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October 25, 2020



Office of the Czech Gov't announces search for new director of Agency for Social Inclusion

7.5.2015 8:15
Jiří Dienstbier (left) and Martin Šimáček (right). (Collage
Jiří Dienstbier (left) and Martin Šimáček (right). (Collage

The Office of the Government of the Czech Republic has announced the terms for applying to its selection procedure for the position of director of the Agency for Social Inclusion. The new director will start work in June.

The selection procedure follows the unexpected dismissal of Martin Šimáček, which has prompted a great deal of emotion and many questions regarding the future direction of the Agency and the concept of Romani integration in the country more generally. Czech Human Rights Minister Dienstbier has said the director was dismissed because of errors committed during the Agency's management of public tenders and poor communications, but Šimáček alleges that those reasons are pretexts.    

Those supporting Šimáček consider him to be an exceptionally brave, top-notch bureaucrat who has succeeded in shaping the Agency into an important instrument for combating social exclusion. His critics say the Agency has employed almost no Romani people and that he has not managed to win the trust of the Romani community.  

Tension between adherents of two different approaches to Romani integration, the "ethnic" approach versus the "social" one, has long formed the general background to such disputes. It is not yet clear what form the Agency will take after its scheduled reorganization.

It is also not clear how the ministry will manage to reach an agreement with its striking employees, who are backing the dismissed director and rejecting the planned changes to the Agency. For the time being all that is concrete are the requirements for a new director.

Those requirements are, at first glance, a bit surprising, as they close off the position to candidates with experience from business or the nonprofit sector. The essential requirement is that the candidate have at least three years' high level "civil service" experience out of the last six years; if such requirements had applied six years ago, Šimáček would have been excluded from competition.

mik, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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