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Proxy for Roma communities resigns

THE GOVERNMENT’S plenipotentiary for Roma communities, Anina Botošová, resigned from her post on June 10 following an accusation from the Union of Roma in Slovakia (ÚRS) that she had improperly awarded two grants totalling €22,200 to the Kaleidoskop civic association in 2008, the SITA newswire reported.

THE GOVERNMENT’S plenipotentiary for Roma communities, Anina Botošová, resigned from her post on June 10 following an accusation from the Union of Roma in Slovakia (ÚRS) that she had improperly awarded two grants totalling €22,200 to the Kaleidoskop civic association in 2008, the SITA newswire reported.

According to the registry of civic associations maintained by the Interior Ministry, the registered office of Kaleidoskop is identical with Botošová's home address.

A day before her resignation Botošová claimed that the Interior Ministry had not updated the register and that the information about her connection to Kaleidoskop was incorrect.

She said she has not been working with this association for five years since she took a position in public administration.

Moreover, she said she recused herself from voting on these two grants and that this was recorded in relevant documents, SITA reported.

Botošová announced on June 9 that she would resign if the government’s vice-chairman for minorities and human rights Dušan Čaplovič did not steer clear of the accusations. Čaplovič said he would act only after grants awarded by the plenipotentiary’s office were investigated.

But on June 10 Botošová said that Čaplovič called her and asked her to resign.

“The Government Office is ruled by lobbyist groups and the problems of the Roma are not being solved and I want to distance myself from that,” Botošová said about her resignation. “All the accusations are false; and to me someone who doesn’t stand up for me is not a partner,” she added, as quoted by SITA.

Čaplovič responded to Botošová’s claims in a press statement. He said he will insist on an audit of the plenipotentiary’s office to check the transparency of the evaluation of grant projects.
Čaplovič also refused to acknowledge any connection between Botošová’s resignation and the accusations made by ÚRS.

ÚRS had also criticized the fact that Botošová's late father, Ján Berky Mrenica Senior received an award for humanity in December 2008 in memoriam. The plenipotentiary claimed that she abstained from voting in this case as well. She said that her father, a famous musician, was awarded other prizes, including the Crystal Wing, Pribina’s Cross and Envoy of Slovakia, by majority-society organisations, not the Roma, SITA reported.

Botošová was named plenipotentiary in July 2007 after her predecessor Klára Orgovánová was dismissed by the cabinet due to differing opinions about how to solve problems of the Roma minority in Slovakia.

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