited to the meeting with the MP by friends of theirs from the Apostolic Church with whom they collaborate, one of whose members has joined Tricolor. "He came to see us and said Mr Klaus would be making a tour of North Bohemia. Out of respect for him, we came to hear what Mr Klaus had to say," he said.
Klaus Jr established the Tricolor political group after being expelled from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) in March. The sociologist Jan Herzmann, speaking to news server Seznam.cz, called Tricolor a nationally-oriented, perhaps even nationalist, ultra-right formation, while Daniel Prokop, an analyst for the Median company, has called it the party that is closest to right-wing populism of the Trumpian kind in the Czech Republic.
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