DESPITE the decision to cancel the Moldava spolu (Moldava Together) festival in Moldava nad Bodvou, Košice Region, scheduled for August 29, the organisers came to the local Roma Budulovská settlement and played a game of football with its residents.

There also was a concert in a garage and musicians playing guitar in the streets, as well as a theatre performance for children, the Sme daily reported on August 30.

“We decided that we will come to see our friends, to play football with them, to play together on guitars, to sing,” said Martin Vavrinčík from ETP Slovensko, a non-governmental organisation, as quoted by Sme.

The festival was cancelled twice. The organisers had originally planned it for June, but Moldava nad Bodvou Mayor István Zachariaš disliked that the festival would take place one year after the controversial police raid of the Budulovská settlement where a special police unit left dozens of people injured.

The festival was then postponed until August, but local police allegedly persuaded the mayor to cancel the festival for security reasons, Sme wrote, citing narrow roads leading in and out of the settlement, as well as a high concentration of people and messy conditions within the settlement. The festival was later banned by the town council.

“Though there are both dogs and a mess, we proved that it is safe, there is a good atmosphere and nothing has happened to us here,” Vavrinčík told Sme.

The events held on August 28 were calm, spontaneous and took place without any visible coordination. Nobody from the town came to watch the football match. A police patrol came through the area only once, the daily wrote.

Irma Horváthová, head of the local community centre, hopes the festival will take place next year. Its aim is to improve the cohabitation of Roma and non-Roma living in Moldava nad Bodvou. This year’s festival was originally supported by President Andrej Kiska and the US Embassy to Slovakia, Sme wrote.

Source: Sme

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.