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.


  1. 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.

    1. 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!!

      1. 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 .

      2. Loggie
        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. @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!

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

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

      2. 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.

        1. 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?

    2. @Expat

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

      1. I’m sorry that my mobile-written contributions don’t reach your clearly very high standards 🙂

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

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

  4. Bravo Ash, nicely put !

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

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

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