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Meeting with representatives of the Romany Association of Slovenia and the Municipality of Murska Sobota

Murska Sobota, 01/17/2007  |  press release, statement

Click to enlargeThe President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Janez Drnovšek, today met in Murska Sobota with the President of the Romany Association of Slovenia, Mr Jožek Horvat-Muc, and his closest associates, the President of the Forum of Romany Councillors with the Association, Mr Darko Rudaš, and the representatives of the Murska Sobota municipality. The purpose of the meeting was to have a discussion in a relaxed atmosphere and in a constructive way, as well as to assess the current situation of the Romany community in Slovenia. The aim was also to find a solution to the intolerance towards this minority, which has increased in Slovenia over the last year. "We should build on the experience of co-existence between the Romany and local communities in Prekmurje," stated Dr Drnovšek. Mr Horvat-Muc added that Prekmurje, compared with other European Romany settlements that he has visited, could in fact set an example for co-existence in multicultural, interlinked, tolerant and humanitarian ways. The present situation originates in a tolerant attitude between the Romany and the majority population, pointed out the Deputy Mayor of Murska Sobota, Mrs Terezija G. Bratina. She went on to say: "We believe that the construction of the kindergarten in the largest Romany settlement in Slovenia, in Pušča forty years ago, is of special significance, since it stems from the perception that the integration of children into the educational process contributes to the maximum participation of society."

After the meeting Dr Drnovšek told the press:

Click to enlarge"We talked about the current situation, the status of the Romany in Slovenia. Considering the recent developments with the Strojan family, I believe this discussion was necessary and useful. And in my opinion it was very constructive.

In my capacity as President, I wish and endeavour to provide equality and a decent life for each and every citizen of Slovenia; of course, we should show particular concern for minority communities, in this case the Romany community. Outbursts of intolerance must not be tolerated in Slovenia. Slovenia must maintain the vision that we conceived at the time of its founding – a country in which everyone can live peacefully and freely, and in which no one is pushed aside.

We discussed their specific problems with representatives of the Romany Association of Slovenia, as well as proposals for the resolution of the situation, the Romany Community Act – currently in parliamentary procedure – and how to facilitate the situation in various local communities where the Romany are faced with various location problems. A resolution can be found jointly in order to improve living conditions and ensure the safety of the lives of the Romany living in settlements in which a great deal – in some cases legal aspects, in some infrastructure – remains to be regularised and attended to.

I considered it important to talk here, in Murska Sobota, in Prekmurje, because Prekmurje's experience has been a positive one. It has been clearly demonstrated that here the Romany can live a normal life on an equal footing with other inhabitants. There is no problem here, and no tension, and it does not matter if someone is or is not Romany. The multicultural tradition is more developed here than elsewhere in Slovenia, and so is tolerance. I think that this example should be followed in other parts of Slovenia and that experiences of cooperation between the Romany community and the local community should be transferred elsewhere. It has again been proven that 'where there is a will, there is a way'. Both sides should meet halfway and find a solution together. Then everyone can live in peace and enjoy friendly and neighbourly relations."

When asked by a journalist: "Would you comment on the draft law proposed by Jelinčič and currently under consideration?"

Dr Janez Drnovšek replied: "I am not familiar with this legal proposal. I am familiar with the one drafted by the Government in cooperation with the Romany community and covering all the required points. I find it a realistic basis for consideration."