IN NOVÉ ZÁMKY, Roma people who were evicted from their homes and moved to nearby villages for not paying their rent have been living in the square in front of the Town Office for more than a week.
The houses where they used to live were sold by the Nové Zámky Town Office to a new owner, who moved them out.
About 50 Roma returned to Nové Zámky. They have been living in the street in unhygienic conditions with their children.
The head of the Nové Zámky Town Office, Peter Ágh, called on the Office of Labour, Social Affairs and the Family to investigate whether it would be better to take the 15 or so children from their parents and send them to social facilities.
"We cannot just sit and watch how they sleep in the street," Ágh told journalists on September 18. "Maybe the office will have to send them to social institutions, at least until their parents find accommodation."
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What is your opinion concerning the eviction of the Roma?
Peter Ágh (PA): They are neither evicted, nor Roma. We in Nové Zámky, we adhere to the constitution, just like people anywhere else. It means there is no discrimination here. And from the economic point of view, we recognise payers and non-payers. I cannot say whether they are Roma, Jews, Indians, or anyone else.
Secondly, no one in our town has been evicted. We sold two apartment buildings to a private company on the condition that if they decide to move tenants who are citizens of Nové Zámky out of the apartment building, they will secure permanent substitute flats for them. Every one of them got permanent housing. So the Town Office has nothing to do with it. We are acting strictly in compliance with the law, and we accept that all people are alike.
TSS: The media has reported that the Roma children who live with their parents in the street will be placed in social institutions.
PÁ: Yes, exactly. When we learned that there are young children under 18 among them who do not go to school, who have nowhere to sleep, and who spend the whole day outside, we drew attention to that. On September 18, I visited the Office of Labour, Social Affairs and the Family in Nové Zámky. We have started solving this situation.
TSS: So you think it is OK to solve the problem this way?
PÁ: This is what we did not know. That is the reason we secured the substitute accommodation. All the people who are living in the street were repeatedly offered substitute accommodation. They refused it.
TSS: So this means their children will probably end up in social institutions?
PÁ: I cannot tell you. This is the business of the Office of Labour, Social Affairs and the Family. They are the only ones to comment on this.
On the morning of September 19, there were just five or six people left in the square. So I do not know whether the issue will solve itself, or whether the state will be forced to solve it.
TSS: Do you not think they became afraid that they could lose their children? That they feel intimidated?
PÁ: I cannot comment on this in any way.
TSS: You are stressing that the people in the street are not Roma, but simply citizens of Nové Zámky and non-payers.
TSS: But all the media are writing that they are Roma.
PÁ: Do you know what journalists in media have been inventing in the last two weeks, about me and about the whole situation? There was so much mendacious and inaccurate information.
TSS: For example?
PÁ: Beginning with the statements of the deputy prime minister that we did not comply with some things, etc. I denied all of that at the press conference. All media had the chance to look into the documents then.
TSS: There have been speculations about the company that became the new owner of these two buildings.
PÁ:The Town Office implemented the resolution of the town council concerning the sale of the houses. They were sold through a normal tender with some conditions. Several applicants appeared and a committee of seven people chose one of them - I was not a member of the committee. After the committee decided, I organised the purchase. I will definitely not comment on the company.
24. Sep 2007 at 0:00 | Ľuba Lesná