The Roma Initiative in Slovakia (RIS), a group representing the country’s Roma communities, says it is concerned about the lack of attention paid to resolving Roma problems in Slovakia by the current government, RIS chairman Alexander Patkoló said at a press conference in Banská Bystrica on Wednesday, May 5. Patkoló is also a candidate in the forthcoming general election for the Alliance for a Europe of Nations (AZEN) party.
Even though the three coalition parties – Smer, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, HZDS, and the Slovak National Party (SNS) – presented the Roma problem as a priority before the 2006 election, Patkoló said that nothing had been done in this respect 'as a priority', the TASR newswire reported.
According to Patkoló, the biggest problems exist in education and housing: he pointed to the number of segregated Roma villages, which was supposed to have fallen but has risen instead. He also criticised the government’s inactivity in drawing about €200 million of available funds from an EU package earmarked for Roma in the period 2007-13, hardly any of which has been used so far.
Referring to the June 12 general election in which is he is a candidate for AZEN, a party formed earlier this year by ex-HZDS MP Jozef Urbáni, Patkoló warned about the possibility that Roma votes would be bought, and said he wants relevant EU bodies to be asked to come and oversee the election.
Slovakia’s deputy prime minister for a knowledge-based society, European affairs, human rights and minorities, Dušan Čaplovič, rejected Patkoló's statements as "a demagogic misuse of the Roma issue", Čaplovič's spokesman Michal Kaliňák said, as reported by TASR. According to Kaliňák, Čaplovič viewed Patkoló's statements as "unfortunate commentary" rather than an analysis or an expert opinion on the matter.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
6. May 2010 at 10:00