Czech Republic: Romani figures rebuke Romani entrepreneur for anti-Roma slurs
The Brno-based entrepreneur Rastislav Lučanský, who recently ran as an EP candidate, will be leaving the Romani Democratic Party (Romská demokratická strana- RDS) to establish his own political movement. Lučanský is said to have failed to reach an understanding with his RDS colleagues.
"This party will not just be for Romani people, but for all those who are socially vulnerable. I will be reaching out to the Prime Minister so we can do something about this situation together," Lučanský announced last week.
The entrepreneur also claimed to have learned during his three-month-long electoral campaign that Romani people are "lazy" and want to live on welfare instead of working. "During the last three months I have learned more about my own community than I have in my entire life. Romani people loudly talk about their poor living conditions, the overpriced residential hotels, and the impossibility of finding work, but in the existing system, where they have grown used to a life on welfare, they are basically doing fine," Lučanský said.
"I am shocked by how this life (on welfare) suits them. They don't want to get up for work, to work hard every day, to feed their families honestly. I am a Rom, but I must admit that we need to be ruled with a hard hand, no exceptions," Lučanský said.
The entrepreneur also believes that roughly 70 % of the Romani community in the Czech Republic does not want to be included into the lives of the majority society. "Something has to be done about this. My vision is that if people can't find work for half a year, they should be offered a job by law. If they refuse that job, they lose their welfare. Romani people are complaining about racism, but everything depends on the individual, whether he's black, white or yellow," said Lučanský, who once represented Czechoslovakia internationally in boxing.
News server Romea.cz contacted several eminent Romani figures for a response to Lučanský's sudden insights, and they all expressed disagreement. "He's probably disturbed that he didn't get many votes, that the Roma did not support him. Some people did vote for the Romani Democratic Party, but Mr Lučanský probably expected more when he invested so much into it as an entrepreneur," Emílie Horáčková, who is employed as a social worker in the town of Mimoň, told Romea.cz.
Horáčková said she believes the vast majority of Roma do want to work. "Romani people want to work, they want jobs, and they want the difficult situations resulting from their unemployment to be resolved. From my own experience I know that they take advantage of every opportunity for work and immediately go wherever they have to. Of course, whether they will be hired once they get there is another matter," she said.
"A 'hard hand' is definitely not necessary," said Cyril Koky of Kolín, who works as the Coordinator for Romani Affairs and Alien Integration for the Central Bohemian Region. "This is about there being enough work for all. The Romani people who are living on welfare today will gladly go work hard if they get jobs. Welfare is not the same as a paycheck, it's very low, you can't live on it in a dignified way. It is important for jobs to be created and for people to receive adequate salaries instead of welfare, salaries so they can pay their rent, make a living, pay for their utilities and all the other costs associated with running a household. They should also be able to save something for when times are bad," Koky said.
"This blanket claim that Romani people prefer welfare to working is so stupid I won't even comment on it," the Vice-Mayor of Ralsko, Oto Váradi, told news server Romea.cz. He said he has no idea what led Lučanský to make such claims.
"I guess it's about his political failure, his rejection. We are doing our best to work with Romani people and include them into society," Váradi said.
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