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Slovak President sharply criticizes shabby results in combating Romani poverty

20.5.2017 8:44
President of the Slovak Republic Andrej Kiska.
President of the Slovak Republic Andrej Kiska.

Romani issues in Slovakia are not being addressed robustly enough and the measures in place are having zero results. Those are the sharp words addressed to the Association of Cities and Municipalies in Slovakia (ZMOS) at their 28th congress by Slovak President Andrej Kiska.

The Slovak President is convinced that the failure to address Romani issues demonstrates the country's inability to manage public affairs. Slovak news server Pravda.sk reported on his speech on 18 May.

"If there is a subject where the deficiencies of our administration of public affairs and our weak ability to focus is most apparent, it is evidently how we address the problem of impoverished Romani communities," Kiska declared. The Slovak President said he is also convinced that the impotence of the relevant administrative bodies when it comes to effectively addressing Romani poverty has an unfortunate impact on society as a whole.

Kiska reminded the ZMOS that the EU has released EUR 450 million from its funds between 2014 and 2020 for addressing the problems of impoverished Romani people. In his opinion, that kind of budget should be able to achieve an improvemen in the lives of Romani communities in the near term and also has the potential to reduce tensions beween the majority society and the Roman minority.

The approach must be resolute

"Sharply-focused interventions by the bodies and institutions of local and state goverment are unavoidable," Kiska said. He also emphasized the necessity of proportionate participation by Romani people themselves when it comes to questions about improving the quality of their housing, increasing their educational achievements and stopping segregation in the schools.

"It is in the interests of Slovakia to determine clear aims and work to fulfill them," Kiska said, who also sees a direct connection between addressing Romani issues and the growth in extremism. The head of state closed his remarks by thanking the delegates for their everyday efforts to address problems afflicting not just local administrations, but all of Slovakia, as well as for their public service.

However, he also said he believes that any successes achieved at this moment are more anomalies than evidence of a systemic outcome. He emphasized that it is necessary to coordinate the main actors, to establish clear aims, and to insist that obligations be enforced.

"It is no longer enough to just design solutions to these matters, it is high time we see results. We must follow through on these things in such a way that people can actually feel it," Kiska closed his criticism, adding that local administrations, which are closest to where people live, are exactly the entities with experience in finding the best solutions and strategies for problem-solving.

Adéla Gálová, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Andrej Kiska, Poverty, President, Roma, Slovakia



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