Šluknov politicians still tackling problems with Czech Govt Agency for Social Inclusion in Roma Localities
Politicians from the Šluknov foothills have met with the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion in Roma Localities to air their grievances about their collaboration. Last week at a meeting with MPs on the Security Committee of the Czech lower house, the politicians harshly criticized the Agency, but today all parties spoke in more conciliatory tones.
Both the mayors and the Agency leadership confirmed to the Czech Press Agency that their collaboration should continue. However, the mayors want the Agency to explain its social inclusion strategy to the public, a significant portion of which is against it.
The harsh statements about the Agency were made on 26 January, when the MPs asked the municipal leaders what sort of help the Agency had brought them. "If you ask me what they have done to help I don't know of anything they have done. They present themselves to the media as helping, but the reality is different," Mayor of Šluknov Eva Džumanová (independent) said.
When asked, all of the municipal representatives criticized the Agency. Some proposed closing it altogether. "Take that money away from the Agency. We are almost stripped bare here due to a lack of financing - the Agency doesn't publish anything and the money still goes there," declared Vice-Mayor of Rumburk Darek Šváb (Czech Social Democrats - ČSSD). The Agency's annual budget is about CZK 25 million.
Today the mayors attended an Agency seminar in Prague and aired their grievances there. "Today they said they hadn't intended what they said to sound so harsh," Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Monika Šimůnková told the Czech Press Agency. Collaboration between the Agency and those particular towns should continue.
"We tackled these matters with one another directly and we will still do our best to smooth out the the remaining rough edges. We have a lot of work ahead of us," said Agency director Martin Šimáček.
Mayor Džumanová also says the situation has calmed. "There were criticisms on both sides," she said.
The seminar was an effort to explain the individual measures of the Czech Government Strategy for the Fight Against Social Exclusion to the mayors. The Agency claims the mayors has misunderstood some of the measures and misconstrued them as privileging Romani people, when in reality the measures are much more general. The mayors, however, also gave their opinions. "We emphasized that there is a need for the public to be familiarized with the strategy, it doesn't only concern the foothills area," Džumanová said.
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