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Posted by on 23 Oct 2012. Filed under Current Affairs, Top news. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Roma Problems Get More Limelight

Recent incidents and events have led all political parties to start taking a more populist interest in Roma issues, as if they have only now sprung up in society, but the positive side is that some serious thought is being given to how to resolve the problems of Roma communities, many of which lie at the extreme edge of society.

Roma shanty settlements can be found all over the country (c) Margoz

At a press conference yesterday, interior minister Robert Kalinak was joined by the Government plenipotentiary for Roma affairs Peter Pollak and head of the OLaNO party Igor Matovic (who nominated Pollak to the post). They presented the first part of the Right Way roadmap for dealing with Roma issues and problems, outlining 14 key points by which they hope to make progress in the field of education.

The plan over the next few years is to resolve problems through education by sending the children of some ‘risk’ Roma families to pre-school facilities already at the age of three, for instance. Vocational training looks set to become obligatory for those with bad school results, where older children will be trained in manual trades for three years.

There will be stricter links between school attendance and family or welfare allowances, this designed to deal with the disinterest of many parents about making sure their kids go to school every day. Another goal is to reduce the number of Roma children being sent automatically to ‘special needs’ schools, also as these reportedly cost twice as much as normal schools.

Protesters against "non-conforming" Roma demanded police protection (c) Kika, TheDaily.SK

The education package is just part of a whole stream of measures being drawn up at present in an attempt to finally deal with Roma issues in Slovakia, with much of the input coming from recommendations of international organisations. Nevertheless, leader of opposition party KDH Jan Figel referred to the measures as superficial solutions, while others are questioning their practical and financial feasibility.

On the same day, members of the opposition Freedom and Solidarity party (SaS) were climbing up a hill to Reviste Castle to salute the Roma working on their pilot project called “Work, not Benefits”. The plan is to give people a minimum wage in return for doing a job of work, which the state would essentially mediate. If a jobseeker refuses the work, they will lose their benefits and be entitled to just one warm meal a day. Last month the party also put forward a list of 30 proposals of its own on how to deal with Roma issues.

Whatever develops from the various initiatives and plans, the results should prove fruitful as dealing with Roma issues has suddenly gained in strength as a good card for politicians to hold in their hand.

21 Comments for “Roma Problems Get More Limelight”

  1. Dave C.

    Loggie – You like your new tag, excellent news. I may prefix it with “Golden” at some time in the future.
    Faster runner in the Eastern block? – Slovenia to name but one.
    First in the Eastern Block – not what you posted but an acceptable slip.
    Mr Pollak – didn’t call him an idiot, questioned if someone who is part of the organisation that has done jack in the last twenty years is qualified to take the lead on this. As Ash said, it will take experts with experience and there is a lack of both hereabouts.
    Republic of Ireland – One of only eleven countries who contribute more to the EU than they get back. Every Irish citizen is out of pocket by about Euro 40.00 subsidising the other 16 countries, including Slovakia.
    40 years of communism – ended twenty years ago so no excuse there.

    As for your little chin wag with your “English friends” – its a shame none of you bothered to read about the referendum first. The ruling Scottish National Party ( Scotland has its own parliament) have tried to do this before and were defeated and it looks that this effort will go the same way. According to the most recent polls the majority of the Scots don’t want “independance” and for very good reasons. As a separate state Scotland would have to apply to join the EU and the Euro along with all the other organisations it is now a member of, which, as you well know, would take years. There is also the small matter of the financial status of such a country – it does not have its own currency and the rating agencies have so far refused to give a credit rating, so any future Scots Govt. may not be able to borrow money. So I wouldn’t hold your breath on Scotland leaving the Union just yet. On the matter of the Queen thats another difficult area because the Act of Union came about when a Scottish King also became the King of England. Scotland could become a republic but there is no support for that idea so HMQ would remain as she is now, Queen of Scotland.
    By the way I have Scottish ancestry of which I am very proud, love Scotland and the Scots.
    Comparing the Scotland – England issue with your own country’s split from the Czechs is a tad simplistic. The former Czechoslovakia had few, if any, treaty obligations, was not a permanent member of the UN security council and had no dependancies scattered all over the world plus there was a genuine desire amongst the majority of Czechs and Slovaks to go their own way, which is not evident in the UK.
    As for the Union Flag, although generally accepted as the flag of the United Kingdom it has no legal standing as such. It is actually the Queen’s Flag of the Union. All the countries and semi-automonous regions of the United Kingdom have their own flags – Scotland has always had its own flag. If the flag were changed it would not be the first time, the current design was adopted in 1801 and there have been a number of new designs submitted in the last century. It is generally thought that the Union Flag would not be changed because of its historical significance in much the same way many former empire countries have kept it as a canton of their respective national flags and many other foriegn regions have kept it as part of their flags – Westmorland,PA, Taunton,MS, Baton Rouge, LA, Coquimbo, Chile and the state of Hawaii to name but a few. It is also the internationally recognised symbol for the English language and trade mark for British products.
    Would Scotland survive as an independant state? The jury is still out on that question, manufacturing has declined in the last 20 years, heavy engineering and ship building are at an all time low and North Sea oil is expected to run dry within the next decade. I believe the Union will remain but with greater powers for the Scottish parliament.

    • Losgar

      Golden Loggie sounds OK. Maybe I’ll call you Grandpa Christmas then.

      Slovenia is the ONLY country from the former Eastern block that is doing better than Slovakia. Thanks to the fact that they always had their market economy partly developed as a part of Yugoslavia which never been a “true” communist country.
      You can as well give me as an example Eastern Germany. Still after 20 years the economical differences between the west and east part of Germany haven’t been wiped out completely.

      About SVK economy – you might know that after the revolution the SVK economy was falling for maybe 8 years and maybe in the next 4 years came to the same level as the economy was before the Velvet Revolution. So it took Slovakia about 12 years?? to come to the same point where it was in 1989. Maybe since 2002 we can talk about rising. Between 2002 and 2006 Slovakia was called a Tiger of Eastern Europe thanks to all the reforms it has done.
      In 2009 came the crisis. The only one economy is in blue numbers – the German. All the other economies are doing approximately the same. Not mentioning countries like Greece.

      I asked you a few questions and you didn’t answer one. That’s alright.
      I asked you if you thought that Ireland was a beggar by the time that it joined the EU. Not now. So the moment they started paying more then receiving they stopped being beggars? What do you think of the Greeks? “A spitting beggar that needs an organ transplant while everybody knows that he will die anyway?”

      Thanks for the lecture on Scottland. Yeah, I think too that they will go down the sewer the moment they declare independancy. They have too much heavy industry. They can’t make it.
      Or wait a moment, that’s the same they said about Slovakia parting the Czechs!!

      • Lady Ga Ga

        Golden Loggie, that means a large fine turd, or my friend tells me .

        Whatever, you GL are an embarrassment to the entire Slovak race, with your dumb words and silly commnets . Take Georges offer and step up the ladder .

      • Dave C.

        If, as you insist, we can not count the former Yugoslav states or I presume the Baltic states, then yes, Slovakia has done well in the past but we have yet to see what effect your current govt. policies will have on this. Point to note, while national GDP rose at record rates the standard of living remained almost stagnant.
        Eire joined the EU in 1973 and has been a net beneficiary of EU funding since then. It became a net contributor last year and is forecast to rejoin that club in 2013. The Irish used the EU funding to switch from a mainly agrarian ecconomy to its current, stronger, more diverse ecconomy and to improve infrastructure, education, environment, research, agriculture, business etc. They used the funds wisely and crfeated what is still one of the strongest ecconomies in Europe. They are and will continue to pay back into the EU – when will the Sk follow their example?
        I fully support the richer EU countries helping the poorer but I object to some of the things I have seen here – swimming pools with no power, water or drains, a Roma housing project empty for years because there are no roads or utilities, crap roads costing far more per Km than in the rest of Europe, funds being misused, wasted or just pocketed by corrupt officials.
        Image what Slovakia’s performance would have been like if the money had been better spent.
        What do I think of the Greeks – a wonderful people, lovely country but they (the politicians of all colours) have wasted money like there is no tomorrow, using it to try and maintain power by popularist policies with little effort to actually build a stable ecconomy and I see the same here. Which leads nicely to your last comment re SK / Czech split – the Czechs inherited most of the manufacturing industry and their ecconomy is doing well, the Sk boom has been based on industry moving here because the country was an attractive place to base operations but it would appear that current govt. policies are changing that. Be under no illusion, the main driving forces behind the Sk success – the car and associate industries will leave if the Sk is no longer such a good place to be.

  2. EXPAT

    @Editor: “some serious thought is being given: – Correction “some serious thoughts are being given” -or- “serious thought have been given” -or- “serious thoughts will be given”…. Which one? Present, past or future?

    @ George: ”
    “BTW , your don`t have a Brother called Dave “?
    (By the way, do you have a brother named/called Dave?)

    English…. Learn it and use it!

    • Wustpisk

      ‘some serious thought is being given’ is 100% correct. Hopefully you aren’t teaching English for a living :)

      • Dave C.

        Expat is a Yank – Websters English only – color, honor, aint etc.

      • EXPAT

        The focus was on the singularity of the word thought! I hope it is more than one person thinking about this issue. Therefore, “thoughts”, changing the past participle from singular and making it plural. If only one person is thinking or has thought of this, then sure it is correct, but I doubt one person is behind this.
        @ Wustpick – You are in no position to make corrections, I have read your entries!

        I don’t ever plan on Teaching English, as this is a “JOB” for a true english professional, which doesn’t exist in Slovakia. I hold a TEFL certificate and hold a BA in Communications, but would never want to teach English for a living. I will leave this to the “seasonal” Native Speakers to mess up for the Slovak learners.

        • James

          If you say ‘serious thought is being given’, there is absolutely no indication that only one person is doing the thinking. Essentially, you are bullshitting.

          ‘I don’t ever plan on Teaching English, as this is a “JOB” for a true english professional, which doesn’t exist in Slovakia.’

          Could you explain/paraphrase?

    • Chris


      There is nothing wrong with the English in that example from the article. Your ‘corrections’, on the other hand…

    • Expat, as Chris pointed out, I think you should learn English grammar before you start trying to preach it. Thanks.

  3. George M

    Winston, Pollak is also an Idiot , as you are .

  4. George M

    Bravo Ash, nicely put !

    BTW , your don`t have a Brother called Dave ?

  5. esteban

    is about time that 21st century european societies look after social inclusion. good news!

  6. Losgar

    Peter Pollak IS Roma.

  7. Dave C.

    Ashley – Well said Sir!

  8. Losgar

    Of course Grandpa, you always praise any negative comments about Slovakia.
    Don’t you care that George the lesbian calles Peter Pollak an idiot and right in the next paragraph says that there should be in some decision making position at least some Roma? An expert opinion indeed.

    Slovakia is the first country that is actually going to do something about the Roma problem and this is your response to it?

    Please if you are going to post any desinformation about Slovakia better don’t reply.

  9. George M

    Hey Loghead,

    Dave C has bought the 15cm pins and I have the hammer, so when you are ready, we can start your requested journey into website martyrdom, by nailing you to the Cross that JB has provided.

  10. Dave C.

    If an when Slovakia actually does something about the “Roma Problem” I will celebrate and lavish praise but at the present it’s just all talk, talk no walk, walk and that appears to be all that has been done in this country in the last twenty years despite the millions of Euros thrown into the Sks begging bowl. Maybe it’s just like in so many things, you’re slow starters.
    “Slovakia is the first country that is actually going to do something…….. “- Did you sleep too close to the microwave as a child? The effective assimilation of the Roma into Belgian, Dutch, German, Norwegian, Swedish, Finish etc. societies? do their efforts not count in your limited perspective? Oh, sorry I forget, Slovakia is the centre of the universe in your tiny mind and the rest of the world just follow your inventive example – vapour brain!
    Everything Ashley wrote is true, the Slovak record on Roma issues is an international disgrace.
    As for Mr Pollak, I don’t know his credentials but as he is part of that circus that passes for a parliament here I don’t have much faith in his input. Ashley quite rightly said “experts are needed”, so I don’t think they will find any here judging by the previous decades of inactivity by politicians of all colours but then again qualifications have never been a bar to the wrong people getting the jobs in this country.

  11. Losgar

    Grandpa, I like your above comment much better than the last 6. I also like you calling me Loggie.

    You talk about International disgrace. Why? Explain yourself. You tend to say something – open a door but nothing comes in.

    We are slow starters? Who in Eastern Europe is a fast runner then? SVK is in every aspects /good and bad/ on the same level as any other eastern European country. In some aspects even better.
    You lived in SVK for some time, you should now why is that. If you think that miracles happen over night you better join Harry Potter’s fan club.
    Now before you say something – I wish we were runners with the wind, it’s just it doesn’t work that way. 40 years of communist regime changed thinking of the people, deformed it. As you can see I and many other SVKs have no problem to admit it. Unlike some of you Brits.

    You put a lot of words in my mouth that I didn’t say, thought or heard anybody saying.
    Do I think that SVK is the centre of the Universe? Of course I do!! :D That the world should follow us? No!
    That SVK has the solution for the Roma problem? Maybe will have soon.
    That the last government have done anything significant to put the Roma on their feet? No!
    That the money were invested in the right Roma helping projects? Not all of them for sure.

    You think of the new EU countries as beggars? Now tell me was f.e. Ireland a beggar when they joined the EU?
    Do you think that the UK is one of the best countries in the world? I know the UK SS think they are while they officially admit making no mistakes.

    You know nearly nothing about Peter Pollak yet you agree with Ashley M. that he is an idiot? This says something about your character, don’t you think?

    Yes, SVK is the first country from the Eastern European block that is going to do something about the Roma problem. If we tried to solve the problem right after the WWII, in the 50′s it would be solved by now. Instead of that goverments since the 50′s till the 90′s kept throwing on the Romani more and more money hoping it would mend the hole. Since the 90′s no politician had the courage to do something about it.

    In my opinion the SVKs have true desire to make it happen, I know I have. I have 2 Roma friends back at home, and know about 10 others who I wouldn’t consider friends. I am an optimist.

    Now off the topic:
    Today I discussed with my English friend over the lunch a funny topic – How the Brits will change the British flag if the Scotts say yes to independency in the 2014 Referendum.
    My friend thinks that the blue colour and white diagonal stripes will have to go. He sincerely hopes that the Scotts will stay and keep their mouths shut for the next 20 years, till the next referendum.
    I think that the flag shouldn’t change, other countries like Australia could say good-bye to the queen then as well after changing the British symbol in their flag.
    What do you think of Scottland, Grandpa? Let me guess – losers?
    We are beggars, they are losers, you are winners. Simple enough.

    I told my friend that it would be definitely better for Scottland go separate way. Slovakia and the Czech Republic done it and it was the best that could happen to us. Now the relationship between us is better then ever and both countries are doing economically and politically just well.

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