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European Commission calls for demolition of “anti-Roma wall” in Košice

The European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sports,Media and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, has called for the “immediate” demolition of the concrete wall which divides the Košice city boroughs Západ and Lunik IX.

The European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sports,
Media and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, has called for the “immediate” demolition of the concrete wall which divides the Košice city boroughs Západ and Lunik IX.

The Pravda daily quoted Vassiliou as saying that the wall is not compatible with values on which the European Union is based. She sent a letter regarding the matter to Košice mayor Richard Raši, dated August 13. Raši claims that the wall was erected illegally and that it is the work of a former mayor of the city borough.

The Západ (West) housing estate in the eastern-Slovak city of Košice sought to segregate the neighbouring “inadaptable citizens” by erecting a wall that divides the inhabitants of the estate from the Roma living in the nearby Lunik IX and Lunik VIII estates. The most recent wall has become a bone of contention between Košice’s city administration and the administration of the Západ borough.

Košice spokeswoman Martina Urik Viktorinová told the TASR newswire that the city administration did not issue a license to construct the wall. The head of the office of the Západ mayor, Marián Krajňák, insists that the borough asked Košice for a stance concerning the planned construction and received approval. The borough then informed the city administration in written form and the “minor construction, the fence surrounding a parking lot” was announced at the City of Košice Construction Office. City officials insist that the wall was never approved, making it illegal.

Vassiliou reminded Raši that the EU has always promoted the fight against racism and xenophobia, and that the EC is ready to adopt steps aimed at boosting the principle of non-discrimination. She also pointed to the fact that actions leading to any segregation of inhabitants are in conflict with the ideals of the European Capital of Culture (ECOC), which Košice is hosting this year, and which involve integrating minorities in ECOC-related events, including a special programme focused on the Roma community. The Commissioner stressed, as quoted by the TASR newswire, that this was one of the fundamental criteria in selecting Košice for the 2013 ECOC.

Raši reacted with a letter stating that he was also surprised by the wall and that it was built by the Západ borough illegally, without the city’s consent. Raši accused current mayor of the borough Rudolf Bauer of being politically opposed to the city administration, and thus initiating the construction of the wall to further his own political agenda.

(Source: Pravda, TASR)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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