Ambassador Andrew Schapiro was one of the presenters of the Roma Spirit Awards, an annual ceremony held yesterday on International Human Rights Day. The awards recognizing efforts to improve the situation of Czech Roma were given to the Slovo 21 group; the municipality of Zlutice; Romany studies scholar Eva Davidova; charity worker Pavlina Huzevkova; and Iveta Demeterova, moderator of O Roma vakeren, the Czech Radio program for Roma.
Ambassador Schapiro in his remarks thanked the recipients, saying: “You are on the ground, every day, witnessing the challenges that Roma face. You are also innovators, finding creative solutions to these challenges, be it discrimination, unemployment, segregation in schools or housing. You know first-hand the long-term consequences if problems are not addressed. By working to include, not exclude, Roma, on different levels, you are creating a stronger, more cohesive community. Thank you for that, and thank you again for inviting me here tonight.”
The Roma Spirit Awards event has been organized since 2009 by the Michael Kocab Foundation and the Open Society Foundation.