Ostravice, North Moravia - A Romany ghetto might emerge in the Czech mountain village Ostravice as a company plans to build housing for Romanies from Ostrava there but the residents strongly disagree with the plan, Mayor Jaromir Dobrozemsky told journalists Monday.
The Ostrava-based REALIS-INVEST company that owns the area of the former local social care institution intends to build housing for about 40 to 50 Romany families from Ostrava on the premises.
The municipal authorities met representatives of the company and the local Romany community on Monday, but the talks produced no concrete results, Dobrozemsky said.
The company spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter asking journalists to send their questions in writing.
According to Dobrozemsky, the company has proposed two variants of the use of the abandoned premises. According to the first one, the abandoned buildings will be reconstructed to be used as tenant houses. According to the second one, housing for Romanies will be built there.
"No decision has been made and the talks will continue. The decision will take a long time to be made," Dobrozemsky said.
He said the Romany representatives asked about the ways of solving their social situation on Monday. The questions concerned the payment of security benefits and the capacity of kindergartens and schools.
They were told to send their questions in writing.
Dobrozemsky said that according to the second variant, the company would reconstruct the buildings into housing for Romanies for European Union money that it expects to obtain.
The residents of the village that is located in the Beskydy protected landscape area are unhappy at the prospect of neighbouring a Romany ghetto.
A 72-year-old local resident told journalists Monday he was afraid that many more Romanies than planned could finally move to the premises because Romanies from Slovakia would start joining their relatives.
He admitted that he was mainly afraid of thefts.
He said Romanies would never adapt themselves to the lifestyle of the majority society.
According to him, the appearance of the ghetto would mean the end to the village.
Vratislav Gloziga, who guards the abandoned premises, told journalists Monday that the current situation was a mere escalation of the problems in mutual communication between the area's new owner and the municipality.
Editorial Comment: I do not think that we should worry, per se, about a settlement that is just for Romani People for that, by it self, does not make a ghetto, whatever some people may claim. They did the same when the Sinti in Germany wanted to build the Maro Them settlement in Kiel and that is why it took so long before they were allowed to go on with it.
What we must watch though is the fenced and walls that are being built, that have been cerated and that are being proposed, which are intended to separate Romanies from the general public, in a couple of instances with walls and gates and guards to “protect them from attacks”. Whoever believes the latter has never read history and how things were for the Rom just before the Romani Holocaust began. <>Ed.<>