Roma representation at the foreign ministry

The Czech foreign ministry is to set up a special department by the end of next month. Its aim will be to deal with issues connected with the Roma minority. The deputy foreign minister, Martin Palous, said that the ministry would also employ an advisor for Romany affairs, who would himself or herself be a member of the Czech Republic's Roma minority. The move is a consequence of a memorandum between the Czech Foreign ministry and the International Romany Union, which was signed a month ago. Lucie Krupickova has the details.

The International Romany Union, has represented Romanies worldwide since 1971. The aim of the Union is to improve the position and living conditions of Roma the world over. A month ago, the Czech Republic became the very first country to sign a memorandum promising official cooperation between the Czech Foreign Ministry and the International Romany Union. Radio Prague asked the deputy minister Mr. Palous what the memorandum between the ministry and the Romany Union consisted of:

"It's a memorandum of understanding and cooperation. Our common understanding is that there is a nation in Europe and that this nation doesn't want to create a national state and that they simply want to be heard and seen in European and in another broader context. This memorandum says yes, we are ready to have an open dialogue as far as all concrete questions are concerned in this context. And the second thing is that International Romany Union is recognised as our partner. And as I already said that it doesn't exclude any other international Romany organisations, which eventually would share the same goal to take part in this process."

The president of the International Romany Union, Emil Scuka told us about the importance of the memorandum for the Union:

"In the last couple of months we've visited a number of European countries and Asia. Our task was to convince people of our programme, which is something new on the political scene. And we are glad to have convinced the Czech Republic about our idea. One of the reasons is because the Roma population in the Czech Republic is quite large - there are about 300 thousand Roma citizens living in this country and there are lots of problems that need to be solved. I do appreciate that the Czech Republic has had the courage to sign the document as the first country. We hope other countries will feel inspired by this move to follow the Czech Republic so that we can discuss Roma issues worldwide. I am convinced the International Romany Union can serve as a useful mediator in talks both on governmental and the international levels."

Author: Lucie Krupičková
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