Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Roma group wants EU states to admit part of Czech Roma

14 March 2011

Prague, March 11 (CTK) - The Czech Roma group Forum has complained to the EU Foreign Minister and European institutions about "anti-Gypsy" stands prevailing in the Czech Republic and asked them to discuss admission of a certain number of Czech Roma with selected EU countries.

The Roma activists suggest that the Czech Republic should cover the given countries' expenses linked to their admission of Roma. Moreover, Prague should cover the Czech Roma' "new future" abroad, Forum writes in a document released to CTK.

Apart from EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton and Council of Europe human rights commissioner Thomas Hammarberg, Forum has also turned to Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas, Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra (both Civic Democrats, ODS) and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09).

The Forum document's six signatories include well-known Roma activists Ondrej Gina and Ladislav Bily.

On behalf of Forum, they complain about long-term racial violence, discrimination, human rights violation and anti-Gypsy approach.

Before entering the EU, the Czech Republic tried to fulfil the relevant requirements, but the situation "dramatically worsened" after the entry, the authors write, also mentioning alleged racist approach to Roma by Czech institutions and violence on the part of neo-Nazis.

"In terms of its approach to Roma, the Czech Republic is not a law-abiding state or a democratic country," Forum writes.

It asks the Council of Europe, the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to start negotiations with ten of the 15 "old" EU members, plus Switzerland, about their admission of "a certain number" of Roma from the Czech Republic.

It mentions Germany, France, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Italy and Luxembourg in this connection.

The signatories recall that many Roma have left the Czech Republic for abroad in recent years. Canada reintroduced visa requirements for Czechs over the inflow of Czech refugees, and Britain introduced some measures as well in the past, they write.

"To prevent similar and further complications, it is necessary that European bodies and institutions stage diplomatic negotiations with individual countries that would admit Roma refugees," the Forum activists write.

According to them, international institutions' hitherto steps have been ineffective, though the institutions have enough information about the situation in the Czech Republic. They should start enforcing an improvement and possibly impose sanctions, the activists write.

They say Czech Roma have been trying hard and establishing activist associations, but they cannot change the situation without being helped.

Hammarberg criticised Prague's approach to Roma earlier this month. He pointed to anti-Roma stands of Czechs and called on the Czech Republic to intensify its Roma integration efforts.

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