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New plenipotentiary for Roma communities is appointed

THE CABINET has approved Ľudovít Galbavý, nominated by Deputy Prime Minister Dušan Čaplovič, as the newest government plenipotentiary for Slovakia’s Roma communities on August 19.

THE CABINET has approved Ľudovít Galbavý, nominated by Deputy Prime Minister Dušan Čaplovič, as the newest government plenipotentiary for Slovakia’s Roma communities on August 19.

According to Čaplovič, Galbavý’s appointment will increase the effectiveness and coordination of the government’s actions aimed at Roma-related issues and of the systemic measures the government will take to improve the position of Roma citizens, the SITA newswire reported.

Galbavý, a former police director in Nitra, has experience in working with the Roma community and presently works in the social sciences and health-care department of the Nitra-based University of Constantine the Philosopher and lectures at the Institute of Romology Studies, SITA wrote.

Čaplovič said he decided to nominate Galbavý mainly because of his many years of experience working with Roma communities as well as professional qualifications.

“He’s also got experience in managerial positions; he is a good manager and I inquired about him also at the faculty, to the dean,” the TASR newswire quoted Čaplovič.

Roma organisations in Slovakia said they are willing to cooperate with Galbavý even though they do not know very much about him. The head of the Roma Initiative of Slovakia, Alexander Patkoló, recommended that the new plenipotentiary should organise a roundtable with Roma leaders and organisations as soon as possible to discuss ways in solving various Roma issues, SITA reported.

Ladislav Richter from the Council of Roma Communities, an NGO, said he believes Galbavý will be unbiased and just, as he is not connected to any particular Roma organisation.

Stano Daniel from the Institute of Roma Public Policy said it does not matter who takes this post at the moment.

“The office is set in such way that the plenipotentiary has no power to make any significant interventions, changes or deal with systemic issues,” Daniel told SITA.

The plenipotentiary’s office was established by the government of former Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda and the first plenipotentiary, Vincent Danihel, was appointed in 1999 by then-Deputy Prime Minister Pál Csáky who later recalled Danihel for alleged conflicts of interest. He was replaced by Klára Orgovánová, who was recalled by the present government in June 2007 for differing opinions about how to solve Roma problems.

Anina Botošová, who succeeded Orgovánová in the post, resigned in June 2009 after the Union of Roma in Slovakia (URS) accused her of approving two grants to a civic association with a registered office identical to her home address. She said she received a phone call after the accusations from Deputy PM Dušan Čaplovič asking her to resign and she did so. Čaplovič denies that he requested her resignation.

The plenipotentiary for Roma communities works as an advisor to the government but in 2008 many of the actual powers of the plenipotentiary were transferred to the director of the government’s plenipotentiary’s office.

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