15. 11. 2015

President’s statement presented by the Mr. Rozkopal

The president of the Slovak Republic Mr Andrej Kiska assumed the patronage over the 7-th ageing of (the) Roma Spirit 2015, and it will be also this year. Therefore, we are very glad that the chief officer Mr Rozkopal came to support us on the EUROPEAN ROMA SPIRIT AWARD FORUM 2015. Mr. Rozkopal had a speach on this event which encouraged, assumed and motivated all of us.

Dear guests- international and local,

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

It is my honor to welcome you in Bratislava, Slovakia for the special occasion of this unique event. Let me first say thanks to its tireless organizers- both local and those abroad.

Roma population in Europe is exposed to prejudices, intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion. More than 10 million  Roma in Europe are facing multiple levels of discrimination in the social area, in education, healthcare and in the area of employment. The Roma issue extends beyond national boarders and requires common solutions and common actions.

Every European country is facing its own issues and tries its own solutions. And maybe our own Slovak experience can help us to understand how to do things, how to do them better or how to not do them at all.

I step in front of you as a representative of the Office of the President of the Slovak Republic and in the name of Mr. President, Andrej Kiska. Mr. President finds the biggest issues of the Slovak society, except of the most visible manifestations of the social exclusion of Roma from the majority population (segregated settlements, housing problems, language barriers), to be the same for the whole society no matter the national or ethnic affiliation. These issues are problems in education system and education itself, especially in the elementary schools.

Our Slovak education system when compared to the other European Union Countries is not able to overcome or at least decrease the differences between the children in elementary schools. That means to give all children, regardless of their social background, the same starting point for their studies, for their future life. In other words, our education system keeps the poor being poor.  

Of course, the solution to this problem cannot be found only in elementary schools. But it starts there and therefore we should devote special attention to it. We should also give our attention to the problem of Roma parents placing their kids in the so-called “Roma” schools just because they might have friends there, and they wouldn’t be exposed to harassment, unwillingness, and too obvious signs of exclusion.

Even this simple fact shows us that Roma issues in society, even Slovak society, have many dimensions and we need to recognize that. And we should act according to this realization. By common efforts and development of regional cooperation in accordance with European values and principles, it is inevitable to create conditions and reward initiatives that improve living conditions and dignified integration and inclusion of Roma minority.

And we all saw the example of that last night at the 7th annual Roma Spirit 2015 award giving ceremony. We saw the presentation and appreciation of creators, entrepreneurs, and activists for their indisputable and exemplary projects benefiting the Roma community in our country.

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

We truly believe that thanks to your active participation we will see each other again at the first ever ERSA award ceremony, which is especially encouraged by the Slovak presidency in the European Union in the second half of  next year. It will be a very welcome and deserved contribution to the diverse Roma agenda in the European public policy. 

I don’t have a recipe for the success of your meeting today, but I hope you will have success in achieving your goals on behalf of Mr. President. You constitute a very admirable community of experts and activists in Roma issues and you have already achieved a lot of progress in finding effective solutions in your own countries. I believe your cooperation and common efforts will support Roma Spirit, so it could spread its wings in Europe!

 I wish you a successful Forum.     

Best of luck!