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Next proxy should be Roma

POLLÁK should replace Pollák in the post of government proxy for Roma communities, said Igor Matovič, the chairman of the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities party (OĽaNO), who now claims that the ruling Smer party has offered the post to his party, which in fact brought the sole Roma deputy to parliament in the 2012 elections. If OĽaNO accepts the offer, the post currently held by Miroslav Pollák will most likely go to OĽaNO deputy Peter Pollák, the first Roma ever to sit in the Slovak Parliament. Even though the offer is neither official nor approved by Smer bodies, it has launched a dispute over Smer’s motives as well as the powers that should be granted to proxies.

MP Peter Pollák(Source: Sme – Tomáš Benedikovič)

POLLÁK should replace Pollák in the post of government proxy for Roma communities, said Igor Matovič, the chairman of the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities party (OĽaNO), who now claims that the ruling Smer party has offered the post to his party, which in fact brought the sole Roma deputy to parliament in the 2012 elections. If OĽaNO accepts the offer, the post currently held by Miroslav Pollák will most likely go to OĽaNO deputy Peter Pollák, the first Roma ever to sit in the Slovak Parliament. Even though the offer is neither official nor approved by Smer bodies, it has launched a dispute over Smer’s motives as well as the powers that should be granted to proxies.

“The proxy itself is just a figurehead… without challenges and real power,” said Peter Pollák as quoted by the SITA newswire, adding that only politicians can change the system and neither activists nor proxies are able to solve the Roma problem.

OĽaNO has said that it first needs to ensure that Smer is genuinely willing to deal with the Roma issue. Pollák pointed out that several people have occupied the proxy post over the past ten years, yet no one has made progress with solutions for the Roma so far, according to SITA.

The disputes

Alojz Hlina of OĽaNO warns that the offer could harm his party, explaining that Fico “knows what he is doing” and if OĽaNO succeeds with solutions to the Roma problem, Smer will use these results for its own gain. Yet if OĽaNO fails, Smer will pour the blame on the opposition party, Hlina said.

“It is important to sign an agreement with him [Robert Fico] about solutions that Smer will have to support,” said Hlina, as quoted by the Sme daily.

Pollák’s nomination has brought about a conflict in parliament between Júlis Brocka, a deputy of the Christian and Democratic Movement (KDH), and Pollák, who stated that if he becomes the proxy he would not give up his MP post. Brocka claims that it is not possible to perform these two jobs at the same time as there could emerge a conflict of interest.

“The Roma question is a complicated problem to the point that one person should focus on it at 100 percent,” said Brocka as quoted by Sme.

However Pollák assured Brocka that he would give up his salary as a proxy and be paid only for his work as a member of parliament.

OĽaNO plans

According to Matovič, OĽaNO is working on a comprehensive legislative package over Roma issues, while its details will be presented later. Pollák revealed that there are plans to draft around 40 or 50 regulations expected to improve the situation in Roma communities. He believes that these could be adopted within the current government's term of office, as SITA reported.

One of the regulations proposes compensation for owners of land where illegal Roma settlements are built. In such cases, the state would buy the land from its owners, who are effectively unable to use their property, subsequently offering it to the Roma community to purchase it, according to Sme.

Pollák even considers reforming the current social system, which does not motivate people to work, according to him, so that they prefer to receive social allowances for being unemployed instead of looking for job. He suggests that the current system of “activating jobs”, whereby the state creates jobs for the unemployed, should be changed, pointing out that these jobs should only be given to people as a reward for not committing delinquency.

According to Pollák, more benefits should be available to those who conduct themselves with decency than for those who do not, adding that people who create problems should be penalised rather than rewarded, as reported by SITA.

If Pollák accepts the post, he'll become the second opposition figure serving PM Robert Fico's government. Most-Híd MP László Nagy was appointed as proxy for minorities in June, 2012.

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