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Europe prepares for decade of the Roma

EUROPE will ceremonially launch the "Decade of Roma Inclusion" in Sofia, Bulgaria February 2, an initiative developed by the World Bank, George Soros' Open Society Institute and nine countries in which Roma live in large
numbers, the daily SME reported.

It is not clear however, who will represent Slovakia at the ceremony. Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda will definitely not attend, although the Hungarian and Bulgarian prime ministers have already confirmed their participation.

On Wednesday, the government approved its action plan for the Decade of Roma Inclusion. The initiative will have a budget of Sk1.2 billion (€310 million) next year and focus on education, employment, housing and health.

In education, plan calls for more Roma teaching assistants and pre-school preparation courses.

In healthcare, the objective is to increase inoculations in the Roma community and improve family planning to raise the age at which people become parents.

Most of the funding will be spent on creating jobs. However, the Sk982 million (€25.3 million) funding will be shared between Roma and other disadvantaged groups, as the Ministry of Labour opposes the idea of aid being distributed according to ethnicity.

Overall responsibility for the success of the plan lies with Deputy Prime Minister for national minorities, Pál Csáky.

Compiled by Roger Heyes from press reports
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