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DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER EXPLAINS REASONS FOR FIRING ORGOVÁNOVÁ

Roma caste system got in the way

ROMA who can no longer be educated could work on the revitalization of the agriculture sector under the guidance of an experienced farmer, said Deputy Prime Minister for National Minorities Dušan Čaplovič, who recently sacked Klára Orgovánová, the cabinet appointee for the Roma community, and, in an interview with The Slovak Spectator, explained his reasons for doing so. Čaplovič, deputy chairman of the ruling party Smer and an archeologist by profession, said he has connected better with the Roma than Orgovánová has.

ROMA who can no longer be educated could work on the revitalization of the agriculture sector under the guidance of an experienced farmer, said Deputy Prime Minister for National Minorities Dušan Čaplovič, who recently sacked Klára Orgovánová, the cabinet appointee for the Roma community, and, in an interview with The Slovak Spectator, explained his reasons for doing so. Čaplovič, deputy chairman of the ruling party Smer and an archeologist by profession, said he has connected better with the Roma than Orgovánová has.


The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What were the reasons for recalling Klára Orgovánová from the post of cabinet appointee for the Roma communities?

Dušan Čaplovič (DČ):First and foremost it was about communication. If we want to deal with certain issues we have to talk to each other. If I compare Mrs Anna Botošová, the new cabinet appointee, and Mrs Orgovánová, there are fundamental differences. Botošová is very sensitive and she listens to people, not only to me, but also to others, and she makes every effort she can. Mrs Orgovánová had a rather authoritarian approach and I really couldn't stand it.


TSS: Can you be more specific?

DČ: You know Mrs Orgovánová comes from the musicians caste. The Roma respect the caste system and keep to it. I have a similar problem with my spokeswoman, who also identifies herself with the musicians caste. Sometimes none of them know how to communicate with a lower caste.


TSS: Did you feel Orgovánová's authoritarian approach also in her communication with you?

DČ: Yes. She was quite arrogant at meetings compared to my colleagues who represented other sections of the ministry. She pushed for her own opinions without wanting to hear those of others.


TSS: As far as you and Orgovánová are concerned, what kind of relationship did you have?

DČ: You know, I told her that I do not just want housing projects and that I want to focus more on education. I expected that the projects would be prepared in such a spirit; that they would at least be balanced. But again, she submitted a bunch of housing projects that I think could lead to segregation. I think these are a waste of money.


TSS: Orgovánová was quoted by the Sme daily saying that you are incompetent.

DČ: Of course, I am not a leading expert in the area. I am still starting and still learning many things. Klára Orgovánová has done a great deal of work. But on the other hand, I think I have more empathy toward the Roma than she has, even though she is a Roma herself. I realized this during my visits to Roma families. I go to every house, in every environment. I am even able to eat with them. She was not able to do that. The first contact is important so that they feel that they have nothing to be ashamed of because equal sits with equal, whether it is the deputy prime minister or the cabinet appointee for the Roma, even when it comes to simple Roma who are in difficult social situations.


TSS: So you think you have had more contact with the Roma than Klára Orgovánová?

DČ: I am certain about it. Besides, this is how it usually happens with the Roma that non-Roma make a better connection with the community when castes come into play. Klára Orgovánová comes from a certain upper-class family. I have seen it and have also seen the conflicts she has had. I know that it is impossible to unite the Roma but it is necessary to build bridges between them. Orgovánová sometimes told half-truths or white lies.


TSS: Obviously, you did have conflicts.

DČ: Well, you know that we were on bad terms. I kept repeating that the first thing is education and employment. Let's create education opportunities for the young people and chances of employment for the generation that can no longer be educated. They can be employed in agriculture or forestry. They could participate in the revitalization of farmland or forests. These areas could use the unskilled Roma labour. They could do something under the guidance of an experienced farmer. They don't need any qualifications whatsoever for that.

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