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Slovak junior ruling SNS, Romanies agree on cooperation

Bratislava, 12.4.2007 13:38, (CTK)

The junior ruling Slovak National Party (SNS) today signed a memorandum on cooperation with Romany Parliament, an association of Romanies in Slovakia.

"Our people have seen that there is goodwill in the SNS to solve the Romany issue," the association chairman Ladislav Fizik said.

In the past, the SNS and its chairman Jan Slota faced criticism over their anti-Romany statements.

Fizik said his association wants to cooperate with the SNS on the construction of housing for Romanies living in poor settlements and on solving other problems faced by the Romany minority that makes up several hundreds of people in the five-million Slovakia and whose large part lives in poverty.

Last year Fizik became a personal adviser to Slota, and he has been an adviser to Construction Minister Marian Janusek (SNS) since January.

Fizik has dismissed speculations that the SNS, suspected of radicalism, cooperates with Romanies only in order to improve its image.

Fizik today also defended Slota who said in the past that "a short yard and a long whip" are necessary in treating Romanies.

According to Fizik, the Romany leaders have seen that Slota is no racist.

Slota is "the only Slovak politician who has heart and who may favour Romanies," Fizik said, criticising mainly the previous right-wing government of Mikulas Dzurinda's low interest in Romanies.

Slota's SNS, viewed as ultra-right by many, shares government with the left-wing Smer-Social Democracy of PM Robert Fico and with the People's Party-Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (LS-HZDS) of ex-PM Vladimir Meciar.

SNS deputy head Jaroslav Paska today said the SNS will help the Romany Parliament prepare plans for solving Romany problems.

Although Romany policy is a task for Deputy PM Dusan Caplovic (Smer-SD), the SNS wants to use its influence mainly through its control of the ministries of construction and education, Paska said.

According to the Romany press agency, some Romany organisations in the country have reacted to the cooperation between the Romany Parliament and the SNS with embarrassment.

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