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Statewide Association of Romani People in the Czech Republic disappointed by Czech PM's position on Romani issues

Hodonín, 28.8.2012 18:42, (ROMEA)
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Yesterday the board of the Statewide Association of Romani People in the Czech Republic (Celostátní asociace Romů v ČR - CARČR) met in Hodonín to evaluate its activity to date and the current situation of Romani people in the Czech Republic. The association's leadership expressed disappointment over the fact that Czech PM Petr Nečas did not take on board the proposals submitted to him by the association when they met in June. "In our opinion, the current governing coalition is underestimating the importance of resolving this issue and is not aware of the fateful results that might occur if it remains unresolved," the association's declaration reads.

The CARČR has once again called on the Czech Government to establish the post of a Czech Government Commissioner for the Romani Minority and to take concrete steps with respect to the Romani community in the Czech Republic. News server Romea.cz publishes the association's press release in full translation below.

Press Release of the Statewide Association of Romani People in the Czech Republic

The events in the Šluknov foothills and in many other towns in our country show that there are serious problems in coexistence here that can result in ethnic unrest. The living standards of part of the Romani population have significantly deteriorated compared to what they were during the previous regime. A not insignificant section of that population has long been unemployed and is living in unacceptable conditions on the outskirts of society. Romani people are facing significant media pressure and frequent anti-Romani demonstrations and marches. This unflattering situation, and the crisis in coexistence between us, is being exploited by extremists and populists seeking publicity, which we consider a threat to the further development of democracy in our country.

For that reason, the leadership of our association met with the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Petr Nečas, on 11 June 2012. The content of that meeting was a discussion of the current situation in the lives of the Romani minority and our particular recommendations to the Government of the Czech Republic on how to improve the situation.

At that meeting, we recommended inter alia that the Government of the Czech Republic do the following:

Re-establish the post of the Czech Government Minister for Human Rights, or establish the new post of Czech Government Commissioner for the Romani Minority, with a strong mandate and capacity to address the complexity of the situation of Romani people in various regions. The Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion in Romani Localities should be managed by the new post;

Within the new program period 2014 – 2020, create an Operational Program to Support the Integration of People in Socially Excluded Localities, with the necessary allocation of financing for comprehensive integration projects in the various regions of the Czech Republic. The aim should be to increase the educational and employment levels of Romani people living in socially excluded Romani localities.

Unfortunately, however, we must state that the Prime Minister has not sufficiently taken our proposals and recommendations on board, which we greatly regret. He considers the existing state of affairs with respect to addressing the situation of Romani communities to be sufficient and does not intend to make any fundamental changes in this area. In our opinion, the current governing coalition is underestimating the importance of resolving this issue and is not aware of the fateful results that might occur if it remains unresolved.

We consider the current way in which the situation of Romani communities is being addressed through the Office of the Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner to be insufficient. We need an institution that is capable of taking action in which qualified experts from the Romani community will also participate. We need an institution that will be adequately financed both from national resources and from EU Structural Funds. Such an institution should be able to properly address this issue together with the mayors of the towns and villages concerned. The active involvement of local and regional government in this area is key, as economic and social integration occurs at the local level in particular.

It is necessary to realize that essential, systemic changes in this issue cannot be achieved by Romani activists and NGOs independently without the proper degree of political will and support not only from the Government of the Czech Republic in particular, but also from local and regional authorities. This can and must be done only by politicians at all levels of government.

For this reason we call on the Government of the Czech Republic to:

Create the post of Czech Government Commissioner for the Romani Minority, with a strong mandate and capacity to address the complexity of the situations in which Romani people find themselves in various regions of the Czech Republic;

Take concrete steps and design concrete measures to address the long-term unemployment in Romani localities;

Eliminate the barriers that are keeping Romani children from being educated in mainstream schools;

Start addressing the dismal state of housing policy for people who find themselves in material distress;

Perform an analysis of the effectiveness of the EU Structural Fund financing spent to date with a view to the position and situation of the Romani minority in the Czech Republic.

Gwendolyn Albert, tisková zpráva, Press Release of the Statewide Association of Romani People in the Czech Republic (Celostátní asociace Romů v ČR), translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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