Slovak President Kiska receives the European Civil Rights Prize of Sinti and Roma in Brussels
Slovak President Andrej Kiska received the European Civil Rights Prize of Sinti and Roma yesterday in Brussels for his engagement in combating displays of discrimination and racism and the exclusion of Romani people from society, and he has decided to donate the financial part of the award (EUR 15 000) to a Slovak association called "Cesta von" ("The Way Out"). ROMEA TV, the first Romani Internet television station, broadcast the award ceremony live.
"I greatly appreciate this, because I am convinced that challenging subjects should be spoken about out loud, we should not close our eyes and wait for them to resolve on their own. However, at the same time I do believe this award will better aid the people who actually need it more, " Kiska said.
"I have decided to donate the entire amount to the 'Cesta von' association, which aids children with escaping the vicious circle of poverty," Kiska said after receiving the award. The association will be using the financing for its "Omama" project.
"We will be able to aid another group of impoverished parents, to improve their parenting skills, and to stimulate their children from an early age so they will have more success later on at school and in life," the association posted to social networks. "Mr President, we congratulate you on this award, we greatly appreciate your support and we thank you for it."
"You have challenged us to do our best to expand this project much further, to a much greater number of children living in poverty," the association posted. "We promise to do all we can to achieve that."
"We believe that your example will also aid us with expanding the ranks of our donors, and over time we will succeed in advocating for the state itself to take up its own share of responsibility for this," the Cesta von association posted. The gala at the House of European History was opened by Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Rainer Wieland.
The director of the House of European History, Constanze Itzel, as well as European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers, and Gender Equality Věra Jourová, warned in their speeches at the event of the persisting discrimination against Sinti and Roma in Europe. "First and foremost, each child must have a chance," Kiska told the media after receiving the award and emphasizing, during his acceptance speech, the importance of education for citizens of the Romani minority to increase their chances of employment and improve their living conditions.
"As President, I witnessed the fact that Romani people frequently face discrimination in the schools, and it has just been because of their skin color," Kiska said. According to the official press release from the Office of the Slovak President, the Central Council of Sinti and Roma in Germany has, since 2008, been awarding the European Civil Rights Prize of Sinti and Roma to individuals and institutions who speak out in favor of protecting the civil rights of Sinti and Roma.
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