Conference aimed at improving Romany situation begins in Prague

Prague 26. 5. 2005 CTK

Integration of Romanies in central and eastern Europe with societies and improvement of the quality of their lives is the topic of a two-day international conference which began in Prague today. It is attended by representatives of the governments of eight countries which have joined the Decade of Romany Integration international project, as well as representatives of international non-governmental organisations and Romany organisations.

The project will put an emphasis on the effectivity of earmarked financial means, coordinator of its Czech part, Deputy Justice Minister Ivo Hartmann, said.

The Decade of Romany Integration project has been developed by the World Bank and the Open Society Institute. The countries which have joined it pledged to improve the conditions of Romanies in 2005-2015.The Czech government decided in January to join the project. It has also been joined by Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Serbia and Montenegro.

The Czech Republic has set the goal of improving the position of Romanies as regards education, employment, housing and health. Hartmann said that the government annually earmarked about 100 million crowns to support Romanies. This sum could considerably grow in the future thanks to the subsidy from the European Union preparatory funds. The Czech Republic will be able to draw up to 140 billion crowns a year from these funds in 2007- 2013.

"Only part of these means, however, can be used for the integration of the Romany community, especially for their social integration, their employment and inclusion in the economy," Hartmann told CTK.

The EU has not yet decided how much money the Czech Republic will receive and it is therefore impossible to say how much money the government will set aside for Romany needs.

The quality of concepts presented by individual governments is decisive for the integration of Romanies, Hartmann said, but added that their cooperation was useful.

"These international activities provide the possibility for us to learn experience in other countries to share our successful experience with out colleagues in other countries," he said. The Romany association Dzeno has demanded that Romany representatives have a bigger say in the project than so far. "Romanies must receive a chance of electing their representatives in charge of measures implemented as part of the Decade by themselves," Dzeno chairman Ivan Vesely told CTK. "We want to participate in the decision-making on the filling of posts connected with the Decade and not to learn about these civil servants from media reports," he said.

However, the government Council for Romany Issues is negotiating with Romany representatives, its director Czeslaw Walek told CTK."I don't know Dzeno's precise vision regarding the Decade since I have not received any proposal from it," he said.



Oh well, another talking shop that is going to deal, yet again, only with the situation of the Roma in Eastern Europe. It would appear that the Sinti and Cale (Kale) and even the Roma in Western Europe do not exist, especially as far as the "Decade of ROMA Inclusion" is concerned.