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Holomek may resign as Czech Decade Ambassador over Joch’s appointment

Brno/Prague, 3.9.2010 0:18, (ROMEA)

Karel Holomek is considering resigning from his post as Honorary Ambassador for the Czech presidency of the international Decade of Roma Inclusion initiative. Roman Joch, the Czech PM’s choice of human rights advisor, is the reason. Holomek sent a letter to Nečas a few days ago saying “it’s either me or Joch”, Lidové noviny (LN) reports.

The opinions of Roman Joch, who makes no secret of his strong conservative sentiments, border on the undemocratic in Holomek’s view. “Mr Joch is free to express his opinions, but they cross the line of what is acceptable in a democracy, and for the Premier to listen to him at all shows what kinds of opinion he prefers. I am telling him now that he will have to find someone besides me to cover for him,” Holomek says. The Decade of Roma Inclusion initiative brings together mostly post-communist states in an effort to improve the situation of the Roma community in the societies of its member countries.

“I am following with great displeasure the way in which the current government is approaching the creation of its human rights agenda,” Holomek said in an interview with LN. Holomek, who has served as a deputy in the lower house, is the founder of the Museum of Roma Culture and the son of the first Roma man to graduate from higher education in the former Czechoslovakia.

“Any concerns that this government might not place an emphasis on human rights are unfounded and possibly even slightly hysterical,” LN reports Joch as saying yesterday in response to Holomek. “I respect his opinion. Democracy is a free discussion between various people. However, no one has the right to define the limits of democracy as this gentleman is attempting to do.”

Petr Nečas has not yet read Holomek’s letter. “I have not yet had an opportunity to familiarize myself with the letter and I will of course respond to it and express my opinion about it,” Nečas said yesterday.

“I understand that Mr Joch’s opinions merely echo what is very conservative thought from the USA. This is foreign to Europe. It’s good that someone with such opinions is here in the Czech Republic, it’s a free country, but for him to be placed on a pedestal at the Office of the Government and given responsibility for an agenda whose very basis he doubts is a delicate problem indeed,” LN quotes pro-Roma activist Kumar Vishwanathan as saying.

Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, Lidové noviny, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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