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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. The initiative was 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 January 12 the Slovak government approved its action plan for the "Decade of Roma Inclusion". Its initiative will have a budget of Sk1.2 billion (€310 million) next year and focus on education, employment, housing and health.

In education, the plan calls for more Roma teaching assistants and courses to prepare children for school life.

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, Sk982 million (€25.3 million) in 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.

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