Variety of events mark International Day of Roma in Prague

International Day of Roma in Prague - Vera Bila and Kale

A series of events were held to mark International Roma Day at the Rock Cafe on Prague's Narodni Street on Tuesday. There were readings from Romany literature, film screenings and discussions as well as dance and music, including a concert by the world famous Czech gypsy group Vera Bila and Kale. This year was the third time the International Day of Roma was celebrated in the Czech Republic; organiser Martina Horvathova summed up its importance.

"The importance of the International Day of Roma lies in the very fact that it exists at all. It's a celebration of the anniversary of the first congress of the International Romani Union and of the fact that Romanies from around the world are able to join together in the Union and try to do something, change something. The International Day of Roma isn't celebrated only in the Czech Republic but all around the world."

Events like those held in Prague on Tuesday can help raise awareness of the problems faced by members of the Roma community. On the issue of those difficulties I asked Martina Horvathova if there were any signs of improvement in the lives of Czech Romanies in recent years.

"We discussed that issue with a group of students from two Romany schools today and we came to the conclusion that compared with the period before 1989 the situation has gotten a bit worse. Nevertheless, there have been efforts in society - from both the majority and from Romanies - to make life better. As to whether things will improve I myself am an optimist. I think it's a question of time, of one or two generations before the position of Romanies improves."