Press Advisories

1. 7. 20109:52

The Czech Presidency of the Decade of Roma Inclusion has begun

Prime Minister Jan Fischer attended the opening ceremony for the Czech Presidency of the international initiative – the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005–2015.

Michael Kocáb, the Government Minister for Human Rights and Minorities, and representatives of Romany organisations joined the Prime Minister at the opening ceremony, which was held yesterday, 28th June, in the Kramář villa. The Czech Republic assumed the one-year rotating Presidency from Slovakia.

The Government established the priorities of the upcoming Czech Presidency in its Resolution of 7 June this year. The Czech Republic presented a schedule of its Presidency, including a list of planned activities, to the International Steering Committee meeting which was held last week in Bratislava.

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The Czech Presidency has divided its priorities into five categories. The first of these is inclusive education. The Czech Republic will seek to develop inclusive policies backed by empirical data and the possibility of collecting and using ethnically non-aggregated data. The second pillar is the living conditions and rights of children and the third involves Roma women. Another aim of the Presidency is the implementation of integration policies at a local level, focusing on self-government. As part of this last priority, the Czech Republic intends to focus on the media and the image of the Roma. According to the Government Minister for Human Rights and Minorities, Michael Kocáb, integration policies should also be improved at a local level. “Self-government is a key element in the success or failure of integration,” said Michael Kocáb.

The central goal of the initiative as a whole is the full integration of the Roma and their emancipation from perpetual poverty. “I believe that this Presidency will break the bonds of poverty and social exclusion suffered by many of our fellow citizens,” said Prime Minister Jan Fischer during his speech at yesterday’s opening ceremony.

The objectives of the Decade are met by the individual countries through national Action Plans. Each state uses these to define tasks in the fields of education, employment, health care, housing and cross-disciplinary areas. The outcomes are monitored on an on-going basis, and each of the Decade’s member countries will then use this information to assess the progress made towards completing these tasks and meeting the objectives set.

The Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 is an international initiative by twelve countries which have committed to improve the welfare and living conditions of the Roma. Its priority focus is on the areas of education, housing, health and employment. In addition to the Czech and Slovak Republics, the Decade’s member states also include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Spain. Slovenia participates as an observer.

Under the Czech Presidency, a meeting of the International Steering Committee will be held this September in Prague. There will also be four international conferences and one national seminar. The Office of the Government of the Czech Republic will be responsible for the organisation of activities and co-financing will be provided by the Decade Trust Fund and non-profit making organisations.

The project’s founders and partner organisations are the World Bank, the Open Society Institute (OSI), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Council of Europe, the Council of Europe Development Bank, the Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (ODHIR - OBSE), the European Roma Information Office (ERIO), the European Roma and Travellers Forum and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC). In 2008 the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also joined.

A report on progress made on the Decade’s aims and tasks is submitted to the Government of the Czech Republic once each year. The Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Government Council for Roma Community Affairs present it to Cabinet members. A national coordinator, appointed by the prime minister, is responsible for preparing the Decade activities. The Government Council for Roma Community Affairs set up a Committee for the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 in 2004. This advisory body is composed of representatives from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministry for Regional Development, the Agency for Social Inclusion in Roma Localities and representatives of the non-government, non-profit sector, represented by the Open Society in Prague, Dženo, o.s., IQ Roma Servis and members of the Government Council for Roma Community Affairs. Since 2009 this Committee has focused primarily on establishing the priorities for the Czech Presidency of the Decade.

Additional information and news can be found on the website of the Government Council for Roma Community Affairs at